Compiled by Chris Crowstaff. November 2013.
To date, 87 men have received the Nobel Peace Prize and 14 women.
Bertha von Suttner was the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1905. Author of 'Die Waffen nieder!', she founded an Austrian pacifist organisation.
1905 - Bertha von Suttner - Austria
"Die Waffen nieder!" - Lay Down Your Arms!
Bertha Felicitas Sophie Freifrau von Suttner (9 June 1843 – 21 June 1914) was an Austrian novelist, journalist and radical (organizational) pacifist. She was the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and the second to be awarded the Nobel Prize.
Ms Suttner became a leading figure in the peace movement with the publication of her novel, Die Waffen nieder! ("Lay Down Your Arms!") in 1889 and founded an Austrian pacifist organisation in 1891.
She gained international repute as editor of the international pacifist journal Die Waffen nieder!, named after her book, from 1892 to 1899.
Her pacifism was influenced by the writings of Immanuel Kant, Henry Thomas Buckle, Herbert Spencer, Charles Darwin and Leo Tolstoy.
She became engaged to engineer and novelist Arthur Gundaccar Freiherr von Suttner, but his family opposed the match, and she answered an advertisement from Alfred Nobel in 1876 to become his secretary-housekeeper at his Paris residence. She only remained a week before returning to Vienna and secretly marrying Arthur on 12 June 1876.
Though her personal contact with Alfred Nobel had been brief, she corresponded with him until his death in 1896.
It is believed that she was a major influence Nobel's decision to include a peace prize among those prizes provided in his will, which she won in 1905.
1931 - Jane Addams - USA
"So respectful of everyone's views, so eager to understand and sympathize."
Jane Addams (September 6, 1860 – May 21, 1935) was a pioneer settlement social worker, public philosopher, sociologist, author, and leader in women's suffrage and world peace. In an era when presidents such as Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson identified themselves as reformers and social activists, Addams was one of the most prominent reformers of the Progressive Era. She helped turn the US to issues of concern to mothers, such as the needs of children, public health, and world peace.
Addams spoke and campaigned extensively for Theodore Roosevelt's 1912 Presidential campaign on the 'Progressive' Party. She signed up on the party platform, even though it called for building more battleships.
In 1898 Addams joined the Anti-Imperialist League, in opposition to the U.S. annexation of the Philippines. In 1915, she became involved in the Woman's Peace Party and was elected national chairman.
Addams was elected president of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom in 1915,a position that entailed frequent travel to Europe (during and after World War I) and Asia. With this she also attended the International Woman's Conference in The Hagueand was chosen to head the commission to find an end to the war. This included meeting ten leaders in neutral countries as well as those at war to discuss mediation. This was the first significant international effort against the war.
Jane Addams along with co-delegates Emily Balch and Alice Hamilton documented their experiences of this period and was published as a book Women at The Hague.
"Miss Addams shines, so respectful of everyone's views, so eager to understand and sympathize, so patient of anarchy and even ego, yet always there, strong, wise and in the lead. No 'managing', no keeping dark and bringing things subtly to pass, just a radiating wisdom and power of judgement." Emily Balch, 1915
When the US joined the war, in 1917, Ms Addams started to be strongly criticized. She faced increasingly harsh rebukes and criticism as a pacifist. Her 1915 speech on pacifism at Carnegie Hall received negative coverage by newspapers such as the New York Times, which branded her as unpatriotic.
Later, during her travels, she would spend time meeting with a wide variety of diplomats and civic leaders and reiterating her belief in women's special mission to preserve peace.
Ms Addams damned war as a cataclysm that undermined human kindness, solidarity, civic friendship, and caused families across the world to struggle.
After 1920, she was widely regarded as the greatest woman of the Progressive Era.
Recognition of these efforts came with the award of the Nobel Peace Prize to Addams in 1931, which earned her near-unanimous acclaim.
She donated her share of the prize money to the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom.
1976 - Betty Williams - Northern Ireland
"The Nobel Peace Prize is not awarded for what one has done, but hopefully what one will do."
Betty Williams (born 22 May 1943) in the city of Belfast in Northern Ireland, heads the Global Children's Foundation and is the President of the World Centre of Compassion for Children International.
Ms Williams is a co-recipient with Mairead Maguire (Corrigan) of the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976 for her work as a cofounder of Community of Peace People, an organisation dedicated to promoting a peaceful resolution to The Troubles in Northern Ireland.
In 2006, Williams was one of the founders of the Nobel Women's Initiative along with sister Nobel Peace Laureates Mairead Corrigan Maguire, Shirin Ebadi, Wangari Maathai, Jody Williams and Rigoberta Menchu Tum. Six women representing North America and South America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa decided to bring together their experiences in a united effort for peace with justice and equality. It is the goal of the Nobel Women's Initiative to help strengthen work being done in support of women's rights around the world.
Betty Williams was drawn into the public arena after witnessing the death of three children on 10 August 1976, when they were hit by a car whose driver, an IRA fugitive named Danny Lennon, was fatally shot by British authorities.
Within two days of the tragic event, Williams had obtained 6,000 signatures on a petition for peace and gained media attention. Together with Mairead Maguire, Anne Maguire's sister, she co-founded the Women for Peace which later, with co-founder Ciaran McKeown became The Community for Peace People.
The two organised a peace march to the graves of the children, which was attended by 10,000 Protestant and Catholic women – the peaceful march was disrupted by members of the Irish Republican Army, who accused them of being "dupes of the British". The following week, Williams and Corrigan again led a march – this time with 35,000 participants.
1976 - Mairéad Maguire - Northern Ireland
"Nonviolence is an active way of life which always rejects violence and killing, and instead applies the force of love and truth."
Mairéad Maguire (born 27 January 1944) is a peace activist from Northern Ireland.
Ms Maguire became active with the Northern Ireland peace movement after three children of her sister, Anne Maguire, were run over and killed by a car driven by Danny Lennon, a Provisional Irish Republican Army (PIRA) fugitive who had been fatally shot by British troops while trying to make a getaway.
The next march, to the burial sites of the three Maguire children, brought 10,000 Protestant and Catholic women together. The marchers, including Maguire and Williams, were physically attacked by PIRA members. By the end of the month Maguire and Williams had brought 35,000 people onto the streets of Belfast petitioning for peace between the republican and loyalist factions.Initially adopting the name "Women for Peace," the movement changed its name to the gender-neutral "Community of Peace People," or simply "Peace People," when Irish Press correspondent Ciaran McKeown joined. In contrast with the prevailing climate at the time,Maguire was convinced that the most effective way to end the violence was not through violence but through re-education.
The organization published a biweekly paper, Peace by Peace, and provided for families of prisoners a bus service to and from Belfast's jails.In 1977, she and Betsy Williams received the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize with Betty Williams in 1977 (the prize for 1976) for their efforts.
Aged 32 at the time, she was the youngest Nobel Peace Prize laureate until Tawakel Karman`s peace prize in 2011.
"Gandhi taught that nonviolence does not mean passivity. No. It is the most daring, creative, and courageous way of living, and it is the only hope for our world. Nonviolence is an active way of life which always rejects violence and killing, and instead applies the force of love and truth as a means to transform conflict and the root causes of conflict. Nonviolence demands creativity. It pursues dialogue, seeks reconciliation, listens to the truth in our opponents, rejects militarism, and allows God's spirit to transform us socially and politically."
Mairead Maguire is a proponent of the belief that violence is a disease that humans develop but are not born with. She believes humankind is moving away from a mindset of violence and war and evolving to a higher consciousness of nonviolence and love.
1979 - Mother Teresa -India
"No matter who says what, you should accept it with a smile and do your own work."
Mother Teresa (26 August 1910 – 5 September 1997), was an Albanian-born, Indian Roman Catholic Religious Sister.
Mother Teresa was the recipient of numerous honours including the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize.
When Eastern Europe experienced increased openness in the late 1980s, she expanded her efforts to Communist countries that had previously rejected the Missionaries of Charity, embarking on dozens of projects.
Mother Teresa travelled to assist and minister to the hungry in Ethiopia, radiation victims at Chernobyl, and earthquake victims in Armenia.In 1991, Mother Teresa returned for the first time to her homeland and opened a Missionaries of Charity Brothers home in Tirana, Albania.
1982 - Alva Myrdal - Sweden
"War is murder."
Alva Myrdal (31 January 1902 – 1 February 1986) was a Swedish sociologist and politician.
Born in Uppsala, she first came to public notice in the 1930s, and was one of the main driving forces in the creation of the Swedish welfare state
In 1962, she was elected to the Swedish parliament, and the same year she was sent as the Swedish delegate to the UN disarmament conference in Geneva, a role she kept until 1973.
In 1966 she was also named consultative Cabinet minister for disarmament, an office she held until 1973.
A vocal supporter of disarmament, she received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1982 together with Alfonso Garcia Robles.
She participated in the creation of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, becoming the first Chairman of the governing board in 1966.
1991 - Aung San Suu Kyi - Burma
"We must work together in unison."
Aung San Suu Kyi (born 19 June 1945) is a Burmese opposition politician and chairperson of the National League for Democracy (NLD) in Burma.
"To the best of my knowledge, no war was ever started by women. But it is women and children who have always suffered the most in situations of conflict... Women with their capacity for compassion and self-sacrifice, their courage and perseverance, have done much to dissipate the darkness of intolerance and hate, suffering and despair. "
In the 1990 general election, the NLD won 59% of the national votes and 81% (392 of 485) of the seats in Parliament.
She had already been detained under house arrest before the elections. She remained under house arrest in Burma for almost 15 of the 21 years from 20 July 1989 until her most recent release on 13 November 2010, becoming one of the world's most prominent political prisoners.
"We must work together in unison for our common goal', she said to the crowd, after waiting nearly half an hour for them to quieten down enough to hear her.
Suu Kyi received the Rafto Prize and the Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought in 1990 and the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991.
On 1 April 2012, her party, the National League for Democracy, announced that she was elected to the Pyithu Hluttaw, the lower house of the Burmese parliament, representing the constituency of Kawhmu;her party also won 43 of the 45 vacant seats in the lower house.The election results were confirmed by the official electoral commission the following day.
On 6 June 2013, Suu Kyi announced on the World Economic Forum’s website that she wants to run for the presidency in Myanmar's 2015 elections.
1992 - Rigoberta Menchú Tum - Guatemala
"We have learned that change cannot come through war. War is not a feasible tool to use in fighting against the oppression we face. War has caused more problems. We cannot embrace that path."
Rigoberta Menchú Tum (born 9 January 1959) is an indigenous Guatemalan woman, of the K'iche' ethnic group. Menchú has dedicated her life to publicizing the plight of Guatemala's indigenous peoples during and after the Guatemalan Civil War (1960–1996), and to promoting indigenous rights in the country.
She received the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize and Prince of Asturias Award in 1998.
Ms Menchú is a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador. She has also become a figure in indigenous political parties and ran for President of Guatemala in 2007 and 2011.
Rigoberta Menchú was born to a poor indigenous family of K'iche' descent near Laj Chimel, a small town in the north-central Guatemalan province of El Quiché. Menchú received a primary-school education as a student at several Catholic boarding schools. After leaving school, she worked as an activist campaigning against human rights violations committed by the Guatemalan armed forces during the country's civil war, which lasted from 1960 to 1996.
Since the Guatemalan Civil War ended, Menchú has campaigned to have members of the Guatemalan political and military establishment tried in Spanish courts.
She is a member of PeaceJam, an organization whose mission is "to create young leaders committed to positive change in themselves, their communities and the world through the inspiration of Nobel Peace Laureates who pass on the spirit, skills, and wisdom they embody."She travels around the world speaking to youth through PeaceJam conferences.
Rigoberta Menchú is also a member of the Fondation Chirac's honour committee,ever since the foundation was launched in 2008 by former French president Jacques Chirac in order to promote world peace.
1997 - Jody Williams - USA
"Don’t be afraid to say, 'I am a woman. I am running as a woman... I believe in the security of the individual, not the security of the state.'"
Jody Williams (born 1950) is an American political activist known around the world for her work in banning anti-personnel landmines, her defense of human rights – especially those of women – and her efforts to promote new understandings of security in today’s world. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1997 for her work toward the banning and clearing of anti-personnel mines.
She served as the founding coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) from early 1992 until February 1998.
In an unprecedented cooperative effort with governments, UN bodies and the International Committee of the Red Cross, she served as a chief strategist and spokesperson for the ICBL, which she developed from two non-governmental organizations (NGOs) with a staff of one – herself – to an international powerhouse of 1,300 NGOs in ninety countries.
From its small beginning and official launch in 1992, Williams and the ICBL dramatically achieved the campaign’s goal of an international treaty banning antipersonnel landmines during a diplomatic conference held in Oslo in September 1997.
Three weeks later, she and the ICBL were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
At that time, she became the tenth woman – and third American woman – in its almost hundred-year history to receive the Prize.
In November 2004, after discussions with sister Peace Laureates Dr. Shirin Ebadi of Iran and the late Professor Wangari Maathai of Kenya, Ms Williams took the lead in establishing the Nobel Women’s Initiative launched in January 2006; she since has served as its Chair. Through this Initiative, which brings together six of the female Peace Laureates alive today, the women seek to use their access and influence to support and promote the work of women around the world working for peace with justice and equality. (Aung San Suu Kyi is an honorary member.)
2003 - Shirin Ebadi - Iran
"Threats against my life and security and those of my family... have intensified."
Shirin Ebadi (born 21 June 1947) is an Iranian lawyer, a former judge and human rights activist and founder of Defenders of Human Rights Center in Iran. On 10 October 2003, Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her significant and pioneering efforts for democracy and human rights, especially women's, children's, and refugee rights. She was the first ever Iranian to receive the prize.
In April 2008 Ebadi released a statement saying: "Threats against my life and security and those of my family, which began some time ago, have intensified."
Human Rights Watch said it was "extremely worried" about Ebadi's safety.
In August 2008, the IRNA news agency published an article attacking Ebadi's links to the Bahá'í Faith and criticized Ms Ebadi for defending homosexuals. It also accused her daughter, Nargess Tavassolian, of conversion to the Bahá'í faith, a capital offense in the Islamic Republic. Ebadi believes the attacks are in retaliation for her agreeing to defend the families of seven Baha’is arrested.
2004 - Wangari Muta Maathai - Kenya
"Maathai stood up courageously against the former oppressive regime in Kenya."
Wangari Muta Maathai (1 April 1940 – 25 September 2011) was a Kenyan environmental and political activist.
Wangari Muta Maathai became the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize [in 2004] for "her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace".
Ms Maathai was an elected member of Parliament and served as assistant minister for Environment and Natural Resources in the government of President Mwai Kibaki between January 2003 and November 2005.
Ms Maathai stood up courageously against the former oppressive regime in Kenya. Her unique forms of action have contributed to drawing attention to political oppression—nationally and internationally. She has served as inspiration for many in the fight for democratic rights and has especially encouraged women to better their situation.
On 28 February 1992, while released on bail, Maathai and others took part in a hunger strike in a corner of Uhuru Park, which they labelled Freedom Corner, to pressure the government to release political prisoners. After four days of the hunger strike, on 3 March 1992, the police forcibly removed the protesters. Maathai and three others were knocked unconscious by police and hospitalized.President Daniel arap Moi called her "a mad woman" who is "a threat to the order and security of the country.
"Maathai stood up courageously against the former oppressive regime in Kenya. Her unique forms of action have contributed to drawing attention to political oppression — nationally and internationally. She has served as inspiration for many in the fight for democratic rights and has especially encouraged women to better their situation." Norwegian Nobel Committee.
2011 - Ellen Johnson Sirleaf - Liberia
“The size of your dreams must always exceed your current capacity to achieve them."
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (born 29 October 1938) is the 24th and current President of Liberia and is the first elected female head of state in Africa.
Sirleaf was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, jointly with Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Tawakel Karman of Yemen.
In 2006, Sirleaf established a Truth and Reconciliation Commission with a mandate to "promote national peace, security, unity and reconciliation" by investigating more than 20 years of civil conflict in the country.
2011 - Leymah Roberta Gbowee - Liberia
"Of any changes were to be made in society it had to be by the mothers."
Leymah Roberta Gbowee (born 1 February 1972) is a Liberian peace activist responsible for leading a women's peace movement that helped bring an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. Her efforts to end the war, along with her collaborator Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, helped usher in a period of peace and enabled a free election in 2005 that Sirleaf won. This made Liberia the first African nation to have a female president.
She, along with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Tawakkul Karman, were awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work."
Leymah Gbowee was born in central Liberia on 1 February 1972. At the age of 17, she was living with her parents and two of her three sisters in Monrovia, when the First Liberian Civil War erupted in 1989, throwing the country into bloody chaos until 1996.
"As the war subsided.... I learned about a program run by UNICEF... training people to be social workers who would then counsel those traumatized by war."
Searching for peace and sustenance for her family, Gbowee followed her partner, called Daniel in her memoir, to Ghana where she and her growing family (her second son, Arthur, was born) lived as virtually homeless refugees and almost starved. She fled with her three children, riding a bus on credit for over a week "because I didn't have a cent," back to the chaos of Liberia, where her parents and other family members still lived.
In 1998, in an effort to gain admission to an associate of arts degree program in social work at Mother Patern College of Health Sciences, Gbowee became a volunteer within a program operating out of St. Peter's Lutheran Church in Monrovia, where her mother was a women's leader and Gbowee had passed her teenage years. It was called the Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Program (THRP), and it marked the beginning of Gbowee's journey toward being a peace activist:
"The THRP's offices were new, but the program had a history. Liberia's churches had been active in peace efforts ever since the civil war started, and in 1991, Lutheran pastors, lay leaders, teachers and health workers joined with the Christian Health Association of Liberia to try to repair the psychic and social damage left by the war."
As she studied and worked her way toward her associate of art degree, conferred in 2001, she applied her training in trauma healing and reconciliation to trying to rehabilitate some of the ex-child soldiers of Charles Taylor's army.Surrounded by the images of war, she realized that "if any changes were to be made in society it had to be by the mothers".
2011 - Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman - Yeman
"The solution to women’s issues can only be achieved in a free and democratic society in which human energy is liberated, the energy of both women and men together."
Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman (born 7 February 1979) is a Yemeni journalist, politician and senior member of the of Al-Islah political party, and human rights activist. She became the international public face of the 2011 Yemeni uprising that is part of the Arab Spring uprisings. She has been called the "Iron Woman" and "Mother of the Revolution" by Yemenis.
Karman gained prominence in her country after 2005 in her roles as a Yemeni journalist and an advocate for a mobile phone news service denied a license in 2007, after which she led protests for press freedom. She organized weekly protests after May 2007 expanding the issues for reform.She redirected the Yemeni protests to support the "Jasmine Revolution," as she calls the Arab Spring, after the Tunisian people overthrew the government of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011.
Tawakkol Karman co-founded the human rights group Women Journalists Without Chains (WJWC) with seven other female journalists in 2005 in order to promote human rights, "particularly freedom of opinion and expression, and democratic rights." Although it was founded as "Female Reporters Without Borders," the present name was adopted in order to get a government license. Ms Karman has said she has received "threats and temptations" and was the target of harassment from the Yemeni authorities by telephone and letter because of her refusal to accept the Ministry of Information rejection of WJWC's application to legally create a newspaper and a radio station.
Ms Karman, along with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee, were the co-recipients of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.
She is the first Yemeni, the first Arab woman, and the second Muslim woman to win a Nobel Prize and the youngest Nobel Peace Laureate to date.
Of Ms Karman, the Nobel Committee said: "In the most trying circumstances, both before and during the 'Arab spring', Tawakkul Karman has played a leading part in the struggle for women’s rights and for democracy and peace in Yemen."
The Nobel Committee cited the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325, adopted in 2000, which states that women and children suffer great harm from war and political instability and that women must have a larger influence and role in peacemaking activities; it also calls on all actors involved, when negotiating and implementing peace agreements, to adopt a gender perspective.
Upon announcing the award, the committee chairman Thorbjørn Jagland said: "We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society." He later added that the prize was "a very important signal to women all over the world.
In reaction to the award Karman, while camped out in Sana'a during ongoing anti-government protests, said: "I didn’t expect it. It came as a total surprise. This is a victory for Arabs around the world and a victory for Arab women" and that the award was a "victory of our peaceful revolution. I am so happy, and I give this award to all of the youth and all of the women across the Arab world, in Egypt, in Tunisia. We cannot build our country or any country in the world without peace," adding that it was also for "Libya, Syria and Yemen and all the youth and women, this is a victory for our demand for citizenship and human rights," that "all Yemenis [are] happy over the prize."