Only 15 Women Have Ever Won The Nobel Peace Prize – Here’s Everything You Need To Know…

Consider this your handy crib sheet on all the amazing women who have ever won the Nobel Peace Prize (and there's only been 15 of them).

The Nobel Peace Prize was created by Swede Alfred Nobel – who ironically was, among other things, an arms manufacturer and the inventor of dynamite. Since it began 112 years ago there have only been 15 female winners. Here’s what you need to know about them:

1. THE WOMAN WHO STARTED IT: Bertha von Suttner (1905)

– first ever woman to win the Peace Prize
– friend of Alfred Nobel himself
– wrote influential anti-war novel “Lay Down Your Arms” in 1889
– some say she encouraged Nobel to create the prize
– founded the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in 1919
– campaigned on behalf of the poor and immigrants, and against the use of industrial child labour
– was described as a threat to national security for her loud opposition of the US entering WW1
3. THE SOCIALIST: Emily Greene Balch (1946)
– along with Jane Addams she was labelled a dangerous dissident for her efforts to prevent war
– criticised western democracies for not attempting to stop Hitler and Mussolini

4 + 5. THE PEACEMAKERS IN NORTHERN IRELAND: Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan (1976)
– Betty Williams witnessed the murder of three children during a shooting incident in Belfast
– she approached the children’s aunt, Mairead Corrigan, and together they founded peace organisation The Community of Peace People, which aimed to bring an end to the bitter conflict in Northern Ireland

6. THE WORLD’S MOST CELEBRATED NUN: Mother Teresa (1979)
– was just 12 when she heard a call from God, demanding that she devote her life to Him
– entered a nunnery in Albania and was sent to India to be a teacher, with the new name of Teresa
– received a second message from God: to help the poor while living among them
– famously founded a new sisterhood, Missionaries of Charity, which helped build homes for orphans, nursing homes for lepers and hospices for the terminally ill in Calcutta
– campaigned in her native Sweden on behalf of the working classes
– fought for women’s rights
– later became a government minister in charge of disarmament issues, working to persuade the superpowers to disarm during the nuclear race

8. THE POLITICAL PRISONER: Aung San Suu Kyi (1991)
– led the opposition to the military junta in Burma
– opposed all use of violence
– was held under house arrest from 1989 until 2010

9. THE HUMAN RIGHTS CAMPAIGNER: Rigoberta Menchú Tum (1992)
– fought for the rights of indigenous people in Latin America
– became

 a UN Ambassador for the world’s indigenous peoples

10. THE ANTI-LANDMINE FIGHTER: Jody Williams (1997)

– became involved in aid work in war-torn El Salvador in the 1980s
– worked providing artificial limbs for children who had been injured because of landmines
– became a driving force in the launch of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL) which drove The Ottawa Convention, signed by 120 states in 1999, banning the use, production, sale and stock-piling of anti-personnel mines, and also containing provisions for mine clearance and the obligation to give humanitarian aid.

11. THE FEMALE JUDGE: Shirin Ebadi (2003)
– Iran’s first female judge dismissed from her position after the 1979 revolution
– opened a legal practice and began defending people who were being persecuted by the authorities
– imprisoned in 2000 for criticising the country’s hierocracy
– struggled for fundamental human rights – especially for women and children – and helped establish organisations to further these issues, while also writing books on Iran’s succession and divorce laws and advocating the separation of religion and state in Iran. 
12. THE ECOLOGIST: Wangari Maathai (2004)
– her grassroots movement, started in 1977, encouraged women to plant trees to end deforestation in Kenya
– it led to the planting of over 30 million trees in Africa
13 + 14. THE AFRICAN PEACEMAKERS: Ellen Johnson Sinleaf and Leymah Gbowee (2011)
– recognised ‘for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work’
– their women’s peace movement helped bring an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003
– Ellen Johnson Sincleaf is the current President of Liberia and the first female African head of state

15. THE WOMAN JOURNALIST: Tawakkol Karman (2011)
– the youngest Nobel Peace Laureate to date
– works as a Yemeni journalist, politician, senior member of the of Al-Islah political party, and human rights activist, who co-founded and now leads the “Women Journalists Without Chains” group
– became the international, public face of the Yemeni uprising that was part of the 2011 Arab Spring
– has been dubbed the “Mother of the Revolution” by Yemenis. 

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