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1000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize

Monday 31 May 2004

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We were honoured to receive in NSWAS the founders and coordinators of the initiative to award the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize to 1,000 women peace workers. Swiss National Parliament and Council of Europe member Dr. Ruth-Gaby Vermot-Mangold, and Dr. Christine Menz were here in order to promote the formation of a committee in Israel who would review prize nominations from this country.

Dorit Shippin of the Pluralistic Spiritual Centre coordinated the visit and helped the Swiss organisation to gather a number of women activists from around the country for the important meeting.

Dr. Vermot-Mangold and Dr. Menz were interviewed for this report:

“I had the idea for the initiative when, after working for years as an anthropologist in Africa, and then being responsible for committees involved in migration and refugee issues, I saw how women all over the world have been working to alleviate suffering in areas torn by wars and conflict. They work courageously under conditions of great personal risk, because they envision a better world. Their activities go unrecognized, and receive little visibility. The Nobel Peace Prize has tended to make visible mainly the work of men.”

In Switzerland, Dr. Vermot-Mangold works with a group of six women to advance the project. They had many things to decide in formulating a conceptual framework for the project. What was their concept of peace? What sort of work would be eligible for nomination? And how, besides the award of the prize itself, could the project serve to make the work of these women visible. All of this is well-documented on the 1000 Peace Women website.

In 2003, the project was presented to the Nobel Institute in Oslo and received an interested response. Since then the project has gathered force and committees are being established all over the world to review nominations of women peace workers. From Israel, a group of four women will be nominated, and the same number will be nominated from Palestine. Before coming to NSWAS, Dr. Vermot-Mangold and Dr. Menz visited Ramallah in the West Bank, where they were enthusiastically received by a group of 55 women activists. Reports of the initiative ran in three Palestinian journals.

The meeting in NSWAS was similarly productive, in that the participants were able to draw up a list of women who would be approached to join the committee. They suggested that the committee would number five or six persons, and that both Jewish and Palestinian Israeli women would take part.

One of the participants offered to coordinate formation of the committee and to handle the initial publicity work. Women from NSWAS were among those who volunteered to join, and the village was proposed as a venue for meetings.

The committee’s work will be to review nominations, and transmit its recommendations to Switzerland. However, everyone is invited to propose nominations, before the end of June 2004. This can easily be achieved by completing a form on the website.

Drs. Vermot-Mangold (l) & Menz (r)

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