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Slideshow: Women Nobel Peace Prize Winners

by Liz Olson and Jennie Wood

The Nobel Peace Prize is awarded to persons who have made the most outstanding contributions toward world peace. From novelists to social workers, the award has gone to persons who dedicated their lives to ameliorating humanity. Bertha von Suttner, a friend of Alfred Nobel, was the first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Follow the slideshow to learn more about the outstanding women who have won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Bertha von Suttner
Bertha von Suttner
1905
Bertha von Suttner was an Austrian novelist, known chiefly as an ardent pacifist. Her pacifist novel Die Waffen nieder (1889, tr. Lay Down Your Arms, 1892) had great social impact. Through her subsequent friendship with Alfred Nobel, she influenced him to establish the Nobel Prizes. She was the first woman awarded (1905) the Nobel Peace Prize.
Fun Fact: Bertha von Suttner was born Countess Kinsky in Prague, growing up in the Austrian court.
From the Columbus Encyclopedia





Jane Addams
Jane Addams
1931
Jane Addams was an American social worker. In 1889, with Ellen Gates Starr, she founded Hull House in Chicago, one of the first social settlements in the United States. Hull House served as a community center for the neighborhood poor and later as a center for social reform activities. It was important in Chicago civic affairs and had an influence on the settlement movement throughout the country. An active reformer throughout her career, Jane Addams was a leader in the woman's suffrage and pacifist movements, and was a strong opponent of the Spanish-American War.
Fun Fact: Jane Addams won the 1931 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Nicholas Murray Butler.
From the Columbia Encyclopedia
Emily G. Balch
Emily G. Balch
1946
Emily G. Balch was an American economist and sociologist. She taught at Wellesley College until her dismissal (1918) for opposing U.S. involvement in World War I. Co-founder of the Women's International League for Peace and Freedom with Jane Addams and its international secretary from 1919 to 1922.
Fun Fact: Emily Balch shared the 1946 Nobel Peace Prize with John R. Mott.
From the Columbia Encyclopedia
Mairead Corrigan
Mairead Corrigan
1976
Mairead Corrigan is an Irish social activist. A volunteer social worker in the Catholic neighborhoods of Belfast, Corrigan saw three of her sister's children killed when a car driven by an Irish Republican Army (IRA) terrorist went out of control after being fired on by British troops. Betty Williams, who also witnessed the incident, joined with Corrigan to form the Peace People Organization, a movement of Catholics and Protestants dedicated to ending sectarian fighting in Northern Ireland. For their work the two women were awarded the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize.
Fun Fact: Mairead Corrigan holds an Honorary Doctor of Law from Yale University, U.S.
From the Columbia Encyclopedia
Betty Williams
Betty Williams
1976
Betty Williams is a Northern Irish peace activist. In Aug., 1976, Williams witnessed the death of three children when a car driven by an Irish Republican Army (IRA) terrorist went out of control after being fired on by British troops. She began publicly demonstrating for peace, joining forces with Mairéad Corrigan, the aunt of the slain children, soon after the incident. The two created the Peace People Organization, a movement of Catholics and Protestants dedicated to ending sectarian fighting in Northern Ireland. For their work the two women were awarded the 1976 Nobel Peace Prize.
Fun Fact: Williams has also been honored with the People's Peace Prize of Norway, the Schweitzer Medallion for Courage, the Martin Luther King, Jr. Award, the Eleanor Roosevelt Award, and more.
From the Columbia Encyclopedia Photo: World Centers of Compassion for Children International
Mother Teresa of Calcutta
Mother Teresa of Calcutta
1979
Mother Teresa of Calcutta was a Roman Catholic missionary in India. Of Albanian parentage, she went to India at 17, becoming a nun and teaching school in Calcutta (now Kolkata). In 1948 she left the convent and founded the Missionaries of Charity, which now operates schools, hospitals, orphanages, and food centers worldwide. She was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 2003. For her work, Mother Teresa won the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize.
Fun Fact: Mother Teresa was born in Skopje (now in Macedonia) as Agnes Goxha Bojaxhiu.
From the Columbia Encyclopedia Photo: Archive Photos
Alva Myrdal
Alva Myrdal
1982
Alva Myrdal was a Swedish sociologist, diplomat, and political leader. She actively participated in the United Nations as head of the department of social welfare and as director of the department of social sciences of UNESCO. After she served as a member of Sweden's parliament, she led Sweden's delegation to the UN Disarmament Conference in Geneva and was minister of disarmament and church affairs. For her work in the nuclear disarmament movement, she won the 1982 Nobel Peace Prize.
Fun Fact: Alva Myrdal was ambassador to India, Burma (now Myanmar), Ceylon (now Sri Lanka), and Nepal.
From the Columbia Encyclopedia Photo: Library of Congress
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi
1993
Daw Aung San Suu Kyi is a Burmese political leader. She joined the opposition to U Ne Win and became leader of the National League for Democracy (NLD). Her outspoken criticism of the military leaders of Myanmar made her a symbol of popular desire for political freedom and a focus of opposition to the dictatorship. In July, 1989, she was placed under house arrest. Awarded the 1991 Nobel Peace Prize for her nonviolent struggle, she remained under house arrest until 1995. Nonetheless, she has stayed in Myanmar, continuing to write and speak for her cause.
Fun Fact: Daw Aung San Suu Kyi subsequently has been placed in house arrest or detention from Sept., 2000, to May, 2002, and since May, 2003.
From the Columbia Encyclopedia Photo: U.S. Department of State
Rigoberta Menchú
Rigoberta Menchú
1992
Rigoberta Menchú is a Guatemalan social reformer. Of Mayan descent, she and her family were caught in Guatemala's bloody civil war. Protesters against human-rights abuses, her father, mother, and younger brother were killed by Guatamalan soldiers, and in 1981 Menchú fled the country and settled in Mexico. At home and abroad, she has worked to secure and protect the rights of indigenous peoples in her country and to promote intercultural peace. For her efforts, Menchú was awarded the 1992 Nobel Peace Prize.
Fun Fact: Menchú became a candidate for the Guatemalan presidency early in 2007.
From the Columbia Encyclopedia Photo: Freddyballo
Jody Williams and International Campaign to Ban Landmines
Jody Williams
1997
In 1992 Jody Williams, working with six nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), established the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). Williams served as founding coordinator of the group, which seeks to ban the use and deployment of antipersonnel landmines and destroy existing ones. In Oslo, Norway, in Sept. 1997, Williams and ICBL realized one of their main goals, when 89 nations signed an international treaty banning international landmines. Williams and ICBL were awarded the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize for their efforts.
Fun Fact: Before her work with ICBL, Williams oversaw humanitarian relief projects in Central America.
From the Columbia Encyclopedia Photo: Nuclear Age Peace Foundation
Shirin Ebadi
Shirin Ebadi
2003
Shirin Ebadin won the 2003 Nobel Peace Prize for her work promoting the rights of women and children in her home country of Iran. Ebadi graduated with a law degree from Tehran University. After years of being denied a law license by the Iranian government, Ebadi set up her own legal practice in 1992 and quickly developed a special interest the rights of women, journalists, and others who lacked power under the Iranian regime. The Nobel Committee praised Ebadi for "her efforts for democracy and human rights" and said "She has stood up as a sound professional, a courageous person, and has never heeded the threats to her own safety."
Fun Fact: Ebadi was named Iran's first-ever female judge in 1975. However, she and other female judges were forced to resign when Iran became an Islamic Republic after the revolution of 1979.
From Who2 biographies Source: CKSinfo.com
Wangari Maathai
Wangari Maathai
2004
Kenyan ecologist Wangari Maathai won the 2004 Nobel Peace Prize for her years of work with women to reverse African deforestation. Maathai began the Green Belt Movement, a tree-planting program to reverse deforestation and provide firewood for Kenyan women. The program led to the planting of millions of trees and Maathai became a major political figure in Kenya. She was the first African woman to win a Nobel.
Fun Fact: Maathai went to college in the United States, earning degrees from Mt. St. Scholastica College (1964) and the University of Pittsburgh (1966).
From Who2 biographies Photo: Martin Rowe
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
2011
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, sharing it with Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Tawakel Karman of Yemen. The three women were recognized for their efforts in women's rights, peace-building, and for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women. As President of Liberia, Sirleaf was the first female elected head of state in Africa. From 1979 to 1980 she served as Minister of Finance under President William Tolbert. In 1992, Sirleaf was the Assistant Administrator and later Director of the United Nations Development Programme's Regional Bureau for Africa. While at the UN, she was one of seven people designated by the Organization of African Unity to investigate the Rwandan genocide.
Fun Facts:U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and First Lady Laura Bush attended Sirleaf's inauguration. Some sources hyphenate her name, spelling it Johnson-Sirleaf; however, her bio from the Liberian embassy in Washington, D.C. spells her name with no hyphen and calls her "Mrs. Sirleaf."
From Who2 biographies Photo: U.S. State Department / Public Domain
Leymah Gbowee
Leymah Gbowee, photo credit: Jon Styer/Eastern Mennonite University
2011
Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian peace activist, was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Tawakkul Karman for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and their efforts in women's rights and peace-building. Gbowee led a women's peace movement that ended the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. The peace movement also led to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf becoming the first female president of Liberia. Gbowee started her journey as a peace activist in 1998 by volunteering at the Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Program in Monrovia. She used that training to rehabilitate ex-child soldiers who were involved in the Second Liberian Civil War. Gbowee, a mother of four, was inspired by the images of war. She rallied the women of Liberia, imploring them to help her stop the violence that was destroying their children. She became the leader of the Women in Peacebuilding Network.
Fun Facts:Gbowee was the narrator and central character in Pray the Devil Back to Hell, a 2008 documentary film, which included footage from the Second Liberian Civil War. It took Best Documentary Feature at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival in New York. Gbowee wrote a memoir, Mighty Be Our Powers, which was published in 2011.
Photo: Jon Styer
Tawakkul Karman
Tawakkul Karman, photo credit: Matthew Russell Lee
2011
In 2011, Tawakkul Karman became the first Yemeni, first Arab woman, and second Muslim woman to win a Nobel Prize. She was a co-recipient of the award, along with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee, for their efforts in women's rights, peace-building, and for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women. A journalist, politician, and human rights activist, Karman heads the group Women Journalists Without Chains (WJWC). She co-founded WJWC in 2005. She became an advocate for a mobile phone news service after it was denied a license in 2007. She has organized and led numerous protests for freedom of the press and for reform issues. In 2011, she became the public face of the uprising in Yemen.
Fun Fact: Yemenis call her "Mother of the Revolution" and the "Iron Woman."
Photo: Matthew Russell Lee
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