In June, 2006, the five women winners of the Nobel Peace Prize came together in the hope of averting a war between Iran and the US, and announced a new organizational initiative for peace and social justice. Their statement follows.
"The Nobel Women's Initiative was established in 2006 by sister Nobel Peace Laureates Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Wangari Maathai, Rigoberta Menchú Tum and Betty Williams. We five women -- representing North and South America, Europe, the Middle East and Africa -- have decided to bring together our extraordinary experiences in a united effort for peace with justice and equality.
"Only 12 women in its more than 100 year history have been recognized with the Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Peace Prize is a great honor, but it is also a great responsibility. It is this sense of responsibility that has compelled us to create the Nobel Women’s Initiative to help strengthen work being done in support of women's rights around the world - work often carried out in the shadows with little recognition.
"We believe that peace is much more than the absence of armed conflict. Peace is the commitment to equality and justice; a democratic world free of physical, economic, cultural, political, religious, sexual and environmental violence and the constant threat of these forms of violence against women – indeed against all of humanity.
"It is the heartfelt mission of the Nobel Women’s Initiative to address and work to prevent the root causes of violence by spotlighting and promoting the efforts of women’s rights activists, researchers and organizations working to advance peace, justice and equality. By sharing a platform with these women, the NWI will spotlight their tireless work to prevent violence against women. By helping to advance the cause of women, we believe we advance all of humanity.
"United by our desire to combat all forms of violence against women in all circumstances, we also recognize that specific issues for women vary around the world. One element of our work will be to sponsor international meetings of women every two years -- in a different region of the world -- to highlight issues of concern to women there. The objective of these meetings is to underscore our commonalities and differences by providing inclusive and energizing forums that ensure meaningful dialogue and networking by women’s rights activists around the world -- but with a view to action.
"It is our commitment to action that brings us together. Therefore, our meetings will be linked with concrete work in the target region leading up to the conference, along with post-conference plans of action to address the issues addressed at the conference. In this way, the Nobel Women’s Initiative will support meaningful work on the ground.
"We believe profoundly in the sharing of information and ideas. By networking and working together rather than in competition, we enhance the work of all. The Nobel Women’s Initiative is committed to supplementing and enhancing existing work and is determined to avoid duplicating the work of others. We want to open new ground for discussion, debate and change.
"We hope you share our excitement about the potential of the Nobel Women’s Initiative to meaningfully contribute to building peace with justice and equality by working together with women around the world."