Global women heroes highlighted in photo exhibit
(WNN) Zurich: Based in Switzerland and with coordinators in various countries, ‘PeaceWomen Across the Globe’ is an international network of women who have worked persistently and courageously for peace, security and justice in many regions of the world – even when their life is in danger and their work is overshadowed by setbacks.
‘PeaceWomen Across the Globe’ created a stir when they originally nominated one thousand women from all over the world for one Nobel Peace Prize in 2005. The global response to this brought attention to the one thousand women who’s work in over 150 countries was exemplary.
Although the Nobel Committee did not choose the 1,000 women for one Nobel Peace Prize in 2005, the women heroes have been placed in a permanent archive by ‘PeaceWomen Across the Globe’.
The creative yet often dangerous global peace work by women, many who had neither been integrated into official peace processes nor acknowledged by the public, was an important and vital part of on-the-ground work in many regions that have improved the lives of those suffering from poverty, lack of opportunity and equality. This unique campaign sought to make the work of women working for peace visible, leading to a formation of a strong and global women’s peace network.
Although some of the women highlighted in the exhibit at the World YWCA Council event are no longer living, Eva Gillis and Lasse Andersson their photo show at the international women’s summit – ‘Women Creating a Safe World,’ (in Zurich, Switzerland July 12-13) has brought a powerful collection of photographs to the public to tell the stories of these amazing women; stories that will definitely continue to follow them.
While at the conference, Gillis and Andersson answered a few questions about the exhibit and the impact their nomination of the one-thousand women heroes had on the world and the Nobel Peace Prize Committee . . .
What is your involvement in this project and how did it begin?
We have been part of this exhibition project since the very beginning. The first exhibition was launched at the time of the declaration of the Nobel Peace Price in 2005. We grew into the project and have been with it ever since – and it is still going strong.
Where did the idea for PeaceWomen come from? Who developed it, and how did the project evolve over time?
Ruth Gaby Vermot, a member of the Swiss Parliament and the European Council, had the idea for PeaceWomen. Her work at the European Council inspired her and during her travels, especially in conflict zones, she realised that women were doing fantastic peace work in reconciliation and reconstruction. This is when the incredible idea came to collectively nominate 1,000 women from 150 countries for the Nobel Peace Prize. In order to give visibility to what these women were doing, we created the exhibition and a documentary.
We feel it is important to show that while Ruth Gaby Vermot saw this crucial work that was being done by women, she also realised that in 100 years there had been many men nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, but only eleven or twelve women and a few organisations like Amnesty International. She thought, “Why are there so many men and only a few women? Let’s get a thousand women for the Nobel Peace Prize!” And that is how the idea was born…
How were these incredible women sought out?
Twenty coordinators from around the world who worked in the field of peace were brought together. Defining the criteria was the initial task. Since there are hundreds of thousands of women worthy to be selected, the selection was based on the work they had carried out on both the grassroots and academic level, rather than personal prestige —anything in the area of peace so long as it was sustainable.
How does someone get involved in the network?
The network will remain with these thousand women and no others. Even if every day we meet someone who could be part of this project, the aim is not to try to get more women. Projects will continually be created for those involved to be able to work together, for instance on a regional level to develop a field project.
What have been some of the effects of the exhibition, documentary, and book?
We have had requests for the exhibition from all over the world. It has taken place in Canada, New Zealand, Europe and Africa. Some one thousand exhibitions have already taken place all over the world, with universities, religious groups, YWCAs, or NGOs.
We have travelled from Mexico to Mongolia, where we worked together with the PeaceWomen. They had a platform to speak to an audience, give workshops, network and reach out to others. It has been very successful and has caught the attention of the press and television. There are times when the work can even be a bit dangerous and the work needs to be done in a more discreet manner.
Even though it highlights serious problems in our society, the exhibition nevertheless brings strength and positivity. The work of these women is fantastic and somehow you feel the spirit and enthusiasm every time the exhibition comes together.
Can you share any special stories about the power of this project?
There is one story that comes to mind. When we were in Mongolia, the coordinator from Hong Kong had brought with her two PeaceWomen from China to see the exhibition and to work with the PeaceWomen from Mongolia. We were unaware of the history and the problems that exist between Mongolia and China as countries, and as a people. The two women, however came together as a team, and it was a beautiful moment. Together they planted a forest in the desert representing the work they did together.
For more information about the women heroes recognized and promoted by PeaceWomen Across the Globe go to this LINK
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