on the radar: Women Laureates & Peace
Feminist Majority Foundation president Eleanor Smeal came together with Nobel Peace Laureates Jody Williams (1997) and Shirin Ebadi (2003) yesterday to call for a peaceful resolution to tensions between the U.S. and Iran. Williams, an American, and Ebadi, an Iranian, declared in a joint statement, “We demand that our governments not resort to armed violence and instead negotiate a solution to the increasing crisis.”
“We are determined to keep this from escalating into yet another war,” said Smeal.
The night before, Williams and Ebadi were awarded the FMF’s Global Women’s Rights Award, alongside Laureates Betty Williams (Ireland, 1977) and Rigoberta Menchu Túm (Guatemala, 1992). The annual Award, given in memory of Eleanor Roosevelt and presented this year by Salma Hayek, honors women who embody Roosevelt’s courage, spirit and resolve in their own achievements on behalf of women and peace worldwide.
Now, the four laureates, together with Waangari Maathai (Kenya, 2004), are launching a new project: the Women’s Nobel Peace Laureate’s Initiative. Its purpose is to use the prestige of the Nobel Prize to promote women’s rights and spotlight women around the world who toil in obscurity for peace.
Their first move will be to mobilize women against a U.S.-Iran war. Williams and Smeal called for an end to U.S. citizens’ passivity.
“The majority of the people in this country want a non-violent solution … when did we become Stepford citizens?” asked Williams. Smeal echoed the sentiment: “Most Americans don’t know what to do… we’re watching. It’s like watching a train wreck. We can’t just watch any more.”
Iranian human rights activist Shirin Ebadi made it clear that democratic reform in Iran, though needed, cannot come through a U.S. invasion. “The people of Iran do not agree with an invasion of Iran and are totally opposed to it,” she said. “No one wins a war… I hope we all win, through peace.”
To this end, Smeal and the Feminist Majority Foundation, together with the Laureates, will gather together women from across the U.S. to agitate for peace.