Women who won the Nobel Peace Prize

Today as the world celebrates Woman’s Day, here is a tribute to the 16 women laureates of the Nobel Peace Prize from 1905 -t0 2015, to commemorate their contribution towards humanity and peace. Life was not exactly a bed of roses for most of them, some of them were even looked down upon in their own country but how they dealt with the insurmountable difficulties made the world proud of these Nobel women.

Malala Yusufzai

Malala, NobelPeace Prize2014
Malala Yusufzai

“When the whole world is silent, even one voice becomes powerful.” ~ Malala Yusufzai

Born on 12 July 1997, Mingora, Pakistan, Malala Yusufzai is the youngest Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, to date. After having suffered an attack on her life by Taliban gunmen in 2012, she has continued her struggle and become a leading advocate of girls’ rights.

She was 17 years old in 2014 when she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, with Indian children’s rights activist Kailash Satyarthi.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, Tawakel Karman

NobelPeace Prize2011
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, Tawakel Karman

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia, Leymah Gbowee, a peace activist, social worker and women’s rights advocate from Liberia, and Tawakel Karman from Yemen were the joint recipients of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011, for their for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.

Wangari Mathai

Wangari Mathai, NobelPeace Prize2004
Wangari Mathai

“It’s the little things citizens do. That’s what will make the difference. My little thing is planting trees.” .  ~ Wangari Muta Mathai

Wangari Muta Mathai, the founder of the Green Belt Movement to combat deforestation. Mathai was a Kenyan environmental and political activist. She was awarded Nobel Peace Price in 2004 for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace. She passed away in 2011..

Shirin Ebadi  

Shirin Ebadi, NobelPeace Prize2003
Shirin Ebadi

Shirin Ebadi was Iran’s first female judge. She is the first woman Peace Prize Laureate from the Islamic World. She was awarded the prize in 2003, for her efforts for fundamental human rights, especially the rights of women and children.

Jody Williams

Jody Williams, NobelPeace Prize1997
Jody Williams

A Peace Activist and a Driving Force in the Campaign against Landmines, Jody Williams, from the USA was awarded Nobel Peace Prize in 1992, for her work for the banning and clearing of anti-personnel mines.

Rigibarta Menchu Tum

NobelPeace Prize1992
Rigibarta Menchu Tum

Rigibarta Menchu Tum, from Guatemala, grew up in a country marked by extreme violence. She fled to Mexico in the early 1980s, where she came into contact with European groups that were working for human rights in Latin America. Rigoberta worked towards a policy of reconciliation with the authorities, and Norway served as the intermediary in negotiations between the government and the guerrilla organizations for signing off a peace agreement in 1996. Rigoberta Menchú became a UN Ambassador for the world’s indigenous peoples.

She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1992 for her work for the rights of indigenous population and reconciliation between ethnic groups.

Aung San Su Kyi

Aung San Su Kyi
Aung San Su Kyi

The Burmese Peace Prize Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi is the daughter of the legendary liberation movement leader Aung San.

She was one of the founders of the National League for Democracy (NLD). Inspired by Mahatma Gandhi, she opposed all use of violence and called on the military leaders to hand over power to a civilian government, with the aim to establish a democratic society in Myanmar.

In the election in 1990, the NLD won a victory, but the generals prevented the legislative assembly from convening and refused to release Suu Kyi from house arrest. The Peace Prize awarded in 1991 helped in mobilizing world opinion in favour of Aung San Suu Kyi’s cause.

Aung San Suu Kyi remained under her house arrest till August 2010.

Alva Murdal

Alva Murdal, NobelPeace Prize1
Alva Murdal

Alva Murdal, a Writer, Diplomat, former Cabinet Minister of Sweeden received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1982 for her contribution in the field of disarmament and arms control. As the representative of a non-aligned Sweden, she worked actively to persuade the superpowers to disarm. The nuclear race was a major concern, and she fought for nuclear weapons-free zones in Europe.

Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa
Mother Teresa

Mother Teresa – Needs no introduction. Born on 26 August 1910, Uskup (now Skopje), she made Kolkata her residence and founded the sisterhood Missionaries of Charity.  She was awarded the Peace Prize in 1979 due to her selfless service towards destitute.

Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan

NobelPeace Prize
Betty Williams, Mairead Corrigan

Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan from Belfast, Ireland shared the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976.

In 1976, three innocent children were killed in a shooting incident in Belfast. The housewife and secretary Betty Williams witnessed the tragedy and contacted Mairead Corrigan, the sister of the woman whose children had died.  The daughter of a Protestant father and Catholic mother, Betty William along with Mairead Corrigan decided to launch an appeal against the meaningless use of violence in the conflict between Protestants and Catholics in Northern Ireland.

Emily Greene Balch

Emily Greene Balch , NobelPeace Prize
Emily Greene Balch

Emily Greene Balch was given the Peace Prize in 1946 for her lifelong work for disarmament and peace. However, the US government regarded her as a dangerous radical, so she received no congratulations from the US officials.

Jane Addams

NobelPeace Prize
Jane Addams

Jane Addams, from the USA, received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931. She founded the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom in 1919 and worked for many years to get the great powers to disarm and conclude peace agreements. She too was stamped a dangerous radical and a danger to US security when she spoke out against USA entering the World War I.

Burtha Von Suttner

NobelPeace Prize
Bertha von Suttner

Baroness Burtha Von Suttner, born in the Prague was a Peace activist and first woman to be awarded Nobel Peace Prize in 1905


Reference and Image credit: Nobelprize.org

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  • author's avatar

    By: Somali K Chakrabarti

    Hi there! Welcome to Scribble and Scrawl! Here, I delve into themes related to positive lifestyle – from making smart-living choices, savvy financial decisions to nurturing the mind, body and soul. I share my travel experiences, explore facets of art and culture and highlight inspiring stories. Hope you enjoy reading my posts.

  • author's avatar

Somali K Chakrabarti

Hi there! Welcome to Scribble and Scrawl! Here, I delve into themes related to positive lifestyle - from making smart-living choices, savvy financial decisions to nurturing the mind, body and soul. I share my travel experiences, explore facets of art and culture and highlight inspiring stories. Hope you enjoy reading my posts.

  • Truly inspiring! A Happy Womens’s Day to you :)

  • Great post Somali and wish you too a very happy women’s day!

  • A great tribute to these inspiring women, Somali. Happy women’s day!

  • So wonderful of you to compile this list. Good one!

  • A great compilation, Somali, featuring those great women… the Nobel prize recipients.. :-)

    Happy Women’s Day… :-)

  • Makes me feel we don’t live in such a terrible world, after all. But yes, a lot needs to be done by us for everybody (especially women) to be on an equal footing.

  • Thanks for sharing that post. So few have done so much.

  • Aptly crafted post, the aspect that really caught my attention is the range of subject these Noble Laureate have taken up from Deforestation to Child Protection to Disarmament to Serving Destitute to Women’s Safety. They are across the countries from developed to under developed, their drive for change and the strive for making a real difference is universal and it has nothing to do with region or religion.

    Age is not a limited factor look at Malala Yusufzai or Mother Teresa. Malala was the target of terrorism at a tender age and she stood by and fought the battle valiantly to change the way world looks at young girls in Pakistan. Mother Teresa changed the way India looked at foreigners and her selfless contribution to lift the sagging souls of destitute in India.

    Indeed it is a wonderful tribute to the woman’s power and shortly we can see the Indian woman fighter pilots and we have already seen the all woman captain and crew taking off from the Air India flight to US, not a small feat in any means. Mindset has to change…and it is changing pretty rapidly. The way the Indian Banking sector from SBI to ICICI to Axis Bank are being championed by the Woman CEO’s and Director…other sectors and industry will be taking the cues for that radical transformation.

    Thanks Somali for sharing a historical perspective on woman’s contribution and Nobel Laureate, indeed they are woman of real substance…

    • Absolutely true. These women come from different countries and have championed for a range of causes. Many of them have been criticized as well, but then they went of undeterred. Your observation on the Indian Banking sector is absolutely pertinent, with both private as well as a National Bank being headed by women. Thank you for reading and for sharing your views.

      • The more we read about the fight these women’s have done, the more we realize the tenacity and determination that have built against all odds…they have never given up and they show it is just about the fight but the knowledge, the ability to rise above the ordinary and continuously produce the extra-ordinary.
        Indian women are changing the fundamental landscape our age old society and the practices…the real power of woman is being unleashed…

        Thanks Somali for sharing such an inspirational post.

  • Absolutely stunning women gracefully brought alive in this post so very remarkably and I must shamefully admit that apart from a couple, I hardly have heard of the other greats.
    And continuing with where Nihar left off…India is indeed a forward thinking country way ahead of the most developed states, who have their prejudices and which refuse women to break the glass ceiling..
    Even the MNCs headquartered in such countries have Indian women at the helm..like Indira Nooyi..
    A standing ovation to these worthy women and to the noteworthy post from a striking person!

    • Thank you Sunita. The women deserve a standing ovation. Please allow me to admit that I too did not know about many of them. Recently on the world wildlife day I read about Wangari Marthai. Her story prompted me to dig out about the others who have been awarded the Peace Prize.

  • Indeed a wonderful post Somali.. specially as I was not aware of half of them! SO much to learn and know dear! Thanks for the share

  • Thank you so much for this amazing and very moving post, Somali. Their life and work reminds us of the infinite potential within, motivating us to be stronger,tougher women.

  • Informative post… Thanks for sharing !

  • thank you for sharing with us this important message…that women too have a voice!

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