Ruth-Gaby Vermot argues that the Nobel Peace Prize, instead of being awarded to more or less deserving statesman, as is the rule, should go to a thousand “peace women” from grassroots projects worldwide. In 2003, in Bern, the Swiss politician therefore founded the association “1000 Women for the 2005 Nobel Peace Prize,” now renamed as “1000 PeaceWomen Across the Globe.” As a member of the Council of Europe, she had, again and again, met women in the refugee camps of Bosnia, Georgia, and Chechnya, who, as she writes, “prepare the groundwork and carry out peacekeeping under extremely dangerous conditions. In difficult circumstances, they procure medication, search for missing persons, demand food for the hungry and fight for better accommodations for refugees. They instruct orphaned children, so as to distract them from their gruesome memories and the experiences of war and to provide daily routine and the courage to deal with life. They relentlessly condemn torture, murder, and disappearances, and use clandestinely taken photos to document the atrocities committed by warring parties. Against the will of the authorities, they hold silent vigils in public places. These are women who are the victims of war. They are the survivors, who are working for peace with all their might. Courageous, determined, and without regard to their own persons, they long for peace.” Peace queens instead of warlords – peace queens without power.
In 2004, the 20 international coordinators of the Bern Association nominated 1000 women from about 150 countries. The criteria for nomination of the women were as follows:
- Their peace activities are inherently non-violent.
- Their work for peace is long lasting, sustainable, and transparent.
- The PeaceWomen assume exemplary tasks of leadership, notable for courage and a high sense of responsibility.
- Their commitment is solely dedicated to the cause of peace, and not to personal or political gain.
- Their work for peace reflects tolerance and respect for cultural and regional diversity and is always relevant to what the people need.
The Nobel Prize committee accepted the list of nominees, but in the end, once again, conferred the prize on a man, IAEA chief Mohamed El Baradei. The project was renamed “1000 PeaceWomen Across the Globe” and continued its work. From the standpoint of an expanded concept of peace and human security, it seeks to make women’s work for peace visible, to acknowledge it and to give it greater international support. It creates networks of women and organizations at the national, regional, and international levels, and reinforces their commitment so that a powerful, crossborder, and global women’s peace movement can emerge.