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Nerves show as Nobel announcement nears

Five women are representing Switzerland in the joint nomination

(Keystone)

The manager of a Swiss project to nominate 1,000 women for the Nobel Peace Prize tells swissinfo tension is rising ahead of Friday's announcement of a winner.

Rebecca Vermot said she would be disappointed if the joint nomination failed to win, but pointed out that winning the prize was just one of the goals.

She said the project had been hugely successful in raising the visibility of women working around the world for peace and justice.

The 1,000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005 project was launched in 2003. The final list of joint nominees was published in June of this year.

swissinfo: How are you feeling as the day of the announcement approaches?

Rebecca Vermot: There are days when I almost forget because there's so much work to do, but I feel it at nights. The nights are not as calm as I would wish.

Mathematically, our chances are one in 198, as there are 198 nominees this year. But I think politically the chances are better than that. If you look at the world today I couldn't imagine anyone receiving the prize but our women!

swissinfo: Presumably you will be very disappointed if the nomination is not successful?

R.V.: Of course we'll be disappointed but only for a very short time, I think, because looking at what we've achieved we've already won the Nobel Peace Prize 100 times over.

We've got three aims to the project: one is the Nobel Peace Prize where we just nominate the women and can't influence the result. A more important aim was to make the women more visible and we've achieved that, through a book, an exhibition and announcing the 1,000 names worldwide at the end of June. Since then the women have been in newspapers all over the world. We hope that through the website we're creating the women will be asked more and more to be international experts in conferences, in peace talks.

The third aim is scientific research, meaning we have 1,000 women telling us about their strategies and methods, and there's an international group of researchers analysing these. So, we've reached two out of the three aims.

swissinfo: Have you ever regretted embarking on the project or thought you should have done things differently?

R.V.: There was a joke we shared that there was one zero too many to the number! There were difficulties: when we called for nominations we received more than 2,000 names and the selection was really difficult, especially of the three women highlighted in Oslo. To follow the Nobel Peace Prize rules we had to highlight three women from the 1,000 to officially accept the prize.

swissinfo: What happens now? Will the work continue regardless of whether you win the prize or not?

R.V.: The work is going to continue regardless because there are emails arriving every day asking for the addresses of the women in Italy, in Hanoi in Vietnam, in China. So we would like to facilitate that networking through the website that we're going to create at the end of the year and which will need another year to be fully functional. There are 1,000 email addresses to be checked and lots of administration.

A conference is going to be held in China at the end of December with all the 108 women nominated from China. Depending on what they decide, this might be the beginning of a civil society in China. There's history happening and this needs to be followed up and someone needs to keep track of it.

swissinfo-interview: Morven McLean

Key facts

Female Nobel Peace Prize winners:
1905 Bertha von Suttner
1931 Jane Addams
1946 Emily Greene Balch
1976 Betty Williams
1976 Mairead Corrigan
1979 Mother Teresa
1982 Alva Myrdal
1991 Aung San Suu Kyi
1992 Rigoberta Menchu Tum
1997 Jody Williams
2003 Shirin Ebadi
2004 Wangari Maathai

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In brief

The 1,000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005 Foundation was set up to increase recognition of the work done by thousands of women around the world to promote peace and justice.

The organisers are bringing out a book containing profiles and pictures of all 1,000 women. They have also organised a photo exhibition which they hope to send round the world.

The book and exhibition are being launched in Zurich on October 14.

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