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Swiss foundation unveils shortlist for peace prize

Ruth-Gaby Vermot-Mangold (centre) is president of the foundation Keystone

A Swiss-backed initiative has come a step closer to realising its aim of nominating 1,000 women for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005.

The organisers announced on Monday that they had drawn up a shortlist of names to be submitted to the Nobel committee in Oslo at the end of January.

Swiss parliamentarian Ruth-Gaby Vermot-Mangold, president of the 1,000 Women for the Nobel Peace Prize 2005 Foundation, said the aim of the project was to boost recognition for the work done by thousands of women around the world.

“This work carried out in the name of peace needs to be made more visible,” said Vermot-Mangold.

By the end of June, the Bern-based committee in charge of the project had received the names of more than 1,800 candidates.

But Vermot-Mangold said that a number of women who could have been included on the list had asked not to be named and declined to take part.

“These women did not want to be nominated because they [are in a situation where they] fear for their lives,” she said.

Selection process

Those in charge of drawing up the list said the task of tracking down individuals involved in peace activities – particularly in poor or isolated regions where access to the internet and the media is limited – had not been easy.

The women who appear on the shortlist come from 140 countries. Around 65 of those nominated live in western Europe, while two are Swiss nationals.

According to organisers, nearly half of those selected are women involved in peace activities at a grassroots level who would not otherwise receive recognition for their work.

The project envisages that the group of 1,000 women would – if chosen by the Nobel committee – collectively receive the 2005 Peace Prize, an award which has until now only ever been given to an individual or organisation.

Increasing awareness

The initiative is partly financed by the Swiss foreign ministry and supported by the Swiss Peace Foundation as well as the United Nations Development Fund for Women.

The goal is to increase international awareness of the fact that peace is about more than treaties, ceasefires and handshakes between heads of state.

Details of the project come just over a week after Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai became the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

Maathai was honoured for fighting poverty by trying to save the continent’s shrinking forests.

She is the 12th woman to receive the peace award since it was established in 1901. The 2003 prize also went to a woman, Iranian human rights lawyer Shirin Ebadi.

swissinfo with agencies

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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SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR

SWI - a branch of Swiss Broadcasting Corporation SRG SSR