Maddy Dychtwald

Women Peace Prize Winners Band Together to Help Others

In Huffington Post Series on June 1, 2010 at 8:03 am

The Tea Party Movement has been brewing for awhile in our country, resulting in front page headlines, strong political rhetoric and emotional reactions — both pro and con — from many Americans. But I want to tell you about a very different tea party, with a far more satisfying outcome.

It started on a hot November day in Nairobi, Kenya. This potentially world-changing movement began when the composed, well tailored Iranian lawyer and former judge Shirin Ebadi took tea with Jody Williams, the brash American activist who peppers her polemics with salty unprintables. It was an unlikely tea party. Yet it led directly to another tea party the very next day, with a third guest, Wangari Maathai of Kenya, who had just joined Ebadi and Williams in a very small, elite club–women winners of the Nobel Peace Prize.

“In the 108 year history of the Nobel Peace Prize, only 12 women have received it,” Williams told me on the phone when I interviewed her for my book, INFLUENCE: How Women’s Soaring Economic Power Will Transform Our World for the Better. Seven of those women are alive today. Williams and Ebadi had received their awards for very different kinds of work: Williams, in 1997, for bringing dozens of NGOs and governments together to oppose the use of landmines in war; Ebadi, in 2003, for campaigning fearlessly (despite death threats, harassment and imprisonment) for the rights of women and children in Iran. Their backgrounds and personal causes were worlds apart. But as they talked over tea about their mutual desire for a more peaceful world, they came up with a novel idea for a shared vision.

The Nobel Women’s Initiative started as a simple tea party but has become so much more. (You can join them on Facebook.) The group’s mission is to promote, spotlight, and grow the work of women’s rights advocates and organizations worldwide that address the root causes of violence. “We are in search of democracy that transforms not just our lives, but all society–and we will not be silenced until it is achieved in every part of the world.” Now this is the kind of tea party movement that we can all get behind.

Read this article as it originally appeared on the Huffington Post.

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