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"It is not just about hope and ideas, it's about action...Our duty is to have a dream, but work everyday for reality" Shirin Ebadi

Visit conference coverage   NWI events 2010    Nobel Women's Initiative 2009    Nobel Women's Initiative 2007

The Nobel Women’s Initiative was established by sister Nobel Peace Laureates Jody Williams, Shirin Ebadi, Wangari Maathai, Rigoberta Menchú Tum, Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan Maguire. The women are united in their support for women's rights work and bring together women activists and scholars from around the world in an effort to build a culture of peace with justice and equality. openDemocracy has been covering these international gatherings since 2007 in articles written by participants and openDemocracy's own authors. View the full list of articles or, alternatively, browse by yearly coverage: 2007, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013.

Listen to 50.50 Nobel Women's Initiative podcasts.

Read Towards nuclear non-proliferation.

Read Towards nonviolence.

Excluded and silenced: Women in Northern Ireland after the peace process

There is a backlash against women’s agency in Northern Ireland in a number of different ways, all of which impact on the ability of women to participate fully in initiatives intended to deal with the legacy of the past and support the transition out of conflict.

Daring to speak: militarism and women’s human rights in Burma

‘How can we get peace and democracy when we still have domestic wars and when everyday people are dying?’ Jessica Nhkum spoke to Jennifer Allsopp at the Nobel Women's Initiative conference in Belfast about the importance of documenting human rights violations, injustices and inequality on the ground in Burma

Leymah Gbowee: five words for the men of Libya

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee was recently invited to Tripoli to deliver a speech on the role of women in transforming conflict and leading reconciliation in Libya. When she saw who was in the audience, she changed her prepared speech...

From the war on terror to austerity: a lost decade for women and human rights

Patriarchy, militarism and neoliberalism have created a matrix in which women and women’s rights can never flourish because none of them place human values and human dignity at their core. Heather McRobie reflects on the conversations at the Nobel Women's Initiative conference in Belfast.

Militarism and non-state actors: ‘the other invasion’

'What they call transnational development companies. For us they represent death and destruction’, yet when it comes to the pursuit of justice through law, too often activists are on the wrong side. Jennifer Allsopp reports from Belfast at the Nobel Women’s Initiative Conference.

What sex means for world peace

Speaking at the Nobel Women’s Initiative conference, Valerie Hudson argues that best predictor of a state’s peacefulness is how well its women are treated. Little analysed in international relations theory, state security and women’s security are inextricably linked. Heather McRobie reports from Belfast

Challenging militarized masculinities

It is not that ‘masculinity’ generates war, as the question has been put, but rather that the process of militarization both draws on and exaggerates the bipolarization of gender identities in extremis, says Amina Mama 

Patriarchy and militarism in Egypt: from the street to the government

The lack of institutional concern for epidemic levels of sexual harassment and assault in Egypt is part of the larger neglect of the issue of gender equality by the post-revolutionary powers, says Heather McRobie. 

"We want peace. We’re tired of war"

"If we live violence every day, how can we work for the development of our country so that we can benefit from human rights like other countries and like other women?"  - Julienne Lusenge speaking about her work as a women's human rights defender in the DRC

To a culture of peace from a culture of war

The culture of war is like a mangrove that takes root in our everyday lives and institutions occupying a dominant position in the field of cultural reproduction. Jennifer Allsopp reports from the Nobel Women’s Initiative conference on the nonviolent tactics, syllabuses, movements and strategies in place to build a culture of peace.

Peacebuilding and the nation-state: towards a nonviolent world

When did a political formation in theory designed to preserve our common good become a machinery of war? Or does the nation-state depend on militarism for its very existence? Jennifer Allsopp writes from the Nobel Women’s Initiative conference in Belfast.

Women of Senegal: agents of peace

The physical and moral suffering undergone by the valiant people of Casamance is incalculable and, as usual, it is the women and children who pay the highest price. From their position as victims, women have decided to become committed agents of peace, says Ndeye Marie Thiam.

The framework of democracy is human rights law

Democracy is more of a culture than a way of governing or a political system. It is a historical process that must go through its evolution. No country can be a quasi democracy. It is in fact democratic people that make a society democratic, says Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi

Women in post-earthquake Haiti: moving beyond survival

Haitian women who are living and organising in the displacement camps, together with international partners, have produced an essential blueprint for addressing rape. If adopted by the Haitian Parliament as revisions to the Haitian legal code, this would be a major advancement in legislation addressing gender-based violence and discrimination, says Yifat Susskind.

Ending violence against women: the challenge of translating words into action

In recognising rape and sexual violence as a violation of human rights, the presence of expansive and well intentioned laws is not effective if impunity ensures lack of accountability and transparency, says Adelaide

From banning nuclear tests to banning nuclear weapons

Sixty years after Britain’s first atomic weapons test, we need to consider the parallels between how the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was achieved in the 1990s and today’s nuclear challenges. The British government is, yet again, unable to read the writing on the wall, says Rebecca Johnson

Women and the language of peace protest

In January 1968, young feminist antiwar activists in the U.S temporarily broke with a long tradition of protesting war as mothers. At an all-women’s protest against the Vietnam War, they symbolically buried “Traditional Womanhood” and claimed the right to protest as independent citizens.  Does it matter what language women use to protest war ?

Japan's peace pledge under attack

Japan adopted its war-renouncing constitution following World War II, with Article 9 as a promise to itself and a pledge to the world to never repeat its mistakes. The debate provoked by Prime Minister Abe Shinzo over amending this famous peace clause threatens to destabilise the fragile regional peace

"I protest": challenging the war policies of the United States

After serving in the US Army, and later as a diplomat, Colonel Ann Wright resigned her position in opposition to the US invasion of Iraq, 2003. She explains her opposition to the use of drones, and why any demilitarism plan for the planet must begin with the United States

How to vote for peace

In order to vote for peace, we must first vote for voting systems which are 'peace-ful'. Peter Emerson argues for consensus voting which allows for differences but mutual respect, is inclusive, accurate, and very democratic

The foundation of human security in every society

The social fabric of a group is woven, in the first place, by the efforts of women. After war, the surest way to rebuild society is to protect and empower those who will re-weave the torn social fabric if given half a chance to do so: the women.

Building a culture of love: replacing a culture of violence and death

What unites people's movements from the Arab 'spring' to Occupy, is a new consciousness that a good life, with dignity, freedom, fairness and human security, is their right -  and by the law of love and logic, the right of every man and woman, says laureate Mairead Maguire.

Beyond war: women transforming militarism, building a nonviolent world

If we want to ensure that humanity is not doomed to repeat its bloodiest century, the logical move would be to mount an international campaign to see that competent women are swiftly accepted into policy-making positions in all conflict countries, says Scilla Elworthy

The meaning of peace in the 21st century

Nobel Peace laureate Shirin Ebadi writes at the opening of the first international conference of the Nobel Women's Initiative: Women redefining peace in the Middle East and beyond.

Peacework: lessons we have failed to learn

Isabel Hilton reports from Galway on the first international conference of the Nobel Women's Initiative: Women redefining peace in the Middle East and Beyond

A call to engender Turkey’s peace process

Turkey’s agenda for peace aims to overcome the decades-old Kurdish question and raise democratic standards. While welcoming this initiative, Yakin Ertürk questions whether the end of conflict will bring peace to women if gender equality issues are not adequately addressed

Women in the US military – uncomfortable power

Last week saw the lifting of the ban on women in combat in the US military.  How will this change the dynamics within and perceptions of the American military, and will it help reduce the current epidemic levels of sexual harassment and sexual assault within the armed forces?

Fear and fury: women and post-revolutionary violence

Putting episodes of post-Arab spring violence against women down to a routine manifestation of patriarchy and its allied misogyny in the societies concerned may unwittingly shield power-holders from more searching scrutiny. What is at stake is no longer just women and their bodies but the body politic itself, argues Deniz Kandiyoti.

Men: time to stand up

For too long the absence of men and boys, as well as the missing component of youth ingenuity and passion, has been an impediment to lasting progress in achieving gender equality and the prevention of violence against women and girls, says Jimmie Briggs.

A long road ahead for Yemeni women

Women led many of the protests, and were vital in the sustainability of the movement during the Yemeni revolution, but as preparations for the national dialogue to be held under the transitional unity government go ahead, many women fear that the rival political parties will only unite around one matter: excluding women’s issues.

Every act of violence is a choice

“Sometimes we need to name the abnormal as abnormal, and take action to defend what is normal!” - Shereen Essof. Jessica Horn reports at the close of the Nobel Women's Initiative conference, 'Women Forging a New Security: ending sexual violence in conflict'

What kind of feminism does war provoke?

The to-ing and fro-ing about ‘women’s peaceful natures’ is no more than an excitable bubble of argument out of touch with facts on the ground. Antiwar feminism is a pretty holistic feminism that is forged in the crucible of war.

GenderForce: why didn't we do this before?

"As an 18 year old woman I wanted to join what I saw as the coolest and toughest force - not the Air Force, not the Navy, but the Army. I was the first woman to join, and arrived full of ideas of what life would be like as a woman in the army. Things were not as I had imagined at all...."

Where we must stand: African women in an age of war

Whether one considers the direct effects of military rule and conflict on women, or the global economic implications of the US war-on-terror, militarism threatens to strip away all the 20th century gains in women’s rights, dispossessing us once more. African women must take a stand, says Amina Mama

Within the hell of war lies a private hell

It is easy to think of impunity as a sin of omission. The hand not raised in protest appears genteel alongside the hand stained with the blood of the victim. Yet we learned from the testimonies of women on the frontlines of battle for gender justice that impunity not only perpetuates crimes against women, it teaches generation after generation how to continue the practice.

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