Nobel Peace Prize Women

Sixteen women have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize so far. We’re hoping this number continues to grow – we truly believe women deserve more recognition for the work they’ve been doing! Take a look at the achievements made by Nobel Peace Prize winning women so far:

1905 – Bertha von Suttner, Austria-Hungary

Photo of Bertha Von Suttner

Interestingly, the first woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize actually worked as a secretary to Alfred Nobel for a few months, in 1876. In the last half of her life she was a tireless champion of peace in Germany and Austria, and published many critically acclaimed books and pacifist journals.

1931 – Jane Addams, United States

Jane Addams was one of the founding members and the first President of WILPF and is one of two members of the organisation to have won the Peace Noble Prize. She is known as the mother of social work and for her efforts with the peace movement, for which she received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1931, the first American woman to win the prize.

1946 – Emily Greene Balch, United States

Emily Greene Balch was an American economist, sociologist and activist. After the outbreak of World War I she dedicated herself to the eradication of war and her lifework to the peace movement. She was WILPF’s first International Secretary and for this role she was also presented with the Nobel Peace Prize in 1946 – an obvious acknowledgement of WILPF’s success in its endeavours.

1976 – Betty Williams, United Kingdom

Photo of Betty WilliamsBetty Williams was the founder of the Northern Ireland Peace Movement (later renamed Community of Peace People), and went on to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 1976. In 2006, she became one of the six founding members of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, and currently heads the World Centers of Compassion for Children International.

1976 – Mairead Corrigan, United Kingdom

Photo of Mairead CorriganMairead Corrigan won the Award along with Betty Williams, in 1976, for her efforts to end the violence plaguing Northern Ireland. She was also a founder of the Northern Ireland Peace Movement.


1979 – Mother Teresa, India

Photo of Mother TeresaMother Teresa felt the call of God at the age of 12 and subsequently devoted her life to helping the poorest of the poor. She depended on Divine Providence initially in assisting in the slums of Calcutta, but soon received financial aid and many volunteers. She has received a whole host of awards, including the Nobel Peace Prize in 1979, and is internationally renowned.

1982 – Alva Myrdal, Sweden

Photo of Alva MyrdalAlva Myrdal was a champion of disarmament – an issue WILPF believes strongly in! In 1962 she was appointed Swedish representative to the Geneva disarmament conference. Over the following years, she played a crucial role in placing pressure on the US and USSR to disarm, and has exercised a significant influence on the current disarmament debate. She received a Nobel Peace Prize in 1982.

1991 – Aung San Suu Kyi, Burma

Photo of Aung San Suu KyiAung San Suu Kyi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1991 for her lifelong activism in Burma. However, at that point she had already been placed under house arrest by the Burmese military junta. It was only two decades later, in 2012, that she was finally released from house arrest and allowed to travel to Europe to give her acceptance speech.

1992 – Rigoberta Menchú, Guatemala

Photo of Rigoberta MenchuReceiving the award in 1992, Rigoberta Menchú was commended for her fight for social justice and ethnocultural reconciliation in Guatemala, focused particularly on indigenous people’s rights there. She joined the Committee of the Peasant Union in 1979, to become a member of the National Coordinating Committee in later years.

1997 – Jody Williams, United States

Photo of Jody WilliamsIn 1997, Jody Williams won the Prize for her contribution to the fight to ban landmines. She is the founding coordinator of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL), which has now grown to encompass more than 1000 NGOs, in over sixty different countries.

2003 – Shirin Ebadi, Iran

Photo of Shirin EbadiShirin Ebadi was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her efforts to ensure the enforcement of human rights as a whole, with a particular focus on women and children’s rights. She founded the Defenders of Human Rights Centre in Iran and is the first Iranian to have ever won the Peace Prize.

2004 – Wangari Muta Maathai, Kenya

Photo of Wangari MaathaiWangari Maathai was the first woman in East and Central Africa to gain a doctorate degree! She started the Green Belt Movement, planting trees with women’s groups to help the environment and improve women’s quality of life at the same time. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 in recognition for her fight for human rights and environmental conservation.

2011 – Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia

Photo of Ellen Johnson SirleafAfter Wangari Maathai won in 2004, there seemed to be a lull in female award winners. So the announcement of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s award in 2011 was a step forward in making sure women are recognised for what they do. After becoming President of Liberia in 2005 and winning a re-election, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has done much to drag her country out of its bloody past, including a traumatising civil war.

2011 – Leymah Gbowee, Liberia

Photo of Leymah GboweeLeymah Gbowee, also from Liberia, won the Peace Prize alongside Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in 2011. Their common goal was to achieve peace for Liberia – an especially impressive feat in the face of the country’s prevailing sexual inequality. In her acceptance speech she said, ‘The world used to remember Liberia for child soldiers but now they remember our country for the… women.”

2011 – Tawakel Karman, Yemen

Photo of Tamakal KarmanTawakel Karman became the international face of the Yemeni uprising, part of the Arab Spring in 2011, and won the Peace Prize with Leymah Gbowee and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.


2014 – Malala Yousafzai, Pakistan

malala-croppedMalala Yousafzai is the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, at the age of only 16! She was awarded the prize jointly with Kailash Satyarthi for her work against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.

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