Nobel Peace Prize Laureates Spotlight The Brave, Visionary Women Of Ukraine And Launch ‘Women Lead’ Campaign
Throughout history, women have played pivotal roles during turning points in their countries, all while bearing the specific impacts wars, conflicts and other upheavals have on their lives. The women of Ukraine facing the daily onslaught of the Russian invasion are no exception. Yet in this war, as in all wars, women’s valuable contributions and leadership are still largely excluded from diplomatic processes, humanitarian efforts, reconstruction and building peace.
To highlight the role of Ukrainian women and ensure that their voices in the war are heard, a delegation including three Nobel Peace Prize laureates—American anti-war activist Jody Williams, Yemeni human rights activist Tawakkol Karman and Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee—traveled to Lviv, Ukraine, as well as Kraków, Poland, which has taken in over one million Ukrainian refugees. They met with hundreds of displaced women and dozens of women’s organizations, shelters, human rights organizations, humanitarian agencies and activists, as well as the mayors of both cities.
The delegates’ visit led to the development of the Women Lead Initiative, a newly launched global campaign that aims to raise awareness of the ongoing war, uplift the role of Ukrainian women in their fight for peace and freedom, and raise 10 million euro to support sustainable civil society based projects in Ukraine benefiting female leaders, activists and entrepreneurs. Women Lead was created jointly by United for Ukraine (UFU), an international NGO effectively addressing Ukraine’s imminent needs for emergency relief and consolidating action to rebuild the country, and Nobel Women’s Initiative (NWI)—an international advocacy organization created by several women Nobel Peace Prize laureates who united to increase the power and visibility of women’s groups working globally for peace, justice and equality.
I had the opportunity to interview the three laureates, as well as Olga Hamama, the president of United for Ukraine who was also part of the delegation, to learn about what motivated their visit, hear about the experiences and stories that resonated with them and find out what they most want people to know about the role and plight of women, what they want for the people and country of Ukraine, and what their call to action is.