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    » 02/24/2010, 00.00

    JAPAN – INDIA

    Niwano Peace Prize laureate Bhatt, from India, working to promote the status of women



    A follower of Gandhi, she is known as the “gentle revolutionary”. She is also the founder of the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), which now has 1.2 million members, mostly poor and self-employed women. Her goal is to educate women to take charge of their movement, be strong and visible and lead social change.
    Tokyo (AsiaNews) – Ela Ramesh Bhatt, from India, is the winner of the 27th Niwano Peace Prize. Born in 1933 and a follower of Gandhi’s philosophy, she is known as the “gentle revolutionary” who founded the Self-Employed Women’s Association (SEWA) in Ahmedabad (India) in 1972. Today it has a membership of 1.2 million, mostly poor and self-employed women.

    SEWA’s goal is to organise women workers and their families to gain full employment and economic self-reliance, to educate them to lead their own movement to achieve economic independence and organise for social change.

    In 1974, she founded the SEWA Cooperative Bank, whose outreach touches three million women. Subsequently, she organised the International Alliance of Home-based Workers (HomeNet), Street Vendors (StreetNet) and Women in Informal Employment: Globalizing Organizing (WIEGO).

    For decades, she was a member of the Rockefeller Foundation, and currently sits on the Council of Elders set up by Nelson Mandela in 2007

    The Niwano Peace Foundation was established in 1978 to contribute to world peace in such fields as philosophy, culture, science and education. Thanks to donations worth billions of yen, the Foundation organises cultural activities and international exchanges. Every year, it awards the Niwano Peace Prize to individuals or associations that promote peace and inter-faith dialogue.

    In the nomination process, some 700 people and organisations, representing 125 countries and many religions, are asked to propose candidates. Nominations are rigorously screened by the Niwano Peace Prize Committee, which is made up of twelve religious leaders from various parts of the world involved in movements for peace and inter-religious cooperation.

    The Foundation is the legacy of Nikkyo Niwano, founder and first president of the lay Buddhist organisation Rissho Kosei-kai, whose purpose is to renew Amida Buddhism through deep spirituality, social involvement, promotion of peace and inter-faith dialogue.

    Past winners include Archbishop Helder Camara, from Brazil, Rev Philip A. Potter, a former general secretary of the World Council of Churches, Card Paulo Evaristo Arns, the village of Neve Shalom-Wāħat as-Salām founded by Israeli Arabs and Jews, and Jordan’s Prince El Hassan bin Talal.

    This year’s award ceremony is scheduled for 13 May in Tokyo. The winner will receive an award certificate, a medal and 20 million yen (US$ 225,000).

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    See also

    24/02/2015 JAPAN
    A Nigerian pastor and activist for women's rights awarded 32nd Niwano Peace Prize
    Esther Abimiku Ibanga founded the "Women Without Walls Initiative" to end the violence and the unjustified killing of women and children in Plateau State, Nigeria. The organization has become a strong coalition of women's groups beyond ethnic and religious divisions and is the first to have among its members, women leaders from all tribal groups, including Christian and Muslim.

    01/03/2012 JAPAN
    Guatemalan Rosalina Velasquez Tuyuc awarded 29th Niwano Peace Prize
    Activist for human rights, especially for the defense of Mayan people and traditions. Dedicated her cultural and political activities in particular to exploitation of and violence against women and promoting reconciliation in her country.

    28/02/2008 JAPAN – JORDAN
    Niwano Prize awarded to Jordan’s Prince Hassan
    The award ceremony is scheduled for 8 May in Tokyo. The prince is being recognised for his actions as a “bridge builder” between civilisations and religions in the Middle East.

    28/02/2014 JAPAN
    Dena Merriam, leader of the Global Peace Initiative for Women, wins the Niwano Peace Prize
    The organisation's purpose is to empower women, facilitate reconciliation in conflict and post-conflict areas, and offer spiritual resources to help address critical global problems. Since its founding, the GPIW has organised roundtables in Israel/Palestine, Iraq, Sudan, Afghanistan, Cambodia and Kashmir.

    27/02/2004 japan
    Niwano Peace Prize awarded to Ugandan organization




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