My Name Is Jody Williams
A Vermont Girl’s Winding Path to the Nobel Peace Prize
Winner of a Nobel Peace Prize, Jody Williams continues to provide moral clarity and deft diplomacy to the lingering effects of armed conflicts around the world. “It’s pretty obvious why a little round thing that can blow people up should not be used—but if you can get people to understand that, you can also use it as a powerful symbol for all of the aftermath of war.”
For her work with the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, Jody Williams became only the tenth woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize, in 1997. (She won the Prize one week after a historic treaty banning landmines was signed by 122 nations; her work as chief spokesperson for ICBL was instrumental in the treaty's creation and approval.) Williams has also been named one of the 100 Most Powerful Women in the World by Forbes. Her memoir, My Name Is Jody Williams: A Vermont Girl’s Winding Path to the Nobel Peace Prize, tells the story of how Williams, a self proclaimed “average woman,” went from humble Vermont beginnings to a Nobel Peace Prize-winner.
As its founding coordinator (and now as its campaign advisor), Williams grew the ICBL to over 1,300 NGOs in over 95 countries, and is noted for her ability to build partnerships between governments, the UN, international agencies like the Red Cross, and non-profits—an unprecedented display of cooperation, technology and people power that has redefined worldwide political action. She used these same skills in 2007, leading a high level mission to Darfur for the UN’s Human Rights Council; she is now a leading voice in stopping the war in Darfur. She is also the Chair of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, which works with women to promote peace and equality. In academia, she is a Distinguished Professor of Social Work and Global Justice at the University of Houston, and was recently named Sam and Cele Keeper Endowed Professor in Peace and Social Justice.
Williams discusses “security” in today’s globalized world, arguing that if the security needs of individuals and communities are disregarded, and all emphasis is put on “national security,” sustainable global peace and security will not be achievable.
Williams highlights the largely unrecognized efforts of women around the world in conflict situations to hold family and community together while struggling for peace during armed conflict. It is fundamental to involve women in all aspects of conflict prevention, peace negotiations, and peace-building, she says, if sustainable peace is to be achieved in conflict-ridden states.
Faced with the prospect of nuclear proliferation, nuclear weapons falling into the hands of non-state actors, and NATO’s continued position of preserving the right of “first use of tactical nuclear weapons,” Williams discusses the urgent need of citizen involvement in creating a new global movement to ban nukes.