At a star-studded ceremony at the Beverly Hills Hotel on Tuesday, the Feminist Majority Foundation honored four of the seven living women Nobel Peace Prize winners for their work for women’s rights. “These are obviously extraordinary people. All the more so when you realize how hard it is to win a Nobel PrizeÉ Of the 758 Nobel Prize winners, only 33 have been women, and only 12 have been awarded the Peace Prize,” said host Salma Hayek in her opening address. Actor-director Hayek co-hosted the event with Mavis and Jay Leno.
The award, inspired by Eleanor Roosevelt’s human rights and peace work, was presented to Nobel Prize Laureates Shirin Ebadi (2003) of Iran, Jody Williams (1997) of the United States, Betty Williams (1997) of Northern Ireland, and Rigoberta Menchu Tum (1992) of Guatemala. As the laureates took the stage, they were greeted with an overwhelming standing ovation.
Over 350 people attended the event, which featured a panel discussion with the four laureates and Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. The Feminist Majority Foundation was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002 for its campaign, chaired by Mavis Leno, to bring the world’s attention to the Taliban regime’s crimes against women and girls.
Notable celebrities and activists attended the event to show their support for women’s rights, including anti-war activist Cindy Sheehan, Diane Lane, Angela Lansbury, Amy Brenneman, Shirley Jones, Ron Howard and Cheryl Howard (a 2005 Global Women’s Rights Award winner). Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa also attended the event with his wife Corina.
The four women, with Wangari Muta Maathai (Nobel Peace Prize Winner in 2004), are launching the Women’s Nobel Peace Laureates Initiative, an organization devoted to promoting women’s rights and the important, and too often overlooked, peace work done by women around the world. In response to a possible US air strike against Iran, Iranian laureate Ebadi and American laureate Williams read a joint statement calling on their governments to find a peaceful and nonviolent solution to their conflict.