31/12/2002

Acceptance speech – Kvinna till Kvinna

The underlying idea in establishing Kvinna till Kvinna was precisely to ask women: how do you want to live your lives, what do you need in order to be a part of building your and your families' futures?

Translation in English:

Mr Speaker, Dear Friends, it is with great happiness and honour that we at Kvinna till Kvinna accept this award.

Receiving the award is for us a confirmation that our work is recognized and that women’s participation in peace building is a necessity for peace to be established. It is also a confirmation that our working methods, through our collaboration with the local women’s organizations, is an important part of peace building.

Kvinna till Kvinna is not only a new aid organization that focuses on the particular needs of women, but also an organization that wants to develop and disseminate research about women’s situations in areas of crisis or conflict. Research that should be used to better understand the local population’s possibilities and opportunities to affect their future.

Peace agreements are often agreements where the two warring parties negotiate a ceasefire, (which is to say, that I think for the most part these agreements do not mean an end, but rather a beginning, of something).

Sometimes, as in the Dayton agreement for Bosnia-Herzegovina, there are guidelines included in the agreements for how people will live together in the future. But these are almost never seen from the perspective of the local population. And women are always neglected when it comes to planning the future.

The time to write pretty speeches and make highbrow proclamations is over. We as the global community already have all the necessary instruments that we need: The UN Treaty, the UN Declaration for Human Rights – with its clarification in 1993 that women are also human beings – the International Criminal Court, and a wealth of other international laws and recommendations that guide us in living together, as good neighbours who do not want to take up arms to solve conflicts. We have the resources, as long as we have the desire.

These tools, in collaboration with the local population’s experiences and their will to live a respectable life, are the forces that could break the contemporary world order which builds on fear and greed and that continues to develop more sophisticated weapons instead of working for the common good.

According to the dictionary, livelihood does not only mean an income to live on, but more importantly a way of life. And if we all want to have an effect on world affairs it is essential, in our opinion, how and what one does that can make a change.

“NO ONE asked us,” was written on a poster when women in Belgrade celebrated March 8, 1994. No one asked us if we wanted this war.

The underlying idea in establishing Kvinna till Kvinna was precisely to ask women: how do you want to live your lives, what do you need in order to be a part of building your and your families’ futures?

The needs are different depending on where one lives, and what possibilities are available. The question that needs to be asked is – what is the biggest obstacle facing women in this particular place, and at this very point in time? The strong women that have organized themselves in the areas where we work have the answers to these questions:

  • If you don’t have a place to meet, and don’t get an opportunity to share your experiences and learn that you are not alone, then you can’t progress in life.
  • If you are kept from understanding that it is not you who are strange, but rather that it is the situation that is abnormal, you can’t begin to heal.
  • If you don’t have access to health care then you can’t become active in rebuilding your own country.
  • If you don’t have the opportunity to an education that will help develop greater chances to finding gainful employment – this includes everything from learning how to read and write to learning how to use a computer – you have less chances to chose your own way.
  • If you don’t have the possibility of earning your own salary it is difficult to make a decision to leave a violent domestic situation.

Women who work with questions related to health care, education, domestic violence, and trauma treatment recognize the causes to these problems.

Therefore they need to have a voice in the decision-making body. To achieve this there is a need to gather data, information about the laws, work to influence the lawmakers and to get more women into politics.

It is often the women’s organizations that are first to address questions that have previously been taboo, and to push them into the public debate and to demand changes.

These are the women that HAVE to have a place at the negotiating table and in the rebuilding of their countries.

How else can this knowledge that they possess be used and disseminated? It is a big loss for the societies that are to be rebuilt, not to have these particular women present and engaged in the process from the beginning.

Women’s organizations which are active in areas where houses are being rebuilt, see the villages where only women and children live and make sure that they receive their share of the aid – otherwise, these areas are forgotten.

Women who meet across borders to discuss their future make demands on the UN to include women in the peace process. Active women need all the support they can get ?

But most of all they need to be able to have their voices heard. In their own country – and by us, in the international community.

What has made us especially happy about getting this award are the many spontaneous reactions we have received from our working partners in the Balkans, the Middle East and Georgia; reactions which tell us that they too feel a part in this distinction:

Center For Protection of Women and Children, Prishtina: 

It was 1994 when Kvinna till Kvinna was in the phase of structuring its activities in the international arena when we first met. This year of first contact had an extreme importance for us women in Kosova waging peace and documenting violence to have you volunteering to become our voice abroad to sensitize the gross violations of our human rights. In those years before and ahead of time we had a limited freedom of circulation, a prohibited way to communicate with the world and no access to internet which grew a lot later. It was you Kvinna till Kvinna that became our voice, our Ambassador for Peace and our Hope for a future.

Jerusalem Link, Jerusalem: 

Not often do Palestinian and Israeli women have the opportunity to enjoy the ideological, political and financial support of an organization whose feminist principles and vision so closely parallel our own. As we struggle in our attempts to promote a joint vision of a just peace in our region, we also recognize that the struggle would be that much more difficult without the solidarity and warm “hug” we receive from Kvinna till Kvinna.

Zena Zenama, Sarajevo: 

Participating in the KtK project gave those of us in Zene Zenama a safe space to look at where we are going and personally to take time to feel safe enough to share with you, through your gentle questions-our personal visions of the future we want.

Even here, at home in Sweden, many of those who have helped and supported us have expressed a similar feeling of solidarity with our organization. We have received this award together. Kvinna till Kvinna is now a part of strong movement.

I hope that we will be able to meet all the expectations that receiving the Right Livelihood Award has placed upon us.

Thank you!




Kvinna till Kvinna
Slakthusplan 3
121 62 Johanneshov
SWEDEN
http://www.iktk.se/