For an award that seeks to support its recipients, the question of impact often cannot be measured in hard figures alone. Here is what our Laureates told us about the impact of the Right Livelihood Award.
“Now you are untouchable“ was the chief of police’s observation to Helen Mack Chang upon her return to Guatemala. Just shortly before she had accepted the Right Livelihood Award in the Swedish Parliament in 1992.
Helen sought justice for the murder of her sister Myrna who had been killed by a military commando. Her persistence in working to end the impunity of human rights abusers put her own life at risk. She lived through harassment and even death threats. To her, the Right Livelihood Award meant protection.
“I think it contributed significantly to saving my life”, she later said.
For many Laureates the prize money meant a major boost to their work. Sometimes it has helped Laureates to set up their own organisations like in the case of Michael Succow and the Michael Succow Foundation.
In 2008, Monika Hauser received the Right Livelihood Award for her work with women who have experienced sexualised violence. In the six months that followed the announcement, Hauser’s organisation Medica mondiale received twice as much in donations than over the same period the year before. The public attention was also enormous. Monika Hauser said: “The prize certainly played a major role in this jump in donations. So the Award’s value is not only about the prize money itself, it goes far beyond that.”
An Award that comes with reputation and credibility can open doors that remained closed before. It allows journalists to identify the Laureates as experts and opinion makers and to take up their stories and work:
Survival International does not doubt that the Award played a major role in the decision of the Brazilian government in 1992 (after a 20 year long campaign) to agree to the demands of the Yanomami tribe for a reserve on their ancestral lands:
“The 1989 trip to the prize ceremony certainly catapulted the Yanomami onto the international stage, exactly as we had hoped. It gave the Indians massively-increased media coverage, and there is no doubt that this led to the Brazilian government’s final capitulation three years later, when it created the Yanomami park that we had been pressing for since the 1970s.”