On Monday, 17-year-old environmental activist Greta Thunberg was nominated for the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize for the second time in a row. Swedish politicians Jens Holm and Hakan Svenneling nominated Thunberg for this year’s award for her pointed efforts to encourage young people to protest against lawmakers not taking a stand against climate change.
According to her nominators, Thunberg “has worked hard to make politicians open their eyes to the climate crisis” and “action for reducing our emissions and complying with the Paris Agreement is therefore also an act of making peace.”
Thunberg was previously nominated for the 2019 Nobel Peace Prize, but lost to Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, who won for efforts to achieve international peace, specifically in alleviating conflict with the bordering Eritrea. But Ahmed shared one thing in common with the majority of his preceding winners: they are almost all men.
In fact, if Thunberg does win this year, she will only be the 54th woman to hold the title of Nobel Prize recipient. And, she will only be the 18th woman to ever hold the Nobel Peace Prize, specifically. This is a stark contrast to the 866 male Nobel Laureates, and 90 male Nobel Peace Prize winners since 1901.
In the award’s 118-year history, it’s eye-opening that Thunberg would only be this close in the line of women innovators before her that were nominated. It also puts into perspective how much women’s accomplishments are seemingly undervalued by institutions.
Since 1901, male Nobel Peace Prize nominees have been named the winner on 73 more occasions than women, and while the numbers are disappointing, it puts the work of the previous winners into perspective. Activist Malala Yousafzai, who has championed women’s and girl’s rights to education, won the Nobel Peace Prize alongside child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi in 2014 for “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education.”
And, the last woman to win the award was human right’s activist Nadia Murad in 2018. Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, activist Leymah Gbowee and Yemeni leader Tawakkol Karman won in 2011 “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”
Despite these accomplishments for women, they’ve all happened in the last decade, which leaves a large lapse in time where women were not winning Nobel prizes as a whole. After Marie Curie’s 1903 Nobel prize, Maria Goeppert-Mayer was the next woman laureate — 60 years later.
Now, as Thunberg is once-again nominated for the prestigious Peace prize, she is not only setting a standard for women nation wide, but young women in particular — paving a path to speak up and act immediately on the global climate change crisis.
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