A Statement from Nobel Peace Laureates Jody Williams and Leymah Gbowee
The Nobel Women’s Initiative (NWI), through the efforts of an incredible group of women across the organization and partnerships across the globe, has worked to achieve peace, justice and equality. Since its founding 15 years ago, NWI has spotlighted and amplified the critical work and analysis of grassroots women’s organizations and movements around the world.
In creating the organization, however, we did not explore structures beyond the hierarchical systems we had been exposed to which led to a growing gap between the core values carried out in our external work and that inside the office. We did not recognize the negative impact and resulting harm, particularly on staff.
Additionally, we should have acted sooner and we failed to hear and appropriately respond to those who reached out and for all of that, we are profoundly sorry. It took the unexpected and abrupt resignation of five staff and two long-term consultants over a year ago to wake us up to the changes needed. At NWI we have followed a steady course to bring them about. Perhaps not as rapidly as some might have wished, but our commitment to change is real and ongoing.
At the beginning of this journey, we said we would be open and transparent. Over the months following the staff/consultant resignations, we have regularly reported on the changes being implemented at NWI. Today, with our release of the findings of an independent external review, conducted by Community Resource Exchange (CRE) — focusing particularly on the events of last year at NWI and CRE’s resulting recommendations for change and repair — we remain true to that pledge.
In January of 2021, NWI hired an Interim Executive Director. We have now appointed an Interim Board of Directors in our place to continue the process of change, and act on the findings and recommendations of the external CRE report. Our interim Board Members — Aruna Rao, Dildar Kaya, Roberta Clarke and Sarah Jewell — are leaders in peace, justice, equality and organizational change.
We pledge our ongoing commitment to the organization, its values, and to the interim board’s work to transform NWI. We further commit to our own collective reflecting, learning and reimagining of NWI and our role as the laureates within it.
Thank you for continuing with us on this journey. While these have been challenging times, we are grateful for the push and the opportunity to transform NWI, to be better, and to do better.
Leymah Gbowee and Jody Williams, former Co-Chairs of the Board of Nobel Women’s Initiative