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TEDWomen 2010

Jody Williams: A realistic vision for world peace

December 8, 2010

Nobel Peace laureate Jody Williams brings tough love to the dream of world peace, with her razor-sharp take on what "peace" really means, and a set of profound stories that zero in on the creative struggle -- and sacrifice -- of those who work for it.

Jody Williams - Nobel peace laureate
Jody Williams won a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to eradicate landmines. Now she’s teaming up with five other female peace laureates to empower women to fight violence, injustice and inequality. Full bio

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Double-click the English subtitles below to play the video.
I'm actually here
00:15
to make a challenge to people.
00:17
I know there have been many challenges made to people.
00:19
The one I'm going to make
00:22
is that it is time for us to reclaim
00:24
what peace really means.
00:26
Peace is not "Kumbaya, my Lord."
00:29
Peace is not the dove and the rainbow --
00:32
as lovely as they are.
00:35
When I see the symbols
00:38
of the rainbow and the dove,
00:40
I think of personal serenity.
00:42
I think of meditation.
00:45
I do not think
00:47
about what I consider to be peace,
00:49
which is sustainable peace
00:52
with justice and equality.
00:55
It is a sustainable peace
00:58
in which the majority of people
01:00
on this planet
01:03
have access to enough resources
01:05
to live dignified lives,
01:08
where these people have enough access
01:11
to education
01:14
and health care,
01:16
so that they can live in freedom from want
01:18
and freedom from fear.
01:21
This is called human security.
01:24
And I am not a complete pacifist
01:27
like some of my really, really heavy-duty,
01:30
non-violent friends,
01:33
like Mairead McGuire.
01:35
I understand that humans
01:37
are so "messed up" --
01:39
to use a nice word,
01:42
because I promised my mom
01:44
I'd stop using the F-bomb in public.
01:46
And I'm trying harder and harder.
01:48
Mom, I'm really trying.
01:51
We need a little bit of police;
01:53
we need a little bit of military,
01:55
but for defense.
01:57
We need to redefine
01:59
what makes us secure
02:01
in this world.
02:03
It is not arming our country
02:05
to the teeth.
02:07
It is not getting other countries
02:10
to arm themselves to the teeth
02:12
with the weapons that we produce
02:14
and we sell them.
02:16
It is using that money more rationally
02:19
to make the countries of the world secure,
02:22
to make the people of the world secure.
02:26
I was thinking about
02:30
the recent ongoings
02:32
in Congress,
02:34
where the president is offering
02:36
8.4 billion dollars
02:39
to try to get the START vote.
02:42
I certainly support the START vote.
02:44
But he's offering 84 billion dollars
02:46
for the modernizing
02:49
of nuclear weapons.
02:52
Do you know the figure that the U.N. talks about
02:54
for fulfilling the Millennium Development Goals
02:57
is 80 billion dollars?
03:00
Just that little bit of money,
03:05
which to me, I wish it was in my bank account --
03:07
it's not, but ...
03:09
In global terms, it's a little bit of money.
03:11
But it's going to modernize weapons
03:16
we do not need
03:18
and will not be gotten rid of in our lifetime,
03:20
unless we get up off our ...
03:23
and take action to make it happen,
03:25
unless we begin to believe
03:28
that all of the things that we've been hearing about
03:30
in these last two days
03:32
are elements of what come together
03:34
to make human security.
03:36
It is saving the tigers.
03:39
It is stopping the tar sands.
03:42
It is having access
03:45
to medical equipment
03:48
that can actually tell who does have cancer.
03:50
It is all of those things.
03:53
It is using our money for all of those things.
03:55
It is about action.
03:58
I was in Hiroshima
04:00
a couple of weeks ago,
04:02
and His Holiness --
04:04
we're sitting there in front of thousands of people in the city,
04:06
and there were about eight of us Nobel laureates.
04:09
And he's a bad guy. He's like a bad kid in church.
04:11
We're staring at everybody, waiting our turn to speak,
04:14
and he leans over to me, and he says,
04:17
"Jody, I'm a Buddhist monk."
04:19
I said, "Yes, Your Holiness.
04:23
Your robe gives it away."
04:26
(Laughter)
04:28
He said, "You know
04:30
that I kind of like meditation, and I pray."
04:32
I said, "That's good. That's good.
04:35
We need that in the world.
04:37
I don't follow that, but that's cool."
04:39
And he says, "But I have become skeptical.
04:42
I do not believe
04:45
that meditation and prayer
04:48
will change this world.
04:51
I think what we need
04:53
is action."
04:55
His Holiness, in his robes,
04:57
is my new action hero.
04:59
I spoke with Aung Sun Suu Kyi
05:02
a couple of days ago.
05:04
As most of you know,
05:06
she's a hero for democracy in her country, Burma.
05:08
You probably also know
05:11
that she has spent 15 of the last 20 years
05:13
imprisoned for her efforts
05:15
to bring about democracy.
05:18
She was just released a couple of weeks ago,
05:20
and we're very concerned to see how long she will be free,
05:23
because she is already out in the streets in Rangoon,
05:26
agitating for change.
05:28
She is already out in the streets, working with the party
05:30
to try to rebuild it.
05:33
But I talked to her for a range of issues.
05:35
But one thing that I want to say,
05:38
because it's similar to what His Holiness said.
05:40
She said, "You know, we have a long road to go
05:43
to finally get democracy in my country.
05:46
But I don't believe in hope
05:49
without endeavor.
05:52
I don't believe in the hope of change,
05:55
unless we take action
05:58
to make it so."
06:00
Here's another woman hero of mine.
06:02
She's my friend, Dr. Shirin Ebadi,
06:05
the first Muslim woman
06:08
to receive the Nobel Peace Prize.
06:10
She has been in exile
06:12
for the last year and a half.
06:14
You ask her where she lives -- where does she live in exile?
06:16
She says the airports of the world.
06:19
She is traveling because she was out of the country
06:22
at the time of the elections.
06:25
And instead of going home,
06:27
she conferred with all the other women that she works with,
06:29
who said to her, "Stay out. We need you out.
06:32
We need to be able to talk to you out there,
06:35
so that you can give the message
06:37
of what's happening here."
06:39
A year and a half --
06:41
she's out speaking
06:43
on behalf of the other women in her country.
06:45
Wangari Maathai --
06:48
2004 Peace laureate.
06:50
They call her the "Tree Lady,"
06:52
but she's more than the Tree Lady.
06:54
Working for peace
06:56
is very creative.
06:58
It's hard work every day.
07:00
When she was planting those trees,
07:02
I don't think most people understand
07:04
that, at the same time,
07:06
she was using the action
07:09
of getting people together to plant those trees
07:11
to talk about how to overcome
07:14
the authoritarian government in her country.
07:17
People could not gather
07:20
without getting busted and taken to jail.
07:22
But if they were together planting trees for the environment,
07:25
it was okay --
07:28
creativity.
07:30
But it's not just iconic women
07:33
like Shirin,
07:36
like Aung Sun Suu Kyi, like Wangari Maathai --
07:38
it is other women in the world
07:41
who are also struggling together
07:44
to change this world.
07:46
The Women's League of Burma,
07:48
11 individual organizations of Burmese women
07:50
came together because there's strength in numbers.
07:53
Working together is what changes our world.
07:56
The Million Signatures Campaign
07:59
of women inside Burma
08:01
working together to change human rights,
08:03
to bring democracy to that country.
08:06
When one is arrested and taken to prison,
08:08
another one comes out and joins the movement,
08:11
recognizing that if they work together,
08:14
they will ultimately bring change
08:17
in their own country.
08:19
Mairead McGuire in the middle,
08:21
Betty Williams on the right-hand side --
08:23
bringing peace to Northern Ireland.
08:25
I'll tell you the quick story.
08:27
An IRA driver was shot,
08:29
and his car plowed into people
08:31
on the side of the street.
08:33
There was a mother and three children.
08:35
The children were killed on the spot.
08:37
It was Mairead's sister.
08:39
Instead of giving in
08:41
to grief, depression, defeat
08:43
in the face of that violence,
08:46
Mairead hooked up with Betty --
08:49
a staunch Protestant and a staunch Catholic --
08:51
and they took to the streets
08:54
to say, "No more violence."
08:56
And they were able to get
08:59
tens of thousands of, primarily, women, some men,
09:01
in the streets to bring about change.
09:04
And they have been
09:08
part of what brought peace to Northern Ireland,
09:10
and they're still working on it,
09:12
because there's still a lot more to do.
09:14
This is Rigoberta Menchu Tum.
09:17
She also received the Peace Prize.
09:19
She is now running for president.
09:21
She is educating the indigenous people of her country
09:23
about what it means to be a democracy,
09:26
about how you bring democracy to the country,
09:29
about educating, about how to vote --
09:32
but that democracy is not just about voting;
09:34
it's about being an active citizen.
09:37
That's what I got stuck doing --
09:39
the landmine campaign.
09:41
One of the things that made this campaign work
09:43
is because we grew from two NGOs
09:46
to thousands
09:49
in 90 countries around the world,
09:51
working together in common cause to ban landmines.
09:53
Some of the people who worked in our campaign
09:57
could only work maybe an hour a month.
09:59
They could maybe volunteer that much.
10:01
There were others, like myself,
10:03
who were full-time.
10:05
But it was the actions, together, of all of us
10:07
that brought about that change.
10:10
In my view, what we need today
10:12
is people getting up
10:14
and taking action
10:16
to reclaim the meaning of peace.
10:18
It's not a dirty word.
10:20
It's hard work every single day.
10:22
And if each of us
10:24
who cares about the different things we care about
10:26
got up off our butts
10:28
and volunteered
10:30
as much time as we could,
10:32
we would change this world,
10:35
we would save this world.
10:37
And we can't wait for the other guy. We have to do it ourselves.
10:39
Thank you.
10:41
(Applause)
10:43

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Jody Williams - Nobel peace laureate
Jody Williams won a Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to eradicate landmines. Now she’s teaming up with five other female peace laureates to empower women to fight violence, injustice and inequality.

Why you should listen

In more than 100 years of Nobel Peace Prizes, only a dozen women have ever won. Civil-rights and peace activist Jody Williams, received the award in 1997 as the chief strategist of the International Campaign to Ban Landmines, which established the first global treaty banning antipersonnel mines.

Williams believes that peace is defined by human (not national) security and that it must be achieved through sustainable development, environmental justice, and meeting people’s basic needs. To this end, she co-founded the Nobel Women’s Initiative, endorsed by six of seven living female Peace laureates. She chairs the effort to support activists, researchers, and others working toward peace, justice, and equality for women and thus humanity. Williams also continues to fight for the total global eradication of landmines.

The original video is available on TED.com
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