nobel prize

Women and the Nobel Peace Prize
Author: Ingunn Norderval

Published March 2021
178 pages, paperback
ISBN 978-1-952292-04-0
13.95 USD, 11.50 EUR; free shipping

About the Book

Previous nominees to the Nobel Peace Prize include some surprising but well-known names, including Eleanor Roosevelt, Maria Montessori, Eva Peron, and Helen Keller. Alfred Nobel had a woman in mind as the first recipient when he created the Nobel Peace Prize. Yet, the Peace Prize has been awarded to far fewer women than men during the century since its inception.
Have the world's most influential female peace activists been fairly recognized? Or were their efforts undervalued compared to their male counterparts, who have historically ended up with far more Prizes?
Ingunn Norderval has done groundbreaking research, delving into the notes of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, looking at all of the women who were nominated for the Peace Prize from 1901 to 1960, and all who won the prize after 1960. The Committee's notes are kept secret for 50 years. Only now can we understand the reasoning behind the committee's decisions. Some of the nominated women became Nobel Laureates. Many did not. Some were known in their times but have been forgotten, until now. Norderval digs into the archives to find out who they really were and what made them tick. These women, many of whom were bold enough to work for peace in the darkest of times, all made personal sacrifices. Read their stories.

Table of Contents

Preface by WILPF Norway
Introduction by the Author

Chapter 1 
— The Background for the Nobel Peace Prize
The Shortlist
Some Central Questions

Chapter 2 — 
The Period 1901–1940
Bertha von Suttner (1843–1914)
Jane Addams (1860–1935)
Other Candidates (1901–1940)
Priscilla Hannah Peckover (1833–1931)
Lucia Ames Mead (1856–1936)
Belva Ann Lockwood (1830–1917)
Henriette Verdier Winteler de Weindeck
Madame Angela de Oliveira Cezar de Costa
Anna Eckstein (1868–1947)
Rosika Schwimmer (1877–1948)
Mary Shapard
Madame Séverine (1855–1929)
Eglantyne Jebb (1876–1928)
Elsa Brändström (1888–1948)
Lady Aberdeen (1854–1939)
Annie Besant (1847–1933)
Princess Marguerite-Antonette 
Heraclius Djabadary
Janet Miller (1873–1958)
Julie Bikle (1871–1962)
Moina Belle Michael (1869–1944)
Irma Schweitzer (1882–1967)
Henrietta Szold (1860–1945)
Princess Henriette of Belgium (1870–1948)
Carrie Chapman Catt (1859–1947)

Chapter 3
 — The Postwar Period 1945–1960 57
Emily Greene Balch (1867–1961)
Alexandra Kollontay (1872–1952)
Eleanor Roosevelt (1884–1962)
Women’s International League for 
Peace and Freedom
Gertrude Baer (1889–1959)
Katharine Bruce Glasier (1868–1950)
Maria Montessori (1870–1952)
Eva Peron (1919–1952)
Princess Wilhelmina (1880–1962)
Elisabeth Rotten (1882–1964)
Barbara Waylen (1906–1980)
Margaret Sanger (1880–1966)
Helen Keller (1880–1968)
Lady Baden-Powell (1889–1977)

Chapter 4 — 
A Condescending View of Women?
Main Characteristics of Male Prize Laureates
Main Characteristics of Nominated Women
Controversial Candidates
The Enlarged Concept of Peace

Appendix A: 
Female Peace Prize Laureates 1976–2020
1976: Mairead Corrigan and Betty Williams 
(The Irish Peace Women)
1979: Mother Teresa (1910–1997)
1982: Alva Myrdal (1902–1986)
1991: Aung San Suu Kyi (1945–)
1992: Rigoberta Menchú Tum (1959–)
1997: Jody Williams (1950–)
2003: Shirin Ebadi (1947–)
2004: Wangari Maathai (1940–2011)
2011: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (1938–)
2011: Leymah Gbowee (1972–)
2011: Tawakkol Karman (1979–)
2014: Malala Yousafzai (1997–)
2018: Nadia Murad (1993–)

Appendix B: 
Women Nominated for the 
Nobel Peace Prize (1901–1960)

Appendix C: Tables

Appendix D: 
Consultants Cited in the Text


Archival Material



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About the Author

Ingunn Norderval came to the United States in 1953 to study political science, one of the earliest recipients in Norway to receive a Fulbright grant. She received her MA degree from University of Washington, Seattle, in 1957, married a fellow student and raised a family of four children over the next ten years. During this period, Norderval also held a full-time position at Oregon College of Education and later a part time job as lecturer at Gustavus Adolphus College in Minnesota. In 1967 she won a Danforth Foundation grant to pursue further graduate studies, and in 1971 earned her  Ph.D. in Political Science. Her doctoral dissertation, "Norwegian Political Recruitment Patterns and Recruitment of Women," earned attention as an example of empirical research delving into what had been largely terra incognito, according to the doctoral committee, which predicted it "may serve as a model for further such studies."  Several articles in American, Canadian and international journals were immediate results of this work, as well as requests for contributions to books and papers to be delivered at various political science conventions. A shortened, Norwegian translation published by Cappelen in 1973, "Kvinner i norsk politikk," won critical acclaim as the first book on the role of women in the country's political fora, and a much needed addition to the social science literature offered at institutions of higher learning as well as for lay readers.

After several years of teaching at McMaster University  and Lakehead University in Canada, Norderval returned to her native Norway in 1979 in order to help develop the study of politics at Molde University College. During her years in Molde, she also became an active politician herself, representing the Labor Party at the provincial level for nearly two decades before becoming a pensioner in 1999. Besides several textbooks on politics, she published a biography on Olav Oksvik, a central politician during the troubled middle war period, but now largely forgotten. Her latest book, Nobelkomiteen og kvinnene, was published by WILPF Norway in 2015 on the occasion of WILPF's 100 year anniversary.



“The book brings to light information which previously hasn’t been compiled ... I encourage everyone interested in women and peace to read Ingunn Norderval’s book.”
– Anne C. Kjelling, Past Head Librarian of the Norwegian Nobel Institute

“This is the untold story of how most women Nobel Peace Prize nominees were overlooked and forgotten during the longest part of the twentieth century ... their visionary efforts described in this book encourage us to keep moving forward with this vital work. We hope their lives will inspire all who strive for peace and dignity in the world!”
– Evelin Lindner, Founding President, Human Dignity and Humiliation Studies