India's Ela Ramesh Bhatt Receives 27th Niwano Peace Prize

By Niwano Peace Foundation, PRNE
Wednesday, May 12, 2010

TOKYO, May 13, 2010 - The Niwano Peace Foundation awarded on May 13 the 27th Niwano Peace Prize
to Ms. Ela Ramesh Bhatt of India in recognition of her contribution for more
than 30 years to improving the lives of her country's poorest and most
oppressed women workers.

At a ceremony in Tokyo, Ms. Bhatt received an award certificate, a medal
and a cash prize of 20 million yen.

Born in 1933, Ms. Bhatt, a follower of Mahatma Gandhi's teachings, is
widely recognized as one of the world's most remarkable pioneers and
entrepreneurial forces in grassroots development of women. Known as a "gentle
revolutionary," she founded in 1972 the Self-Employed Women's Association
(SEWA), a trade union with more than 1.2 million members, and set up a SEWA
bank in 1974.

Ms. Bhatt said in an acceptance speech that her philosophy can be
symbolized by "three simple words — women, work and peace. "SEWA" is a local
struggle but it has to meet global questions" such as securing work for poor
women and realizing world peace, she said. In that sense, she saw the prize
as "a challenge for us." That challenge is to see if SEWA "can meet the
challenge of Darfur, Afghanistan or Sri Lanka" and to see how women's work
"can create the new commons of peace," she added.

In selecting Ms. Bhatt as an awardee for 2010, the Peace Prize Committee
said she is "an inspiration to all of us with her commitment to uplifting the
downtrodden by literally giving them the tools to be the authors of their own

Niwano Peace Prize

The Niwano Peace Prize was established in 1983 to honor individuals and
organizations that have contributed significantly to inter-religious
understanding and cooperation, thereby furthering the cause of world peace.
To avoid undue emphasis on any particular religion or region, nominations are
solicited from some 700 people and organizations, representing 125 countries.

Niwano Peace Foundation

The Niwano Peace Foundation was chartered in 1978 to contribute to the
realization of world peace and the enhancement of a culture of peace. The
Foundation promotes research and other activities based on a religious
spirit, and serves the cause of peace in such fields as education, science,
religion and philosophy.

    Tadashi Takatani
    Niwano Peace Foundation
    Tel: +81-3-3226-4371
    Fax: +81-3-3226-1835

Tadashi Takatani of Niwano Peace Foundation, Tel: +81-3-3226-4371, Fax: +81-3-3226-1835, E-mail: peaceprize at, URL:

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