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

TOKYO, May 13 /CNW/ - 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 destiny."

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.

SOURCE Niwano Peace Foundation

For further information: For further information: Tadashi Takatani, Niwano Peace Foundation, Tel: +81-3-3226-4371, Fax: +81-3-3226-1835, E-mail: peaceprize@npf.or.jp, URL: www.npf.or.jp

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