Born: 31 January 1902, Uppsala, Sweden
Died: 1 February 1986, Stockholm, Sweden
Residence at the time of the award: Sweden
Role: Writer, Diplomat, former Cabinet Minister
Field: arms control and disarmament
Prize share: 1/2
Alva Myrdal already had an extensive career behind her when she was elected to the Swedish "riksdag" (legislative assembly) in 1962. She had studied philology and pedagogy, and in the inter-war years devoted herself to improving the conditions of the working class through the Social Democrat Party. She also made a name for herself as a campaigner for women's rights.
After World War II, Alva Myrdal held prominent posts in the United Nations system, hand-picked by the Secretary-General. She was among other things head of UNESCO's social science section. From 1955 she was Swedish Ambassador to India.
It was, however, as the government minister in charge of disarmament issues that Alva Myrdal really stood out as an innovator. As the representative of a non-aligned Sweden, she worked actively to persuade the superpowers to disarm. The nuclear race was a major concern, and she fought for nuclear weapons-free zones in Europe. Each individual country ought to take the initiative and ban nuclear arms on its territory.