Betty Williams


Co-founder of Community of Peace People with Mr. Ciaran McKeown and Miss Mairead Corrigan – Founded 14/8/76

Name: Betty Williams (Mrs)
Age: 22 May 1943
Place of Birth: Belfast, Northern Ireland
Married: 14 June 1961 to Mr. Ralph Williams in Bermuda
Family: 1 Boy aged 14, 1 Daughter aged 6 years – Paul and Deborah
Parents: Mr. & Mrs. Smyth
Father: Butcher
Mother: Housewife

Education: St. Teresa’s Primary School, Belfast and St. Dominic’s Grammar school

Employment: Office Receptionist

Interests: Dressmaking and Gardening, Reading or Swimming

Recognitions Received: Carl Von Ossietsky Medal for courage from Berlin section of International League of Human Rights.
Hon. Doctor of Law from Yale University, U.S.A.
Norwegian People Peace Prize, 1976
Nobel Peace Prize Winner – 1976

From Les Prix Nobel en 1976, Editor Wilhelm Odelberg, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 1977

Betty Williams divorced Ralph Williams, married James T. Perkins in 1982, and moved to Florida, U.S.A. She lectured extensively in the United States, and the International Platform Association granted her the Eleanor Roosevelt Award and named her Speaker of the Year in 1984.

As Visiting Professor in Political Science and History, she taught at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Texas, where she worked to unite ethnic and cultural groups on campus and in the local community. Remaining in Huntsville, she heads the Global Children’s Foundation.

She has participated in international peace efforts and was a member of the Nobel peace laureate group which travelled to Thailand in 1993, vainly seeking to enter Myanmar (Burma) to protest the detention of Aung San Suu Kyi. At home she enjoys cooking, writing and walking her dog.

Selected Bibliography

Deutsch, Richard. Mairead Corrigan. Betty Williams. New York: Woodberry, 1977. (Good account, but uncritical.)

McKeown, Ciaran. The Passion of Peace. Belfast: Blackstaff Press, 1984. (Autobiography by co-founder of Community of Peace People.)

Schroeder, Steven. “Towards a Higher Identity: An Interview with Mairead Corrigan Maguire”, Christian Century 111, 18 (April 20, 1994), pp. 414-416.

From Nobel Lectures, Peace 1971-1980, Editor-in-Charge Tore Frängsmyr, Editor Irwin Abrams, World Scientific Publishing Co., Singapore, 1997

This CV was first published in the book series Les Prix Nobel. It was later edited and republished in Nobel Lectures. To cite this document, always state the source as shown above.

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 1976

Addendum, June 2008

“The Nobel Peace Prize is not awarded for what one has done, but hopefully what one will do.” The words of Betty Williams who in 1976 along with Mairead Maguire was awarded the Prize for her work to bring peace in her native Northern Ireland.

In the thirty years since the award, Mrs. Williams has devoted her life to creating a new way forward, a movement to begin a reversal of thinking on how we deal with the injustices, cruelty and horror perpetrated on the world’s children.

“I had no concept of the depth of the children’s suffering until witnessing their pain. Yet in a world that we know can feed itself upwards of 40,000 children die every day from conditions of malnutrition. Surely we must question why we are allowing this carnage to continue,” Mrs. Williams says.

“Thirty years in the field has convinced me of one thing, the obvious fact that there are no answers from the top down. Governments do not have the answers. Indeed quite the reversal. A lot of times they not only do not have the answers, they themselves are the problem. If we are committed to helping our world’s children, then we must begin to create solutions from the bottom up.”

Mrs. Williams has travelled the globe recording the testimonies of children who have been subjected to horrors beyond belief. In her travels, it became evident to Mrs. Williams that to create the changes necessary and persuade governments to listen to the voices of their children, legislative changes must be implemented (legislation to protect children). The other obvious fact is that every country where children are under the threat of death and destruction, safe areas must be created, areas off limits to any form of military attack.

Cities must be created; cities of compassion and peace, cities where children would be treated with the dignity, respect and love they deserve. Such cities would alleviate the huge refugee and orphan problems in many countries.

As a result of many years of work in Italy, World Centers of Compassion for Children International is building the first City of Compassion for children in south Italy in the Region Basilicata.

The Global Children’s Studies Center was founded by Mrs. Williams in 1992. This evolved into founding World Centers of Compassion for Children International in 1997, in honour of His Holiness the Dalai Lama. The organization is headquartered in the Republic of Ireland.

Betty Williams

Betty Williams.
Copyright © World Centers of Compassion for Children International

Awards and Honours
Doctor of Laws, Yale University
Schweitzer Medallion for Courage
The Martin Luther King, Jr. Award
Eleanor Roosevelt Award
Frank Foundation Child Assistance International award
Rotary Club International “Paul Harris Fellowship”
Together for Peace Foundation Peace Building Award
Gandhi, King, Ikeda Community Builders Award
Ischia Peace Award, Italy
Soka Gakkai International Peace and Culture Award
Doctor of Humane Letters, Sienna Heights College
Doctor of Humanities, Mount Merry College
The Raoul Wallenberg Humanitarian Award, Old Dominion University
Doctor of Laws, Beloit College
The Max and Betty Walker Distinguished Speaker Series
Doctor of Human Letters, The Monmouth College
Certificate of Honor, Federation of World Peace and Love
Humanity in the Arts Founders Award, International Committee of Artists for Peace
Doctor of Laws, St. Norbert College
Degree of Doctor, Honoris Causa, Soka University, Japan
Premio Mediterraneo Award
Eleanor Roosevelt Global Women’s Rights Award
Laurea Honoris Causa at the Universita Degli Studi Della Basilicata in Potenza, Italy
Currently Serves As:
President, World Centers of Compassion for Children International
Chair of the Institute for Asian Democracy, Washington, D.C.
Honorary Member of the Club of Budapest
Honorary Member of the Global Vision for Peace
Board of Trustees of Pax Natura
Council of Honour, United Nations University for Peace, Costa Rica
Patron, International Peace Foundation, Vienna
Founding Member, Alliance for the New Humanity
Board of Directors, Adoption Options, Inc.
International Advisory Board, Mahatma Gandhi Center for Global Non-violence
Honorary Member, World Wisdom Academy
Advisory Board, Camfed International
Advisory Board, Vermont Peace Academy
Advisory Board, International Committee of Artists for Peace
Advisory Council, The Pangaea Project
Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 2008


Betty Williams died on 17 March 2020.

To cite this section
MLA style: Betty Williams – Biographical. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2023. Wed. 29 Nov 2023. <>

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