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
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
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.
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.
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.
|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|
Betty Williams died on 17 March 2020.
See them all presented here.