MÄN meets this year's Right Livelihood Award winners

The Right Livelihood Award, also known as “the alternative Nobel Prize", is an international award to honour and support human rights defenders and change makers from around the world. The 2022 award was presented at a ceremony in Stockholm last evening.

Two of the Laureates recently met with MÄN and the Kvinna till Kvinna Foundation to share experiences from their work to promote peace, empower survivors of violence and fight for human rights.

Equality work in the world is currently going backwards. The situation for women's rights activists is steadily deteriorating as authoritarian and nationalist regimes are on the rise worldwide. Added to this is the pandemic, which hit women and girls particularly hard, armed conflicts and the accelerating climate crisis.

On November 28, MÄN co-arranged an internal event together with women’s rights organisation Kvinna till Kvinna to acknowledge two of this year's laureates – the Center for Civil Liberties from Ukraine (also recipients of the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize) and Elman Peace from Somalia. 

About the award winners

Center for Civil Liberties (CCL) – Ukraine's largest human rights organization that works for democracy, freedom and human rights. Since the outbreak of war, they have worked to highlight and document war crimes against the Ukrainian population.

Elman Peace and Human Rights Center - the Somali organisation works for demilitarisation and against gender based violence. They provide support to survivors of violence and work, among other things, with the rehabilitation of young soldiers. Through their community-based approach with a focus on reintegration and peace-building, they seek to address the underlying causes of extremism, conflict and violence. 

Challenging norms for treating war trauma

The conversation largely revolved around violence, war and gender norms:

– How can we change norms? Many who want to see us achieve long-term change, only give us short-term financial support, and then it doesn't work. It is long-term work and we know that it is possible to change society, says Ilwad Elman.

A concrete example of how Elman Peace works is their method "Ocean Therapy", which in many ways challenges norms around how to process war trauma:

— Somalia has one of Africa's longest stretches of coastline and we thought about how we could take advantage of the waves in our work. The sea is completely free. This led to "Ocean Therapy". We often talk about PTSD, Post Traumatic Stress Syndrom, but in Somalia there is no "P” for “Post", no "after". The violence is present all the time. Many find it hard to talk about the difficulties they have been through, and often only physical symptoms are treated. When you surf together you become equals, so we use the waves of the ocean to help communities ravaged by years of violence and suffering. 

"We need human solidarity"

Towards the end of the conversation, the question was posed what they personally would need to be able to take the next step, and not give up?

– War is a lottery. Something that has become very clear to me is that we really do not have a policy for international peace and security that works. It’s hard to say what we need now. To survive? Everything is so fragile right now. We have no heat, no water, no light and no internet. We need human solidarity, says Oleksandra Matviichuk.

Oleksandra also shared some personal “rays of light”, as when she had helped train and reform the Police in Ukraine. Before, she had always stayed out of the way when she saw the police, but now she had heard a policeman call after her, with warmth in his voice, when they met: "Oleksandra, you were our teacher, remember?!"

The meeting came about because Kvinna till Kvinna is a former Right Livelihood Award Laureate (2002) and together with MÄN wishes to highlight and make visible the important work for women's rights.

Motivation of the jury

The Award motivations are as follows:

  • Fartuun Adan and Ilwad Elman, Somalia, "for their work for peace, demilitarization and human rights in Somalia where threats such as terrorism and gender-based violence are ever-present."

  • Oleksandra Matviitjuk and the Center for Civil Liberties, Ukraine, "for their work in building sustainable democratic institutions in Ukraine and in creating a pathway for international accountability for war crimes."

Read more about the Right Livelihood Award and all 2022 Laureates.