She is one of the 1000 women proposed for the Nobel Peace Price 2005.
She says: “Getting involved in peace work was a long process for me. Politics came first. Then I felt the threat of a nuclear holocaust so frightening and so hopeless. I got involved in the peace marches through Europe in the eighties and met so many different people who wanted to act for peace instead of shrugging their shoulders and doing nothing. I did not want to become cynical. It is healthier to have hope. With time I have come to think that the most important thing is the process of working together. The main obstacle to peace is the conception that war is somehow inevitable. That concept is built into the patriarchal structures of our society, and the people who uphold it are probably the ones who are themselves ready to use violence to achieve their goals. If you believe violence is a solution, it becomes one. For example, the real reason for the war in Iraq is to make some of the men in the Bush administration even wealthier. I have achieved my goals in cooperation with other people. No one changes the world alone. And you have to live by your beliefs. To be credible you have to show through your interaction with other people that you both respect and love them. Since I am a politician I have worked on many different levels. The most important one is the local level, where it is possible to put ones ideas and visions into practice. The Åland Islands Peace Institute, Emmaus-Åland and the local peace group have become a part of my home, my group of people”. (1000PeaceWomen).
Barbro Sundback – Finland
Summing up her conviction Barbo says: “I have a strong belief in justice and democracy and the good in the world. I also believe that trust is an essential component in any peace-building process. I was once in Kyrgyzstan, talking with groups of leaders from Nagorno-Karabach and Azerbaijan. There was no trust and no respect between the participants, and they were not interested in autonomy as a way to solve their differences. Finally the leader of the Nagorno-Karabach group smiled at me and said, ‘Ok, autonomy can be a good solution, but then we have to become a part of Finland, not Azerbaijan’. There was no trust”.
Barbro Sundback (born 1945) has believed in politics and peace for all of her working life, and she has seen politics and democracy as the only possible way to achieve justice and peace. She is a founding member of several peace groups on the Åland Islands, she has also represented Åland internationally, and is not only a well-respected and popular member of Parliament since 1979, but also its speaker.
As a member of Parliament, she has taken up the issue of awareness building and prevention of trafficking in women within Europe. She has also been deeply involved in peace education and peace building activities.
She is chairperson of the Board of the Åland Islands Peace Institute, founded in 1992 by the Åland Islands Peace Association. The Institute does both practical and theoretical work on security policy, minority groups, and issues relating to the Baltic Sea region.
She is also a member of the Peace Association-Emmaus, located in Mariehamn, in the Åland Islands.
Based on the principal that cooperation between peoples is possible and on the need for universal peace, Emmaus Åland carries out actions to help prevent and resolve conflicts including demonstrations against the war in Iraq and campaigns against landmines. The group plans to open a Peace School to train activity leaders, in partnership with other local organizations, in human rights, the environment, disarmament, methods of nonviolence and conflict prevention, and the situation of refugees. Emmaus Åland also supports associations in Peru, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland.
Many have asked what keeps a woman like Barbro Sundback going, year after year. There are several explanations:
First, her cats. When the world becomes too harsh, Barbro retreats to her home, reads another article or five and talks to her cats. From these conversations she comes out bristling with new ideas and plans.
Second, her deep and provoking sense of humor. She has a talent for making people feel happy and comfortable in her company.
Third, she understands the importance of friends and of caring for them. All of her life Barbro has had projects, different people who have needed her help to sort out their lives. She has given it, over many, many years and with an open heart.
When asked about future plans, she says: “I do not plan the future. I have visions and hopes, but I react intuitively to what comes along. For me that is the best way”. (1000PeaceWomen).
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