She is one of the 1000 women proposed fort the Nobel Peace Price 2005.
She says: “Dialogue is the only way to end war and terror. We need practical solidarity with those who are weaker and diplomacy from below.”
Luisa Morgantini – Italy
Homepage of Luisa Morgantini (in italian).
The leftist politician from northern Italy supports people in areas of tension. She makes every effort to see that conflicts are resolved through peaceful dialogue.
As a trade unionist she started more than 20 years ago to establish solidarity projects in South American and African countries. Since 1982, she has been working closely with Israeli and Palestinian peace initiatives, above all Women in Black, and has risked her life in peace missions. In Palestinian areas she demonstrated with the people against the Israeli occupation.
“Even the olives suffer,” says Luisa Morgantini. The olives fall to the ground, shriveled and dry, before they can be pressed. In Palestinian areas the Israeli military prevented the olive harvest. This blockade is one of many injustices that the Palestinian people have to live with, says the leftist European Member of Parliament from Italy.
She makes uncomfortable, dangerous trips: in the Middle East, Iraq, to Afghanistan and the former Yugoslavia. During her visits to areas of tension she examines carefully the everyday lives of people, who experience violence on a daily basis. She risks her life. She wants to negotiate and reduce hatred.
In political debates, the tireless politician speaks personally with feeling about her experiences. In her speeches men and women have names and bodies. She describes the bread they eat and the clothes they wear. She reports about the soldiers’ fear, sweating in their uniforms. The politician cares about suffering and joy. Friends and enemies, she says, have the same hopes and fears. She never forgets the shining eyes of a young Kurd, as he bit into a piece of watermelon. He had previously been tortured in a Turkish prison. She comforts Jad’s mother. Israeli soldiers shot her son. Luisa Morgantini identified the dead Palestinian in the hospital and brought his body to his parents. She was caught between the fronts when a Palestinian activist was beaten by members of the Israeli army. Luisa Morgantini took most of the blows.
On an international level, Luisa Morgantini makes every effort to find peaceful solutions to conflicts. “I am not naïve,” she says. Discussions are very difficult, but every effort is worthwhile. Because only through dialogue can war can be ended and terror stopped. The politician is absolutely convinced of that.
Through discussions, the Women in Black overcome their political and religious differences. Israeli and Palestinian women in this women’s organization prove that it is possible to live together. They meet regularly and are there for each other. Dressed all in black, together they defy the police and military violence. Since 1988, Luisa Morgantini has stood at the side of the Women in Black. In Italy she co-founded Women in Black Against the War, as well as the international network Women for Peace in Conflict Zones. In 1995 she received the peace prize given by the Israeli Women in Black, and in 2002 the Italian award Colomba d’Oro per la Pace” (Golden Peace Dove).
“Never again war,” her father told her when she was still a little girl. He was a partisan. In the Second World War he fought in the northern Italian Val d’Ossola against the German Nazis and Italian Fascists. Her father did not talk much about his experiences. But this “Never again war” stayed with her. His warning gives Luisa Morgantini the strength for her nerve-racking peace missions For Luisa Morgantini politics in no unfeeling business, no field for power plays. She demands “practical solidarity” with those who are weaker and calls for “diplomacy from below.”
The Israeli, Nured Pelid, says, “Israelis should learn from her to care about their own neighbors, about their children and about their fellowmen, and politicians should learn from her to use their power to become involved with the life of common people and assist individuals.”
Luisa Morgantini exhausts all the possibilities her political office offers. In 1999 the former trade unionist ran for election to the European Parliament for the first time as an independent on the list of the Rifondazione Comunista Party. She belongs to the Confederal Group of the European United Left / Nordic Green Left. At present she is Chairwoman of the Committee on Development, and among other posts is a member of the Delegation for Relations with the Palestinian Legislative Council.
There is trouble in Ramallah. With tears in her eyes, Luisa Morgantini stands in front of an Israeli soldier and challenges him: “I dare you to shoot me.” On the street the young Palestinian Ahmed lay dying. Luisa Morgantini wanted to help him. A Palestinian doctor was at her side. Without a moment’s hesitation he had cared for a wounded Israeli. But tanks and soldiers blocked his and Luisa Morgantini’s way to Ahmed. They could see how he called to them for help with a weak movement of his hand. When they finally reached him, the Israeli soldier pushed them away with his gun. The Palestinian had not fired.
“Are these war scenes necessary to protect the state of Israel?” asks Luisa Morgantini. She understands the great fears that the Israeli population has of Palestinian suicide bombers. There is neither a political nor a moral justification for such suicide bombers. Revenge, acts of retaliation, dead and injured on both sides. Luisa Morgantini demands quick action: withdrawal of the Israeli military from Palestinian areas and the sending of an international protective force.
Every time that Luisa Morgantini sees a raised gun, she gets goose bumps. She dreams of a world free from violence, injustice and poverty. And thus she does not allow herself any rest.
Luisa Morgantini was born in 1940 in the small northern Italian city of Villadossola, surrounded by mountains near the Swiss border. Her mother was a textile worker, also a brave woman. She fought with persistence for her job. When there was a threat that the factory would close, she and other women workers occupied the plant for seven months. “My mother did not know what to do with me, so she brought me with her,” remembers Luisa Morgantini. The striking workers cooked minestrone soup in large black pots. It smelled strong, pungent. “And at night we were scared of mice and cockroaches.”
Already at 14, Luisa Morgantini was a trade unionist in the leftist metalworkers’ union (FGCI). Like her mother, she wanted to fight for greater social justice. She knew the poverty of the factory workers in her hometown. They worked hard every day without earning enough to survive.
But soon Villadossola was too small for her. She moved to Bologna, Italy’s Communist stronghold. Friends and comrades thought that Luisa was “crazy.” An 18 year old who moved alone to the big city at the end of the 1950s — that was a scandal.
She found work in the union’s workers’ council. She earned little. But having no money did not bother her. She joined the Communist Party and attached herself to women, who like herself, sought emancipation. She lived in communal housing and had friends. It was an exciting, intense time with many discussions; workers’ struggles in Italy and the beginning of the student revolt.
Luisa Morgantini became a social worker in the national Italian welfare institute. But she wanted to discover the world. She planned a visit to Latin America. But she was torn, because she also wanted to study. Finally, she went to England in 1967 to study industrial sociology and economics at Ruskin College in Oxford. Back in Italy she was involved with adult education and became a director of the FLM (Unified Union of Metal Workers) in Milan. She was the first woman in the union’s secretariat.
The severe earthquake in southern Italian Irpinia in 1980 changed her life. Luisa Morgantini went as a volunteer for reconstruction in the area affected by the catastrophe, experiencing cold, mud, suffering in destroyed Teora. One hundred and sixty dead were buried in the village. Luisa Morgantini remembers that the people were very mistrustful of the aid workers. “Right after my arrival they asked me, when are you leaving?” At Christmas she was able break the ice. She convinced women to bake “zeppole,” typical Christmas cookies in the region. Everything was scarce. “But somehow we were able to organize the ingredients, gas and an oven.” After this experience the women from Teora joined together to form the production cooperative La Metà del Cielo (Half the Sky). Earthquake victims once again had a workday routine.
The thought of returning to Milan dismayed Luisa Morgantini. But after a year she had to return to her union work. She extended her area of responsibilities and engaged in solidarity projects in countries such as Brazil, Peru, Nicaragua , South Africa, Mozambique, Eritrea and Afghanistan.
Since 1982 she has been involved in the Middle East conflict. She helped to establish ties between Israeli and Palestinian peace activists as well as building networks between the two peoples.
“What others accomplish in a week, Luisa Morgantini can do in 24 hours,” says the Palestinian Suad Amiry. Her day has a beginning, but no end. Usually she comes to participate in demonstrations against the Israeli occupation, but just as often she is a guest at marriages, births and funerals.
“A Sisyphean fight against the forces of evil,” that is what the Israeli Nurit Peled calls the Italian’s mission to the Middle East. “Luisa is a constant reminder that the human soul is not dead yet, and a source of hope that humanity may, after all, prevail.” (Read this on this page of 1000peacewomen).
(Excerpt): … One of its parliamentarians, Luisa Morgantini, chair of the European Parliament’s development committee, issued a statement saying: “The closure of the Rafah crossing, the only way out to the external world from the Gaza Strip, clearly proves that the Palestinian population continues to be under the will of the unilateral decisions taken by the Israeli government and continues to be closed in a cage from a cruel master that throws food inside depending on its humor” … (See the Jerusalem Post, July 25, 2006).
(Excerpt): … Luisa Morgantini, who heads the Development Committee in the European Parliament, told the MPs that the change has come not only because of the seven-party-alliance, but because of the Maoists and civil society. (See article July 19, 2006 ‘EU for pre-poll Maoist disarmament’ in Nepal;
(Excerpt): … Luisa Morgantini, Member of European Parliament and Simone Susskind, advisor to Belgian Minister of Justice Laurette Onkelinx, are among the international members of the IWC which was established under the umbrella of UNIFEM (United Nations Development Fund for Women) in 2005. (See article July 12, 2006 of Int’l Women’s Commission IWC).
Luisa Morgantini was born on November 5, 1940 in Villadossola (NO), Italy. From 1954 to 1958 she worked as clerical worker, and from 1958 to 1964 as INCA social worker. In 1965-66 she was official at the Italian Communist Party in Bologna. From 1967 to 1968 she studied at Ruskin College, Oxford – industrial sociology and economics. Adult education at the Humanitarian Society (1969-1970). Training officer for FLM trade union (1971-1974). Milan FIM-CISL secretariat (press and telecommunications sector) (1974-1985). International relations officer for FIM-CISL trade union (1985-1998). FEM European trade union executive committee (1987-1988). Electoral observer for the OSCE. Italy-Nicaragua coordinator (1979-1991). Since 1979 she was involved with many solidarity and NGOs projects concerning lots of Countries, such as Nicaragua, Brazil, South Africa, Mozambique, Eritrea, Afghanistan, Palestine, Algeria, Peru. Since 1982 she has been dealing with Middle East issues and mainly Palestinian – Israeli conflict. Since 1988 she has been cooperating for the reconstruction of network and links between Israeli and Palestinian Peace movements. She has supported especially women associations in Israel and Palestine and in other Mediterranean Countries (ex Yugoslavia, Albania, Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia). National spokesperson for the Italian Association for Peace (a non-violent movement for peace and social justice); from 1994 to 1999 responsible for the ‘Palestine’ group. One of the founders of the ‘Women in Black’ anti-war movement and the international network ‘Women for peace in conflict zones’. In 1995 she received the Israeli ‘Women in Black’ Peace Prize. Luisa Morgantini is Member of the European Parliament in the European United Left/ Nordic Green Left Group – elected the first time in 1999 and again in 2004. During the last term, she was chairman of the Delegation for relations with the Palestinian Legislative Council, member of the Committee on Development and Cooperation, of the Delegation for relations with the countries of South Asia and the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation; substitute member of the Committee on Industry, External Trade, Research and Energy and of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Equal Opportunities In this term she is Chair of the Committee on Development, co-chair of the election coordination group, member of the Subcommittee on Human Rights, of the Delegation for relations with the Palestinian Legislative Council, of the Euro-Mediterranean Parliamentary Assembly, and substitute memmber of the Committee on Women’s Rights and Gender Equality, of the Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection, and of the Delegation to the ACP-EU Joint Parliamentary Assembly. As Member of the European Parliament she keeps on working for the solution of the Middle East conflict, for a just peace, for the right of the two peoples to live in peace and safety, within recognized borders. As part of this activism, she as been nominated for Peace Nobel Price for 2005, as part of the project “1000 peace women for Nobel prize for peace 2005.” (Read more on wikipedia).
noticias July 12, 2006;
on answers.com: women in black.