The Niwano Peace Foundation will award the 32nd Niwano Peace Prize to Esther Abimiku Ibanga of Nigeria, a pastor and founder of “Women Without Walls Initiative” (WOWWI), for her courageous efforts to promote women’s empowerment and peaceful co-existence.
An award presentation ceremony will take place in Tokyo on May 14. In addition to an award certificate, Abimiku Ibanga will receive a medal and 20 million yen (approximately $106,905 U.S. dollars).
Abimiku Ibanga established WOWWI in March 2010 in an effort to end the violent and senseless killings of women and children in the state of Plateau. Since its inception, the organization has become a coalition of women groups across religious and ethnic divides. Through the platform, women have become vocal about peace in the troubled regions. WOWWI is the first organization to have all the tribal women leaders as members, including Christian and Muslim women leaders. She has worked extensively to foster and facilitate reconciliation between conflicting religious and tribal groups.
In selecting Abimiku Ibanga as a recipient for 2015, the Peace Prize Committee said her work “focuses on promoting and harnessing the potential of women as peacemakers.” The committee also said, “She has not only touched the lives of thousands but has founded and leads an organization that will impact thousands more.”
The Niwano Peace Prize
The Niwano Peace Foundation established the Niwano Peace Prize to honor and encourage individuals and organizations that have contributed significantly to inter-religious cooperation, thereby furthering the cause of world peace, and to make their achievements known as widely as possible. The Foundation hopes in this way both to enhance inter-religious understanding and cooperation and to encourage the emergence of still more persons devoted to working for world peace. The Prize is named in honor of the founder and first president of the lay Buddhist organization Rissho Kosei-kai, Nikkyo Niwano.