Women Who Changed History

Jody Williams
Jody Williams
Jody Williams joined us on March 6 for a live interview. To read a transcript of that interview, click here.

Trying to help others started at an early age for Jody Williams.

Jody's oldest brother was born deaf. Jody remembers that some kids were mean to her brother because he was different and could not hear or talk. "I kind of grew up defending him; giving him a voice that he did not have. I think that experience made me sensitive to trying to help others when more powerful people tried to hurt them or take advantage of them."

Jody went to college during the Vietnam War, a time when many people in the United States were questioning things and working to change society through the civil rights and the women's movement. Jody's experiences in college combined with her childhood helped shaped the way she is today.

Today, Jody is an activist, someone who works for a political or humanitarian cause. She has worked very hard for over ten years to ban the use of landmines all over the world.

Landmines are often used in wars. They are explosive devices that are buried under the ground to blow up tanks or troops that pass over them. The problem with landmines is that they stay behind, buried in the ground, for years after a war is over. This means that the people getting hurt or killed are civilians like women and children. Landmines kill or wound over 15,000 people a year!

Jody Williams looked at the numbers of people who were hurt or killed by landmines, and she wanted to make a difference. In 1991, she founded an organization called the International Campaign to Ban Landmines (ICBL). The goals of this organization are:

  1. Get governments to sign a treaty that bans using, making, and selling landmines. So far 142 governments have signed this treaty.

  2. Monitor, or keep an eye on, countries to make sure they follow the treaty.

  3. Raise money to remove mines from areas.

  4. Raise awareness of the landmine issues around the world.

  5. Increase medical and financial help for landmine victims around the world.

The ICBL and Jody Williams did such a good job at getting governments to sign the treaty, they won the 1997 Nobel Peace Prize.

Jody Williams joined us on March 6 for a live interview. To read a transcript of that interview, click here.