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Access and Equity
Peace as Economic Justice
Betty Williams has devoted her life to the advancement of peace and justice through non-violent means in Northern Ireland. Williams, along with Mairead Corrigan Maguire, co-founded the Community of Peace People, an organization dedicated to bringing together Catholics and Protestants end to sectarian violence.
Williams and Maguire witnessed a car crash that claimed the lives of two nephews and a niece. The driver, a member of the Irish Republican Army, had been fatally shot by British troops and his car veered into a crowd of pedestrians, killing three children. Williams, a Protestant, began circulating petitions through Protestant neighborhoods calling for an end to the sectarian violence. She gathered more than six thousand signatures. At the children’s funeral, Williams met Maguire, a Catholic, and they subsequently cofounded the Community of Peace People.
Williams and the Community of Peace People organized non-sectarian marches to end the violence. In one instance she organized a women’s march in which 10,000 Catholic and Protestant women marched to the graves of the children. The following week 35,000 people attended to show their support for unity and ending the conflict.
Williams currently serves as president of World Centers of Compassion for Children, whose mission is to provide a strong political voice for children in areas afflicted by war, hunger, social, economic or political upheaval. She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize with Mairead Corrigan Maguire in 1976 in recognition of her dedication to ending the violence in Northern Ireland and building a peaceful future.