Professor Miriam Were has been nominated for the 2022 Nobel peace prize. She becomes the second woman in Kenya to be nominated for the prestigious prize, after the late Wangari Maathai.
Maathai won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004 for her contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace.
Prof Were, known for her work in public health, was amongst 342 other candidates.
This year’s Nobel Peace Prize list comes as the second largest after that of 2016, which had a record of 376 candidates. The 2022 laureate will be announced in October.
Born on April 12, 1940, Were is a public health advocate, a recipient of the first Hideyo Noguchi Africa Prize that was established by the Japanese Government in 2006 and an academic.
A graduate of William Penn College in Oskaloosa, Iowa in the United States, Were began her career in Public Health with a Degree in Natural Sciences, and a postgraduate Diploma in Education. Thereafter, she became a high school teacher of Chemistry and Biology before she proceeded with her medical studies.
The professor, who is the current Chancellor at Moi University, Eldoret, graduated from the school of Medicine at the University of Nairobi and rose to become the Head of the Department of Community Medicine at the same university.
She then went ahead to study at John Hopkins University, where she got her doctorate in Public Health, Health Planning and Management in 1981.
Were was nominated by the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and Quaker Peace and Social Witness (QPSW).
“The American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) and Quaker Peace & Social Witness (QPSW) have nominated Dr Miriam Were of Kenya for the 2022 Nobel Peace Prize. The timing of this appointment is to draw attention to the tireless work of Dr Miriam Were since the 1970s to promote trust between governments, health authorities and citizens through culturally sensitive programs,” the statement read in part.
The General Secretary of the American Friends Service Committee (AFSC) Joyce Ajlouny, said in a statement that it is an honour to have the opportunity to nominate Were for the Nobel Peace Prize.
“Over the last two years, the Covid-19 pandemic has underscored the critical importance of public health policy and global health equity. Dr Were’s work on community-based health initiatives around the world is powerful and essential for building a just and peaceful future,” said Ajlouny.
Were expressed gratitude for the esteemed nomination.
“I believe in the community approach as a modality for promoting both peace and health by empowering individuals and communities to lead the resolution of their problems, including those set out in the Sustainable Development Goals”, she said.
The professor is the current chairperson of the National AIDS Control Council Kenya, which coordinates the national HIV/AIDS response in Kenya.
She is currently serving as Chairperson of the African Medical and Research Foundation (AMREF) and sits on the advisory board of the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission. She is also on the board of directors of Medical Assistance Programmes International (MAP) in the US.
Were directed the UN population Fund Country Support Team for East and Central Africa and Anglophone West Africa. She also directed the Community-Based Health Care Project in Kakamega, served as Chief of Health and Nutrition in UNICEF Ethiopia and worked as WHO Representative and Chief of Mission in Ethiopia.
She is the founder of the UZIMA Foundation, an NGO for youth empowerment.
Were’s appointment comes a day after the government honoured her for her work in various government institutions focused on empowering women in the country.?