The Nobel Peace Prize Medal
NOBLE PEACE PRIZE AWARDED TO ANTI-POVERTY PIONEER
Bangladesh’s Muhammad Yunus and his Grameen Bank have been awarded The 2006 Nobel Peace Prize. Mr. Yunus, an economist, founded the bank, which is one of the pioneers of micro-credit lending schemes for the poor in Bangladesh. The bank is renowned for lending money to the least well-off, especially women, so that they can launch their own businesses. Yunus, 65, is the first Noble Prize winner from Bangladesh, a poverty-stricken nation of about 141 million people.
According to The Nobel Peace Prize Committee, “Muhammad Yunus has shown himself to be a leader who has managed to translate visions into practical action for the benefit of millions of people, not only in Bangladesh, but also in many other countries. Loans to poor people without any financial security had appeared to be an impossible idea. From modest beginnings three decades ago, Yunus has, first and foremost through Grameen Bank, developed micro-credit into an ever more important instrument in the struggle against poverty. Grameen Bank has been a source of ideas and models for the many institutions in the field of micro-credit that have sprung up around the world.
Every single individual on earth has both the potential and the right to live a decent life. Across cultures and civilizations, Yunus and Grameen Bank have shown that even the poorest of the poor can work to bring about their own development. Micro-credit has proved to be an important liberating force in societies where women in particular have to struggle against repressive social and economic conditions. Economic growth and political democracy can not achieve their full potential unless the female half of humanity participates on an equal footing with the male.”
After receiving his undergraduate and master’s degrees in economics from Dhaka University, in Bangladesh, Mr. Yunus came to the United States on a Fulbright fellowship to study at Vanderbilt University. He received his Ph.D. in economics from Vanderbilt in 1969. He was an assistant professor of economics at Middle Tennessee State University from 1969 to 1972, at which time he returned to Bangladesh to teach at the University of Chittagong.
”Lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty,” the Nobel Committee said in its citation. ”Microcredit is one such means. Development from below also serves to advance democracy and human rights.”
”I am so so happy, it’s really a great news for the whole nation,” Yunus stated after the prize was announced. He was reached by telephone at his home in the Bangladeshi capital Dhaka. Grameen Bank was the first lender to hand out microcredit, giving very small loans to poor Bangladeshis who did not qualify for loans from conventional banks. No collateral is needed and repayment is based on an honor system.