Scilla Elworthy, PhD

In 2016 Scilla helped organise the FemmeQ Summit in Berlin, having previously co-founded Rising Women Rising World to envision and build a future based on deep feminine values. She currently convenes Constellations of women experts from all continents – in economics, business, governance, security, health, ecology, media, culture and the arts, education, community, spirituality and indigenous wisdom.

She’s author of some 15 books, most recently “Business Plan for Peace: making a world without war possible” (2017) and “Pioneering the Possible: Awakened Leadership for a World That Works” (2014). From 2005 Scilla was adviser to Peter Gabriel, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Sir Richard Branson in setting up The Elders’ – an independent group of global leaders who work together for peace and human rights.

She founded Peace Direct in 2002 to fund, promote and learn from local peace-builders in conflict areas, leading to the acceptance by the UN of the value and cost effectiveness of ‘locally-led’ initiatives. Peace Direct was voted ‘Best New Charity’ in 2005. She was awarded the Niwano Peace Prize in 2003, and the Lifetime Achievement Award by Voice of a Woman in 2013.

In 1982 Scilla founded the Oxford Research Group and was director for 20 years, developing effective dialogue between nuclear weapons policy-makers worldwide and their critics. This work included a series of dialogues between Chinese, Russian and western nuclear scientists and military which formed the basis for later treaties, and for which she was three times nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Over a 20-year period Oxford Research Group facilitated discussions between Chinese defence decision-makers and their US and British counterparts on the most sensitive of issues, namely nuclear weapons, fissile materials and nuclear proliferation. Dr Elworthy initiated and conducted many of these meetings.

Before this she was chair of Kupugani, the nutrition education NGO in South Africa, helped establish the Market Theatre in Johannesburg, set up the Minority Rights Group in France, for whom she produced the first report on Female Genital Mutilation, wrote UNESCO’s submission to the United Nations Mid-Decade Conference on Women in 1980. Bryan Adams photographed her for the Modern Muses exhibition in the National Portrait Gallery in 2009. She was director of programmes for the World Peace Festival in Berlin August 2011, and programme co-ordinator for the Celebrate Life Festival near Bremen in 2012.

She’s an Ambassador for Peace Direct, a Councillor of the World Future Council, patron of Gender Rights and Equality Action Trust, Voice of a Woman, and Oxford Research Group; adviser to the Syria Campaign; a member of the International Advisory Council of the Institute for Economics and Peace. She is founder of the Bee School, to provide skills to young people who want to serve the planet; and on the board of the DO School in Berlin, offering training, mentoring, and education for outstanding emerging social entrepreneurs to kick-start their own ventures all around the world. She advises the executive leadership teams of selected companies who want to make a positive contribution to the planet.

Her TED talk on non violence has been viewed by over 1,100,000 people

Scilla is mother of Polly Jess McLean, step mother of Leigh, Jay, Shirley, Sophie and Pippa, and grandmother of Rainer, Pearl May Mary and Wolfetone.

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