Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Statement of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton Congratulating Nobel Peace Prize Recipient Dr. Muhammad Yunus

“I want to congratulate Dr. Muhammad Yunus on winning this year’s Nobel Peace Prize. About twenty years ago, Dr. Yunus traveled to Arkansas to help Bill and me set up microcredit programs in the United States. Since that time, in my travels in Bangladesh and around the world, I have had the opportunity to meet many of those who are participants in Grameen’s programs and hear their stories of the ways in which these loans have transformed their lives. I continue to be inspired by the beneficial impact of these projects on low-income women and their families, and I, like others, have nominated Dr. Yunus for this prize multiple times. With just a small amount of money, those trapped by poverty have a chance to invest in items, such as livestock or materials for handicrafts, which can lead to economic self-sufficiency. Through microcredit programs, the world's poorest people are leading their families, their communities and their countries to a better future – a future that Dr. Yunus has been instrumental in creating. I would like to thank him for all his work, and congratulate him once again.”

Interview with Dr. Yunus By Jon Stuart in CNN Comedy Central

Dr. Yunus in Oprah Show

He isn't a head of state nor is he one of the world's wealthiest people, but Dr. Muhammad Yunus found a way to help more than 100 million people around the globe step out of poverty. For his efforts, Dr. Yunus has been awarded a 2006 Nobel Peace Prize.
Dr. Yunus was born the third of 14 children in Bangladesh, one of the poorest nations on earth. He excelled in school and was eventually awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to Vanderbilt University to earn his Ph.D.
Upon returning to Bangladesh to teach, the country was in famine. "I was teaching…and feeling helpless. I teach beautiful theories of economics, and people are going hungry," Dr. Yunus says. "I said, 'Forget about those theories. I'm a human being, I can go and touch another person's life."
He decided to do "a lot of little things" and discovered something revolutionary in the process. By loaning—not giving—money to those in need, he found the cycle of poverty could be broken.
He lent a mere $27 to a group of bamboo weavers in a local village. "I gave the money from my pocket and they were very excited about it," Dr. Yunus says. "I thought maybe I should try to continue this." Grateful for the money, those borrowers paid back the loan. And that was the beginning of Dr. Yunus's groundbreaking Grameen Bank.

The Nobel Peace Prize 2006

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided to award the Nobel Peace Prize for 2006, divided into two equal parts, to Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank for their efforts to create economic and social development from below. Lasting peace can not be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty. Micro-credit is one such means. Development from below also serves to advance democracy and human rights.

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.

Yunus's long-term vision is to eliminate poverty in the world. That vision can not be realised by means of micro-credit alone. But Muhammad Yunus and Grameen Bank have shown that, in the continuing efforts to achieve it, micro-credit must play a major part.
Oslo , 13 October 2006