It's impossible to hear about Gem Romuld and her work with the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) and not feel inspired.
ICAN, supported by the likes of Desmond Tutu, the Dalai Lama and Yoko Ono, won a Nobel Peace Prize in 2017 in recognition of their work "to draw attention to the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons" and their "ground-breaking efforts to achieve a treaty-based prohibition of such weapons".
Gem Romuld is the Australian Director of ICAN, and tells a little about her journey to the role and what the campaign means for the future of not just Australia, but the world.
How did you start working with ICAN?
While studying law and communications at university, I became involved in community campaigns to stop uranium mining and unwanted radioactive waste dumps. Nuclear weapons are humanity's most sinister invention, and as a young woman, I refuse to accept their indefinite existence on our one shared planet. Working with ICAN has given me a powerful, creative and effective way to work for a world without nuclear weapons.
What does it mean to you to be awarded a Nobel Peace Prize for your work?
Winning the 2017 Nobel Peace Prize has been an incredible honour, encouraging and validating for not only our work in ICAN but also for nuclear survivors and for everyone's efforts over the last 73 years to eliminate nuclear weapons.
This is unfinished business, but now we have a powerful tool, the nuclear weapon ban treaty, which all governments must pay attention to. The awarding of the Nobel shows that we are serious and on the right track.
What have you learnt about yourself during your time with ICAN?
I've learnt that it takes resilience to weather the ups and downs of campaigning and to stay positive and focused on the bigger mission at hand. I've also discovered that the only way for me to feel better about the state of the world is to get active.
Working against the bomb isn't just about weapons of mass destruction, but also about collective security and community power.
Do you have any tips on how someone that was inspired by the message can become more involved with ICAN and similar initiatives?
I encourage anyone who cares about justice to get involved in grassroots activism! Making change is really hard, we can find ourselves up against big institutions and big money, but it's essential to creating the world we want to live in.
In September 2018, the ICAN team and supporters will journey from Melbourne to Canberra by bicycle, touring ICAN's Nobel Peace Prize medal and raising awareness of the new UN Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.
Beginning on September 2 in Melbourne, the birthplace of ICAN, the riders will then arrive in Canberra on September 20, marking one year since the nuclear ban treaty opened for signature and demanding our Government join this landmark accord as a matter of urgency.
The ICAN team are seeking participants to be part of this adventure in Melbourne, Canberra and everywhere in between.
Head to the Nobel Peace Ride website for more information.
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