Günzburg, Bavaria, Germany
January 29 1947 – October 1 1992 (estimated due to murder)
Petra, a native of Germany who moved to the United States during her childhood, was one of the world’s leading environmental activists in the last 30 years.
She studied at The American University in Washington D.C., where she completed a bachelors in political science. Inspired by Martin Luther King Jr., she went on to help Robert Kennedy and Hubert Humphrey in their 1968 Presidential Campaigns. She continued her environmental and political work working for the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium from 1971 to 1983. During this time she worked on the General Secretariat and then the Economic Social Committee (EcoSoc) where only 6% of employees were female. This distinctly low female representation at the European Commission prompted Petra to champion women’s rights. She was famously noted for saying “no matter how successful a women becomes or is, there is still a man looking over her shoulders putting his paw marks on something…we are still stuck with a set of attitudes that are like a brick wall.”
In 1979, Petra was instrumental in founding the Die Grunen (The Green Party) in Germany. Petra was a member of the Bundestag (German Parliament) from 1983 to 1990. Her focus in the parliament was on women’s rights, nuclear power, ecology, peace, and non-violence.
In 1982, Petra received the Right Livelihood Award (sometimes referred to as the alternative Nobel Prize) ”for forging and implementing a new vision uniting ecological concerns with disarmament, social justice and human rights.” She also setup a Europe-wide cancer research group after he sister Grace died from cancer at the age of 10.
Sadly, Petra was murdered in October of 1992.
Petra’s legacy was continued through the Petra Kelly Foundation ( founded in 1997) as part of the Heinrich Böll Foundation. Since 1998, the foundation has presented the Petra Kelly Prize for Human Rights, Ecology, and Nonviolence
Finally here is a quote from Petra:
“The vision I see is not only a movement of direct democracy, of self- and co-determination and non-violence, but a movement in which politics means the power to love and the power to feel united on the spaceship Earth… In a world struggling in violence and dishonesty, the further development of non-violence – not only as a philosophy but as a way of life, as a force on the streets, in the market squares, outside the missile bases, inside the chemical plants and inside the war industry – becomes one of the most urgent priorities.”