Alva Reimer Myrdal (31 January 1902 – 1 February 1986) was a Sweden sociologist and politician. She received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1982.
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Social Welfare Campaigner 1930s
Alva Myrdal studied at the University of Uppsala and Stockholm, graduating in 1924. In the same year, she married Gunnar Myrdal with whom she worked to promote the idea of social welfare and the welfare state. They were joint authors of a book entitled “The population problem in crisis”, and she was also actively engaged in the discussion on housing and school problems. She was a prominent member of the Social Democrat Party in Sweden, and in 1943 was appointed to that party’s committee with the task of drafting a post-war programme. Also in that year she was appointed to the Government Commission on International Post-War Aid and Reconstruction.
Post World War II and Disarmament
In 1949 – 1950 she headed UNO’s section dealing with welfare policy, and in 1950 – 1955 she was chairman of UNESCO’s social science section. In 1955 she was appointed Swedish ambassador to India, and in 1962 was nominated Sweden’s representative to the Geneva disarmament conference. In 1962, she became a member of Parliament and in 1967 a member of the Cabinet, entrusted with the special task of promoting disarmament. For a number of years she has represented her country in UNO’s political committee.
During the negotiations in Geneva she emerged as the leader of the group of non-aligned nations which endeavoured to bring pressure to bear on the two super powers to show greater concern for concrete disarmament measures. Her experiences from the years spent in Geneva were reflected in her book, “The game of disarmament”, in which she expresses her disappointment at the reluctance of the USA and the USSR to disarm.
Her commitment to disarmament led her to help establish the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, SIPRI. Through her many articles and books Alva Myrdal has exercised a very significant influence on the current disarmament debate.