Gabriela Ngirmang was a peace and anti-nuclear activist from the Micronesia region of Palau.
Born in 1922, grew up during WWII, while Palau was under Japanese administration and was given a limited education. Both of Ngirmang’s parents held high positions within their clans in Airai and Koror. She received the title of the matriarch of Ikleau clan and held the title of ‘Mirar’, the second’ woman’s title in Koror, Palau’s capital, for over 12 years.
Ngirmang is considered to have been instrumental in creating the world’s first nuclear-free constitution, banning the use, storage, and disposal of nuclear weaponry in Palau. The constitution came into effect in 1979 with 92% support from the people. Within the constitution, the document held a clause that there was a required 75% of votes before nuclear weapons could be brought into Palau. It was received favorably, so much so that between the years 1979 – 1994, the clause was voted on and upheld 11 times.
Ngirmang also lead Otil a Belaud (translates to ‘anchor of our land’), a women’s organization that defended the constitutional anti-nuclear clause. Her daughter Cita Morei, is a prominent member of the moment to this day.
During 1987, the Palauan government attempted to amend the 75% voters clause. This caused Ngirmang to lead 50 women elders to take the government to court. The result brought threats to the elders and Ngmirmang’s house was bombed. The case was brought to the United States & United nations and the constitution was amended to a 50% vote. In 1988, Otil a Belaud was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize and in 2005 was individually nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. In 1993, Otil A Belaud received the Global 500 Award from the United Nations Environment Programme for their group efforts for a nuclear-free Palau.
Ngmirang passed peacefully in 2007.
Illustration by Jordan Tran
The illustration for Gabriela Ngirmang was inspired by the Palauan Bai’s mad el bai (Meeting House), this place acts as a community center where people gather for events such as feasts, meetings for fishing expeditions, and meetings to receive leaders of the government to speak to the community.
The Palauan Bai is decorated with symbolic carvings and illustrations that represent good life, community, willingness, and other principles in Palauan culture. Inspired by these elements, I emulated this aesthetic to symbolize Gabriela’s activism in trying to keep Palau nuclear-free
465.55 km2 (196th)
Unitary presidential constititional republic under a non-partisan democracy
Ngerulmud & Koror