Scilla Elworthy founded ORG in 1982 and was its Executive Director until 2003. She was Chair of its Board from 2003-7. From 1970-1976 Scilla chaired KUPUGANI, a South African nutrition education organisation, where she set up an initiative which involved the sale of nutritious Christmas hampers to industrial employees thereby providing annual self-financing for the charity. In 1976 she helped organise the building and launch of the Market Theatre, South Africa’s first multiracial theatre. Then in 1977 she established the Minority Rights Group in France and in 1978 she researched and delivered their report on female genital mutilation, leading to the World Health Organisation campaign to eradicate the practice. From 1979-81 she became a consultant on women’s issues to UNESCO and it was during this time she researched and wrote UNESCO’s contribution to the 1980 United Nations Mid-decade Conference on Women: “The role of women in peace research, peace education and the improvement of relations between nations.” She has been nominated three times for the Nobel Peace Prize and in 2003 she was awarded the Niwano Peace Prize for her work with them.
In 2003 Scilla found a new charity, Peace Direct, which supports local peace-builders in conflict areas. Peace Direct was named ‘Best New Charity’ at the London Charity Awards 2005 and although she is not involved in the day to day running Dr. Scilla remains on the board of trustees, and is currently Chair. In 2002 she launched a production at the Royal Opera House theatre in London entitled “Transforming September 11th”; in 2004 provided the basic material for Max Stafford Clark’s acclaimed production of “Talking to Terrorists” at the Royal Court Theatre in London; and in 2007 her case study on the siege of Fallujah in Iraq was used as the basis for Jonathan Holmes production of “Fallujah” at the Truman Brewery in Brick Lane.
Although she has lectured extensively around the world and appeared on television and radio throughout the last 20 years, her work has been less in the public eye recently as she has been advising Richard Branson, Nelson Mandela and Peter Gabriel on the creation of ‘The Elders’ an organisation created to address the current lack of independent moral global leaders. She is currently Councillor on the World Future Council an independent international organisation, launched in 2004 and focussing on the key challenges facing global society today. In autumn of 2007 she also joined the EastWest Institute’s International Taskforce on Preventative Diplomacy. Her portrait was also one of Bryan Adam’s Modern Muses on exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery from March – June 2008.