Three women’s rights activists will share the Nobel Peace Prize. Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, activist Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and rights activist Tawakkul Karman of Yemen share the honor of this year’s Nobel Peace Prize.
They were chosen “for their nonviolent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work,” the committee said in Oslo, Norway. “We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society.”
Karman, who heard the news while demonstrating in the Yemeni capital, is the first Arab woman to win the Nobel Prize and one of the youngest recipients. She is the president of Women Journalists Without Chains, a group campaigning for press freedom.
Johnson Sirleaf is Africa’s first female head of state. She attributes Liberia’s peace after 14 years of civil war to the country’s women. They were “women from all walks of life who challenged the dictatorship of former President Charles Taylor and who stayed out in the sun and the rain working for peace in our country,” she said.
Glowbee, the founder and executive director of Women Peace and Security Network-Africa, is also the subject of the documentary “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” which shows how women confronted Taylor with a demand for peace to end the bloody 14-year civil war.
She “mobilized and organized women across ethnic and religious dividing lines to bring an end to the long war in Liberia,” the Nobel committee said, adding she also encouraged women’s participation in elections. “She has since worked to enhance the influence of women in West Africa during and after war,” it said.
The women were honored to recognize their combined efforts to achieve “momentous change” in their countries while demonstrating the vital role of women in the Arab Spring protests and the liberation of the African continent from traditionally male dictators.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee said it hopes that the prize will help end suppression of women in many countries and to “realize the great potential for democracy and peace that women can represent.”