In a surprise move on Friday (10.7.11), the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded as a three-way-split between three, prominent African women for their efforts in promoting peace, democracy and gender equality.
The winners include; Tawakkul Karman, a leader of anti-government protests in Yemen, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first woman to win a free presidential election in Africa; and Leymah Gbowee also from Liberia, who campaigned against the use of rape as a weapon in her country’s brutal civil war.
Announcing the award, committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland stated:
“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.”
According to Yahoo News, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf served as the Minister of Finance under President William Tolbert from 1979 until the 1980 coup d’Ã©tat and faces re-election for a second term as president on Tuesday.
Her fellow Liberian Gbowee mobilized and organized women across ethnic and religious dividing lines to bring an end to the civil war in Liberia, and to ensure women’s participation in elections. Johnson-Sirleaf shared her jubilation by expressing the following with reporters outside her private residence in Liberia’s capital;
“I believe we (Gbowee and I) both accept this on behalf of the Liberian people, and the credit goes to the Liberian people.”
Tawakul Karman is a Yemeni politician and human rights activist who created the group Women Journalists Without Chains (WJWC) in 2005.
She said today the award was a victory for Yemen and all Arab Spring revolutions and a message that the era of Arab dictatorships was over.
“This is a victory for the Yemeni woman. Today the whole world can hear our joy. I am very very happy and I thank God for this award,’ the 32-year-old mother of three said.
‘This is a victory for the Yemeni people, for the Yemeni revolution and all the Arab revolutions. This is a message that the era of Arab dictatorships is over. This is a message to this regime and all the despotic regimes that no voice can drown out the voice of freedom and dignity.”
Committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland also called the oppression of women “the most important issue in the Arab World” and stressed that the empowerment of women must go hand in hand with Islam.
“It may be that some still are saying that women should be at home, not driving cars, not being part of the normal society,” he told The Associated Press. “But this is not being on the right side of history.”
Congratulations ladies! You earned it. The Syndney Morning Herald has a great write up of each Nobel Prize Winner. Check it out!