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Nobel Peace Prize 2011 goes to 3 extraordinary women

I think this year's Nobel Prize for Peace is a very symbolic one. Well, the Nobel Peace Prize very often is exactly that, symbolic.

Left: Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times; center: Jane Hahn for The New York Times; right: Yahya Arhab/EPA

Left, Leymah Gbowee in September; center: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Liberian president, on Friday; right: Tawakkol Karman in Sana, Yemen, on Friday.


The Nobel Peace Prize for 2011

The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2011 is to be divided in three equal parts between Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.  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.

In October 2000, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325.  The resolution for the first time made violence against women in armed conflict an international security issue.  It underlined the need for women to become participants on an equal footing with men in peace processes and in peace work in general.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is Africa’s first democratically elected female president.  Since her inauguration in 2006, she has contributed to securing peace in Liberia, to promoting economic and social development, and to strengthening the position of women.  Leymah Gbowee mobilized and organized women across ethnic and religious dividing lines to bring an end to the long war in Liberia, and to ensure women’s participation in elections.  She has since worked to enhance the influence of women in West Africa during and after war.  In the most trying circumstances, both before and during the “Arab spring”, Tawakkul Karman has played a leading part in the struggle for women’s rights and for democracy and peace in Yemen.

It is the Norwegian Nobel Committee’s hope that the prize to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman will help to bring an end to the suppression of women that still occurs in many countries, and to realise the great potential for democracy and peace that women can represent.

Oslo, October 7, 2011


Although I think that both men and women can be forces for peace an democracy, since it isn't inherent to sex or gender roles that women should be more peaceful or drawn to democracy, in my opinion, this Nobel Prize is nevertheless very important because it brings attention to the power for good that inclusiveness can have. Perhaps the perspective of being a "minority" (not in numbers, but in political participation"), and specifically, an oppressed minority gives you a different outlook on life and a different approach to solutions, looking for common ground instead of dividing, attack from within and not from outside, to reclaim people's rights and point out the many things humans have in common, not the stuff that divides groups, such as ethnicity, or religion, etc. The Liberian women who won the prize have demonstrated tremendous courage and great intelligence in effecting change. And I'm especially happy that the prize was given to a Muslim woman as well. I don't care if she is religious, or belongs to an Islamist party in Yemen. She is for PEACE. She can help bring about change from WITHIN. Both approaches are needed when fighting for more openness and for peace, from within a given culture, and of course, pushing from the outside as well. I would love it if more radical approaches to end tyranny or wars worked always, and no doubt sometimes it's what's needed, but there are other ways to standing up to the bullies which also have a pivotal and this is a perfect example.


From a NYT article today:

In Yemen, Ms. Karman has been widely known as a vocal opponent of the pro-American regime of Mr. Saleh since 2007, leading a human rights advocacy group called Women Journalists Without Chains. But it was only earlier this year — before the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt had gained momentum — that her readiness to take to the streets inspired thousands more in Yemen to do the same.

Her brief arrest by the authorities in January incensed many people and is credited by some analysts in Yemen with starting the widespread protests that have convulsed the impoverished land since. Some of her supporters have labeled her “the Mother of Revolution.”

Since then, however, she has become a contentious figure, criticized even by some in the anti-Saleh opposition, and her share in the prize could stir further debate among antigovernment activists.

Among women of Yemen’s Arab neighbors, however, the choice of Ms. Karman was cause for celebration, both for women and Islam. Nadia Mostafa, a professor of international relations at Cairo University, said the prize was endowed with “political significance.”

“Islam has always been associated with radical terrorism, intolerance and more,” she said. “Giving it to a woman and an Islamist? That means a sort of re-evaluation. It means Islam is not against peace, it’s not against women, and Islamists can be women activists, and they can fight for human rights, freedom and democracy.”

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congrats for Tawakkul Karman.. she seems to have a great and strong personality..
go Ms. Karman! open minded people like is all what Yemenis want!

It's good to see a woman like her live in Yemen.. that that must be a terrible and difficult circumstances there in Yemen.

Yes, she must really be an extraordinary person. It makes me feel great to know there are women like her in difficult places in the world.

I lost all respect for the Nobel piece prize when Barack Obama won it for something he might do.

But because the Nobel Peace Prize committee made a bad decision to hand in a Nobel Peace Prize to Obama, basically for not being Bush, we should not ignore the real accomplishments of these 3 women who actually did something to deserve it.


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