Three women share Nobel Peace Prize
December 16, 2011
Three women who fought injustice, dictatorship and sexual violence in Liberia and Yemen have accepted the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, calling on repressed women worldwide to rise up against male supremacy.
'My sisters, my daughters, my friends - find your voice,' Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said after collecting her Nobel diploma and medal at a ceremony in Oslo.
Sirleaf, Africa's first democratically elected female president, shared the award with women's rights campaigner Leymah Gbowee, also from Liberia, and Tawakkul Karman, a female icon of the protest movement in Yemen.
The peace prize was announced in October, along with the Nobel awards for medicine, physics, chemistry, literature and economics. Worth 10 million kronor (£1million) each, the Nobel Prizes are always handed out on the anniversary of award founder Alfred Nobel's death on December 10, 1896.
By selecting Karman, the prize committee recognized the Arab Spring movement that has toppled autocratic leaders in North Africa and the Middle East. Praising Karman's struggle against Yemen's regime, Nobel committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland also sent a message to Syria's leader Bashar Assad, whose crackdown on rebels has killed more than 4,000 people according to U.N. estimates.
'President Assad in Syria will not be able to resist the people's demand for freedom of human rights,' Jagland said.
Karman is the first Arab woman to win the prize and at 32 the youngest peace laureate ever. A journalist and founder of the human rights group Women Journalists Without Chains, she also is a member of the Islamic party Islah.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is Africa's first democratically elected female president.
The 73-year-old was elected president of Liberia in 2005 and won re-election in October. She is widely credited with helping her country emerge from an especially brutal civil war.
The Nobel chairman noted that she initially supported Charles Taylor but later dissociated herself from the former rebel leader who is now awaiting judgment from the International Criminal Court on charges of war crimes in Sierra Leone.
Leymah Gbowee, also fom Liberia, is a women's rights activist.
The 39-year-old challenged Liberia's warlords in her campaign against rape.
In 2003, she led hundreds of female protesters through Monrovia to demand swift disarmament of fighters, who continued to prey on women, despite a peace deal.
Tawakkul Karman is a female icon of the protest movement in Yemen.
A journalist and founder of the human rights group Women Journalists Without Chains, she also is a member of the Islamic party Islah.
She is the first Arab woman to win the prize and at 32, the youngest peace laureate ever.
Wearing headphones over her Islamic headscarf, she clapped and smiled as she listened to a translation of Jagland's introductory remarks.
In her acceptance speech, Karman paid tribute to Arab women and their struggles 'in a society dominated by the supremacy of men'.
'This should haunt the world's conscience because it challenges the very idea of fairness and justice,' Karman said.
WOMEN HAVE PREVIOUSLY WON THE NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
2004: Wangari Maathai - Humanitarian worker, Kenya
2003: Shirin Ebadi - Human rights activist, Iran
1997: Jody Williams - Founding Coordinator of International Campaign To Ban Landmines, USA
1992: Rigoberta Mencha Tum - Human rights activist, Guatemala
1991: Aung San Suu Kyi - Human rights activist, Burma
1982: Alva Myrdal - Disarmament activist, Sweden
1979: Mother Theresa - Humanitarian work, India
1976: Mairead Corrigan - Founder of the Northern Ireland Peace Movement
1976: Betty Williams, Founder of the Northrn Ireland Peace Movement
1946: Emily Greene Balch, Peace Movement, USA
1931: Jane Addams, Peace Movement, USA
1905: Bertha von Suttner, Peace Movement, Austria.