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Women dominate 2011 Nobel Peace Prize (Interview with winners)

Posted by Ram Kumar Shrestha on December 10, 2011


The Nobel Peace Prize 2011 was awarded jointly to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work”.

  Tawakkol Karman

Tawakkol Karman

Residence at the time of the award: Yemen

Prize motivation: “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work”

Karman is a Yemeni journalist, politician and senior member of Al-Islah political party, and human rights activist who heads the group “Women Journalists Without Chains,” which she co-founded in 2005. She gained prominence in her country after 2005 in her roles as a Yemeni journalist and an advocate for a mobile phone news service denied a license in 2007, after which she led protests for press freedom. She organized weekly protests after May 2007 expanding the issues for reform. She redirected the Yemini protests to support the “Jasmine Revolution,” as she calls the Arab Spring, after the Tunisian people overthrew the government of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. She has been a vocal opponent who has called for the end of President’s Ali Abdullah Saleh regime.

Tawakel Karman was born on 7 February 1979 in MekhlafTa’izz province, Yemen. She grew up near Taiz, which is the third largest city in Yemen and is described as a place of learning in a conservative country. She is the daughter of Abdel Salam Karman, a lawyer and politician, who once served and later resigned as Legal Affairs Minister in Ali Abdullah Saleh’s government. She is the sister of Tariq Karman, who is a poet, and Safa Karman, who works for Al-Jazeera. She is married to Mohammed al-Nahmi and is the mother of three children.

Karman earned an undergraduate degree in commerce from the University of Science and Technology, Sana’a and a graduate degree in political science from the University of Sana’a.

Leymah Gbowee

Leymah Gbowee

Residence at the time of the award: Liberia

Prize motivation: “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work”

Leymah Roberta Gbowee (born 1 February 1972) is a Liberian peace activist responsible for leading a women’s peace movement that brought an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. This led to the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Liberia, the first African nation with a female president. She, along with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Tawakkul Karman, were awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”

An article on Gbowee in O: The Oprah Magazine painted this backdrop:

The Liberian civil war, which lasted from 1989 to 2003 with only brief interruptions, was the result of economic inequality, a struggle to control natural resources, and deep-rooted rivalries among various ethnic groups, including the descendants of the freed American slaves who founded the country in 1847. The war involved the cynical use of child soldiers, armed with lightweight Kalashnikovs, against the country’s civilian population. At the center of it all was Charles Taylor, the ruthless warlord who initiated the first fighting and would eventually serve as Liberian president until he was forced into exile in 2003.”


Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Born: 29 October 1938

Residence at the time of the award: Liberia

Prize motivation: “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work”

Role: President of Liberia

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (born 29 October 1938) is the 24th and current President of Liberia. She served as Minister of Finance under President William Tolbert from 1979 until the 1980 coup d’état, after which she left Liberia and held senior positions at various financial institutions. She placed a very distant second in the 1997 presidential election. Later, she was elected President in the 2005 presidential election and took office on 16 January 2006. She successfully ran for re-election in 2011. Sirleaf is the first and currently the only elected female head of state in Africa.

Sirleaf was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, jointly with Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Tawakel Karman of Yemen. The women were recognized “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.

One Response to “Women dominate 2011 Nobel Peace Prize (Interview with winners)”

  1. curt rice said

    This year’s Nobel Peace Prize award makes it clear that the current Peace Prize Committee has a serious problem with women. In fact, they have two.

    Their problems have nothing to do with the choice of laureates; Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakel Karman are all inspirational winners with exceptional accomplishments.

    But the way the award was made this year exposes two uncomfortable realities: (1) The men who speak on behalf of the committee are ambivalent about the importance of making the award to women, and (2) the consequence of dividing the prize three ways in practice diminishes the value of each woman’s contribution.

    Read the rest at:
    The Nobel Peace Prize’s problem with women http://wp.me/p1xS1Q-aD

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