The Nobel Foundation has announced the winners of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. They are jointly Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee of Liberia, and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen. The women have been chosen for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women, and women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (above) 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 mobilised and organised 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 Africa.
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.
“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,” notes the Nobel Committee. The Committee also reminds us of UN Security Council Resolution 1325, which celebrates its eleventh anniversary this month. 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.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee expressed their hope that making this prestigious award to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman would help to bring an end to the suppression of women that still occurs in many countries, emphasising the great potential for democracy and peace that women can represent. We can only echo that sentiment.
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