The Nobel Peace
Prize for 2011 was awarded on Friday to three campaigning women from
Africa and the Arab world in acknowledgment of their nonviolent role
in promoting peace, democracy and gender equality. The winners were
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf —
Africa’s first elected female president — her compatriot, peace
activist Leymah Gbowee and Tawakul Karman of Yemen, a pro-democracy
They were the first women
to win the prize since Kenya’s Wangari Maathai, who died last
month, was named as the laureate in 2004.
Most of the recipients in
the award’s 110-year history have been men and Friday’s decision
seemed designed to give impetus to the cause for women’s rights
around the world.
“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”, said the citation read by Thorbjorn Jagland, a former
Norwegian prime minister who heads the Oslo-based Nobel committee
that chooses the winner of the $1.5 million prize.
In a subsequent
interview, he described the prize as “a very important signal to
women all over the world”.
Mrs. Johnson Sirleaf
is nearing the end of a heated re-election campaign and Monrovia, the
Liberian capital, saw her opponents join a big rally before
Tuesday’s vote. Mr. Jagland said the election had not influenced
the committee’s decision, calling the ballot there a “domestic
consideration”. Analysts in Liberia have described the president’s
re-election prospects as uncertain, although Friday’s announcement
from Oslo could change that. But the Nobel committee’s decision
underscored the gap between local perceptions of her — it is not
hard to find critics of the president in Liberia — and the view
In Yemen on Friday,
Ms. Karman, 32, sat in a tent where she has been living since
February as part of the sit-in organized to press demands for change.
“This is the victory of our peaceful revolution”,
she said. “I am so happy and I give this award to all of the youth
and all of the women across the Arab world, in Egypt, in Tunisia”.
(Source: The New York