African, Arab Women Win Peace Prize

Denise Rolark-Barnes | 10/7/2011, 6:04 p.m.
Tawakkul Karman of Yemen (left) was joined by Leymah Gbowee (top) and Ellen Sirleaf Johnson (both of Liberia) to win the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize.

The Norwegian-based Nobel Committee was awarded today to three African and Arab women in recognition of their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul will divide the $1.5 million award in three equal parts.

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.

The Nobel Committee has expressed its 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.

While the prize is most often given to men, the Committee believes these awardees demonstrate the great potential for democracy and peace that women can represent.