Reuters reports: Three women who have campaigned for rights and an end to violence in Liberia and Yemen, including Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, won the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday, the head of the Norwegian Nobel Committee said.
Another Liberian, Leymah Gbowee, who mobilized fellow women against the country’s civil war including by organizing a “sex strike,” and Tawakkul Karman, who has worked in Yemen, will share the prize worth $1.5 million with Johnson-Sirleaf, who faces re-election for a second term as president on Tuesday.
“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,” Committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland told reporters.
“The Nobel Peace Prize for 2011 is to be divided in three equal parts between Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”
Johnson-Sirleaf, 72, is Africa’s first freely elected female president. Gbowee mobilized and organized women across ethnic and religious dividing lines to bring an end to the war in Liberia, and to ensure women’s participation in elections.
The Committee added: “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.”
In April, Tawakkul Karman wrote: The revolution in Yemen began immediately after the fall of Ben Ali in Tunisia on 14 January. As I always do when arranging a demonstration I posted a message on Facebook, calling on people to celebrate the Tunisian uprising on 16 January.
The following day a group of students from Sana’a University asked me to attend a vigil in front of the Tunisian embassy. The crowd was shouting: “Heroes! We are with you in the line of fire against the evil rulers!” We were treated roughly by the security forces, and we chanted: “If, one day, a people desires to live, then destiny will answer their call,” and “The night must come to an end” – the mantra of the revolutionaries in Tunisia.
The demonstration was astonishing; thousands turned up, and Sana’a witnessed its first peaceful demonstration for the overthrow of the regime. “Go before you are driven out!” we cried.
That night student and youth leaders visited me, along with the human rights activist Ahmed Saif Hashid and the writer Abdul Bari Tahir. We agreed that we could not let this historic moment pass us by, and that we too could spark a peaceful revolution to demand an end to a despotic regime. We decided there was to be no backing down, despite the repression we knew would come. The rallies grew daily, even though the government deployed thugs against us.