Three women win Nobel Peace Prize for their struggle for women’s rights. It is a great pride that three women, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman share this year, Nobel Peace award for their : “non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work” (The Nobel Peace Prize 2011).
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, 72 years old was the first women elected in 2005 as President of Liberia. Thanks to her economics background after studying economics at Harvard in the United States and her role of Minister of Finance in 1979, she won the presidential elections in 2005. Throughout her campaign, she thought that if she could win these elections, her victory would encourage women across Africa to get involved in politics and therefore to change conditions for women. Ellen Johnson is known as the “Iron Lady” for her courage and in particular for her negociation skills in the case of a $1 billion contract with the worldwide steel company, Arcelor Mittal.
Leymah Gbowee, 39 years old is an activist from Liberia and is very well-know within the country for mobilising women across Liberia to call for an end to Liberia’s fourteen year civil war (1989-2003). Leymah Gbowee told the BBC that “in 2003, it was very difficult. We had lived with 14 years of conflict. A group of us, women, decided to take action for peace – including picketing, fasting and praying.” She gathered women from different ethnic and religious groups. In 2006, she co founded the Women and Peace Security Network Africa based in Accra, Ghana. The Nobel Committee chose Leymah Gbowee because she “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 West Africa during and after war“.
Tawakkul Karman, 32 yearsold is a Yemeni rights activist and founded in 2005 Women Journalist without Chains. She is the first Arab woman to win Nobel Peace Prize. The Nobel Committe lauded Tawakkul Karman for playing, “in the most trying circumstances, both before and during the Arab Spring… a leading part in the struggle for women’s rights and for democracy and peace in Yemen.” She was very surprised of this award as she even did not know that she was candidate for Nobel Peace Prize. She told the BBC Arabic Service: “I’m so happy with the news of this prize and I dedicate it to all the martyrs and wounded of the Arab Spring… in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya and Syria and to all the free people who are fighting for their rights and freedoms.” She also added: “In Yemen, women are not allowed out of the house after 7pm, now they are sleeping here. This goes beyond the wildest dream I have ever dreamt, I am so proud of our women.” Like the two Liberian winners, Tawakkul Karman has been several times to jail for her activism but keeps struggling and fighting for women’s rights and conditions. Moreover she refuses to wear the full face veil and only wears a headscarf, another detail to express her disagreement to the traditionnal regime of Yemen.
The three ladies finally said that: “This is a victory for women’s rights everywhere in the world.”