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Nobel Peace Prize 2011 for defenders of women’s rights

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman, three icons for women’s rights in Africa and the Arab world, were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize this month for their non-violent struggle for peace, democracy and gender equality

19.10.2011 |Source: Nobel Peace Price Committee

The Norwegian Nobel Committee declared in their official statement announcing the winners that “we cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels in society.”

In the 110-year history of the Nobel Peace Prize, 15 women received the prestigious Medal. The last female laureate was Wangari Maathai in 2004, founder of the Greenbelt Movement and the first African woman to win the Peace Prize. She passed away one month ago.
This year, a record number of people and organizations were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize: 188 individuals and 53 organizations. The official prize award ceremony will take place in Oslo on the 10th of December, the dying day of Alfred Nobel.

About the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize winners
Ellen Johson Sirleaf is the first woman to be democratically elected president in Africa. Since 2006, she has contributed to securing peace in Liberia, which was ruined and demoralized by years of war, promoting economic and social development, strengthening the position of women and fighting corruption and nepotism. During the first round of the presidential elections on October the 14th, she received 44% of the votes, which is not the absolute majority necessary to directly secure her second term in office. A second round will now be held to elect the new president.

Leymah Gbowee, co-founder of the Women Peace and Security Network Africa, mobilized and organized women across ethnic and religious dividing lines to stop the civil war in Liberia, which lasted for 14 years and killed 250,000 people. Women paid a huge price during the war, countless becoming victims of violence and rape. Since the end of the war, Gbowee has dedicated herself to enhance the influence of women in West Africa.

As leader of the Yemeni women’s group Journalists without Chains, Tawakkul Karman has played a leading role in the struggle for women’s rights, democracy and peace in Yemen. She pleads for the safeguarding of basic human rights for women: against violence and bans from education, against forced marriages and for a larger role of women in politics.

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