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The Nobel Peace Prize Has Been Awarded to Three Women Who Worked for Women

Rights of Passage

For their work in standing up for women’s rights around the world, three women are this year’s joint winners of the Nobel Peace Prize. They are, from left to right, Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, West African activist Leymah Gbowee, and Tawakul Karman, whose revolutionary in Yemen gave women a voice in the Arab Spring. In announcing their victory, the Nobel committee said: “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.” We wish them our most heartfelt congratulations, and invite you all to meet us after the jump to find out more about their amazing contributions.

All three women were recognized specifically for their non-violent methods of achieving equality and peace in their respective regions.

We’ll start with President Johnson-Sirleaf, who became Africa’s first democratically elected female president in 2006 and has spent the past five years working to strengthen the position of women in her country while promoting programs for social and economic development. She has been a fixture in Liberian politics since she first ran on the vice presidential ticket in 1985 and is currently running for re-election. While the economy of Liberia is suffering, officials say that this is the first time in recent history that the country has experienced sustained peace.

Johnson-Sirleaf’s election was a direct result of Gbowee’s accomplishments in women’s voting rights. She registered 7,455 first-time voters in Liberia and says that now, “we have a whole population of women that will not shut up.” Women who were united across ethnic and religious lines, no less. As the head of the Women for Peace movement, she was able to bring Christians and Muslims together to stand up against warlords in the country and vote them out of office.

Karman, who is currently taking part in a sit-in in Yemen, was active in spreading the word of democracy before and after the Arab Spring — some called her the Mother of Revolution — and her contributions have been noted by Nobel officials as “a signal to the whole Arab world that one cannot set aside the women if one wants to build democracies.” She has led the Women Journalists Without Chains advocacy group since 2007. Karman was quoted in the New York Times:

“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.”

“We cannot build our country or any country in the world without peace,” she said.

Two hundred and fifty people were nominated to win the Nobel Peace Prize this year, and this year marks the first time the prize has had a female winner since 2004, when Wangari Maathai of Kenya was named as the laureate.

(via Skepchick, The New York Times)

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