Photo by Issouf Sanogo/AFP/Getty Images.
The 2011 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded Friday to three activist women from Africa and the Arab world in recognition of "their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work."
The winners were Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee and Yemeni pro-democracy campaigner Tawakul Karman. They were the first women to win the prize since 2004, when it went to Kenya’s Wangari Maathai, who passed away last month.
“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,” read the ciitation from the Oslo-based Nobel panel that selects the winners of the $1.5 million prize.
The Washington Post takes a look at each winner.
Johnson-Sirleaf, 72, a Harvard-trained economist, was elected in 2005, becoming the first woman to be voted president of an African nation. She worked feverently to promote development in Liberia after 14 years of devastating civil war, and also sought to bolster support for women’s issues in a region where women have long had fewer economic, educational and social opportunities. ...
Gbowee, a social worker and trauma counselor, organized the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace, a nonviolent group that bridged ethnic and religious divides. The women demonstrated together in large numbers, wearing white t-shirts , and were instrumental in bringing an end to Liberia’s civil war in 2003. ...
Karman, 32, is one of Yemen’s most vocal and well-known activists and a member of the country’s main Islamic opposition party, Islah. Wearing her trademark pink floral headscarf, and using text messages, Facebook and other social media, she organized the first student demonstrations at Sanaa University challenging the rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Karman was thrown in prison in January, was attacked by a mob carrying knives and sticks, and says that she has received threats to her life from Saleh himself. Still, she has persisted in her campaign.
And the New York Times looks at who didn't win:
More than 250 people were nominated for the prize this year and there had been speculation that it would reward bloggers or other activists from the Middle East using social networking sites and other Internet platforms as they challenged entrenched dictatorships, particularly in Tunisia and Egypt.
But if the committee had singled out the Arab Spring, it could have courted criticism that, far from rewarding efforts toward peace, it had chosen a phenomenon whose final outcome in Egypt and Tunisia is far from clear, and which has provoked bloodletting and strife in Libya, Syria and Yemen.