The Nobel Prize for Peace was awarded jointly Friday for the first time in its history, three women: two Liberian, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf-and-now campaign activist Leymah Gbowee. The third is a Yemeni journalist Tawakkol Karman.
First Arab woman to receive the prestigious award, the Yemeni was the first to react. She immediately dedicated her prize to the “ Arab Spring ,”this surge of popular revolt that toppled or shaken several authoritarian regimes in North Africa and the Middle East this year.
The three winners are rewarded “for their non-violent struggle for women’s safety and their rights to participate in the peace process,” said the president in Oslo, the Norwegian Nobel Committee, Thorbjoern Jagland.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first elected president in Africa
First woman to be democratically elected head of an African country in 2005, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, 72, has worked to rebuild a country ravaged by 14 years of civil war, which killed some 250,000 people and left an anemic economy. She received the Nobel only four days before a presidential election unclear at which it is seeking a second term. “Since its inauguration in 2006, she helped secure peace in Liberia, to promote economic and social development, and strengthen the role of women,” argued Thorbjoern Jagland.
First support of Charles Taylor started a rebellion against the regime of Samuel Doe, she becomes the enemy in the light of violence that will be worth the warlord became president (1997-2003) to be tried in The Hague for war crimes and against humanity.
Upon her inauguration, she began a charm with international financial institutions which are familiar to her: an economist trained at Harvard, the mother of four and grandmother of eight grandchildren, had worked for the UN and the World Bank .
Minister of Finance in the 1960 and 1980, her goal was to erase the debt and to attract investors for reconstruction,which was partially achieved.
The fight against corruption and for deep institutional reform in the oldest sub-Saharan African Republic, founded in 1822 by freed black slaves from the United States, has always been central to his political action. This fight, from which she earned the nickname “Iron Lady”, sent her to prison twice in the 1980s under the regime of Samuel Doe. But the task is difficult, as Liberia is plagued by corruption scandals and weakened by the deep lacerations resulted from the fratricidal wars.
Leymah Gbowee, “striker sex” to end the war
The accession to power of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was made possible by the work in the field of Leymah Gbowee “warrior for peace” at the root of a peaceful movement that would contribute, especially with a “sex strike,” to end the second civil war in 2003. Launched in 2002, the original initiative sees women – all religious faiths together - refuse themselves to men as long as the hostilities continued, forcing Charles Taylor, former warlord turned President, to involve them in peace negotiations.
“Leymah Gbowee explains the process of” sex strike “
Against the demons of war, Roberta Leymah Gbowee also used prayer. She urged women to like her, to pray for peace, what they do irrespective of religion, often dressed in white.
“Leymah Gbowee mobilized and organized femmmes beyond the lines of ethnic and religious division to end a long war in Liberia and ensure the participation of women in elections,” noted Thorbjoern Jagland.
Tawakkol Karman, feminist journalist, symbol of Arab spring
From another continent, the third winner, Tawakkol Karman, “both before and during the Arab Spring , “also played” a leading role in the fight for women’s rights, democracy and peace in Yemen, “said Thorbjoern Jagland.
Journalist born in 1972, this frail young woman is an icon of popular uprising against President challenged Ali Abdullah Saleh in a conservative country where women play no role in politics. She was one of the main leaders of student protests in January which gave the kick-off the uprising, which earned her to be briefly arrested.
So far, only 12 women had received the Nobel Prize for peace in 110 years of history, the last being the Kenyan environmentalist Wangari Maathai who has died.
A record 241 individuals and organizations were nominated for this year’s Nobel Peace Prize, an edition for which players “Arab spring” were given as favorites.
The prize will be awarded in Oslo on December 10, date-anniversary of the death of its founder, Swedish industrialist and philanthropist Alfred Nobel. It consists of a medal, a diploma and a check for 10 million Swedish kronor (about one million euros).