Oslo (SaebPress/Agencies) – The Norwegian Nobel Committee has awarded this year’s peace prize to the Nobel Committee awarded its annual Peace Prize on Friday to three determined campaigners against war and oppression, a Yemeni and two Liberians, including that country’s president.
“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,” Norwegian Nobel Committee chairman Thorbjoern
Jagland told reporters.
The Committee said it hoped the three-way award “will help to bring an end to the suppression of women that still occurs in many countries, and to realize the great potential for democracy and peace that women can represent.”
The former Norwegian prime minister said that “honouring Yemen’s protesters, who unlike those in Egypt, Tunisia and Libya are still battling to get rid of their ruler, sent a signal from Oslo that President Ali Abdullah Saleh, long a US ally, and other Arab autocrats should now step down”.
Egyptian activist Asmaa Mahfouz, who had been nominated, said: “Giving it to Yemen means giving it to the Arab Spring, and this is an honour to all of us and to all Arab states.”
Tawakul Karman, 32, is a journalist, founder of Women Journalists Without Chains (WJWC), a woman who is relentlessly fighting against corruption and for human rights, especially children and women’s rights, in Yemen.
The award also goes to two other women, Liberia’s first female president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and peace activist Leymah Gbowee, also from Liberia.
Winning the prize constitutes a strong message that the era of Arab dictators was over, Karman told reporters in Sanaa, declaring her prize a victory for Yemen and the Arab revolution.
Every Tuesday since 2007, she and her organisation have held a protest vigil in front of the government building in Sana’a’s Freedom Square. Because of her anti-corruption protests, she was arrested several times, but later released.
When the Arab revolution erupted, WJWC joined protesters demanding justice and the removal of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, deemed by many to be a dictator. However, Tawakul Karman’s action advocates non-violence, “We
refuse violence and know that violence has already caused our country countless problems,” she said.
Karman’s organisation has challenged traditional customs, tribal and male chauvinism, her action focused on stopping child brides, and opening literacy classes for girls while pushing women to demand their rights at home.
Tawakul Karman’s strong message to women, “Women should stop being or feeling that they are part of the problem and become part of the solution. We have been marginalized for a long-time, and now is the time for women to stand up and become active without needing to ask for permission or acceptance. This is the only way we will give back to our society and allow for Yemen to reach the great potentials it has”.
In recognition of her work, she received the International Woman of Courage Award in March 2010.