Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Norwegian Council Recognizes the Work of Women

The 2011 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded jointly to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, and Tawakkul Karman. The Nobel Peace committee said the award was to be divided in three equal parts between Sirleaf, Gbowee, and Karman, “for their non-violence struggle to the safety of women and for women’s rights to full partition in peace-building work.” The women are the first females to receive the Nobel Peace Prize since October 2004, when Wangari Muta Maathai, the Kenyan environmentalist and political activist was honored with the award. Sirleaf, Gbowee, and Karman who demonstrate the vital role that women play in advancing peace and security, bring the total of female winners to 15, compared with 85 men. When asked about the role of women in peace keeping, development, and human rights, the committee said that true democracy and lasting peace cannot be achieved unless women achieve the same rights as men, at all levels of society.

Sirleaf was the first democratically elected female president in Africa. Since her inauguration in 2006, she has contributed to securing peace in Liberia. The President has also worked to improve the position of women within Liberia. Gbowee, is also a political activist within Liberia.
In the early 2000s Gbowee mobilized women across ethnic and religious dividing lines to being an end to the long war in Liberia. Since 2004, she has served as a commissioner on Liberia's truth and reconciliation commission. She also heads the Women in Peace and Security Network, an organization that works with women in Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and the Ivory Coast to promote peace, literacy and political involvement. Karman, the final recipient of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, is a Yemani journalist. She is also recognized for her organization, Women Journalists without Chains.

By awarding the peace prize to Sirleaf, Gbowee, and Karman the Norwegian council sent a clear message; women are an importance part of peace and security. This message will hopefully increase the number of women who are involved in the peace building process. Currently, less then 10 per cent of all peace agreements are negotiated by women and less then 3 per cent are signed by women. The councils decision to award the peace prize to three women, speaks not only to the wonderful work being accomplished by women all over the world, but to the great potential women can represent in peace and democracy.

-Madeline Lee