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December 1, 2021

Women activists share Nobel Peace Prize

OSLO – This year’s Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded jointly to three women – Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian Leymah Gbowee and Tawakul Karman of Yemen, the BBC said. They were recognised for their “non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work”. Sirleaf is Africa’s first female elected head of state, Gbowee is a Liberian peace activist and Karman is a leading figure in Yemen’s pro-democracy movement. “We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women achieve the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society,” said Nobel Committee chairman Thorbjorn Jagland in Oslo. Reading from the prize citation, he said the committee hoped the prize would “help to bring an end to the suppression of women that still occurs in many countries, and to realise the great potential for democracy and peace that women can represent”.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel – deemed by Forbes the world’s most powerful woman – called the award a “wise decision”. Nobel committee chair Thorbjorn Jagland announced the awards

But Sirleaf’s main rival in polls this coming Tuesday, Winston Tubman, told the BBC she did not deserve the prize and was a “warmonger”. Karman heard of her win from protest camp Change Square in the capital Sanaa, where she has been living for several months calling for President Ali Abdullah Saleh to stand down. She was recognised for playing a leading part in the struggle for women’s rights in Yemen’s pro-democracy protests “in the most trying circumstances” and is the first Arab woman to win the prize.

As the head of Yemeni organisation Women Journalists without Chains, Karman has been jailed several times. Karman told BBC Arabic she was dedicating it to “all the martyrs and wounded of the Arab Spring” – the wave of unrest which has swept the Middle East and North Africa in the past year – and to “all the free people who are fighting for their rights”.

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