Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Winners of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize

The following are brief bios garnered from different sources on the Internet that demonstrate the actions and determination that earned the following three individuals the distinction of winning the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize.


Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (born 29 October 1938) is the 24th and current President of Liberia. She served as Minister of Finance under President William Tolbertfrom 1979 until the 1980 coup d'├ętat, after which she left Liberia and held senior positions at various financial institutions. She placed a very distant second in the1997 presidential election. Later, she was elected President in the 2005 presidential election and took office on 16 January 2006. Sirleaf is the first and currently the only elected female head of state in Africa.

Sirleaf was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, jointly with Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Tawakel Karman of Yemen. The women were recognized "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work."[1] However, this has generated controversy in Liberia as it has been interpreted by Sirleaf's political critics as having granted her an "unfair advantage" immediately before the upcoming Liberian Presidential election, which is scheduled to occur on October 11, 2011.

2011 Nobel Peace Prize Winner Leymah Roberta Gbowee is the executive director of the Women Peace and Security Network Africa, based in Accra, Ghana. She is a founding member and former coordinator of the Women in Peacebuilding Program/West African Network for Peacebuilding (WIPNET/WANEP). During her tenure as coordinator for WIPNET/WANEP, Ms. Gbowee organized collaborative peace-building initiatives for hundreds of women peacebuilders from nine of Liberia's 15 counties. She also served as a commissioner-designate for the Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Additionally, Ms. Gbowee has presented on several regional and international panels, including UNIFEM's "Women and the Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration and Repatriation (DDRR) Process." In 2005, she presented at the United Nations Security Council's (UNSC) Arria Formula Meeting on women, peace, and security organized around the 5th anniversary of UNSC Resolution 1325. Ms. Gbowee has received numerous international honors for her peace-building work. In 2007, The Women's Leadership Board at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government recognized Ms. Gbowee with the Blue Ribbon Peace Award. This annual award is given to individuals and organizations that have made a significant contribution to peacebuilding through innovative strategies that promote women's leadership in peace processes on the local, national, or international level. In 2009, Ms. Gbowee and the women of Liberia were given the Profiles in Courage Award by the Kennedy Library Foundation. In October 2011, Ms. Gbowee was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, alongside Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen, a pro-democracy campaigner. The award serves to highlight Ms. Gbowee's work in mobilizing women across ethnic and religious divides to end the decade-long Liberian civil war. Ms. Gbowee is the central character of the award-winning documentary "Pray the Devil Back to Hell" which profiles her role in the peace process. (10.2011)

Tawakul Karman, a Yemeni journalist and activist, is one of three women awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. She becomes the first Arab woman to win the prize.

The 32-year-old mother of three founded Women Journalists Without Chains in 2005.

She has been a prominent activist and advocate of human rights and freedom of expression for the last five years, and led regular protests and sit-ins calling for the release of political prisoners.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee cited Ms Karman and the two other winners for their "non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work".

The Nobel jury specifically lauded Ms Karman for playing, "in the most trying circumstances, both before and during the Arab Spring... a leading part in the struggle for women's rights and for democracy and peace in Yemen."

'So happy'

Ms Karman told the BBC Arabic Service: "I'm so happy with the news of this prize and I dedicate it to all the martyrs and wounded of the Arab Spring… in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Libya and Syria and to all the free people who are fighting for their rights and freedoms.

"Actually I didn't know I was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize until now. I only knew about it through BBC Arabic and al-Jazeera, so thank you very much."

In comments to the AFP news agency she said that the prize was "a recognition by the international community of the Yemeni revolution and its inevitable victory".

Ms Karman has led rallies in the continuing protests against the rule of President Ali-Abdullah Saleh.

Speaking to the BBC in April 2011 in Change Square in Sanaa, the heart of the popular demonstrations against Mr Saleh, Ms Karman said she was astonished at the protests: "I could never imagine this. In Yemen, women are not allowed out of the house after 7pm, now they are sleeping here. This goes beyond the wildest dream I have ever dreamt, I am so proud of our women."

She is a member of Yemen's leading Islamist opposition party, the Islah - a conservative, religious movement that calls for reform in accordance with Islamic principles.

She has campaigned to raise the minimum age at which women can marry in Yemen.

She has been jailed several times for her activism, pilloried in the official media and attacked. Unusually for a woman in Yemen, Ms Kamran wears a headscarf not a full face veil.

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