Nobel Peace Prize Goes to Trio of Liberian, Yemeni Women

Posted October 7th, 2011 at 5:45 am (UTC-5)
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The 2011 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee and Yemeni women's rights advocate Tawakkul Karman.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee made the announcement Friday in Oslo, saying the three women will split the coveted award for “their nonviolent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights.”

Committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland praised the work of the three women, saying that “we cannot achieve lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men.”

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became Africa's first democratically elected female president in 2005. The Nobel Committee praised the Liberian leader for her efforts to secure peace, promote economic and social development and strengthen the position of women.

The committee hailed Leymah Gbowee for her part in helping to end Liberia's civil war by reaching across ethnic and religious lines.

Meanwhile, Yemeni activist Tawakkul Karman was praised for playing a “leading part in the struggle for women's rights and for democracy and peace” in the country.

The committee said it hopes the prize will help bring an end to the “suppression of women that still occurs in many countries.”

Last year, the Nobel committee awarded the peace prize to imprisoned Chinese dissident writer and activist Liu Xiabao, angering the Chinese government. Liu is serving an 11-year prison sentence for what China says is “subverting state power.”

Past winners include U.S. President Barack Obama in 2009, former Vice President Al Gore in 2007 and former President Jimmy Carter in 2002. The 2001 prize was split between the United Nations and then Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The prize was created by Swedish scientist and industrialist Alfred Nobel, the inventor of dynamite.