The 2011 Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to three women: Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee, and Yemeni rights campaigner Tawakkul Karman. They’re being recognized “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.” The New York Times points out that the three are the first women to win the prize since Kenya’s Wangari Maathai, named as the laureate in 2004 (she died last month).
Thorbjorn Jagland, the former Norwegian prime minister who leads the committee that chooses the winner of the prize (which is $1.5 million), said this is “a very important signal to women all over the world.”
In an interview with Leymah Gbowee conducted by Adam Smith, Editorial Director of Nobel Media, immediately following the announcement of the award, she said this:
[AS] Thank you. May I ask what message you hope this prize sends to the world?
[JG] That the other 50 percent of the world – the women of the world – that their skills, talents and intelligence should be utilized. And I think this message is a resounding agreement to all of our advocacies over the years. That truly women have a place, truly women have a face and truly the world has not been functioning well without the input, in every sphere, of women.
[AS] That’s a wonderful message, thank you. And may I ask, when you were protesting for the end of the civil war in Liberia, armed with only white t-shirts, what gave you hope that you would succeed?
[JG] My hope was in those women who came on a daily basis – women who had been broken, women who had been abused, who had watched or observed the worst – their commitment, their perseverance, their passion for bringing peace to Liberia, that was my hope.
91 Nobel Peace Prizes have been awarded since 1901.