Nobel Peace Prize About To Be Announced

Oct 7, 2011
Originally published on October 7, 2011 9:54 am

Three women who have worked for peace and women's rights in Liberia and Yemen have been awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, it was just announced at the Norwegian Nobel Institute in Oslo.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian peace activist Leymah Roberta Gbowee and Yemeni protest leader Tawakkul Karman are being honored.

This year's Nobels come with about $1.5 million. That amount will be divided between the three laureates.

We'll follow shortly with more about the news. Please hit your "refresh" button to get our updates.

Update at 11:45 a.m. ET. Johnson Sirleaf Says The Honor Is A Message To The Liberian People About Peace:

"I consider it recognition for the many years of struggle for justice, for peace and for the promotion of development," Johnson Sirleaf said today while campaigning (she's running for reelection and the first round of voting is set for next Tuesday).

"I believe we both accept this on behalf of the Liberian people and the credit goes to them, because we're now going into our ninth year of peace," Johnson Sirleaf continued. "And every Liberian has contributed to it. We particularly give this credit to Liberian women, who have consistently led the struggle for peace, even under conditions of neglect. It sends a message to the Liberian people that peace must prevail as Liberia goes through this critical event; that we must demonstrate to the world that we can be peaceful, that we can be politically mature and that we can all work together for a better Liberia."

(H/T to NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton for sending us Johnson Sirleaf's comments.)

Update at 8 a.m. ET. All Things Considered On Karman, "The Woman Behind The Revolution:"

In August, NPR's Kelly McEvers profiled Karman for All Things Considered. As Kelly reported:

"Authorities in male-dominated Yemeni society thought they could shut Karman up by sending threats to her male friends and relatives. The worst one, she says, came in 2007, when someone told her they would kill her, kidnap her children and throw them from a mountain.

"But Karman didn't stop organizing protests. Looking back now, though, she says they did little good.

"[Then] everything changed with the uprising in Tunisia and the fall of the first Arab dictator in January."

Update at 7 a.m. ET. "Important Moment For Women":

On Morning Edition, NPR's Philip Reeves said this year's award is being viewed as "an extremely important moment for women in the fight for equality and rights." Only 10 of the 98 Nobel Peace laureates, he noted, have been women.

Update at 5:52 a.m. ET. More On Johnson Sirleaf.

As The Associated Press writes:

"Johnson Sirleaf, 72, is a Harvard-trained economist who became Africa's first democratically elected female president in 2005. Liberia was ravaged by civil wars for years until 2003 and is still struggling to maintain a fragile peace with the help of U.N. peacekeepers. Sirleaf was seen as a reformer and peacemaker in Liberia when she took office. She is running for re-election this month and opponents in the presidential campaign have accused her of buying votes and using government funds to campaign. Her camp denies the charges."

Update at 5:45 a.m. ET. Gbowee On Tell Me More:

In 2009, Gbowee was on NPR's Tell Me More and spoke about the horrific violence against women in her country during its war, and why she organized a "sex strike" that aimed to get men to stop the violence.

"We didn't have the power to go to peace talks, so we just thought, what else do we have to lose?," she said. "Our bodies are their battlefield. Let's just put our bodies out there because it was just about at that point in time, all of us, the mindset was we need to do something to change the situation if our children must live in this country."

Update at 5:38 a.m. ET. Karman Says Award Is For "Youth Of Revolution" And Yemen's People.

The Associated Press writes that:

"Karman is a 32-year-old mother of three who heads the human rights group Women Journalists without Chains. She has been a leading figure in organizing protests against President Ali Abdullah Saleh that kicked off in late January as part of a wave of anti-authoritarian revolts that have convulsed the Arab world.

" 'I am very very happy about this prize,' Karman told The Associated Press. 'I give the prize to the youth of revolution in Yemen and the Yemeni people.' "

Update at 5:27 a.m. ET. "You Cannot Set Aside Women":

Committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland just said the awards should be seen, in part, as a signal to leaders in the Arab world that "you cannot set aside women" when building nations.

Update at 5:26 a.m. ET. On Gbowee:

As Reuters says, Gbowee "mobilized fellow women against [Liberia's] civil war, including by organising a 'sex strike.' "

Update at 5:23 a.m. ET. Karman's Years Of Struggle Recognized:

Committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland just told reporters that while "we appreciate the bloggers" and others in the social media world who helped spread the word about the "Arab spring," Karman has been standing up "against one of the world's most authoritarian regimes" for years. "You cannot get a Nobel" without that kind of dedication, he said.

Update at 5:20 a.m. ET. A 2009 Conversation With Johnson Sirleaf:

Tell Me More aired a two-part conversation with Johnson Sirleaf in 2009. You can hear it and read about it here.

Update at 5:17 a.m. ET. About Karman:

NPR's Andy Carvin wrote for us Thursday that "Karman is the leader of Women Journalists Without Chains, a Yemeni human-rights organization that has long fought for freedom of the press. She rose to prominence as one of the leading voices of the uprising in Yemen, which continues to attract hundreds of thousands of protesters to the streets of Sanaa and Taiz almost every week."

Update at 5:13 a.m. ET. The Committee's Statement:

"The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2011 is to be divided in three equal parts between Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work. We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society.

"In October 2000, the UN Security Council adopted Resolution 1325. The resolution for the first time made violence against women in armed conflict an international security issue. It underlined the need for women to become participants on an equal footing with men in peace processes and in peace work in general.

"Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is Africa's first democratically elected female president. Since her inauguration in 2006, she has contributed to securing peace in Liberia, to promoting economic and social development, and to strengthening the position of women. Leymah Gbowee mobilized and organized women across ethnic and religious dividing lines to bring an end to the long war in Liberia, and to ensure women's participation in elections. She has since worked to enhance the influence of women in West Africa during and after war. In the most trying circumstances, both before and during the "Arab spring", Tawakkul Karman has played a leading part in the struggle for women's rights and for democracy and peace in Yemen.

"It is the Norwegian Nobel Committee's hope that the prize to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman will 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."

This year's last Nobel award, for economics, will be announced on Monday.

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