Three female activists will share the Nobel Peace Prize for 2011. They are the first women to win the prize since 2004.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first female president; Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee; and prominent Yemeni human-rights activist Tawakul Karman received the $1.5 million prize. The award acknowledged the women’s “nonviolent role in promoting peace, democracy, and gender equality,” The New York Times reports.
“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,” said the citation read to reporters by Thorbjorn Jagland, head of the Oslo-based Nobel committee, who described the prize in a subsequent interview as “a very important signal to women all over the world,” The Timesreported.
Over 250 people were nominated for the prize and there was much speculation that a blogger or other figure in this spring’s activism in the Middle East would be awarded. The 2011 Nobel Prize, however, recognized individuals “who were there long before the world’s media was there reporting,” according to Jagland.
The last women to be awarded the prize was Kenya’s Wangari Maathai in 2004 for her "contribution to sustainable development, democracy and peace," according to the Nobel Committee's website.