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YEMENI WOMAN AMONG NOBEL PEACE WINNERS

Muslim World

Africa’s first democratically elected female president, a Liberian campaigner against rape and a woman who stood up to Yemen’s autocratic regime won the Nobel Peace Prize on October 8 in recognition of the importance of women’s rights in the spread of global peace. The 10 million kronor ($1.5 million) award was split three ways between Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, women’s rights activist Leymah Gbowee from the same African country and democracy activist Tawakkul Karman of Yemen — the first Arab woman to win the prize.

The chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee Thorbjoern Jagland said Karman’s award should be seen as a signal that both women and Islam have important roles to play in the uprisings known as the Arab Spring, the wave of anti-authoritarian revolts that have challenged rulers across the Arab world. “The Arab Spring cannot be successful without including women in it,” Jagland said. He said Karman, 32, belongs to a movement with links to the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamist group “which in the West is perceived as a threat to democracy.” He added that “I don’t believe that. There are many signals that that kind of movement can be an important part of the solution.”

Karman “started her activism long before the revolution took place in Tunisia and Egypt. She has been a very courageous woman in Yemen for quite a long time,” Jagland said.

Karman, a mother of three, heads the human rights group Women Journalists without Chains. She has been a leading figure in organising the protests against Saleh that kicked off in late January. “I am very very happy about this prize,” Karman was reported as saying. “I give the prize to the youth of revolution in Yemen and the Yemeni people.”



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