The Norwegian Nobel Committee has honoured three women with this year’s peace prize, only the second time in the award’s history that it has been split three ways.
Until now only 12 of the 97 Nobel peace laureates have been women and the committee was keen to redress the balance.
President of Liberia Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is the first woman to be democratically elected an African leader. Her compatriot Leymah Gbowee was also honoured for mobilising women against their country’s civil war.
The third laureate, Tawakkul Karman is an activist for democracy and women’s rights in Yemen. From ‘Change Square’, the centre of the current on-going protest movement she told the Al Jazeera news channel:
“This is a victory for the youth first and foremost. We are here to win our freedom and dignity in their entirety. Our youth revolution wants our complete rights. We will not allow our revolution to be left incomplete. We want a democratic, modern Yemen. That’s what the youth and the martyrs and the wounded have vowed to gain. We will continue our peaceful movement.”
Yemen’s Deputy Information Minister welcomed the attribution of the award to Karman, saying “I’m very happy with the news that she won the Nobel Prize
and it’s something that all Yemenis can be proud of. I hope this prize will be a step toward rationality.”
Protests and subsequent government crackdowns in Yemen started in February. President Ali Abdullah Saleh, who has been in power for three decades, has recently returned to the country after surviving an assassination attempt in June.