This year's Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to three women "for their nonviolent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work." Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first woman to be democratically elected president in Africa; Leymah Gbowee, who fought against the use of rape in Liberia's civil war; and Tawakkul Karman, a pro-democracy leader in Yemen, share this year's prize of $1.5 million.
Tawakkul Karman becomes the first Arab woman to ever win the prize. The prize committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said oppression of women is the "most important issue in the Arab world" and explained, "We have included the Arab Spring in this prize, but we have put it in a particular context. Namely, if one fails to include the women in the revolution and the new democracies, there will be no democracy."
As for the two winners from Liberia, a country created for freed American slaves in 1847, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, 72, became the first freely elected woman in Africa in 2005, after her country's brutal civil war. U2's Bono reacted to her win, calling her "an extraordinary woman, a force of nature, and now she has the world recognize her in this great, great, great way." And the third woman, Leymah Gbowee, heads Liberia's Women For Peace movement, and has worked to stop brutality against women and to increase their voting and participation in democracy.
Of all the Nobel prizes, the peace prize has been awarded to women most frequently. However, men still dominate the laureate list, as out of 101 individuals who have won, only 15 have been women. This year's award makes a statement that the committee does believe that women are invaluable to peace around the world.