Multiple Firsts as three women share 2011 Peace Nobel

October 8, 2011 

by Tola Adenle

The 2011 Nobel Peace Prize will go down as one in which the most firsts were recorded in the history of not only the Peace Prize but  the Nobel as a whole.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian President and Africa’s first woman president, led two other women activists to win the award “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”

The 2011 award is the first time that three women will share a prize in any Nobel category.  It is no less momentous that this is the first time  a Liberian won the Prize AND this first time out lands Liberia, a country that has known much sorrow, two Nobel Prizes.

Tawakkul Karman, who won for her commitment to women’s rights came to the fore through the fight for democracy sweeping the Middle East, comes with her own firsts.  She is  the first Arab woman to win a Nobel, any Nobel Prize AND, wait for this, at 32, she is the youngest Peace Prize winner ever.

Leymah Gbowee’s leading role in giving women a voice by fighting the forces of sexism during the Liberian War was instrumental in the election that brought Sirleaf to power which marks another first: a woman’s fight for social change that became instrumental in bringing about political change that gave another woman political power.  These two women who represent two generations in a country that lost hundreds of thousands of people during the war fought in different ways to bring peace to their country and are now united to share with another remarkable woman a Nobel Prize.

President Sirleaf is 72 while Gbowee and Karman are both under 40.




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