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IMAGES: Meet the winners of Nobel Peace Prize 2011

Last updated on: October 7, 2011 15:21 IST

IMAGES: Meet the winners of Nobel Peace Prize 2011

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It's a historical day indeed! The Norwegian Nobel Committee on Friday announced that the Nobel Peace Prize 2011 would be equally divided by three influential women: Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee and Yemeni politician and activist Tawakul Karman.

The three women were awarded the most prestigious prize 'for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work,' a statement released by the Nobel committee said.

The only female head of state in Africa, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is a reputed economist who has worked in various prestigious financial institutions including the World Bank.

She was working as the finance minister of Liberia when a bloody coup ousted the government in 1980. While almost all the other cabinet members were shot dead, Sirleaf managed to flee to the United States.

In the following years, Sirleaf made several attempts to return to her country. But each time, she was forced to leave, imprisoned, or sent into exile.

At the end of the Liberian Civil War in 2005, Sirleaf returned to her country and won the general election by a narrow margin to become the president.

Sirleaf has contributed to securing peace in Liberia, to promoting economic and social development, and to strengthening the position of women, the Nobel statement noted.

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Image: Nobel laureate Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

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Leymah Roberta Gbowee is an African peace activist responsible for organising a peace movement that brought an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003.

This led to the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Liberia, the first African nation with a female president.

Gbowee mobilised and organised women across ethnic and religious dividing lines to bring an end to the long war in Liberia, and to ensure women's participation in elections. 

"She has since worked to enhance the influence of women in West Africa during and after war," the Nobel statement noted.


Image: Nobel laureate Liberian rights activist Leymah Roberta Gbowee

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Yemeni politician Tawakel Karman, a senior member of main opposition Al-Islah party, also heads the group 'Women Journalists Without Chains' that she created in 2005.

Tawakul Karman's Women Journalists Without Chains was formed to promote human rights, "particularly freedom of opinion and expression, and democratic rights".

Karman said that she has received "threats and temptations" from the authorities by telephone and letter because of her refusal to accept the Ministry of Information rejection of WJWC's application to legally create a newspaper and a radio station.

During the ongoing 2011 Yemeni protests, Tawakel Karman organised student rallies in Sana'a to protest against Ali Abdullah Saleh and his government. She was arrested once, amid complaints that her husband did not know her whereabouts, however she was released on parole on 24 January.

She then led another protest on 29 January where she called for a "day of rage" on 3 February, similar to that of the 2011 Egyptian revolution. On 17 March, she was re-arrested amidst ongoing protests.

"In the most trying circumstances, both before and during the Arab spring, Tawakkul Karman has played a leading part in the struggle for women's rights and for democracy and peace in Yemen," the statement also noted.


Image: Nobel laureate Tawakel Karman protests in front of the Sana'a University
Photographs: Reuters
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