You may recall that earlier this year we launched “Laureate Lights,” a new blog series, with some blog, Facebook, and Twitter posts about Aung San Suu Kyi (1991 Peace Prize winner). Now that Tawakkol Karman has accepted our invitation to speak at the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize Forum (March 8-10, 2013), we’re going to shift our focus over the next few weeks to exploring her life and work.
We’ll start today with an overview of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize itself, which was very unique in that it was awarded to three different women: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (Liberia), Leymah Gbowee (Liberia), and Tawakkol Karman (Yemen). This is only the second time that a Peace Prize has been shared among three people (the first time was in 1994 when Yasser Arafat, Yitzhak Rabin, and Shimon Peres won the prize). Also, the 2011 prize was distinct because Tawakkol Karman represents the first female Arab to win the Peace Prize in its 110 year history.
In the words of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, the three won the prize “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.” With respect to Tawakkol Karman, the official press release said: “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.”