Three women win Nobel Peace Prize

Nobel Peace Prize goes to activists Tawakul Karman (left), Leymah Gbowee (center), and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (right). (Photo:ABC News)Nobel Peace Prize goes to activists Tawakul Karman (left), Leymah Gbowee (center), and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf (right). …The Nobel Peace Prize has just been awarded to, not one, but three women. Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian women's rights activist Leymah Gbowee, and Yemeni democracy activist Tawakkul Karman, will share the $1.5 million award and the highest honor bestowed for human rights work on the planet.

Before today, only twelve women had been awarded the prize. Sirleaf, Gbowee and Karman join Jane Addams and Mother Teresa as members of an elite group of women who've made a profoundly positive impact on our world.

Sirleaf, 72, became Africa's first democratically elected female president in 2005. She's known in her country as the "Iron Lady" whose efforts in office have been marked by reform and a movement toward peace in a region crippled by warlords.

She's currently running for re-election (her campaign buttons read "Ellen-She's our Man").

"This gives me a stronger commitment to work for reconciliation," Sirleaf said from her home in Monrovia. "Liberians should be proud."

She'll share the prize with fellow Liberian activist, Gbowee. The mother of five was awarded the prize for her work organizing women's protests against Liberia's warlords. The women in the area have long been victims of rape by armed fighters who prey on innocent citizens. In 2003, she led hundreds to demand warlord disarmament and protection for Liberian women. She began in 2002 by organizing a group of women to peacefully pray for an end to fighting in a local fish market, and within a year, it grew into a movement credited with ending the region's civil war.

The third woman awarded the honor is Yemeni human rights activist, Karman. The 32-year-old mother of three, and leader of the organization Women Journalists without Chains, has been the backbone of anti-authoritarian protests to unseat Yemen's current president. Despite the country's conservative culture, Karman has given voice to the thousands of female constituents unsatisfied with the current government.

"I am very very happy about this prize," Karman told The Associated Press. "I give the prize to the youth of revolution in Yemen and the Yemeni people."

Karmen is the first Arab woman in history to win the Nobel Peace Price.

In a time of upheaval and change, particularly for women in Arab countries, the Nobel committee is sending a strong message. Women's voices are vital in peace process.

"We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society," Norwegian Nobel Committee chairperson Thorbjoern Jagland told reporters.

The prize will be presented in Oslo on December 10.

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