This article was orginally published on the website of the Nobel Women's Intiaitive.
The women Peace Laureates of the Nobel Women’s Initiative—Jody Williams (USA), Shirin Ebadi (Iran), Mairead Maguire (Ireland) and Rigoberta Menchú Tum (Guatemala)—today sent letters of congratulations to the three women who today were jointly awarded the Nobel Peace Prize: Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian activist Leymah Gbowee and Yemini opposition leader Tawakkul Karman.
“Your victory today is a victory for all women around the world struggling for peace, justice and equality,” said Jody Williams, who won the Nobel Peace prize in 1997 for her work to ban landmines. “We are inspired by your example of nonviolent action in the face of brutal violence, discrimination and injustice. You remind us that with women’s bold action, there is hope for a better world.”
With today’s announcement, there are now nine living women Nobel Peace Laureates in the world, and 15 since the creation of the prize. Wangari Maathai, winner of the Nobel Peace prize in 2004 for her work on environment and democracy, died late last month. Sirleaf and Gbowee are the second and third African women to have received the Nobel Peace prize.
In awarding the prize, the Nobel Committee recognized the contribution of Sirlief, Gbowee and Karman in the “non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.” Sirleaf and Gbowee won for their visionary contributions to women’s equality and peace in Liberia, a country that was devastated by 14 years of civil war. Karman was honored for her brave campaign to challenge the repressive rule of the Yemini President Ali Abdullah Saleh.
Karman joins Shirin Ebadi, who won the Nobel Peace prize in 2003 for her work to bring equal rights to women in Iran, as the second Muslim woman to win the Nobel Peace prize.
“As a Muslim woman, I am well aware of the difficult and severe conditions of your work and struggle,” said Ebadi in her letter today to Karman. Karman receives frequent death threats, and was thrown in jail last January. “I admire your tremendous work and courage. This victory will certainly inspire and reassure the million of Muslim women who suffer from discrimination and who fight for equality of rights between men and women—and also sends a message to countries going through the Arab Spring that true democracy will only be achieved if women also receive equal rights.”