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Nobel Peace Prize: recognizing the struggles of women?

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This year’s Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to three women: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Ghowee and Tawakkul Karman. It’s not often that this happens. It’s also significant. Not like Obama winning it.

These women come from troubled regions. Sirleaf is the President of Liberia. The first female head of state in Africa. Ghowee, also from Liberia, is known for leading a group of women to fight against the use of rape and child soldiers during the war. Karman is a mother of three. A key figure of the uprising in Yemen this year, she had, for years, led her country’s struggle for women’s rights, democracy and peace.

Their stories are  inspiring. Armed with courage and confidence, audacity and hope, they are warriors of a different kind. They give voice to the voiceless in their countries, and perhaps, to the millions around the world.

And their efforts have been recognized by an eminent panel. To quote them precisely, these women have been recognized for their “non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace building work.”

But, what does this really mean? Does this  recognition mean anything in their countries, and other such nations, where women still struggle for peace and equality?

In many parts of the world, where women have almost no legal rights, authorities don’t seem to want this changed. Yemen is among the 10 worst places to be a women, according to a recent Newsweek study. Domestic violence isn’t illegal here, and there s no legal recognition of spousal rape. They are slightly better than Chad and Afghanistan. It’s common in these countries that girls are married off young, and they lack access to education and health. Girls are raped and subjected to humiliation. Yet, their concerns are often dismissed by authorities.

This year’s Nobel Peace Prize will no doubt bring hope and encourage women across the world as they struggle for equality, for peace and for a better life. But, is that enough? Will it bring about change in the minds and acts of the oppressor?

In the meantime, Sirleaf will be running for re-election soon. There’s talk that  she would lose the election. She has won acclaim internationaly, but within her country, support for her is waning. Her efforts have been overshadowed by high youth unemployment and corruption.  This will be worth a watch.

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1 Comment

  1. Sashee says:

    These three women have fought for democracy in extremely difficult circumstances. Considering the regions they belong to and the status of women in these regions their stories are truly inspiring. Especially will all that is still going on in Yemen even at this very moment,Tawakkul Karman – a muslim women mobilizing the masses and struggling to win rights for her people in a society where her rights as a woman is not even considered is amazing.
    But recognizing them through the noble awards will not help their cause in anyway. The localities in which they operate neither recognizes their value or the value of their achievement.

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