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.