The other day my car broke down in the parking lot of a strip mall. Basically the battery died and I had to call roadside assistance (RA) to jump-start my car. While I sipped on some hot taro milk at a nearby coffee shop waiting for RA to show up, my eyes fell upon a newspaper article on 2011’s Nobel Peace Prize winners. They are three women who have led their countrywomen to higher grounds in freedom, independence and respect. They have achieved all this by peaceful means.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the President of Liberia; Leymah Gbowee, citizen of Liberia and Tawakkol Karman of Yemen are the three powerful yet peaceful women who share this year’s Peace Prize.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was the first woman to be elected President of Liberia or for that matter of any African nation. She was recently re-elected and gave a powerful speech. In it, she touched upon the enormous cruelty against women in war. In her speech she said how despite international tribunals condemning rape, rape on girls and women in times of lawlessness continue unabated. She said “Through the mutilation of our bodies and the destruction of our ambitions, women and girls have disproportionately paid the price of domestic and international armed conflict. We have paid in currencies of blood, of tears and of dignity.” In many countries, education of women is seen as a luxury and not as a key investment in the country’s future, Sirleaf said. She also talked about her own ravaged country with a sense of hope.
Leymah Gbowee organized a campaign to challenge warlords in Liberia. Back in 2003, some of the women from her country started the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace Campaign for $10. They wanted to help those women that had become the “toy of war”. Sexual abuse and exploitation spared no woman, they were raped and abused regardless of their age, religion or social status. Despite the pain and terror, her organization knew that only nonviolence could end the war. They were inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King and this organization quickly spread to 50 different communities.
Gbowee said that a lack of women in the decision-making space is the bigger serious problem. “If they were, there would be less exclusive policies and laws that are blind to abuses women endure”, she said.
Tawakko Karman from Yemen, who has played a leading role in the struggle for women’s rights in Yemen both before and during the Arab Spring uprising there, spoke of how civilization has always been created by men and women together. When women are treated unfairly and are deprived of their rights, a social and cultural ills become manifest.”Our civilization is called human civilization and is not attributed only to men or women”, she said.
Karman, 32, the youngest of the three laureates, also talked about how the globalized world has brought people together, with common hopes and fears and she believes it is on the path to “what is beneficial for people”, despite the missteps.
“Peace does not mean just to stop wars, but also to stop oppression and injustice.” she said.
Article Courtesy: The Epoch Times.