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Fitting tribute to lasting peace
The Nobel Peace Prize this year was given to three women after an elongated wait by the fairer gender. This time, the committee deserves accolades for a very well considered decision

It had been more than a century since a woman received the Nobel Peace Prize. The unbecoming trend came to an end this year with the committee presenting the honour to not one, but three women in 2011. This year, the award would be shared by Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee and Yemeni political campaigner Tawakul Karman – these women have been credited for their role towards peace movements & women rights. Gbowee led a radical peace movement named Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace that was instrumental in ending the Second Liberian Civil War. Karman advocated freedom for women journalists and the lifting of the ban on SMS news services. She was also a prominent leader in the protests against Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson’s main achievement is giving the war-ravaged country a relatively peaceful regime since she was elected in 2005. Yes, the prize would further give mileage to Ellen especially at a time when elections are just around the corner. But such a mileage is well earned. This prestigious award would also dilute the political negativity that has been spread by the opposition. Even the Liberian Supreme Court recently dismissed all cases against Ellen (cases on ‘violation of constitutional clause’ as Ellen was abroad for 10 years before the elections; and also the Truth & Reconciliation Commission’s decree that she be barred from office as she apparently supported former president Frank Taylor, convicted now for serious war crimes).

At the same time, this award would help Tawakul Karman of Yemen in generating more awareness for her campaigns. She may also now have a greater effect on neighbouring countries like Libya, where women rights are confined to mere basics. Even the Nobel prize committee mentioned (especially referring to her) that the prize would “help bring an end to the suppression of women that still occurs in many countries, & to realise the great potential for democracy & peace that women can represent.”

Indeed, an award like the Nobel Peace Prize to women in African nations would encourage more women to come forward in male-dominated African and Arab societies. What this award further does is to provide Liberia and Yemen a status in world politics. The award will surely change the perception of global audiences towards these two nations. But perhaps most importantly, the award tells the world that the Nobel Prize awarding committee does take a few correct decisions. This time for Africa...

By:- Sray Agarwal

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