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Friday, October 7, 2011

Winners of 2011 Nobel Peace Prize……

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman have today become part of history, joining the elite list consisting of 12 women of whom Wangari Maathai, who passed away recently was the latest.  These three have been award the coveted “Nobel Peace Prize 2011’ today.  The 2011 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded on Friday to Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen for their work on women's rights.  The Norwegian Nobel Committee honoured the three women "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work."

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, 72, is a Harvard-trained economist who became Africa's first democratically elected female president in 2005.  She was seen as a reformer and peacemaker in Liberia, another country ravaged by civil wars.  Recently, opponents in the presidential campaign have accused her of buying votes and using government funds to campaign. Her camp denies the charges.  .  Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee, organized a group of Christian and Muslim women to challenge Liberia's warlords. In 2009 she won a Profile in Courage Award, an honor named for a 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book written by John F. Kennedy, for her work in emboldening women in Liberia.  Tawakkul Karman, is a 32-year-old mother of three who heads the human rights group Women Journalists without Chains. She has been a leading figure in organizing protests President Ali Abdullah Saleh that kicked off in late January as part of a wave of anti-authoritarian revolts that have convulsed the Arab world. 

The Nobel Peace Prize is one of the five Nobel Prizes bequeathed by the Swedish industrialist and inventor Alfred Nobel. It is a highly regarded award, recognised internationally.  Since the first Nobel Prizes were awarded in 1901, the Peace Prize has, in accordance with Alfred Nobel's will, been awarded by a committee of five, appointed by the Storting (the Norwegian Parliamant), but without the committee being formally responsible to the Storting.   The Nobel Peace Prize 2011 was awarded jointly to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work".

The face of the medal of the Norwegian Nobel Committee shows Alfred Nobel in a pose slightly different from that of the other medals. The inscription is the same.  The other side of the Nobel Peace Prize medal represents a group of three men forming a fraternal bond.  The inscription reads:  Pro pace et fraternitate gentium -  translated "For the peace and brotherhood of men".  "Prix Nobel de la Paix", the relevant year, and the name of the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate is engraved on the edge of the medal.

Though widely believed to have won, Winston Churchil was never awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.  He actually was awarded the Prize in Literature in 1953.  it is a fact he was nominated for both the Literature Prize and for the Nobel Peace Prize.  The Vietnamese politician Le Duc Tho, awarded the 1973 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, is the only person who has declined the Nobel Peace Prize. They were both awarded the Prize for negotiating the Vietnam peace accord. Le Doc Tho said that he was not in a position to accept the Nobel Prize, citing the situation in Vietnam as his reason.   Three of the Prize winning laureates have been under arrest at the time of the award.  They are :

German pacifist and journalist Carl von Ossietzky
Burmese politician Aung San Suu Kyi
Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo

On 27 November 1895, Alfred Nobel signed his last will and testament, giving the largest share of his fortune to a series of prizes, the Nobel Prizes. As described in Nobel's will, one part was dedicated to "the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.  Over the years there have been 97 individuals who have won the acclaimed Nobel Peace Prize.  That includes 12 women.  They are :

1905 - Bertha von Suttner
1931 - Jane Addams
1946 - Emily Greene Balch
1976 - Betty Williams
1976 - Mairead Corrigan
1979 - Mother Teresa
1982 - Alva Myrdal
1991 - Aung San Suu Kyi
1992 - Rigoberta Menchú Tum
1997 - Jody Williams
2003 - Shirin Ebadi
2004 - Wangari Maathai

"We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society," the prize committee said.

Regards – S. Sampathkumar.

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