7 Oct 2011

Women joint winners of Nobel Peace Prize

11:24 pm on 7 October 2011

Three women who have campaigned for rights and an end to violence in Liberia and Yemen have been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Liberian Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman from Yemen will share the prize worth $US1.5 million.

The announcement was made by the head of Norwegian Nobel Committee Thorbjoern Jagland on Friday, Reuters reports.

"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," he said.

Ms Sirleaf, 72, was elected to office in 2005, following the end of Liberia's 14-year civil war and is Africa's first freely elected woman. She is standing for re-election on Tuesday.

Leymah Gbowee mobilised and organised women across ethnic and religious dividing lines to bring an end to the war in Liberia and to ensure women's participation in elections.

The Nobel committee said Tawakkul Karman has played a leading part in the struggle for women's rights and for democracy and peace in Yemen in the "most trying circumstances, both before and during the Arab Spring".

"It is the Norwegian Nobel Committee's hope that the prize to Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman will help to bring an end to the suppression of women that still occurs in many countries, and to realise the great potential for democracy and peace that women can represent."

Ms Karman said on Friday the award was a victory for Yemen's democracy activists and they would not give up until they had won full rights in a "democratic, modern Yemen".