We celebrate and congratulate 2011 Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Leymah Gbowee, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Yemeni pro-democracy activist, Tawakkul Karman, who are all connected with Global Fund for Women grantee organizations.
"We at the Global Fund are so happy and proud today," said Global Fund CEO, Musimbi Kanyoro. "Not just because the Nobel Committee recognized our grantee partners, but because in naming these three, they acknowledge and affirm that women are agents of change. These women, and millions of others like them, really are changing the world."
These were the first women to win the prize since Wangari Maathai, who died last month and was the founder of a Global Fund grantee partner, was named as the laureate in 2004. Most of the recipients in the award’s 110-year history have been men and today’s decision echoes our belief that women have creative and strategic solutions to the problems facing their communities.
"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," Norwegian Nobel committee wrote in a press release.
Leymah Gbowee founded Women Peace and Security Network Africa, a Global Fund grantee since 2008, to mobilize and organize women across ethnic and religious dividing lines to bring an end to the long war in Liberia. The group campaigned to ensure women's participation in elections, and has since worked to enhance the influence of women in West Africa during and after war. Leymah’s story is featured in the documentary, Pray the Devil Back to Hell, produced by Global Fund for Women board member, Abigail Disney.“It would have been impossible for us to achieve what we achieved in Liberia had it not been for the fact that we had support both financially and morally from our sisters at Global Fund for Women,” said Leymah Gbowee after her 2009 JFK Profile in Courage Award.
As an organization inspired by the leadership of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s Market Women’s Fund was awarded a Global Fund grant in 2008 to support the work of an international constituency of women activists with a mandate to create an empowering environment for Liberia’s market women. The group recognizes the significant contributions market women make to the health and wellbeing of their families, as well as the post-conflict reconstruction of their communities, and support them by providing business skill training, educational opportunities, and financial support.
Women Journalists Without Chains, established in part by Tawakkul Karman, received a Global Fund grant in 2006 to train and educate female journalists. In order to defend women's rights through various media outlets, these women work together to campaign, raise awareness and advocate for their equal rights.
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 realize the great potential for democracy and peace that women can represent.