Yemeni Woman Wins Nobel Peace Prize

On Friday, October 7th, three women were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize: Tawakul Karman from Yemen and Ellen Johnson Surleaf and Leymah Gbowee from Liberia. Tawakul Karman is a Yemeni journalist and activist. Karman, 32, mother of 3, and the first Arab woman to win the prize, has been a central figure in Yemen’s revolution to remove President Ali Abdullah Saleh. Referred to by some as the “Mother of the Revolution,” she began her activist work several years ago.

In 2005, Karman founded the organization Women Journalists Without Chains to advocate for freedom of the press. She also led demonstrations demanding an end to media censorship. Even before the Day of Rage in Yemen on February 3rd, 2011, Karman led weekly protests at the Girl’s College of Sanaa University. Karman campaigns for democracy, freedom of the press, and equal opportunity for women. She has also spoken out against child marriages in Yemen.

According to the Nobel Prize committee, these women were rewarded for “their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building.” In an interview with Al-Jazeera English, Karman emphasized repeatedly that “peace is the only solution” to bring change. Moreover, in the case of Karman specifically, Thorbjan Jagland, the Chairman of the Nobel committee said that her award underscored the fact that women and Islam played a part in the Arab revolutions.

Unaware of the fact that she was even nominated, Karma was in Sanaa Change Square protesting when she was informed that she was a laureate. She dedicated the award to the youth and all the protestors for democracy in the Arab world, saying that this award was “a victory for the Arab Spring.” For me, Karman represents the true spirit of Islam towards women, which calls for women to fully participate in their societies and to be positive forces of change.

What do you think of Tawakul Karman being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize?  Does she alter your views on Muslim women? Do you think one person can bring change? Do you think women’s participation in the Arab revolutions has been recognized? Please share your comments below.

6 thoughts on “Yemeni Woman Wins Nobel Peace Prize

  1. I am sharing this as a current event in my Islam class at Fairfield University tomorrow. Tawakul Karman shows to all women that we can make change and rise above the odds to protect and uplift the status of those suffering. I am extremely thankful for those who struggle to make such change.

  2. Mainstream press in USA seems to be ignoring Tawakul Karman, and talking about Leyma Gbowee of Liberia only. I saw Karman speak on TV in Sana’a in February this year. I was amazed at her confidence and leadership! My daughter lives in Sana’a, and I have met many of her women relatives. They are very educated and self assured, despite always covering in black veils and coats when they’re outside! It seems to Westerners that they are submissive, and controlled by men, nothing could be further from the truth from my experience there. I’m so happy for Tawakul Karman! And I hope that might in some way lead to a peaceful transition to democracy in Yemen.

  3. Gwen, when a women goes outside in Yemen, she is required by law to be covered. If she didn’t, she would be stoned or flogged. Its quite sad that Americans are ignorant of this fact. Give her a few months stay in LA and she would be shopping in her hot pants! LOL!

  4. No MoLawn, it is not required for women to be covered, and they most certainly will not be stoned or flogged. Have you even been to Yemen?

    Someone who knows their Islam wouldn’t give up their morals after two weeks in LA, take it from someone who actually was born and raised there. =)

  5. The ignorant and uneducated in the West believe that Muslim women cover their bodies out of submission to men and are forced to do so. Muslim women wear the Hijab out of piety and submissive to Allaah Almighty, their Creator and sustainer. Are Christian nuns forced to cover from head to toe? Of course not, they are going the extra mile to please their creator. Muslim women are not sex objects as women in the West who walk about half nude and are used as attraction for men on bill boards and TV commercials.

  6. I totally agree, and support fatima, sharif,the lady herself answered the question befittingly when asked in the usa about her hijab.