When CNN interviewer Jonathan Mann asked the 2011 trio of Nobel Peace Prize Laureates:
“Is there any sense that you are here because of tokenism? Sexism…? That you’re all just lumped together because you are women?”, Liberian Laureate and peace activist Leymah Gbowee, visibly incensed, interrupted him before he could finish formulating his question…
“Jonathan, I won’t even allow you to end.” Gbowee said. “We have worked hard for this. We have worked very, very hard. It’s been a long time coming.”
Yemeni journalist and activist Tawakel Karman was quick to join her fellow laureate in admonishing Mann: “We deserve this. We deserve it. Yeah.”
The audience responded with enthusiastic applause, smiles and laughter.
“It’s recognition that women can do a lot,” she added.
Prior to today, a mere five per cent (41 of 765) of all Nobel Laureates were women.
With the award of the Nobel Peace Prize today to three women: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of Liberia; Leymah Gbowee, Liberian Peace Activist; and Yemeni journalist Karman, that percentage remained virtually unchanged – only 44 of the 807 Nobel Laureates awarded the prize since 1901 have been women.
Here’s the CNN interview conducted by Mann, followed by parts of the CNN story:
Also from CNN: A grassroots activist, a head of state and a symbol of the Arab Spring.
Three women — two who struggled in an African nation plagued by bloody civil war and a third who stood up to absolute dictatorship — were bestowed with the Nobel Peace Prize Saturday.
That the three of them shared the coveted prize was unusual. That all three are women was unprecedented. As was the conversation that followed with CNN.
Punctured with the gravity of the unspeakable cruelty women have endured in Liberia and Yemen and with the humor that can come only from women who have led the battle to end it, the conversation reflected the indomitable spirit for which the Nobel was awarded.
This was no token prize. Nor was it a prize given out of sympathy, added Tawakkul Karman, the first Arab woman to win the honor.
“We deserve it,” she said to thundering applause in the same room where hours before she accepted her medal and diploma.
Karman is the first Arab woman to win the prize and at 32 the youngest peace laureate ever. A journalist and founder of the human rights group Women Journalists without Chains, she also is a member of the Islamic party Islah.
And Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa’s first female head of state, said it was still harder for women to achieve what men can. That has not changed.
“Let’s face it, in a way, women are stronger than men,” she said to laughter.
The women have much in common, they agreed. But each has their own tale set against a backdrop of injustice and violence.
More here: Women’s rights take center stage at ceremony, and at the link below.
(AP Photo/John McConnico)