WACC congratulates Nobel Peace Prize winners
The World Association for Christian Communication has congratulated three African women human rights activists and communicators on receiving the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize award.
They include Africa’s first female president, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, peace activist Leymah Gbowee, also from Liberia, and democracy activist Tawakkul Karman of Yemen – the first Arab woman to win the prize.
WACC General Secretary, the Rev. Karin Achtelstetter, said, “We are excited to learn that the three African women who have selflessly struggled to fight for women’s rights and to promote peace have been given this important international sign of recognition.”
She said, “WACC is committed to the same struggle through its internationally recognised Global Media Monitoring Programme, which studies the way women are represented in the news media. The larger purpose is, of course, to strengthen women’s rights as fundamental to advancing gender justice and peace.”
Both UN Women and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) have recognised WACC’s pioneering efforts in this field.
Africa’s first democratically elected female president, a Liberian peace activist and a woman who stood up to Yemen’s authoritarian regime have all won the Nobel Peace Prize for their work to secure women’s rights, which the prize committee described as fundamental to advancing world peace.
The award was shared between Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, peace activist Leymah Gbowee, also from Liberia, and democracy activist Tawakkul Karman of Yemen – the first Arab woman to win the prize.
Sirleaf has a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University and has held top regional jobs at the World Bank, the United Nations and within the Liberian government. In the 1997 Liberian elections she ran second to warlord-turned-president Charles Taylor, who many claimed was voted into power by a fearful electorate.
Although she lost by a landslide, she rose to national prominence and earned the nickname “Iron Lady.” She was named President in the 2005 presidential election and took office on 16 January 2006. Sirleaf is the first and currently only elected female head of state in Africa.
Leymah Gbowee, who organised a group of Christian and Muslim women to challenge Liberia’s warlords, was honored for mobilising women “across ethnic and religious dividing lines to bring an end to the long war in Liberia, and to ensure women’s participation in elections.”
She trained as a trauma counselor during the civil war in Liberia and worked with the ex-child soldiers of Charles Taylor’s army. Surrounded by the images of war, she realised that “if any changes were to be made in society it had to be by the mothers.”
Tawakkul Karman is from Taiz, a city in southern Yemen that is a hotbed of resistance against Saleh’s regime, and now lives in the capital, Sanaa. She is a journalist and member of Islah, an Islamic party. Her father is a former legal affairs minister under Saleh. She has long been an advocate for human rights and freedom of expression in Yemen.
Karman has been campaigning to remove Saleh from power since 2006 and mounted an initiative to organise Yemeni youth groups and opposition into a national council. Head of the human rights group Women Journalists without Chains, Karmen said “I give the prize to the youth of revolution in Yemen and the Yemeni people.”
Nobel Prize committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said, “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.”
Congratulating the prize-winners, WACC General Secretary Karin Achtelstetter said, “WACC is committed to the same struggle through its internationally recognised Global Media Monitoring Programme, which studies the way women are represented in the news media.
“The larger purpose is, of course, to strengthen women’s rights as fundamental to advancing gender justice and peace.” Both UN Women and the International Federation of Journalists (IFJ) have recognised WACC’s pioneering efforts in this field.
The winners of the Nobel Peace Prize 2011 are outstanding women communicators as well as inspirational leaders. They embody principles that WACC promotes through its many programs and activities dedicated to achieving communication for all.
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