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Nobel Peace Center, Oslo

December 10, 2011 by staff 

Nobel Peace Center, Oslo, Liberia’s president and two activists — a Liberian and a Yemeni — will receive the Nobel Peace Prize Saturday for demonstrating how women facing war and oppression can shed the mantle of victimhood and lead the way to peace and democracy.

“The period that women appeared as victims has ended … Now women are leaders. They are leaders not only of their country or leaders in their struggle, but leaders in the world,” Yemeni “Arab Spring” activist Tawakkol Karman told a news conference in Oslo on the eve of the prize ceremony, which kicks off at 1:00pm (12:00 GMT) in Oslo’s City Hall.

Karman, who at 32 is the youngest winner of the prize in its 110-year history and the first Arab woman ever to win a Nobel, will receive her award alongside Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Liberian “peace warrior” Leymah Gbowee.

The three will each receive a gold medal, a diploma and a third of the 10 million Swedish kronor ($1.48 million, 1.08 million Euros) prize money in recognition of “their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work,” Norwegian Nobel Committee President Thorbjoern Jagland said when announcing the prize 7 October.

Gbowee and Sirleaf also hailed the growing empowerment of women in the world at Friday’s news conference.

“My selection and the selection of my mother Sirleaf and my sister Tawakkol is a reflection and an affirmation that finally the women of Africa, the women of the world, their roles in peace processes has been acknowledged,” said Gbowee, a 39-year-old social worker who led Liberia’s women to defy feared warlords and bring an end to the country’s bloody 1989-2003 civil war.

Sirleaf, meanwhile, said she had women to thank for her rise to become Africa’s first democratically elected woman president in 2005, only two years after the end of the war that cost 250,000 lives and left society in tatters from the systematic use of child soldiers, rape and mutilation.

“I am here in this position because of women … who decided it was time for a woman to be in charge,” said the 73-year-old Liberian president, who last month won a second term.

Her re-election bid was, however, marred by pre-election violence, an opposition boycott of the polls over fraud allegations, and low voter participation.

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