The Nobel Peace Prize this year went to three women’s rights advocates “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”
They are Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, fellow Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen. Here’s a video from UN Women on how women played a role in Liberia’s peace efforts:
As the New York Times story on the Peace Prize noted:
They were the first women to win the prize since Wangari Maathai of Kenya, who died last month, was named as the laureate in 2004. Most of the recipients in the award’s 110-year history have been men, and Friday’s decision seemed designed to give impetus to the fight for women’s rights around the world.
Human Rights Watch, the ONE campaign and most news reports described it as a victory for women’s rights. The Guardian noted the controversial side to this recognition, reporting on some saying it appeared “too political.” (I’m not sure how you can make issues of peace non-political, but I suspect this debate will die down sooner than after the Nobel Committee gave President Barack Obama the prize.)
But it really is about more than just equal rights for women.
Numerous studies have shown that empowering girls and women translates into significant improvements in child health, nutrition, education and their communities’ economic development. This is true in both poor countries and wealthier countries.
It’s not just about women’s rights and peace-making. It’s about what works.