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Published: Wednesday, 10/12/2011


Prized leaders


The awarding of this year's Nobel Peace Prize to three women leaders makes a clear and important statement. All three recipients demonstrate that the involvement of women in political activism can lead to positive change.

The honorees are Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the president of Liberia; Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian protest leader who confronted warlords, and Tawakul Karman, a human rights activist in Yemen, which has been wracked by violence and unrest during the Arab Spring movement.

Each of the peace prize winners has an impressive record of constructive political activism and advocacy of human rights in her country. They had to show considerable courage to compile those records.

Liberia has been a shooting gallery for politicians for more than two decades. Yemen is one of the most dangerous countries on the face of the Earth.

To raise the stakes against these three activists even higher, neither Liberia nor Yemen has a tradition of women participating actively in politics. Yet in 2005, Ms. Johnson Sirleaf became Liberia's first democratically elected president.

Some controversy attended the selections of the Nobel committee; it announced the choice of Ms. Johnson Sirleaf just days before she went before Liberian voters for re-election this week.

Critics suggest the committee overlooked worthy female candidates from other countries. Yet this year's Nobel Peace Prize expresses an important concept: the vital need for women's participation in world leadership.

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