Some of us, in the face of adversity, do nothing and others stand up for what they truly believe in to make a difference. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen are three extraordinary women who have tirelessly worked to make a difference in their respective countries; that is why the Nobel Prize Committee awarded them the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize “for their nonviolent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became Africa’s first democratically elected female president in 2005, vowing to lead Liberia into a sustainable future. She has worked diligently to reform the war savaged region and while it is still a work in progress, her work has been recognized by the international community. Tawakkul Karman runs Women Journalist without Chains, which is a human rights group that is challenging the authoritarian regime of Ali Abdullah Saleh, president of Yemen. Gbowee heads the Women Peace and Security Network and she was honored for helping women in Liberia come together, despite the difference in ethnicity and religion, and help end the fight of a conflict scarred nation.
Being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize is a huge accomplishment and it has allowed for their stories to be told on a global level. More and more people may feel inspired to take up their own cause because of what they have seen these women accomplish. They fought for change for women in their respective countries peacefully and without having to sink to the levels of their detractors and that is what is important. They stayed true to their cause and it has worked out for them. We hope that their stories, their lives, have inspired you to stand up to whatever challenges that you may be facing and tackle it head on.
by Teddy Grant
Teddy Grant is a senior majoring in English at the University of South Florida. He is currently residing in Washington DC and working at Leadership Africa USA, a nonprofit organization. Teddy chose his civic engagement project because he wanted to get involved with an organization that truly makes a difference in people’s lives; and knew Empowered Women International was the right organization for that. Teddy really like helping people to the best of his abilities and having the opportunity to teach and to learn new things.