The Nobel committee got it right this year awarding Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee, and Tawakkul Karman the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. While the US was heading into a decade of war in 2001, the women of Liberia decided two decades of an insane, deadly power struggle was enough. Leymah Gbowee describes the poignant moment of decision in the excellent documentary, PRAY THE DEVIL BACK TO HELL . After she and her children ran for their lives, her little boy said he wanted a donut.
A donut. A simple request. An impossible request in a city torn apart by gun-toting fools.
Gbowee had a new vision that day, a vision of a peaceful Liberia, a vision of women leading the way. Change begins with one person’s vision, followed by determination and leadership. Like Betty Williams and Mairead Corrigan of Belfast, Ireland thirty years earlier, the women of Liberia came together and placed their country on a new path of peace. They even elected the first female African president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is sharing the prize.
Meanwhile, it is a woman, Tawakkul Karman, who is leading the Arab Spring in Yemen. She is not only taking on a repressive dictatorship, but a repressive culture. She is very much in the thick-of-it, currently living in a tent in the epicenter of the revolt in her country.
When women take a stand for peace, they can change the world. I pray Mexico might be next, or even Los Angeles!
I am happy to hear about the multiple awards for two reasons. The fact that women have always relied on nonviolence automatically sets them in a leadership role when it comes to peace and I’m glad the Nobel people have acknowledged these ladies. Joint awards also seems to be a step in the right direction. I would like to see Ground Zero in NYC used for a “Peace Memorial” to acknowledge every person who has suffered for peace and keep records of their stories. After all, peacemaking itself is not a competition.
“peacemaking itself is not a competition” How true, Blair! It was interesting to read the sour-grapes comments of Sirleaf’s political opponent, William Tubman “I did more to stop the war than she did.” He should have been congratulating the Liberian women who came together for peace. He just didn’t “get” it.