First Arab Woman Ever to Win Nobel Peace Prize

Tawakkol Karman, arab woman nobel prizeTawakkol Karman accepting the Nobel Peace Prize last Saturday in Oslo, Norway. Photo via the NY Times.

Tawakkol Karman, a Yemeni journalist and political activist instrumental in the Arab Spring is the youngest peace prize laureate to accept the prize in a ceremony over the weekend. She is one of three women including Leymah Gbowee and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to accept the prize this year, and according to reports, the first Arab woman to be honored.

Greenprophet reported on her win in October in which our contributor, Arwa Aburawa wrote, “the Nobel Peace Prize should also remind those who need reminding that Muslim woman can and do play an important role in the transformation of their societies.” It’s a milestone for those committed to advancing women and human rights in the Middle East, rights we know are intertwined with the environment.

The NY Times reports:

Ms. Karman, who for months has lived out of a blue tent in a protest camp in Sana, Yemen, has been deemed “Mother of the Revolution” in her country. In 2005, she founded the advocacy group Women Journalists Without Chains.

She was by turns tearful and fervent in her address, which cited the commandments of the Torah, the Bible and the Koran and called upon Western nations to lend further support to the uprisings in the region.

“The democratic world, which has told us a lot about the virtues of democracy and good governance, should not be indifferent to what is happening in Yemen and Syria, and happened before that in Tunisia, Egypt and Libya, and happens in every Arab and non-Arab country aspiring for freedom,” Ms. Karman said.

“All of that is just hard labor during the birth of democracy, which requires support and assistance, not fear and caution.”

According to AP reports, Karman declared that she believes the pro-democracy revolts that have swept the Arab world will help “drive out” al-Qaida terrorists.

“When there is dictatorship, you will find extremism and you will find terrorism, “I am so confident that these peaceful revolutions and new governments in the Arab region and the rest of the world will drive out terrorism,” said Karman.

The prize to these three women including Karman have been called a long overdue testament to the courage of women to effect democratic change in their respective regions.

The role of women in the Middle East has taken center stage among those who recognize that the emancipation of women is essential to establishing democratic governments.

Read more on Women’s rights:
Egyptian Women Forced to Take ‘Virginity’ Tests During Protest, Amnesty International
US Senator Olympia Snowe Leads Women in Renewed Call for Women’s Rights in the Middle East
The Middle East Needs More Sluts

Tinamarie is a regular contributor to Follow her @ModernLoveMuse. She blogs at

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