OCT 7 - Liberia's president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is announced as one of three women awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Sunita Rappai reports.
Declaring women's rights vital for world peace, the Nobel Committee has awarded its coveted annual Peace Prize to three indomitable female campaigners against war and oppression, Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, her compatriot Leymah Gbowee and Yemeni women's rights activist Tawakkul Karman all share the $1.5 million prize. Nobel Peace Prize committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland said it was vital that women play an active role in the peace-building process. SOUNDBITE) (English) NOBEL PEACE PRIZE COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN THORBJOERN JAGLAND SAYING: "We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society." Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa's first freely elected female president, has won widespread praise for her work rebuilding Liberia after a bloody 14-year civil war. The 72-year-old former finance minister, once jailed as an opposition activist, was elected in 2006 . SOUNDBITE) (English) LIBERIA PRESIDENT ELLEN JOHNSON-SIRLEAF, SAYING: "I have an opportunity to open the doors for more African women to hold high level political positions, because I represent the aspirations and expectations of Liberian African women, maybe women all over the world, therefore the pressure is on me to make sure that I succeed." Her fellow countrywoman, Leyman Gbowee, mobilised and organised Liberian women against the brutal civil war, across religious and ethnic lines, also famously organizing a 'sex strike.' The committee praised her for enhancing the influence of West African women. Activist Tawakkul Kraman was praised for playing a leading part in the struggle for women's rights and democracy in Yemen - despite ''the most trying'' circumstances. The mother-of-three said the award was a victory for Yemen's democracy activists who would continue to fight for full rights in the country. Sunita Rappai, Reuters