Three cheers for Nobel prize winner
Who would have thought Yemen would be the place for a Noble Prize winner? Who would have thought, Yemen, a deeply traditional and impoverished society, and now in a thrall of a revolution, would be the place for the 2011 Noble Prize winner.
And who would have thought, a young women, who spent the last seven or eight months, in a tent in the middle of the Yemeni capital Sana', clamoring for the removal of a president, would gain the respect of many in the world and be awarded the top accolade by the Noble Peace Prize Committee.
Tawakul Karman, 32, a women with three children, an activist, a reformer and a journalist, is so far the only Arab woman to have been given the prize for her role in what is dubbed as the Yemeni Revolution starting January 2011, and is continuing today as part of the Arab Spring that has spread like wildfire in this part of the world.
Karman is one of three women to have been awarded the Noble Prize, with the other two being from Liberia which signifies the important status of women in the developing countries.
Indeed the prize should go a long way to shunning the usual stereotypes that women are oppressed in these countries, and have very little role to play in these societies. On the contrary such women have a great deal to offer in building peace in conflict societies.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who become president of Liberia in 2006 and Leymah Gbowee, an activist, have been much involved in creating a post-war, post-conflict, peace-building, democratic future for Liberia.
Karman was chosen for both her political role and in her determination to bring about political change in a country long dominated by the rule of one man Ali Abdullah Saleh who had effectively been in power since 1978, and when Yemen become one country and political system in 1991.
The veiled leader who used to wear full Niqab covering has been fighting against human rights violations, financial and administrative corruption in the government, and in favor of journalistic freedom and women rights in Yemen.
In the initial days of the revolution, she was incarcerated by the authorities and later freed only to join her colleagues in what become known as "Change Square" in the middle of the city where the demonstrators hoisted a tent to demand change.
President Saleh later complained to her father Abdel Salam Khaled Karman, a prominent lawyer and Yemeni politician to stop her but to no avail, and she today continues in the tent with her colleagues demanding change. Pro-Saleh supporters are unable to remove the tent because it is protected by army officers who have switched sides and also want to remove the Yemeni president.
The young lady is not for turning. She has become part of that youthful movement that started in Tunisia and soon after Egypt which took to the streets demanding the removal of their despotic regimes.
These youths have become dubbed as the "Facebook generation" because of the tactics they used through mobilization of the youths to get on to the streets. In Yemen, it was no exception.
But Karman, who is a member of the Islamic Reform Party, has long been vowing for change since 2006, and has been involved in numerous street demonstrations. Time Magazine chose her as 13th on the list of the 100 personalities that can affect change in 2011.
In addition Reporters Without Borders chose her as one of the seven women in the world to bring about change.
Of her prize she simply says it should have been awarded to all those who want to bring about political and democratic change in women.
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