We just witnessed a great moment in human history as three strong and courageous women–President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakul Karman–were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. These women represent developing nations that have not always valued and respected women as leaders and advocates for change.
This pivotal moment will, if it hasn’t already, galvanize the sisterhood of women all around the world. Unlike the other prize holders, these honorees represent women of color, women of all faiths, and women fighting for social justice and human rights in all nations.
I celebrate the recognition of these three women and all women, who value love and compassion as a means to making this a better world. We are living in time where more and more women are taking an active role in democracy movements, standing up to tyranny, and fighting for their rights. There are three great examples of this movement in 2011 that are worth noting.
Let’s not forget the women of Egypt, whose voices were lifted earlier this year as they demonstrated for a peaceful change of power. These women followed in the footsteps of their Liberian sisters by demonstrating with love. For instance, many of us were captivated by the image of the woman kissing the police officer on the cheek, which left him dumbfounded. The Egyptian women risked their lives to speak out and advocate for change, because they are tired of the status quo and wanted their children to have what they have been denied.
Let’s not forget Dr. Hawa Abdi in Somalia, who stood up to rebels seeking to destroy her hospital and harming the people she was helping. Here is a woman, who used her land to build a clinic, school and feeding program to support 100,000 people who have been displaced by a 20-year war in Somalia. This selfless women on May 5, stood her ground as about 750 militants entered her property. She was placed on house arrest for five days shuttering operations causing two dozen children to die. Quickly the women in her community responded and began to protest followed by the condemnation of the Somalian diaspora. This is when Dr. Abdi demanded a written apology for their deadly intrusion, which they begrudging gave to her.
Let’s not forget the women in Saudi Arabia, who are defying an unjust law that denies them the right to drive. These women have risked being arrested and even flogged by openly driving vehicles and posting video of being behind on the wheel on Facebook for the world to see. Recently the King gave them the right to vote and run in municipal elections starting 2015. Also, the King revoked the flogging penalty on women who were arrested for driving after a great deal of international outrage for this inhumane punishment.
These are just a few of the many women who are dedicating their lives and livelihoods to non-violent movements in their nations. The three Nobel Peace Prize winners have empowered women around the world, who stand for justice and peace, with new hope and motivation to continue their journeys in being force of change.