Friday, October 7, 2011

Honoring some Nobel Women

As we celebrate the Nobel Committee's WONDERFUL selection of this year's Nobel Peace Prize we also take pause to mourne the loss of Wangari Maathai who passed away during ovarian cancer treatments this past week. CNN quotes Archbishop Desmond Tutu's remarks and praised as a true "visionary African woman" and called her a "leading voice on the continent.  She was the first African woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize (2004).

He continued, "At last count, the Green Belt Movement she helped to found had assisted women to plant more than 40 million trees. She understood and acted on the inextricable links between poverty, rights and environmental sustainability. One can but marvel at her foresight and the scope of her success. She was a true African heroine."

Professor Maathi's funeral is this weekend and as a true tribute, 5000 trees will be planted across Africa by women of the Green Belt Movement.  As we celebrate a lifetime of achievement of one woman from Kenya, today's official announcement rings around the world, with some new names of  heroines to be learned in the west...

Like Leyma Gbowee who was the very first nominee I profiled on this site, way back in February, the day I started searching for "oatmeal for my soul" and sharing the story of creative peacemakers. Somehow there is a completeness that I feel this morning as I jot my thoughts...things feel like they are just as they should be as this beautiful Christian woman shares the accolades with two other women who unified and mobilized women to bring peace in their country.  Liberia was effectively changed in 2002 with some creativity and tenacity brought by two of the winners. Simply beautiful --on the inside and the outside.  They will share the award and cash prize with  third winner, a Yemenese woman named Tawakkul Karman.

Gbowee, an African social worker and peace activist, is responsible for organizing a movement called the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace that served as a tipping point to help bring an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. (Link to Bill Moyer's transcript)

This movement all began with a single woman organizing other local women to pray and sing in a fish market in Monrovia Liberia in 2002. As the movement expanded to include Christian and Muslim women together, this unified voice of thousands began to pray for peace and to hold nonviolent protests. Dressed in white to symbolize peace, the women became a political force against violence and against their government. Leymah Gbowee and Comfort Freeman, presidents of two different Lutheran churches, organized the Women in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET), and issued a statement of intent to the President: "In the past we were silent, but after being killed, raped, dehumanized, and infected with diseases, and watching our children and families destroyed, war has taught us that the future lies in saying NO to violence and YES to peace! We will not relent until peace prevails."

Directly from the Nobel website: The Norwegian Nobel Committee has decided that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2011 is to be divided in three equal parts between: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf,  Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building world.  

And I say YEAH!