Gbowee: Nobel is for African women

2011-10-08 07:38

Lagos - Nobel Peace Prize joint winner Leymah Gbowee said after the award was announced Friday that "this is a Nobel for African women," with the Liberian recognised for her efforts to end conflict in her country.

"This is a Nobel for African women - that's how I would call it," she told AFP by phone from New York. "It's for women in general, but specifically for African women."

She said she found out about the award from text messages after she landed on an overnight flight from San Francisco to New York.

Gbowee said she turned to the person sitting next to her and said "I just won the Nobel." Another person sitting in front of her overheard the conversation and pulled up her picture on his BlackBerry, she said.

"African women in this world, women in general, there is this recognition now that we have our say," she said. "There is no way that anyone can minimise our role anymore."

She also paid homage to Kenyan Wangari Maathai, the first African women to win the peace prize and who died last month, and said she considered the prize a tribute to her as well.

Gbowee won the Nobel along with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Yemen's Arab Spring activist Tawakkul Karman.

She is credited with leading women to defy feared warlords and push men toward peace in Liberia during one of Africa's bloodiest wars.

Many believe that without the group of women who would gather in Monrovia to pray and protest in white shirts, the conflict which left some 250 000 dead would not have ended as it did in 2003.

Their methods included refusing sex with their husbands until the violence ended.

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