Gbowee seeking absolute peace in Africa

2011-10-08 17:30

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Accra - Nobel peace prize joint winner Leymah Gbowee said on Saturday it was her goal to seek absolute peace in Africa and the world, also paying tribute to a late Kenyan peace laureate.

"My goal is to ensure that there is absolute peace in Africa and the rest of the world," Gbowee told a group of three journalists, including AFP, on arrival from the United States at the Ghanaian capital Accra's Kotoka international airport.

"The award indicates that African women have a unique role to play in conflict resolution in Africa. I will continue to dedicate myself to the goal of promoting the cause of women and conflict resolution in Africa and the world at large," she said.

She also paid tribute to Kenyan Nobel peace laureate and environmentalist Wangari Maathai, who was buried in Nairobi on Saturday.

"She was a trail blazer and for African women, winning the Nobel prize for peace is a great tribute to her. We will forever remember her as a great woman," said Gbowee.

Scholarships

Maathai, who in 2004 became the first African woman to win the peace prize, died last month of ovarian cancer.

Gbowee, who helped found a Ghana-based NGO called Women, Peace and Security Network Africa, said that she would use her prize money to provide scholarships for girls in Africa and to help women who are victims of war.

"I am going to use the money to provide scholarships for girls in Africa to attain any level level of education they so wish."

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

Bringing an end to war

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

Gbowee, now 39, was 17 when war first broke out in 1989 as warlord Charles Taylor led an uprising to topple President Samuel Doe. She was freshly out of high school and planning to study medicine.

The Nobel Committee on Friday hailed Gbowee for having "organised women across ethnic and religious dividing lines to bring an end to the long war in Liberia, and to ensure women's participation in elections".

Her campaign called for an immediate ceasefire, dialogue between government and rebels and the deployment of an intervention force at a time when a handful of peace agreements had failed.

"Part of the money will also be used to set up a centre where women victims of war will share their experiences with the rest of the world," she added.

'Going to Liberia to celebrate'

The laureate said that she will head for Liberia on Sunday to vote in the October 11 polls and wished her countrymen a peaceful election.

Johnson Sirleaf, who is Africa's first woman president, is seeking re-election on Tuesday.

"I wish the people of Liberia a peaceful election. I know we will make it as a country and come out united and strong after the election."

"I am also going to Liberia to celebrate with my people and also let them know that women can achieve great honours in life when given the opportunity," said Gbowee.

- SAPA

Read more on:    tawakul karman  |  ellen johnson sirleaf  |  wangari maathai  |  leymah gbowee  |  liberia  |  nobel prize  |  west africa
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