Three Women and a Prize!

We are dancing. This is the thing that we have been saying, progress has been made in Liberia. We’ve come through 14 years of war and we have come to sustained peace. We’ve already started dancing.

I am dancing. I want my daughters to dance! Three women have won the Nobel Peace Prize for the real thing – promotion of peace and gender equality through NON VIOLENCE. I am ecstatic. These are women who are working toward change, not through anger but through action.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, president of Liberia; Leymah Gbowee, a peace activist also from Liberia; and Tawakul Karman, an activist for democracy from Yemen, were awarded the prize today by the Nobel Committee based in Oslo, Norway. The award, which has been given for 110 years, has generally gone to men, and this is a marvelous day and achievement for women around the world.

As a peace activist, Leymah Gbowee has brought together both Christians and Muslims for a joint cause – fighting the warlords in the country of Liberia. What an example of breaking down religious and ethnic barriers to work for a common cause that would benefit all! It is an amazing picture of communicating across boundaries and not stopping until something is achieved. There is a great story of her rallying women together to sing and pray at a fish market in Liberia in 2002 – 9 years ago, before much of the world had heard about her. These women were sick of being fearful and tired of losing their children to rebel armies. That day they “prayed the devil back to hell”, and with their prayers, change began.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was exiled for several years before returning to her country and taking office. Tawakul Karmen is called  the “mother of the revolution” in Yemen and many in the Arab world feel that in awarding her, the Arab-Spring was also awarded and honored.

As I think about these women, it is a reminder that most big achievements begin with a small step of obedience and continue with more small steps, even when no one seems to be listening and the goal seems far away. The great thing is these women didn’t do this with any prize in mind. They acted on their beliefs and passions, standing up for truth and determined to see change.  They “packed up their potential, and set out to change a few things!”.

As women our influence begins with a conversation. It may then spread to a fish market or a beauty salon, a brothel or a church, but the message and influence can multiply. That we must believe. These three women have shown us that it can, and does, spread.