OSLO, Norway (AP) - The 2011 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded Friday to Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen for their work on women's rights.
The Norwegian Nobel Committee honored the three women "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work."
"I am very very happy about this prize," said Karman, a 32-year-old mother of three who heads the human rights group Women Journalists without Chains. She has been a leading figure in organizing protests President Ali Abdullah Saleh that kicked off in late January as part of a wave of anti-authoritarian revolts that have convulsed the Arab world.
"I give the prize to the youth of revolution in Yemen and the Yemeni people," Karman told The Associated Press.
Johnson Sirleaf, 72, is a Harvard-trained economist who became Africa's first democratically elected female president in 2005.
She faces a presidential poll this month.
She was seen as a reformer and peacemaker in Liberia when she took office. But recently, opponents in the presidential campaign have accused her of buying votes and using government funds to campaign. Her camp denies the charges.
Liberia was ravaged by civil wars for years until 2003. The country is still struggling to maintain a fragile peace with the help of U.N. peacekeepers.
Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee, organized a group of Christian and Muslim women to challenge Liberia's warlords. In 2009 she won a Profile in Courage Award, an honor named for a 1957 Pulitzer Prize-winning book written by John F. Kennedy, for her work in emboldening women in Liberia.
Karman's father is a former legal affairs minister under Saleh. She is a journalist and member of Islah party, an Islamic party.
"We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society," the prize committee said.