Tawakkol Karman, Yemen, Nobel Peace Prize winner, First Arab woman to win a nobel
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Tawakkol Karman : The First Arab Woman to Win a Nobel

Born and raised in a country where women were severely oppressed, discriminated and were deprived of basic human rights, Tawakkol Karman, a women journalist in her twenties started fighting against the dictator president Shalleh, in favor of establishing women’s rights, democracy and freedom of expression in her country, Yemen.  Tawakkol Karman was the first Arab woman to win a nobel prize.

Women should stop being or feeling that they are part of the problem and become part of the solution. We have been marginalized for a long time, and now is the time for women to stand up and become active without needing to ask for permission or acceptance. – Tawakkol Karman
                             Fights For Freedom of Expression

In 2005, Karman and several of her colleagues founded Women Journalists Without Chains (WJWC), started to advocate mainly for freedom of expression and to further promote human rights and women’s rights in Yemen. In addition, the organization also started exposing corrupt government officials by producing reports on human rights abuses, cases of attacks and unfair sentences against newspapers and writers in Yemen. Women Journalists Without Chains gradually become a national movement for freedom of expression for the press.

In 2007, Tawakkol Karman and Women’s Journalists Without Chains began a weekly peaceful demonstration and protest against a systematic repression of Government, demanding freedom of the press and democratic reforms. These demonstrations continued for 3 years, until 2011, on every Tuesday in front of the cabinet of Sana. The ‘Tuesday Protests’ or Sit-ins aimed to expose and criticize corruption and injustice of the Yemeni Government and demanded justice and inquiries in a non-violent way. The place of Karman’s Tuesday sit-ins is now known as “Freedom Square”.
 
                              Anti-Government Movements
In 2010, inspired by the Arab Spring movement in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya, Karman and her Women’s Journalists Without Chains started protesting against the dictatorship of President shallah at the public square of Sana’a University, and called out people to join in the movement. She used social media to bring fellow journalists, women, and hundreds of young people to the streets of Sanaa.
 
 Her anti-Government movements, women and human rights activism over the years have caused her severe harassment, death threats, arrests, and detention by Yemen’s Saleh regime. Her arrest and detention caused an outrageous reaction in the nation, driving millions of people in the street in demand for her release. This is considered a key moment in Yemen’s uprising. She also had a narrow escape from an attempted assassination and she survived the attack with a stab wound.
 
 She was awarded the Courage Award by the Embassy of the United States of America, Sana’a in 2008 and One of the seven women who change the history for the year 2009.
 
Karman was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for her non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work. She was the first Arab, first Yemeni, and the second Muslim woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize, as well as the youngest Nobel Peace Laureate at the time, at the age of 32 in 2011. 
 
                              Tawakkol on Yemen’s Civil War
Her motherland Yemen is torn and deviated by a civil war that has been described by the UN, as the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II. The entire country is on the brink of famine with 22 million people are in need of some form of humanitarian assistance and protection.
 
She lobbied the United Nations Security Council and the United States not to make a deal that would pardon Saleh, but instead hold him accountable, freeze his assets and support the protesters. The United Nations Security Council voted 15–0 on 21 October on United Nations Security Council Resolution 2014 that “strongly condemns” Saleh’s government for the use of deadly force against protesters,
 
Tawakkol Karman called for urgent international action to end the tragedy of Yemen. She has also expressed her concern and appealed for International help in rebuilding and reconstructing the country once the war ends.  She believes that secularism and democracy are the keys to put an end to all forms of chaos.
 

Also Read: From A Victim of War Crimes to Nobel Peace Prize

Swagata Sen

A Clinical Researcher by profession, I am originally from India; now live in California with my family. I am an advocate of gender equality and women empowerment. I am also a Certified Reiki Healer and a Certified Sexual Assault Counselor and Advocate. I write about women's rights, equality and gender based issues to create awareness and to include every body in my fight against gender discrimination.

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