Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Three ladies (reprise)

So here are three ladies in the news again, and no prizes for guessing which three ladies they are: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karmen, two Liberians and a Yemeni, in that order, and joint winners of the Nobel prize for peace this year. Tawakkul Karmen is the first Arab woman to win this prize, and her prize is the Nobel committee's recognition of the Arab spring, as well as of the role of the Islamists and of women in the uprisings. The first, i.e. the recognition of the Arab spring, could have been foreseen, but given the number of people who have contributed to it, and could have been considered contenders for the prize, the choice of the actual winner is truly progressive, and not quite on expected lines. The other two winners, President Sirleaf of Liberia, and Gbowe who organised the Women for Peace movement, an organisation of Muslim and Christian women against the Liberian warlords, are perceived widely as reformers and peacemakers.

The citation of the committee is both explicit and heartening, "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." Since this message of female empowerment will be heard round the world, it will have its desired impact, and perhaps one day reality may rise to the ideal in the song:

"As we come marching, marching, we bring the greater days,
The rising of the women means the rising of the race,
No more the drudge and idler---ten that toil while one reposes,
But a sharing of life's glories: Bread and roses! Bread and roses!"

This post is by Neelima Gupte and Sumathi Rao

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