As we are in the midst of the holiday season, we hear many songs about peace on Earth and goodwill toward men. While these ideas are widely accepted, many people are content to be passive supporters of the notion. In order for peace on Earth to be a reality, the passive need to become active. The Nobel Peace Prize awards the active men, women, and groups of individuals who have made a commitment to peace or human rights.
Since its inception in 1901, only 12 women have received this prize, including the 3 women who received the Nobel Peace Prize this year. These women have fought sexual violence, oppression, and injustice in Liberia and Yemen. Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the first democratically elected woman president in Africa. Leymah Gbowee is a leader in Liberia’s fight against warlords and rape and fighting for women’s rights. Tawakkul Karman, the first Arab woman to receive the prize, has been a leader in the fight against the autocratic leaders of Yemen.
These women, like the peace prize recipients before them, are an integral part of the fight for social justice and humanity. If we think about the advances made in peace over the past 100 years, many women will come to mind. So why have so few women won the Nobel Peace Prize?
Actress Helen Mirren, a host at the Nobel Peace Prize concert, was vocal in her disappointment over the scarce number of female winners. “’In my personal experience, wherever there was a force for the positive, for creativity, it was almost always led by women and they are doing it with no recognition and under very difficult circumstances,” Mirren said in an interview with The Telegraph.
Regardless of the unequal recognition, all of the women and men around the world who are fighting for peace and justice deserve recognition for their work, especially during a season when we think so much about peace. Remember to thank those you know who continue to work for peace and equality during this holiday season and throughout the year.