On, December 10, 2011, in Oslo Norway, three women, two of them African, made us proud. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawukkul Karman will together receive the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize.
According to the Norwegian Nobel Committee, these women were chosen ‘for their non violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace building work.’
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is Africa’s first democratically elected female president. Leymah Gbowee mobilized and organized women to end the long war in Liberia and to ensure women’s participation in elections. Tawakkul Kaman has played a leading role in the struggle for women’s rights and for democracy and peace in Yemen.
We congratulate these women for the noble causes they advocate for and for standing for women in their countries and making women all over the world proud. The recognition of these women like Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawukkul Karman remind us to appreciate the women who serve us in our communities and give their lives to peace and security in small ways around the world. No doubt the achievements of these laureates rest on the tireless efforts of many other women.
Here in Rwanda, we are proud to have women participating in government, in security and peace building. We have women in Cabinet, Parliament, Judiciary, the Defense Forces, National Police, Correctional Services and women deployed in peace keeping missions outside our country and we appreciate them. They may never win the Nobel Prize, but again they could, as their efforts go a long way in creating peace and security in our country and in the region.
The United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) 1325 adopted in 2000 recognises violence against women as an international security issue and calls for women to participate fully in peace and security processes. Rwanda is implementing this important resolution with the participation of women in government, security organizations and in the civil society.
Women in government and in security organizations compliment each other in creating peace. The need for women in roles such as these that were previously ascribed to men has become evident in the recent past as more women have participated in peace building work and made an outstanding impact. The needs of women in areas of conflict and post conflict are more keenly realized through the representation of women in the forces and as a result, vulnerable women are protected better. Women are by nature peacemakers; research has shown that the participation of women in peace talks and high level negotiations is vital for peace in the world. Because of their nature and the likely choice of non-violence, women represent peaceful means of solving conflict.
Locally, in dealing with issues such as gender based violence, the presence of women officers and indeed the need for more has been realised. Women who have been abused find it easier to talk to women and feel safer and better understood reporting to women.
As we celebrate the Nobel Peace prize going to women in government and in peace building, we salute the women in security and peace building work in our community. They need our support. The need for more women to join the work cannot be overstated and this includes women who can join active service but also those who may not but can influence peace wherever you are - in your homes and in your communities. Let us all be part of building peace in our world and supporting those who take an active part in that work.
The author is the Communications Assistant, Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion.