The 2011 Nobel Peace Prize went to three women in a move the Nobel committee hopes will highlight the importance that women play in achieving world peace.

The committee said honoring women for their role in peace was especially important in the African and Arab worlds, where oppression of women is still a major social issue.

Africa’s first democratically elected female president, 72-year-old Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, was one of the three women honored. Also selected was fellow Liberian Leymah Gbowee, an activist and journalist who worked to promote a “sex strike” in an effort to end the country’s bloody civil war.

Johnson Sirleaf and Gbowee will share the $1.5 million prize with Tawakkul Karman, a politician and women’s rights activist from Yemen who headed Women Journalists Without Chains. She has called her recognition as a peace promoter “a victory for the Arab Spring.” –BF

Reuters:

“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,” Norwegian Nobel Committee chairman Thorbjoern Jagland told reporters.

“This is to highlight an incredibly important issue all over the world but especially in Africa and in the Arab world.”

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