nobel peace prize 2011 Nobel Peace Prize awarded to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakul KarmanOn Friday (Oct. 7), the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to three women in acknowledgement for their efforts in promoting peace, gender equality and democracy.

Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf — Africa’s first female head of state, fellow Liberian and peace activist Leymah Gbowee and Tawakul Karman, a Yemeni pro-democracy campaigner became the first women to win the prize since 2004, when Wangari Maathai of Kenya, who passed away in September, won.

“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,” said a citation read by Thorbjorn Jagland, who heads the Oslo-based Nobel committee.

“This is a victory for Arabs around the world,” Karman tells the New York Times, adding, “and a victory for Arab women.”

Johnson Sirleaf also tells the Times that she and Ms. Gbowee accepted “this honor on behalf of the Liberian people, and the credit goes to them.”

[Update: Thanks to Washington Post Celebritology blogger Jen Chaney, we now know that Sirleaf happens to also be the aunt of actress Retta (surname Sirleaf), who plays the fabulous Donna Meagle on NBC’s “Parks and Recreation.”]

Posted by:Liz Kelly Nelson