Friday, October 7, 2011

Nobel Prize to a United Methodist Leader

From the QuickLink of the Susquehanna Conference, The United Methodist Church:


By Sam Hodges
Managing Editor, United Methodist Reporter

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a United Methodist who spoke at the 2008 General Conference in Fort Worth, has won the Nobel Peace Prize with two other women leaders. She was honored with women's rights activist Leymah Gbowee, also from Liberia, and democracy activist Tawakkul Karman of Yemen-the first Arab woman to win the prize.

Ms. Sirleaf, 72 and nicknamed "Iron Lady," was elected president in 2005, becoming the first democratically elected female leader of an African nation. Liberia had been ravaged by civil war in the years before her election, and Ms. Sirleaf ran as a reformer and peacemaker.

Nobel Peace laureate Archbishop Desmond Tutu was among those cheering her Nobel recognition, and crediting her with leading the country to greater peace and stability.

"She deserves it many times over. She's brought stability to a place that was going to hell," said Archbishop Tutu, according to an Associated Press report.

Ms. Sirleaf said Friday from Monrovia: "This [award] gives me a stronger commitment to work for reconciliation. Liberians should be proud." When she spoke to the 2008 General Conference, Ms. Sirleaf emphasized her religious heritage. "I feel at home with you, members of my United Methodist family," she said.

Ms. Gbowee won for organizing women "across ethnic and religious dividing lines to bring an end to the long war in Liberia, and to ensure women's participation in elections."

Ms. Gbowee has a long record of championing women's rights, with an emphasis on fighting the crime of rape.

Ms. Karman is a journalist and longtime advocate for human rights and freedom of expression in Yemen, and has worked to oust the regime there.

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