UN Women Executive Director Michelle Bachelet applauded today’s decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to three prominent women peace leaders: President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, her compatriot Leymah Gbowee, and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen. She made the announcement at the start of a three-country Nordic tour in which she will visit Oslo, Norway.

“We are absolutely thrilled with the news and send huge and a hearty congratulations to these three extraordinary women who have overcome huge obstacles in their quest for peace and democracy,” said Ms. Bachelet. “All over the world, women are demanding their rights and their equal participation in peacebuilding, democracy and the development of their nations, and this year’s Nobel Peace Prize sends a message to the world that now, the 21st century, is the time for women’s full and equal participation at all levels of society.”

Since 1992 fewer than 10 percent of peace negotiators have been women. Typically less than 6 percent of reconstruction budgets specifically provide for the needs of women and girls. Efforts to engage women in making and keeping peace have gained momentum through UN Security Council resolution 1325 on women, peace and security adopted in 2000. In 2002, UN Women’s predecessor organization published its flagship publication “Progress of the World’s Women: Women, War, Peace,” authored by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and former Finish Defence Minister Elisabeth Rehn, a comprehensive study on the specific impact of war on women that helped shape the international agenda.

“This year’s Nobel Peace Prize is an important acknowledgement of what women have been demanding for years: the equal involvement of women in all peace, security and democracy decisions. Women’s involvement is central for achieving lasting peace and stability and yet, too often, they are excluded from the negotiating table. UN Women stands beside women around the world who are demanding that their voices be heard and they have equal participation in decision-making,” said Ms. Bachelet.

The President of the 66th session of the UN General Assembly, H.E. Mr. Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser, warmly welcomes the decision of the Noble Prize Committee to award the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize to three distinguished women from Liberia and Yemen, in recognition of their struggle for women’s rights.

President Al-Nasser believes that the award stands as a true testament to the great potential that women represent for democracy and peace. The President of General Assembly congratulates President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia, Ms. Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Ms. Tawakkul Karman of Yemen for their determined activism in support of women’s rights and peace, which has now earned them worldwide recognition through the Nobel Prize.

These are heroic women who have sacrificed, worked hard and showed true leadership over many years to improve the conditions of millions of people, especially in their own countries.

The award of the Nobel Prize to these remarkable women can only inspire many more millions around the world to work for women’s empowerment, human rights, peace and sustainable development – ideals that are at the core of the UN Charter. In fact, the UN Security Council recognized the contribution of women in peace and security by adopting Resolution 1325 in October 2000.

The President of the General Assembly wholeheartedly applauds the three winners for their bravery and determination and extends his best wishes to them, their supporters and colleagues around the world, especially in Liberia and Yemen.

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