Mighty Be Their Powers: Three Women's Struggle For Peace


20111230Bridget Kendall profiles the three female human rights activists awarded this year's Nobel Peace Prize: Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee and Yemeni journalist and campaigner, Tawakkul Karman.

Kendall explores the political and social backgrounds from which the Peace Prize laureates come and the context in which they emerged as powerful advocates for peaceful solutions within their countries.

The three Laureates, all mothers, are united by their non-violent struggle for women's rights. Together they have overcome oppression to highlight the unique qualities female leadership can bring in peace building. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, elected in 2005 as Africa's first female head of state, has put a spotlight on women's rights as she leads her shattered country to stability. As she says, the prize is, "recognition of what women have done to empower themselves, it's a major encouragement for women in Liberia, in Africa, in the world".

Leymah Gbowee led a movement of women who called for an end to Liberia's brutal civil war. During the 2003 peace talks she and hundreds of women, dressed in white, surrounded the hall where the discussions were being held, refusing to let delegates leave until they had signed the treaty.

And as the first Arab woman to be awarded the prize, Tawakkul Karman has played a leading part in Yemen's non-violent revolution. As she says, "The role of women in Yemen's revolution has distanced women from being seen as mere victims, women have shown that they are able to bring down regimes!".

Containing interviews with the three Laureates, their close friends and families, this programme gives a unique insight into the women's lives, hopes and their continued work towards peace.

Producer: Melissa FitzGerald

A Blakeway Production for BBC Radio 4.

Bridget Kendall profiles the three female Nobel Peace Laureates.