Friday, October 7, 2011

Three trailblazing women awarded Nobel Peace Prize

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.”

--Thorbjorn Jagland, Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee
Left: Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times; center: Jane Hahn for the New York Times; right:Yahya Arhab/EPA

Dear Friends of the Women and Public Policy Program,

We are  delighted that this year’s Nobel Peace Prize acknowledges women’s important role in peacebuilding and leadership. President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman are role models for all of us who want to make the world a better place. The Harvard Kennedy School and its Women and Public Policy Program are honored to have hosted President Sirleaf and Ms. Gbowee at Harvard and have supported several of our students with summer internships to work closely with the President and the political leadership on issues of critical relevance for Liberia.

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, as many of you know, received her MPA in 1971 from the Harvard Kennedy School and served as the Harvard Kennedy School’s 2008 class day speaker and as Harvard University’s 2011 commencement speaker.

Leymah Gbowee is a peace activist who encouraged women to pressure Liberia’s government to end the country’s civil war while also mobilizing women peacebuilders; she was honored in 2007 by the Kennedy School with the Blue Ribbon for Peace. Leymah recently published a new book, Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer and Sex Changed a Nation at War. She is also highlighted in Abigail Disney’s film, Pray the Devil Back to Hell, as well as in Abigail’s new 5-part PBS film series, Women, War and Peace, which premieres this Tuesday, October 11, at 10:00pm airing for five consequent weeks. This past Tuesday, October 4, the Women and Public Policy Program, along with the Carr Center for Human Rights and the Institute of Politics, cosponsored an event in the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum highlighting Abigail Disney and her work on the upcoming series. The event included a panel discussion with Abigail Disney, Helen Benedict (author of Sand Queen) and Elizabeth Medina, a National Security Fellow at the Kennedy School.
We are thrilled that these women have been honored for their important work improving women’s safety and opportunities to engage in peacebuilding. This is truly something to celebrate!
With warm regards,
Iris and Victoria

Iris Bohnet, Academic Dean, Professor of Public Policy, Director, Women and Public Policy Program, Harvard Kennedy School
Victoria A. Budson, Executive Director, Women and Public Policy Program, Harvard Kennedy School

Photo from New York Times

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