The World’s 100 Most Powerful Arab Women
Mon 03 Mar 2014 03:25 AM
Tawakkul Karman
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Tawakkul Karman

Industry: Culture and society

Designation: Nobel Peace Prize Laureate

Country: Yemen

It’s now three years since Tawakkul Karman shot to global prominence by becoming the first Arab woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

In her own country, of course, she has been working hard to promote freedom of speech for years. In 2005, she set up the campaign group Women Journalists Without Chains, and commenced holding protests in the Yemeni capital, two years later.

But Karman really hit the international headlines during the protests in 2011, when she led a series of protests calling for the departure of Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh.

For now, she believes that the West needs to help the Arab Spring states further, and is campaigning for that support. That leadership led to the Nobel prize nomination. She was the youngest ever recipient of the award, and only the second woman.

“I have always believed that resistance against repression and violence is possible without relying on similar repression and violence. I have always believed that human civilisation is the fruit of the effort of both women and men,” she said in her Nobel prize acceptance speech.

Since receiving the award, Karman has travelled widely, drawing attention to the many difficulties being faced by people living in the post-Arab Spring countries.

More recently, she was supportive of protests demanding the departure of Egyptian president Mohamed Mursi, but was prevented from entering the country to protest at Egypt’s decision to remove him by coup d’etat.

She has also not neglected her own country, where she has been marching and organising protests to demand that the Yemeni government scraps ‘corrupt’ gas deals with Western energy giants.

Last year, Karman also announced that she would donate the $500,000 cheque that came with the Nobel prize to charity, in particular for people wounded and the families of those killed in Yemen’s uprising.