2011 Nobel Peace Prize Winner
“Peace does not mean just to stop wars, but also to stop oppression and injustice.”
~ Tawakkol Karman
Tawakkol Karman was born in 1979 in Taiz, Yemen’s third largest city. She grew up in a politically tumultuous country and witnessed the unification of North and South Yemen in 1990, followed by a civil war between the two factions in 1994, in which the North triumphed over the South. The civil war led to dissidence in the South as the repressive Northern government assumed control over the country. A journalist by profession and human rights activist by nature, Tawakkol responded to the political instability and human rights abuses in Yemen by mobilizing others and reporting on injustices. In 2005, Karman founded the organization “Women Journalists Without Chains,” (WJWC) which advocates for rights and freedoms and provides media skills to journalists.
In 2007, Tawakkol began organizing weekly protests in Yemen’s capitol, Sana’a, targeting systemic government repression and calling for inquiries into corruption and other forms of social and legal injustice. Tawakkol’s weekly protests continued until 2011, when she mobilized protesters to support the Arab Spring, a movement calling for government reform across the Middle East and Northern Africa. Karman was arrested several times. The most notable arrest was on January 22, 2011 when she was accused of disturbing Yemen's peace and social security. She was set free after large-scale protests across demanded her release. She has also received death threats and been targeted by government campaigns to discredit and silence her. Despite the threats and harassment, Karman always repeats, "we do not fear of the future but we make it."
In December 2011, Tawakkol Karman was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her unwavering defence of democracy and justice in Yemen, and for giving women a role in the peacebuilding process. The first Arab woman to win a Nobel Peace Prize,Tawakkol is known as “mother of the revolution” and "The lady of the Arab spring." She has been a member of the PeaceJam Foundation since 2017.