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Tawakkol Karman


Born: 7 February 1979
Birthplace: Taiz, Yemen
Best known as:

The Yemeni activist who shared the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize 

Tawakkol Karman is the Yemeni political activist who shared the Nobel Peace Prize with two other female activists in 2011.  She and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee (both of Liberia) were given the award "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work." Tawakkol Karman was born in Yemen. Her father, Abdul Salam, was a legal expert who later became the government minister for legal and parliamentary affairs. Karman earned a master's degree in political science from Sana'a University. In 2005, she helped found Women Journalists Without Chains, an organization that released annual reports on press freedom in Yemen. She also joined the Islah, Yemen's conservative Islamist opposition party. Her activism earned her the enmity of the government of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, which harassed and jailed her more than once. During the "Arab Spring" of 2010 and 2011, as activists were fighting entrenched rulers in countries like Egypt and Tunisia, Karman began leading Yemeni protests against the rule of President Saleh. Her floral headdress, unusual in a country more used to women in conservative black chadors, became her trademark, and though she was only 32 she earned the nickname of "Mother of the Revolution." She was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in October of 2011. The next month, President Saleh agreed to step down after 33 years as president, although he did not immediately move to give up power.

Extra credit:

Tawakkol Karman's name is sometimes spelled Tawakul or Tawakkul… She is married to Mohammed al-Nahmi. She described herself as having "three young children" in a 2011 op-ed essay in The New York Times… At age 32, she was the youngest person ever to win the Nobel Peace Prize.

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More on Tawakkol Karman from Infoplease:

  • Tawakkol Karman - Biography of Tawakkol Karman, The Yemeni activist who shared the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize
  • Leymah Gbowee - Biography of Leymah Gbowee, The Nobel-winning Liberian activist featured in the documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell
  • Ellen Johnson Sirleaf - Biography of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, The Nobel Prize-winning president of Liberia
  • Selected Biographies: K - Selected biographies of well-known people and fictional characters

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