Sirleaf Receives the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo Ceremony

December 14, 2011
By Doug Gavel and Jenny Li Fowler

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf MPA/Mason Fellow 1971 received the Nobel Peace Prize during a ceremony in Oslo, Norway on Saturday, December 10. Sirleaf shares the award with fellow activists Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman, all of whom were cited for their non-violent struggle on behalf of women’s rights and safety.



The Nobel Peace Prize is presented annually by the Chairman of the Norwegian Nobel Committee in front of Their Majesties the King and Queen of Norway, the Government, representatives and invited guests.

“This recognition by the Nobel Committee of President Sirleaf’s tremendous work on behalf of women and all citizens in her country is well deserved,” said HKS Dean David T. Ellwood who attended the ceremony in Oslo. “She has devoted herself to improving the economic and political conditions for the people of Liberia, and to bring lasting peace to a nation with a difficult history. It was an enormous honor to witness her receive this well deserved honor.”

Sirleaf is Africa’s first democratically elected female president and successfully ran for re-election in October. Since her inauguration in 2006, she has contributed to securing peace in Liberia, promoting economic and social development, and strengthening the position of women. Among her accomplishments are having secured forgiveness for billions of dollars of Liberian debt and vastly improving Liberia’s image internationally.

Gbowee was cited by the Nobel Committee for having mobilized and organized women across ethnic and religious lines to bring about an end to the long war in Liberia, and for helping ensure women’s participation in elections. She has also been awarded the Blue Ribbon for Peace by Harvard Kennedy School. Karman was cited for having played a leading part in the struggle for women’s rights and for democracy and peace in Yemen, both before and during the “Arab spring.”

The Norwegian Nobel Committee stated, “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.”

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf with arms in the air

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf MPA/Mason Fellow 1971

The Norwegian Nobel Committee stated, “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.”


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