Written by : WOMEN'S INTERNATIONAL LEAGUE FOR PEACE AND FREEDOM
“Mankind's feeling of responsibility to create a decent life and make it worth living with dignity has always been stronger than the will to kill life.” Tawakkol Karman could be described by in so many ways: she is a journalist, she is a human rights activist, she is a politician, she is a mother, but above all she is a woman.
Also described as “the mother of the revolution” in Yemen or “the iron woman”, Karman is well known by her zealous commitment to fighting for human rights and peace in Yemen. She began organising peaceful sit-in demonstrations against corruption in 2007, demanding social justice and freedom from the Yemeni government. Her currently ongoing struggle gained international recognition in 2011 when her enquiries merged with other voices of the Arab World, triggering the so-called Arab Spring.
Furthermore, she is a senior member of al-Islah party, the main conservative Islamist opposition in Yemen. As a result of her diverging views with the former Yemeni government, she has been threatened and arrested on several occasions.
One of the achievements Karman is most proud of is the foundation of Women Journalists Without Chains (WJWC). After finishing her studies, she started writing articles and documentaries, on top of other journalistic work. However, when censorship came across her way, Karman together with other seven female journalists founded this organisation through which they sought to protect human rights and freedom of expression in Yemen.
Today WJWC plays an important watchdog role within the Arab media landscape, paying special attention to “women’s issues, children’s issues [and promoting] principles of good governance and anti corruption.”
Acknowledging her role in leading a non-violent pro-democratic protest movement in Yemen, later spread throughout the Arab World, Karman received the Noble Peace Prize in 2011. At age 32, she became the youngest woman, the first Yemeni, the first Arab woman and the second Muslim woman to ever receive this award.
Shortly after, Karman donated the entire prize money to the Aid Fund for Families of Martyrs and Wounded in the 2011 Peaceful Revolution in the name of those who were killed during the Yemeni revolution, an initiative founded by the current Yemeni President Abdu Rabu Manosur Hadi.