07 Feb Happy Birthday Blog: Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman
Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman
Born: Feb 7, 1979
Known For: Yemeni journalist, leader of the Jasmine Revolution, face of the Yemeni piece of the Arab Spring
2011 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Tawakkol Abdel-Salam Karman is a journalist, activist, and leader. In 2005, she co-founded the group “Women Journalists Without Chains”, in order to promote the rights of women in Yemen, which are currently restricted. From 2007-2010, she actively led sit-ins and other demonstrations against the Yemeni government, and continues to be an outspoken critic of any group which seeks to curtail women’s rights or the freedoms of the press.
Karman has spent most of her life in the Yemeni city of Ta’izz, and comes from a family where education was highly prized. She earned both undergraduate and graduate degrees at Yemeni universities before entering the journalism field. Since then, she has been a public face of the movement to secure human rights in Yemen. While she is specifically focused on the plight of women, Karman also is clear to explain that the rights of all Yemenis are at threat under the current government. Calling to her fellow Yemeni women to rise up as part of the resistance, Karman once stated: “Women should stop being or feeling that they are part of the problem and become part of the solution. We have been marginalized for a long time, and now is the time for women to stand up and become active without needing to ask for permission or acceptance. This is the only way we will give back to our society and allow for Yemen to reach the great potentials it has.”
Karman became the first Arab woman, the youngest person at that time to have become a Nobel Peace Laureate and the category’s second Muslim woman. She received the prize along with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee, (another Abbey Research birthday broad!) “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.” Since receiving the prize, Karman has continued to travel, speak, and advocate for protected rights of the press and women.
For more about this incredible woman, read Karman’s book, Iron Jasmine: How an Arab Woman Led Her Country’s Fight for Democracy.