Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) alumna Leymah Gbowee is one of three women jointly awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, the Norwegian Nobel Committee announced Oct. 7. She shares the prize with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and women’s rights activist Tawakkul Karman of Yemen.
Gbowee, who earned a master’s degree in conflict transformation at EMU, received the Nobel Prize for her work in organizing a peace movement to end the Second Liberian Civil War. She has become famous in her country and across the globe for mobilizing women.
Only 12 other women have won the peace prize in its 110-year history.
Gbowee graduated from EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding (CJP) in 2007 with a master of arts degree. She attended CJP’s Summer Peacebuilding Institute in 2004 and completed its Strategies for Trauma Awareness and Resilience (STAR) program in 2005.
In June 2011 at EMU, Gbowee participated in a by-invitation conference on the needs of women peacebuilders around the world. Participants included filmmaker Abigail Disney of the United States, Koila Costello-Olsson of Fiji, Suraya Sadeed of Afghanistan, and Dekha Ibrahim Abdi, a Kenyan-Muslim woman of Somali ethnic origin who received the 2007 Right Livelihood Prize. (Abdi died in a car accident after returning to Kenya in July 2011.)
“As a direct result of this conference, we will be launching a women and peacebuilding program at our 2012 Summer Peacebuilding Institute,” says Lynn Roth, executive director of CJP.
Gbowee is executive director of the Women, Peace and Security Network Africa, an organization she co-founded to build relationships across the West African sub-region. Headquartered in Ghana, the organization supports women’s capacity to prevent, avert and end conflict across the region.
She has won numerous awards, including the Blue Ribbon for Peace by Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government and the John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award. She typically accepts such honors on behalf of her countrywomen.
“Pray the Devil Back to Hell” documentary
Gbowee is the central figure in a documentary produced by Abigail Disney, “Pray the Devil Back to Hell,” which will be shown at EMU Friday, Oct. 14 at 8 p.m. in Lehman Auditorium. Completed in 2008, the documentary is part of a series that debuts on PBS stations nationwide at 8 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2011.
Press conference during Homecoming weekend
EMU will hold a press conference with Gbowee during Homecoming weekend. Further information will be released by noon (EST) on Tuesday, Oct. 11. You may also contact EMU news director Mike Zucconi for updates at 540-432-4211 or firstname.lastname@example.org
EMU is a diverse Christian liberal arts college based in Harrisonburg, Va., and guided by core values of the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. Approximately 1600 students are enrolled in undergraduate, graduate, seminary and Center for Justice and Peacebuilding programs at EMU. Sustainability and cross-cultural study are emphasized across the curriculum.