“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,” said the chairman of the Nobel Peace Prize committee, Thorbjoern Jagland, when it was announced today that the award was to be shared by three women: Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, peace activist Leymah Gbowee, also from Liberia, and democracy activist Tawakkul Karman of Yemen. All three women have engaged with politics in difficult situations and in highly patriarchal cultures. Comparing the developed and developing nations on women’s representation in politics, however, often produces a very different picture from that depicted by economics and labor participation. For instance, American females now control the majority of their country’s wealth and are represented in education and employment at much higher levels than in many developing countries. Yet, the US often ranks well below other nations, including some developing countries, on measures of political representation. Though this site focuses on economic participation, it is important to remember how important politics, education, science, and the arts are to the ultimate goal of equality–“at all levels of society.” The courageous examples provided by Sirleaf, Gbowee, and Karman are inspiring.
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