Tawakkul Karman is a Yemeni journalist, politician, and senior member of the of Al-Islah political party. She is a human rights activist who heads the group ‘Women Journalists Without Chains’, which she co-founded with seven other female journalists in 2005 in order to promote human rights, particularly freedom of opinion and expression, and democratic rights.

She became the international public face of the 2011 Yemeni uprising that is part of the Arab Spring uprisings. Karman has been called by Yemenis the ‘Iron Woman’ and ‘Mother of the Revolution’. She is a co-recipient of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, becoming the first Yemeni, the first Arab woman, and the second Muslim woman to win a Nobel Prize and the youngest Nobel Peace Laureate to date.

From 2007 to 2010, Karman regularly led demonstrations and sit-ins in Tahrir Square, Sana'a. She redirected the Yemini protests to support the ‘Jasmine Revolution’, as she calls the Arab Spring, after the Tunisian people overthrew the government of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011. She has been vocal in calling for the end of President Ali Abdullah Saleh's regime.

She is a member of the opposition party Al-Islah and holds a position on its Shura Council, which is a party position and not a parliamentary seat. Karman, who claims independence from the party line, said, “I do not represent the Al-Islah party, and I am not tied to its positions. My position is determined by my beliefs, and I do not ask anyone's permission.”

She stopped wearing the traditional niqab in favor of more colorful hijabs that showed her face. She first appeared without the niqab at a conference in 2004. Karman replaced the niqab for the scarf in public on national television to make her point that the full covering is cultural and not dictated by Islam.

She has alleged that many Yemeni girls suffer from malnutrition so that boys could be fed and also called attention to high illiteracy rates, which includes two-thirds of Yemeni women. She has advocated for laws that would prevent females younger than 17 from being married.

Karman, along with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee, were the co-recipients of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.” [Of Karman, the Nobel Committee said: "In the most trying circumstances, both before and during the 'Arab spring', Tawakkul Karman has played a leading part in the struggle for women’s rights and for democracy and peace in Yemen.”

Leave a Comment

You can use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>