2011 – Tawakkol Karman

Tawakkol Karman is a Yemeni journalist, politician and senior member of the of the Al-Islah political party in Yemen.  She leads the group “Women Journalists Without Chains,” which she co-founded in 2005.

She became the international public face of the 2011 Yemeni uprising,  part of the Arab Spring uprisings. She has been called the “Iron Woman” and “Mother of the Revolution” by Yemenis.

She is the first Yemeni, the first Arab woman, and the second Muslim woman to win a Nobel Prize.

Karman gained prominence in her country after 2005 in her roles as a Yemeni journalist and an advocate for press freedom. She organized weekly protests after May 2007 expanding the protests to support the “Jasmine Revolution,” as she calls the Arab Spring. She has been a vocal opponent who has called for the end of President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s regime.

Women Journalists Without Chains (WJWC), the human rights group she founded with seven other female journalists in 2005, has a focus on “freedom of opinion and expression, and democratic rights.” In 2007, WJWC released a report that documented Yemeni abuses of press freedom since 2005.  In 2009, she criticised the Ministry of Information for establishing trials that targeted journalists.

A moderate in comparison to some of her fellow party members, Karman advocates for girls education, pointing out that many Yemeni girls suffer from malnutrition so that boys could be fed while two-thirds of Yemeni women are illiterate. She took a different stand on marriage laws than other members of the her party, advocating for laws that would prevent females younger than 17 from being married.