Best of 2011
1. Three women awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
Two weeks after the passing of Wangari Maathai, the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize , three women activists received the coveted prize for their work ensuring women’s rights are fully integrated into the peace-building process. Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Yemeni human rights activist Tawakkul Karman and Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee shared the honor, with the Nobel Committee stating, “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.”
2. EMILY’s List 2011 victories
2011, an off year? Not in our book! This year we saw exciting special election victories for Kathy Hochul in NY-26, Janice Hahn in CA-36, and a win for Suzanne Bonamici in her November primary in OR-01. With these victories, we tipped the scales back in favor of progress making up for the decline in women members we saw in Congress in 2010. AND, if Suzanne wins in her January special election, the House will then play host to the largest number of women ever.
3. Gabby Giffords’ return to the floor of Congress
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ resilience and fighting spirit have inspired the nation in the wake of the tragic attack in Tucson. We watched with teary eyes when on August 1, Gabby entered the doors of Congress, to a standing ovation in the House, to cast her vote to raise the debt ceiling. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi stated: “Throughout America, there isn’t a name that stirs more love, more admiration, more respect, more wishing for our daughters to be like her than the name of Congresswoman Gabby Giffords.”
4. The Arab Spring
From Tunisia and Egypt to Syria and Libya, we saw pro-democracy revolutions and uprisings break out in the Middle East as protestors called for more transparent, democratic governments. And women were critical in every action. In Saudi Arabia we saw a campaign to get women driving and a proclamation that women would gain the right to vote within the next few years. In Egypt, a woman’s name will appear on the presidential ballot for the first time. We’re tremendously thankful that these events are bringing worldwide attention to the rights of women in the Middle East.
5. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
Secretary Hillary Clinton’s ability to reframe the advancement of women and girls as a national security issue and foreign policy priority, and to push that on a global scale as our Secretary of State, has been huge. Secretary Clinton has done a commendable job showing that women’s empowerment isn’t just about the health, safety, and prosperity of women and girls; it’s about the economic futures and political stability of entire regions. I think we can speak for women everywhere when we say- keep up the good work!