Herstory (Women Overlooked): Tawakkol Karman

Who is Tawakkol Karman:

Tawakkol Karman is a Yemeni women’s rights activist, who received a Nobel Prize in 2011 for her pro-democracy protest movement.

Born into a politically active family, her father Abd al-Salām Karmān was a lawyer who served as a minister of legal affairs before resigning. Surrounded by someone directly involved in government affairs, Tawakkol graduated with a degree in commerce. Later she earned a master’s degree in political science and started a career in journalism, writing articles, and producing documentary films.

Tawakkol Karman’s Initiatives as an Activist:

Like many other journalists in the Middle East, Tawakkol had encountered restrictions and threats by the Yemeni government. With many of her colleagues, she founded ‘Women Journalists Without Chains in 2005, its main goal was to promote freedom of the press, freedom of expression, and women’s rights in Yemen.

 In 2007, she began to start weekly sit-ins to demand a variety of democratic reforms. Furthermore, her senior position as a member of the Islah (reform) party, Yemen’s main Islamist opposition party, she occasionally clashed with the party’s religious conservatives.

Previously to the Arab Spring, Tawakkol had criticized members of her own party for opposing legislation to raise the legal marriage age for women to 17 years of age. As the Arab Spring shook the Middle East and North Africa, she was arrested for leading a protest against the government president. Eventually, she became the face and leader of the movement upon her release, with her sit-in protests ranging months.

Tawakkol Karman’s Representation:

Tawakkol Karman serves as a prominent symbol of the strength and resilience of Yemeni Women. Her leadership role has challenged many stereotypical views of Yemeni women. Contributing to a change in the perception and role of women in society.

Her international recognition showcased the struggles and aspirations of the Yemeni people. This recognition helped shine a light on the political and humanitarian challenges facing Yemen. Tawakkol Karman’s importance lies in her fearless advocacy for democracy, human rights, and women empowerment within the Arab world. Her dedication to non-violent activism and her global recognition have had a lasting impact on the discourse that has surrounded peace and justice within the region.

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