‘With peaceful ways we won’

Nobel Peace Prize laureates inspire students with their stories

By on September 21, 2016
From left to right: Tawakkol Karman, Leymah Gbowee and Shirin Ebadi spoke to students about their personal struggles when trying to bring peace to their respective countries, encouraging them to be proactive within their communities.   Julia Gallop | The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Tawakkol Karman, Leymah Gbowee  spoke to students about their personal struggles when trying to bring peace to their respective countries, encouraging them to be proactive within their communities.

Three female Nobel Peace Prize laureates spoke to Quinnipiac University and shared their experiences and insight on strength, fear and perseverance this past week.

Shirin Ebadi, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkol Karman are three Nobel Peace Prize recipients that spoke at Quinnipiac University on Wednesday and Thursday. They told students of their struggles and triumphs of being women and peace activists in a world full of war and terror.

Senior Entry Level Masters Physician’s Assistant Ann Marie Abadeer said in an email interview that the laureates were “engaging and inspiring.” Abadeer said that one part of Tawakkol’s speech really resonated with her.

“When Tawakkol was talking about how you should never be afraid of the consequences of speaking out. She said the only thing you ought to be afraid of is if your work is discontinued and there is no one else to carry on what you have started,” Abadeer said.

“I never let fear stop me,” Gbowee said, who received the Nobel Peace Prize for bringing an end to the Second Liberian Civil War by leading a women’s peace movement.

Karman received the Nobel Peace Prize for her peacework in Yemen, where she was a leader of human and women’s rights movements, as well as the founder of Women Journalists Without Chains, an organization that promotes rights and freedom for women journalists.

Ebadi was Iran’s first female judge and the first Muslim woman to win the prize in 2003 for her work in defending women’s, children’s and human rights.

Juliana McBroom, a senior biology major, recounted what she found to be the most memorable part of the talks in an email interview.

“[Ebadi] emphasized that the failures and setbacks she experienced in her life got her to where she is today, and that she had no regrets even after being demoted from a judge to a clerk. This was really inspiring for a group of college students to hear, I think,” McBroom said.

Although all three women faced their own obstacles, one that they have all overcome is gender discrepency. There have only been 16 female Nobel Peace Prize recipients compared to 87 male recipients.

The speakers also emphasized the importance and privilege of democracy.

“To not vote will play on your conscience for a long time. Girls–how long was it before women had the right to vote?! Exercise your right because it is your right,” Gbowee said. Ebadi and Karman also agreed that democracy is only achievable with peace.

Shirin Ebadi spoke to students about their personal struggles when trying to bring peace to their respective countries, encouraging them to be proactive within their communities.   Julia Gallop | The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Shirin Ebadi spoke to students about their personal struggles when trying to bring peace to their respective countries, encouraging them to be proactive within their communities.

Although Iran and Yemen do not currently have the best relationship, Ebadi and Karman shared plenty of hugs and referred to each other as “my sister,” displaying both women’s peacefulness and acceptance toward the other.

All three women stressed how lucky we are to live in America, in a democracy, and that we should not take it for granted.

The women shared traits that  made them successful  such as acceptance and determination, emphasizing that they led them to their success.

“We accepted even the people of the regime… we didn’t exclude anyone”, when talking about protesting the tyrannical leader,” Karman said.

Gbowee said to “take the open mind challenge” when trying to make a change. She explained how being judgmental and believing in stereotypes builds a wall between you and those people, which will only further strife. In order to peacefully make a change, we must accept all things, even “those things that are undesirable.”

Those who attended the event were left with inspiration and motivation from the speakers.
“The Laureates were invested in giving the audience something to walk away with and something to apply to their own lives,” Abadeer said.
   Gbowee left the audience with some resonating words.“Don’t say ‘Is it worth it?’ It’s always worth fighting for your rights,” she said.

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