Nobel Peace Prize Winners are Subjects of Prominent PBS Broadcasts

Posted on October 7, 2011

Three women — Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, her compatriot Leymah Gbowee, and pro-democracy campaigner Tawakul Karman of Yemen — have been named co-recipients of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize for their nonviolent role in promoting peace, democracy, and gender equality. Their remarkable stories are part of public media’s Women and Girls Lead pipeline of documentaries.


Public media leaders from ITVS, PBS and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting joined the rising chorus of voices congratulating Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, her co-patriot Leymah Gbowee, and pro-democracy campaigner Tawakul Karman of Yemen, the three women named 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."

“These three extraordinary women inspire all of us who care about these issues,” said Pat Harrison, CEO and President of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.  “We’re proud to celebrate their triumph and help bring their stories to the world.” Public media has direct connections to two of the laureates recognized by the Nobel committee.  

The story of Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee is told in the documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hellpart of the five-part Women, War and Peace series premiering October 11 on PBS, while Johnson Sirleaf was profiled in the PBS documentary Iron Ladies of LiberiaBoth documentaries are a core part of the public media initiative Women and Girls Lead, a three year television and outreach campaign to focus, educate and connect audiences worldwide. 

(NOTE: ITVS has produced a Community Classroom module for educators and NGOs from the documentary Iron Ladies of Liberia that comes with two lesson plans. You can find the module and download the lesson plans here. Plus, be sure to watch Iron Ladies of Liberia on Global Voices on the World Channel this Sunday, October 23.)


“When you strengthen women, you strengthen the world,” said Abigail Disney, an executive producer of Women, War and Peace. “Ellen, Leymah and Tawkul showed that to their communities, their countries, and the world, which is why they are heroes to me, everyone who works on women’s issues, and now the Nobel committee as well.” In its award statement, the Nobel committee expressed hope that the prize “will help to bring an end to the suppression of women that still occurs in many countries” while singling out the untapped potential of women in democracy and peace building. “This year’s Nobel Peace Prize sends a message,” said Paula Kerger, President and CEO of PBS.  “It asks us all to look around to see how women can help end violence — whether it’s at home, down the street, or globally.  These three leaders are making a difference.  Now what can we do? ” 

Over the next three years, Women and Girls Lead will bring more than fifty films to public television and other outlets, connecting storytelling to media tools and the work of civil society in the U.S. and around the world, supported by a wide range of partners that span media, government, NGOs and Hollywood. Other films in Women and Girls Lead include Half the Skythe four-hour television and multimedia event based on the best-selling book by Nicholas Kristof; Shayfeen.coma look of Egyptian women journalists whose work echoes that of Tawakul Karman; and Kind Hearted Woman, a profile of a Native American woman’s campaign against domestic violence.

“This Nobel Prize is another step towards a tipping point for the world’s women,” said Queen Noor, who serves on the advisory board for the public media project along with notables like Geena Davis, America Ferrera and Eileen Fisher. “I am thrilled for these three extraordinary women who are sources of inspiration, strength and hope for women and girls throughout the world. ”

PBS NewsHour reported on the story last Friday and you can watch their segment below:

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