Tawakkul Karman - Power 500 2012

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Tawakkul Karman

Industry: Culture & Society

Nationality: Yemen

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Tawakkul Karman is undoubtedly the female face of the Arab Spring. The youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize - aged just 32 - Karman has found herself touring the world, bringing Yemen’s plight before diplomats and fighting for women’s rights.

In her own country, of course, she has been working hard to promote freedom of speech for years. In 2005, she set up the campaign group Women Journalists Without Chains, But Karman really hit the international headlines last year, when she led a series of protests calling for the departure of Yemeni president Ali Abdullah Saleh. One year on – due in part to those same protests - Saleh has quit his post and is now in the US.

Although the demonstrations led by Karman and others were peaceful, they resulted in a strong backlash from the Yemeni government. Hundreds were killed, and thousands were injured. In a recent newspaper interview, Karman herself expressed surprise that she was still alive. “I have always believed that resistance against repression and violence is possible without relying on similar repression and violence,” she said in her Nobel prize acceptance speech.

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