Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee speaks during a panel discussion on violence against women in Washington on September 16, 2011.

© 2011 Reuters

(New York) – The decision to award the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize to three women, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman, recognizes that democracy and lasting peace cannot be achieved without giving women the full opportunity to participate, Human Rights Watch said today. It also highlights the challenges that women continue to face, in Yemen and all over the world, to ensure that their human rights remain at the top of the agenda.

"This is a tribute to all women whose tireless work and brave protests helped bring about peace and democracy, and to those women who are still fighting for it today,” said Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “The job is still at best only half done, and the world needs to support efforts to build societies based on respect for human rights of all. We should not forget those women who are still suffering in conflicts today, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, in Cote d’Ivoire, Afghanistan and elsewhere.”

Human Rights Watch also urged the Chinese authorities to release the 2010 Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, the writer and dissident detained in December 2008 for his involvement in drafting a pro-democracy and human rights manifesto. Governments represented at the 2010 Peace Prize ceremony in Oslo should call for Liu’s freedom and for an end to the persecution of his family and supporters, Human Rights Watch said.