Helen Mirren hails Nobel Peace Prize laureates

December 11, 2011 - 1:00 PM
Norway Nobel Peace

British actress and co-host of the Nobel Peace Concert, Dame Helen Mirren, speaks in an interview with The Associated Press Sunday Dec. 11, 2011. Nobel Peace Prize winners Tawakkol Karman of Yemen, Liberian president Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee will be honored with a concert on Sunday. (AP Photo/John McConnico)

OSLO, Norway (AP) — British actress Helen Mirren hailed this year's Nobel Peace Prize to three women as historic, but said Sunday it's shameful that so few women have won the award since it was created in 1901.

Mirren said the award marks an "extraordinary moment in the history of women," but that it is "slightly shameful statistically that only 12 women have won it in a 112 years, when you think how important women historically have always been, specifically in terms of peace."

She spoke to The Associated Press before the Nobel Peace Prize concert in Oslo on Sunday, which she will host with American actress Rosario Dawson.

The concert will honor this year's peace prize winners Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and women's right activist Leymah Gbowee, also of Liberia, and democracy activist Tawakkul Karman of Yemen. Together, the three have boosted the number of women who have received the peace prize from 12 to 15.

Mirren said this year's award is a historic moment, "but it is only a step on a journey that women are taking, and hopefully in 20-30 years time we will be looking at a very different scenario in the world."

She also said she has "witnessed first hand" the struggle of women in Uganda.

"In my personal experience, wherever there was a force for the positive, for creativity, it was almost always led by women and they are doing it with no recognition and under very difficult circumstances," she said.

Mirren also pointed out that the three winners all come from small grass-root movements.

"It is so important for all of us to realize that these movements start in very, very small ways," she said, adding that it is important for young women to have role models like this year's peace prize winners.

Rosario Dawson said she was inspired by the laureates during the ceremony Saturday in Oslo City Hall.

"I love being able to be part of this story and help these voices being as loud as possible because I believe in them and they are our future," she said.

Dawson said the peace prize helps grow the community of peace makers and "give them a platform that is just as strong as the corrupters'."

She added that their stories are representations "of who you can become, and it does not care where you start."

The lineup of artists performing at the concert includes the Grammy Award-winning singer and activist from Benin, Angelique Kidjo, Yemen's Ahmed Fathi, Liberian-born singer Miatta Fahnbulleh, David Gray, Jill Scott and the World Youth Choir.