The winners of the Nobel Peace Prize vowed Friday to work even harder to make the world see women not just as victims of conflicts, but as leaders in efforts to resolve them.

Speaking in Oslo a day before the prize ceremony, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, her compatriot Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman of Yemen told reporters they felt the award had empowered their struggle for women’s rights, democracy and peace in their home countries and beyond.

“No longer will the world exclude us,” said Gbowee, 39, who long campaigned for the rights of women, against rape and challenging Liberia’s war lords. “Because the world is finally saying to us: your skills abilities have been recognized and we are prepared to work with you.”

The peace prize committee recognized the three women for championing women’s rights in regions where oppression is common and helping women participate in peace-building.

Karman, a female icon of the protest movement in Yemen, drew applause when she proclaimed that “the period that women appears as victims” has ended.

“They are leaders,” she said. “Not just leaders in their countries, or leaders in their struggles. They are leaders in the world.”

A journalist and member of the Islamic party Islah, Karman is the first Arab woman to win the Nobel Peace Prize. The 32-year-old Yemeni also heads the human rights group Women Journalists without Chains.

She said she hoped the uprising against outgoing President Ali Abdullah Saleh had changed Yemen’s reputation as hotbed of terrorists.

“Inside this revolution the voice of al-Qaida and terrorists shut down,” she said. “Inside this peaceful revolution, the voice of revenge stopped, the voice of hate stopped.”

Sirleaf, Africa’s first democratically elected female president, said the Nobel had strengthened her commitment to “to work for women’s empowerment.”

She is widely credited with helping Liberia emerge from an especially brutal civil war, and dedicated the award to the women of Africa, and in particular Liberia, who have suffered in conflicts.

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