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2009 Gruber Women's Rights Prize

Working within the courts and existing political and cultural institutions, Leymah Gbowee and the Women’s Legal Centre have helped achieve significant legal and social reforms to build peace and advance human rights for African women.

2009 Women's rights Prize Recipients

Laureate Profile

Women’s Legal Centre (WLC) is a nonprofit law center based in South Africa that seeks to incorporate a rights-based system into African culture. Founded in 1998, it has successfully challenged longstanding legal and cultural restrictions on women’s rights, including those involving primogeniture, intestate succession in monogamous and polygynous marriages, spousal liability for damages in an auto accident, loss of support following the death of a spouse in a polygynous marriage, and damage claims by a survivor of child abuse. WLC has helped to place stricter obligations on employers regarding the elimination of sexual harassment from the workplace, made significant progress in developing the state’s duty to enforce a woman’s right to be free from violence, and helped successfully defend legal challenges to the right to reproductive healthcare.


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The 2009 Gruber Women’s Rights Prize is proudly presented to Leymah Roberta Gbowee, and the Women’s Legal Centre for two different but complementary kinds of activism:

Leymah Roberta Gbowee of Liberia, for helping to build peace in her homeland by mobilizing women in a resistance movement that was instrumental in finally bringing an end to the Liberian civil war, and for continuing to promote women-power in peace building; and

the Women’s Legal Centre of South Africa, for successfully challenging legal and cultural obstacles to women’s rights through the courts especially in the areas of inheritance and gender-based violence, and empowering women with free legal advice on the impact of court judgments in their favor.

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