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Yemeni Nobel laureate Tawakkol Karman gives away $500,000 prize money

By Jethro Mullen, CNN
updated 5:16 AM EST, Tue November 5, 2013
Yemeni journalist and activist Tawakkol Karman delivers a speech in Strasbourg, on October 08, 2012.
Yemeni journalist and activist Tawakkol Karman delivers a speech in Strasbourg, on October 08, 2012.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Karman says she's given the money to a fund for victims of Yemen's uprising
  • "This is my duty to the youths who sacrificed for change," she says
  • In 2011, she became the first Arab woman to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize
  • She played an active role in the protests against former ruler Ali Abdullah Saleh

(CNN) -- Nobel Peace laureate Tawakkol Karman has decided that the best use of her half million dollars in prize money is to give it all away.

Karman, the Yemeni activist who in 2011 became the first Arab woman to be awarded the peace prize, says she has donated the $500,000 prize money to a fund for the people wounded and the families of those killed in Yemen's Arab Spring-inspired uprising.

"This is my duty to the youths who sacrificed for change and to build a Yemen founded on freedom, justice, equality and good governance," Karman, 34, said in a statement late Monday.

She is donating the prize money to the Aid Fund for Families of Martyrs and Wounded in the (2011) Peaceful Revolution, which was set up by President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi.

Hadi assumed power in February 2012 in a deal that forced the previous president, Ali Abdullah Saleh, to trade his position for immunity after a year of political unrest destabilized the country.

Karman was active in the protests against Saleh's rule. The Nobel committee awarded her the prize in October 2011, when Saleh was still in power. Karman said she heard the news that she had been selected as she was demonstrating in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa.

She was one of three women awarded the peace prize that year. The other two were Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Leymah Gbowee, a social worker and peace campaigner from the same country.

The three women were chosen "for their nonviolent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work," the Nobel committee said.

It commended Karman for playing a leading role in the struggle for women's rights for democracy and peace in Yemen.

She is the president of Women Journalists Without Chains, a group campaigning for press freedom.

Karman is not the first Nobel laureate to give away the prize money.

President Barack Obama donated the roughly $1.4 million award from his 2009 Nobel Peace Prize to charity.

The European Union, which was awarded the prize in 2012, said it would use the money -- doubling it with its own contributions -- to help protect and educate children in conflict zones.

CNN's Mohammed Jamjoom contributed to this report.

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