Nobel peace awards to women `encouraging`: Vatican

This year`s Nobel Peace Prize has been awarded to Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and two other women.

Vatican City: The Vatican on Friday hailed as "noble and encouraging" this year`s Nobel Peace Prize awards to Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and two other women.

"I know the Liberian President and I can attest that her leadership, her initiative in politics is very much appreciated by us in west Africa," said Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Kodwo Appiah Turkson.

Turkson, who is president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, told Radio Vatican that the other Liberian winner, Leymah Gbowee, was "a person who encourages women to hold their heads high".

He also said he "backed" the award for Yemen`s Arab Spring activist Tawakkul Karman.

Sirleaf, 72, made history when she became Africa`s first elected woman president in 2005, taking over after 14 years of civil war that left 250,000 dead.

Gbowee led Liberia`s women to defy feared warlords and their use of child soldiers and rape as "a toy of war".

Karman, the youngest ever Peace Laureate at 32, is a Yemeni journalist and activist who has braved several stints in prison in her struggle for women`s rights, press freedoms and the release of political prisoners in her country.

The three share the 2011 award "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women`s rights to full participation in peace-building work", Norwegian Nobel Committee president Thorbjoern Jagland said.