It is among the most prestigious prizes on the planet, and at each year this time there is mounting suspense surrounding the announcement of the Nobel Peace Prize winner.

This year the world's most coveted peace prize is split three ways between two women from Africa and one from the Middle East: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Liberia's president; Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian peace activist; and Tawakul Karman, a Yemeni women's rights campaigner.

"We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society," said Thorbjorn Lagland, chair of the Nobel Committee.

Is it an important step for the empowerment of women throughout the world, or an award that fuels the debate as to whether achievements are still judged on the grounds of gender, rather than ability?

Inside Story, with presenter Mike Hanna, discusses with Geir Lundestad, the director of the Norwegian Nobel Institute; Fredrik Heffermehl, the author of The Nobel Peace Prize: What Nobel Really Wanted; and Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies.

Source: Al Jazeera