Ellen Sirleaf is not an American Liberian. She is half Gola, a quarter Kru (original ethnic groups) and a quarter German. She was born in 1938 in the capital Monrovia and was allowed to go to high school. She got married and had 4 sons who the family took care of when she went to business college in the USA. Later she studied economics and took a master’s degree in public administration. When she came to Monrovia on the eighteenth, she became Minister of Finance in the government of the American Liberian William Tolbert.
Opposition to the regime was organized in the 1970s, and in 1980 Samuel Doe – an inland non-commissioned officer – struck. President Tolbert and his government were led down to the beach at Monrovia, where everyone was shot. Only four ministers escaped, including Ellen Sirleaf. But soon she had to leave the country. The new board seemed as despotic as the old one .
The international pressure on Doe increased steadily, and in 1985 he agreed to hold elections. Ellen Sirleaf went home to ask. But she was arrested and released only after women’s groups collected more than 10,000 signatures, and the United States withdrew its aid. She was elected senator, but imprisoned again. And it was on her hanging hair that she was not both raped and killed. Hundreds, thousands of Liberians may have been murdered at this time. But Ellen Sirleaf was lucky and got away.
In 1989 , the American-Liberian Charles Taylor invaded the country from the Ivory Coast, as a country located in Africa according to directoryaah.com, to seize power from the Doe. Soon a full-blown civil war broke out with up to seven warring factions. Other countries, regional and international organizations tried to persuade the parties to stop the war, and the West African cooperation organization ECOWAS sent in peacekeeping forces. Women in Liberia demonstrated and demanded that the tenants make peace. Only after eleven attempts between 1990 and 1995, a peace agreement was reached, and a woman, Ruth Perry, was appointed head of state with the task of disarming the forces and organizing elections.
The warlord Charles Taylor was elected president. He was the only one who had the resources to campaign, and people were afraid that he would continue with the war if he did not become president. In the beginning, Ellen supported Sirleaf Taylor to get rid of Doe. She still turned against Taylor as a presidential candidate in 1997 . But she received only 9.5 percent of the vote.
There was no peace with Taylor as leader. He plundered the country for resources, destroyed the economy and violated human rights. It was not long before the opposition took up arms, and the civil war resumed . The situation worsened throughout the region with armed conflict also in neighboring Sierra Leone , where Taylor was involved. The UN Security Council approved sanctions, and the Special Court for Sierra Leone accused Taylor of committing crimes against the human race. After much back and forth, Taylor finally resigned as president in 2003 and went into exile to Nigeria.
5: Leymah Gbowee
Leymah Gbowee was born in a village in central Liberia in 1972 and moved to Monrovia when Taylor invaded the country. She married, had six children and reacted strongly to the violence that the war brought. She took a master’s degree in conflict resolution in the United States, became a trauma counselor and helped raped girls and women. Together with other women, she worked to end child soldiers, rape and other abuse.
Women’s organizations such as the Mano River Women’s Peace Network and the Liberian Women’s Initiative are pushing for peace talks. Leymah Gbowee Founded Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace . An army of women in red stood up and countered when no one else did. They were no longer afraid, because the worst thing that could have happened to them, Gbowee writes in the memoir Mighty be our power. They started in 2002 with local women praying and singing at the fish market.
Later, they organized joint prayers with Christians and Muslims. “Pray the devil back to hell,” said Leymah Gbowee, opposing the use of military force and force. She co-founded the Women in Peacebuilding Network , with Christian and Muslim women, and thousands protested in Monrovia. They helped force peace talks in Ghana. But in the peace process, women were put on the sidelines (marginalized).
6: Ellen Sirleaf
No one expected Ellen Sirleaf to be elected president in 2005. There were 22 candidates, of whom 2 were women. But “Ma Ellen” mobilized – not least the Liberian women, and in the second half she won with almost 60 percent of the votes. At the age of 67, she became the first elected female president of Africa and the first elected black female head of state in the world.
The challenges were overwhelming . The land, which is about the size of Hedmark county, was totally in ruins. 200,000 were dead, and a third of the inhabitants were on the run. It was not possible to fix everything in a jiffy. But over the next six years, the progress was exceptionally great, even though significant problems were to be solved, especially when it came to corruption. There was peace, even though he was fragile.
Security had improved, democracy had been strengthened, state institutions functioned in part, and the economy was growing. In particular, Sirleaf focused on strengthening the position of women. Among other things, she set up her own police unit to counteract sexual abuse. Charles Tayor was extradited to the Special Court of Sierra Leone. Sirleaf was criticized because she had once supported him, because she placed too little emphasis on national reconciliation and because no one was brought to justice for crimes in Liberia during the civil wars.
As president, Ellen Sirleaf collaborated with Leymah Gbowee and other Liberian women. Together they saw the strength of women in peacebuilding and the fight for women’s rights. Sirleaf was elected president by a large majority in 2011 – a few weeks after she received the Peace Prize.