Uganda

Leymah Gbowee :: An Inspiring African Woman

Talk about inspiring women, we recently heard about Leymah Gbowee and after a little digging, were taken aback by the story we found on this lady.

Leymah Gbowee is a Liberian woman, now in her forties and a mother of five, who formed a women’s peace movement during the Second Liberian Civil War. She later went on the be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with two other women, and was an essential part in helping Ellen Johnson become the first women president in Liberia and all of Africa. This is an incredible step in the future of the continent and of the world.

The Liberian civil war lasted from 1989 to 2003 and was fought on the basis of economic inequality, a power struggle over natural resources, as well as various disputes among ethnic groups. Charles Taylor, the president of Liberia at the time, was a merciless warlord and involved child soldiers in the war, pitting them against helpless civilians.

Gbowee was born into poverty in Monrovia, the country’s capital, and grew up running for her life from tyrants and murderer’s, and witnessed horrific manslaughter. As a young mother, Gbowee was constantly rushing her small children to safety, as well as enduring hunger, and cramped living conditions during her life on the run. Gbowee worked hard to study and become a social worker, and she provided counseling for child soldiers. Eventually, she had had enough and was able to form a women’s peace movement to oppose the war. The women gathered for weeks in protest in a prominent spot in town where Charles Taylor would be unable to avoid or ignore them. He eventually agreed to appear and Gbowee presented this statement to him.

“We ask the honorable pro tem of the senate…to kindly present this statement to his excellency Dr. Charles Taylor with this message: that the women of Liberia, including the IDPs…are tired of war. We are tired of running. We are tired of begging for bulgur wheat. We are tired of our children being raped. We are now taking this stand to secure the future of our children because we believe, as custodians of society, tomorrow our children will ask us, ‘Mama, what was your role during the crisis?’ Kindly convey this to the president of Liberia. Thank you.”

Charles Taylor agreed to attend the peace talks in Ghana after hearing Gbowee’s statement and seeing the protest from so many women in Liberia. He was tried for his war crimes, forced to resign from presidency and was never seen in Liberia again. This was the beginning to the end of the war, a time of peace in Liberia and the first free election in which the first woman president in Africa was elected. Gbowee, a huge factor in bringing about this time of peace was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her outstanding efforts to bring peace to her country.

Check out Pray the Devil Back to Hell, a touching documentary on Leymah Gbowee and her fight for peace in Liberia. And stay tuned for more stories on incredible women changing their lives and their world.

 

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