28 Faces of Black Women – Leymah Gbowee and Ellen Johnson Sirlef

February marks the celebration of Black History month. As a sorority who believe in “Excellence Through Unity”, it is only fitting that we take the time to present some of the notable women in African-American History.

During the month of February  we will present a short biography on famous, inspiring, and world-changing African-American women throughout history.

Let’s travel to Liberia to meet two amazing women: Leymah Gbowee and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Leymah Gbowee

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During the turmoil in her home country in 2002,  Leymah Gbowee realized it is women who bear the greatest burden in prolonged conflicts. She recalls falling asleep and waking up, remembering God saying to her “gather the women and pray for peace!” The civil ware in Liberia caused many hardship for women, including their children being killed and (women) themselves being raped.  recognized as the spokeswoman and inspirational leader of the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace, described as a peace movement that began with local women praying  in a fish market. Working with both Christians and Muslims s, Gbowee led thousands of women to gather in Monrovia for months. They prayed for peace, using Muslim and Christian prayers, and eventually held daily nonviolent demonstrations and sit-ins in defiance of orders from the tyrannical president at that time, Charles Taylor. These movements included a sex strike, which gained the group media attention and help expose the violence of the civil war.

Summer of 2003 Gbowee lead a peace-talk process that put pressure on the warring factions and nature of Liberia. Leymah was the first to sit in a daily demonstration outside of the hotel that housed the peace-talk, protesting for change. She later accumulated dozens of women to do the same. This movement lead to the Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement on August 18, 2003. This agreement and movement ended 14 years of a violent war, as well as winning Leymah Gbowee the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011. In addition to peace, Gbowee’s actions during this movement paved the way for Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first woman president of Liberia.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

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Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the(current) 24th President of Liberia. e served as Minister of Finance under President William Tolbert from 1979 until 1980, after which she left Liberia and held senior positions at various financial institutions. She was one of the founders and the political leader of National Patriotic Front of Liberia, the warlord Charles Taylor’s party. Sirleaf received the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, jointly with Leymah Gbowee of Liberia and Tawakel Karman of Yemen. These women were recognized “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.Her reign as president brought change, including debt relief for Liberia, the establishment of the Trust and Reconciliation Committee, and addressing Gay Rights.

These two remarkable woman of Liberia have not only change the face of African-American Women, but have change an entire country for the betterment of All Liberians!

 

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