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Leymah Roberta Gbowee
File:Gbowee.jpg
Born Central Liberia
Nationality African
Occupation Peace activist
Known for Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace and Pray the Devil Back to Hell

Leymah Roberta Gbowee is an African peace activist responsible for organizing a peace movement that brought an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. This led to the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Liberia, the first African nation with a female president.[1]

Biography

Leymah Gbowee was born in central Liberia. At the age of 17, she moved to Monrovia, when the Second Liberian Civil War erupted. She trained as a trauma counselor during the civil war in Liberia and worked with the ex-child soldiers of Charles Taylor's army. [2] Surrounded by the images of war, she realized that "if any changes were to be made in society it had to be by the mothers".[3] She is a mother of six.[4]

Peace movement

In 2002, Leymah Gbowee was a social worker who organized the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace. The peace movement started with local women praying and singing in a fish market.[5] She organized the Christian and Muslim women of Monrovia, Liberia to pray for peace and to hold nonviolence protests. Dressed in white to symbolize peace, and numbering in the thousands, the women became a political force against violence and against their government. [6]

File:LiberianWomen.jpg

Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace

Under Leymah Gbowee's leadership, the women managed to force a meeting with President Charles Taylor and extract a promise from him to attend peace talks in Ghana.[7] Gbowee then led a delegation of Liberian women to Ghana to continue to apply pressure on the warring factions during the peace process.[8] They staged a silent protest outside the Presidential Palace, Accra, bringing about an agreement during the stalled peace talks.

Leymah Gbowee and Comfort Freeman, presidents of two different Lutheran churches, organized the Women in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET), and issued a statement of intent to the President: "In the past we were silent, but after being killed, raped, dehumanized, and infected with diseases, and watching our children and families destroyed, war has taught us that the future lies in saying NO to violence and YES to peace! We will not relent until peace prevails."[9]

Their movement brought an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003 and led to the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Liberia, the first African nation with a female president.

Documentary

File:Pray the Devil Back to Hell Poster.jpg

Pray the Devil Back to Hell Poster

Leymah Gbowee is the central character in the 2008 documentary film Pray the Devil Back to Hell. The film has been used as an advocacy tool in post-conflict zones like Sudan and Zimbabwe, mobilizing African women to petition for peace and security.[10]

Awards

Education and training

Certifications: Conflict Prevention and Peacebuilding Training at the United Nations Institute for Training, the Healing Victims of War Trauma Center in Cameroon, and Non-Violent Peace Education in Liberia [14]

Professional career

Leymah Gbowee is the executive director of the Women Peace and Security Network Africa, based in Accra, Ghana[15] and acts to build relationships across the West African sub-region in support of women’s capacity to prevent, avert, and end conflicts. She is a founding member and former coordinator of the Women in Peacebuilding Program/West African Network for Peacebuilding (WIPNET/WANEP). She also served as the commissioner-designate for the Liberia Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

External links

References

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