Posted by Mitra Anoushiravani
GFW grantee partner, Leymah Gbowee, appeared on the July 14 episode of Colbert Report on Comedy Central. Leymah discussed both her role and the larger role of women in ending the Liberian civil war which first broke out in 1989 when Leymah was only 17 years old. She says when the war erupted she turned “from a child into an adult in a matter of hours.” Without a college education and with a heart full of broken dreams and frustration, Leymah decided to channel her bitterness into resolve to save Liberia from the ravages of war. She joined and eventually led Women in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET), and she was one of the founders of the Liberian Mass Action for Peace, which brought Muslim and Christian women together for the first time in Liberia. Due to the women’s determination and large-scale organization, then president Charles Taylor agreed to a ceasefire, and in 2003 the Accra Peace Talks were officially held in Ghana and Leymah’s dream of a peaceful Liberia was finally realized. That same year, Liberians elected the first African woman head of state, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, as President, solidifying the women-led movement toward peace. Leymah has been honored with numerous human’s rights awards, including the Gruber Women's Rights Prize, for her tireless efforts and is considered one of the most influential women in Liberia.
Cool Links: Leymah and the women's groups that she is involved with in Liberia are profiled in a documentary about the Liberian civil war called "Pray the Devil Back to Hell."
Listen to an NPR interview of Leymah Gbowee about her work to bring peace to Liberia.
Mitra Anoushiravani is an intern with the Communications Team at the Global Fund for Women. Photo by Lyn Hughes