Women’s access to leadership positions is more crucial than ever in light of the myriad of global challenges we currently face. This was the message delivered by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf when she joined US Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, in a recent discussion at the United States Institute of Peace.
Madam Sirleaf and Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield reflected on their respective leadership journeys and their legacies, which they hope will inspire the next generation of women leaders in Africa.
Whilst speaking with Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield, Madam Sirleaf outlined how, during her tenure as the first democratically elected woman president in Africa, she worked hard to respect Liberia’s constitution and promote good governance. However, she also reflected that ascending the leadership ladder was not easy, and “took many years of work and many years of activism.”
Madam Sirleaf went on to note that establishing the EJS Center and launching the Amujae Initiative have been major milestones in her leadership journey, as they have allowed her to share her experiences with upcoming African women leaders and offer them support on their own journeys.
Asked about the type of leadership needed to respond to the current global challenges we face, such as climate change and health pandemics, Madam Sirleaf stressed the importance of equity and peacebuilding as a priority for current global leaders:
“The world needs leaders who are willing to stand by the principles and the standards that they represent and that they have endorsed over the years. We need leaders who have the courage to take positions… in the interest of peace and the promotion of women.”
Ambassador Thomas-Greenfield—a former Chair of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Foundation—echoed Madam Sirleaf’s views on leadership, stating that the world needs leaders who are willing to “stand up for human rights, to stand up for women, and to ensure that their commitments remain strong throughout their leadership journeys.”
Both women leaders were united in their support for African women leaders and their counterparts all over the world.
Watch the full discussion here.