ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF

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EJS Center Statement on International Women’s Day

We are in a crucial year for democracy right across the globe. Electorates spanning more than 60 countries are heading to the polls to elect a new wave of officials to represent their interests. The scale of this democratic exercise has never before been seen in history, and this is not lost on those of us who have a particular eye on women’s leadership and participation in public life.

This backdrop makes International Women’s Day even more significant — given many of our societies continue to treat women with bias and prejudice. As this year’s official theme of ‘inclusion’ reminds us, there is not only a moral need to include women in democratic processes — whether as candidates or voters — but a clear economic and social benefit for all countries. Women’s effective participation and inclusion in all aspects of public life are the bedrock of successful economies with development aspirations. Still, in 2024, women candidates and voters face harm in the form of gender-based violence, engrained societal attitudes held towards women in public life, and obstacles to registering as voters or as political candidates.

The EJS Center is committed to supporting African women leaders to soar on their leadership paths. Only by breaking down these obstacles and threats can we see a truly just and equal world.

Our founder and former President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, continues to be a beacon of hope for aspiring women leaders across the continent. Her personal journey to public office and legacy as Africa’s first democratically elected woman president is a reminder to all of us of what can be achieved.

As an Amujae Leader myself, I am constantly inspired by the women I have had the pleasure of meeting and working alongside through the Center’s Amujae Initiative. These Amujae Leaders—who are champions of sustainability, gender equality, equitable healthcare, and inclusive development—are living embodiments of the positive work women as public leaders can bring to their countries. Let them, and all women leaders everywhere, inspire everyone this International Women’s Day.

Oley Dibba-Wadda,
Executive Director, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women & Development

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