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Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in conversation with President of IE University on equity and the challenges of leadership

More and more women are overcoming the systemic barriers that hamper progress toward gender parity. The courage and strength of such women has been emphasized by former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in a recent IE University Blue Talks conversation.

Speaking with Santiago Iñiguez de Onzoño, President of IE University, Madam Sirleaf said that, despite recent achievements, progress toward equity still faces significant challenges:

“Systems have excluded . The laws have not granted the equity they deserve. Constitutions have not enabled the laws to ensure that equity exists… That’s the challenge we have today.”

Discussing the role that higher education institutions can play in inspiring young women to become the leaders of the future, Madam Sirleaf said that these institutions must lead by example, giving women equal opportunities and achieving gender balance among their staff.

Asked about how her approach to leadership spurred her many achievements as a peacebuilder and democratic leader, Madam Sirleaf stressed the importance of learning from the experiences of others and having the determination to succeed despite setbacks:

“Failure enables you to see where your challenges have not been fully addressed, where your opportunities have not been fully recognized and taken. And so you use that to improve yourself.”

She added that the values of honesty, hard work, and humility that she grew up with have sustained her through the challenges of her leadership journey:

“I knew that I was coming into a place where men had known domination all their lives, and were going to see as the first intruder in their midst.” 

Watch the full conversation here.

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