Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been awarded the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, becoming the first female winner of the coveted prize.
The Ibrahim Prize aims to distinguish leaders who, during their time in office, have developed their countries, strengthened democracy and human rights for their people, and advanced sustainable development.
Speaking about the award, the Head of the Prize Committee, Salim Ahmed Salim, said ‘…a very high bar was deliberately set when the prize was launched in 2006’ and ‘…the prize is intended to highlight and celebrate truly exceptional leadership, which is uncommon by its very definition.’ Only five have been made Ibrahim Prize Laureates since the Committee’s conception in 2006.
In its statement, the Prize Committee praised Ellen Johnson Sirleaf’s transformative leadership in the face of unprecedented challenges to lead Liberia’s recovery following the devastating civil war.
On Sirleaf’s win, Salim noted that ‘Sirleaf took the helm of Liberia when it was completely destroyed…and led a process of reconciliation that focused on building a nation and its democratic institutions. Throughout her two terms in office, she worked tirelessly on behalf of the people of Liberia.’
Upon hearing the outcome of the Prize Committee’s deliberations, Mo Ibrahim commented that he was ‘delighted’ that Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was to be made a Ibrahim Prize Laureate, and that ‘…in very difficult circumstances, she helped guide her nation towards a peaceful and democratic future, paving the way for her successor to follow.’
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