Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: Women are the backbone of peace and reconciliation

During a recent interview, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf spoke about the need for women to be at the forefront of peacekeeping missions and involved in “dialogue on peace and reconciliation.” She continued: 

“Even though women are the victims, they are the ones who stand up. They are the ones who are able to promote peace and reconciliation.”

The talk, hosted by journalist Montserrat Dominguez and organized by Espacio Fundación Telefónica and Women in a Legal World, touched on Madam Sirleaf’s experience serving as the first democratically elected woman president of an African country and leading Liberia toward peace and reconciliation following tumultuous years of civil war. Her achievements, Madam Sirleaf noted, wouldn’t have been possible without “the thousands and thousands of women” who stood up to the male-dominated leadership that had caused “wars and conflicts” in her country.

Calling for collective action to protect women’s rights across the globe, Madam Sirleaf highlighted the need for a common approach to supporting women by encouraging institutions and organizations to work together more effectively: 

“It’s a big challenge in whatever country we’re in, because the stereotyping, the obstacles that women face are global… And so the action must be global, it must be collective. And it must be a networking across borders, because our rights are the same, our goals are common.”  

Madam Sirleaf raised concerns about the ability of the global community to “bring people together for a common agenda” that guarantees inequities are addressed and no country is left behind. She then urged the audience to think about their “commitment to a better world through better participation, better unity, better cooperation,” as a response to those concerns.

Asked about the advice she would give to the young people of today, Madam Sirleaf said: 

“Get an education as much as you can! That’s one thing nobody can take away from you. Even a gun can’t take away brainpower.”

Watch Madam Sirleaf’s full remarks here: https://youtu.be/5HtYjiJ3z84

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