ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF

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Liberian women: Drivers of innovative and inclusive advancements across society

For generations, Liberian women have led innovations that spark advancements in every sphere of life. By challenging gender inequities and advocating for underserved communities, they effect transformative impact on healthcare, education, economic growth, rural development, peace and security, and many other sectors of society, changing the lives of Liberians for the better.

To celebrate these women, we are highlighting some of the remarkable changemakers who have left an indelible mark on Liberia through their work and commitment to equity and justice.

Dr. Chris Hena and Naomi Tulay-Solanke have placed communities and gender equity at the core of their mission to achieve better health outcomes. Working through the ‘Healthy Women, Healthy Liberia’ to reform the Liberian healthcare system, Dr. Hena is helping to improve access to adequate health facilities for Liberia’s women and girls. Her initiative focuses on community-based primary health services and on improving maternal and infant healthcare.

As Founder and Executive Director of the Community Healthcare Initiative, Ms. Tulay-Solanke is supporting women in local communities by strengthening and promoting healthcare services,  for some of the most pressing challenges women face, including sexual and reproductive health.  Ms Tulay-Solanke also founded Pad4Girls – the first of its kind women’s cooperative – manufacturing low-cost sustainable pads for girls and women in rural Liberia.

Girls’ education is a fundamental right and a prerequisite for sustainable and equitable development. Aisha Cooper Bruce – Executive Director of HOPE Liberia – is helping to fill the significant data gap on girls’ education in Liberia through her role as a coordinator of the EducateHER project. Her work aims at gathering and presenting accurate up-to-date data on the progress of Liberian girls’ education and, consequently, supporting the efforts of policymakers and civil society organizations in the design and implementation of the most effective education policies and programs.

Liberian women are also exceptional peacebuilders and rights advocates. Leymah Gbowee who was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize alongside former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is a peace activist, social worker, and women’s rights advocate. Founder and President of the Monrovia-based Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, she has led pivotal peacebuilding initiatives that gave women a central role in ending Liberia’s devastating civil war.

Ms. Facia Boyenoh Harris, a tireless advocate for women and girls’ rights in Liberia, was the first Liberian woman to be recognized for the U.S. Secretary of State’s International Women of Courage award. A co-founder of the Paramount Young Women Initiative and a life-long activist against gender-based violence in Liberia, she has worked for decades to create a future free from violence for all young women and girls in the country, and offer them opportunities for education and leadership training.

Supporting rural women in Liberia through equitable sustainable development solutions is central to Hawa Dunor-Varney’s work. Founder of Women in Agriculture for Sustainable Development (WASUDEV), Ms. Dunor-Varney supports women and girls in rural Liberia by improving their livelihoods through agribusiness development and economic opportunities, in addition to facilitating access to decision-making roles. Her work and that of other Liberian women leaders – such as Everlyn Karhenye, who is mobilizing women and men in her community and nearby villages to address the issues of hunger, poverty, and inequality – is driving sustainable growth and development that improves the lives of rural women and addresses their most pressing needs.

Through these and other groundbreaking initiatives, Liberian women are proving to be pivotal leaders in creating a more just and inclusive environment for all Liberians

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