Madam Ellen Johnson Sirleaf sent a clear message during the inaugural Hillary Rodham Clinton Global Challenges Summit that we must do more to challenge gender inequalities and continue to champion women’s leadership.
Speaking alongside Katrín Jakobsdóttir, Prime Minister of Iceland, and Professor Alexander Stubb, Director of the School of Transnational Governance and former Prime Minister of Finland, Madam Sirleaf was given a warm welcome during the event, and was introduced by Hillary Rodham Clinton, former U.S. Secretary of State:
“She has been rightly recognized, internationally, for the tremendous progress that was made in tackling what she inherited when she became the first woman in Africa ever to be elected to govern a country in recent times, as far back as we can imagine.”
During the panel discussion Madam Sirleaf outlined the important role that women played when she came to office with a focus on tackling the aftermath of Liberia’s civil war, and how she decided early on to focus on empowering women’s leadership, which remains limited on the African continent.
Discussing the current status of women’s leadership in Africa, Madam Sirleaf cautioned that:
“Over the last forty years, there have been only nine women presidents on the continent. Only one democratically elected. Six have served as acting presidents. Today women still represent only 24% of the continent’s members of parliament.”
Now out of office, Madam emphasized that her focus remains “challenging those long standing systemic barriers to women and girls’ advancement” through the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development, creating “a pipeline… a wave of women across the continent ready to fight for and assume political leadership.”
Panel convener, Secretary Clinton, agreed with Madam Sirleaf’s comments saying that “women’s full participation in society, including at the highest levels of leadership, is the great unfinished business of the 21st century.”
Click here to watch the full panel session and learn more: https://bit.ly/3D3jGum