ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF

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Investing in women leaders: Madam Sirleaf joins Amujae Leaders in Fragility Forum discussion

Strengthening the role of women as active participants in peacebuilding and governance can help guarantee long-term stability, development, and resilience. Conversely, excluding women from leadership positions in public service is tantamount to perpetuating the cycle of poverty and fragility.

The EJS Center’s Amujae Initiative was born out of this belief, and aims to “unapologetically profile, prepare and uplift women to positions of leadership at the highest levels,” declared former President of Liberia Ellen Johnson Sirleaf at the World Bank’s Fragility Forum 2022 panel on International Women’s Day.

The panel—entitled ‘The Power of the Collective: Investing in Women Leaders as Agents of Change’—was led by Kimberly Gire, founder of Global Women Leaders Strategic Philanthropy. In addition to Madam Sirleaf, it brought together Amujae Leaders Oley Dibba-Wadda, Tejumola Abisoye, and Dr. Yakama Manty Jones.

In her speech, Madam Sirleaf explored the pathways to leadership and success that women all over the world have managed to navigate. She warned, however, that if systemic barriers to girls’ and women’s advancement are not broken down, the success she and others have achieved in striving for equality in leadership “will mean very little.”

Essential to the fight for women’s leadership are philanthropists and business leaders, Madam Sirleaf noted:

“We still need others to join this fight, to join this necessary call to action, to increase women’s participation in leadership. We need investment. And that brings those from the corporate sector and the financial sector support women who just want the opportunity for self-reliance. 

In turn, the Amujae Leaders described the unique experience that the Amujae Initiative offered them. The interaction among leaders and mentors, networking, and coaching sessions helped them enhance their leadership strategies and gain the courage to overcome obstacles along the way.

Ms. Abisoye highlighted the learning process that every Amujae Leader goes through, whereby careful attention is given to building their leadership capacities:

“We’ve had media workshops, how to do storytelling… how to control your own narrative. These are very useful things for people in public spaces and in the public eye.” 

Dr. Jones echoed Ms. Abisoye’s feelings about the depth of support the African women leaders receive:

“One of the things I learned in the Initiative is about to amplify your work and tell your story, and also navigating the space with all the challenges that it brings.”

Looking ahead to the role that the Amujae Initiative can play in nurturing future leaders, Ms. Dibba-Wadda said:

“There is no better magic bullet than what we have in this Amujae Initiative… We are going to smash those glass ceilings and not just break them but smash them. We are going to make sure that are prepared, whether they want to be ambassadors of nonprofit organizations, or presidents, or lawyers, but in their own right as individuals.” 

Watch the full panel discussion here.

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