Young people are setting a clear example of how to foster positive change and tackle the global challenges posed by climate change and social and economic inequities. They are a source of inspiration and hope, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf told students at a recent lecture at Colorado State University.
Challenging the students to move forward and strive for a more peaceful, equitable, and democratic world, Madam Sirleaf urged them to aim for leadership positions and become change-makers. She also encouraged them to help accelerate progress towards gender equality, noting that their task is to help the world recognize that women “are equal in courage, in knowledge, and in action,” and that they are as capable as men of taking on any responsibility given to them.
Asked about the advice she would give to encourage girls as they begin their leadership journey, Madam Sirleaf said that a good education must be their starting point. It will provide them with the required knowledge and self confidence that will make their leadership talents “shine through.”
Turning to the challenges facing countries across the world today, Madam Sirleaf argued that young women and men who are willing to work hard to ensure that democracy flourishes and equality prevails can shape a better future for their countries. They must ensure that there is collective resolve and that concerted efforts are made at all levels:
“We must continue to pressure each other to achieve the peace, security, and stability needed for democratic governance and to spur sustainable and inclusive human development.”
To preserve democracy, they must continue to be active and vocal, Madam Sirleaf told the students, urging them to be bold in their support for global cooperation, unity, and democratic principles.
The lecture was moderated by Erin O’Toole, host of KUNC—a community-licensed public radio station.