Liberia’s recent history stands as an example of what women can achieve for peace and reconciliation by challenging the dynamics of conflict and division. Their instrumental role in bringing about a resolution to the second civil war in the country went down in the annals of history as one of the greatest contributions to building sustainable peace on African soil.
The pressure applied by the ‘Women’s Mass Action for Peace’ led not only to the successful adoption of the Accra Peace Agreement in 2003 but also to the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first democratically elected woman president in Africa. Leading Liberia through reconciliation and recovery, she laid the foundations for lasting, equitable peace, and meaningful participation of women in all aspects of public and private life in the country.
To celebrate the achievements of these Liberian women leaders and commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Accra Peace Agreement, the EJS Center co-hosted an inter-generational dialogue last week in Monrovia, Liberia. The discussion provided an opportunity for young women to connect with the leaders who were instrumental in bringing peace to their country twenty years ago.
Madam Sirleaf opened the event calling on all Liberians to honor the women who stood at the forefront of the peace movement. Her remarks provided an opportunity for the participants to reflect on the importance of women’s participation in political life in the country and the pivotal role they play in consolidating democracy, peace, and reconciliation. Commenting on the preparations for the presidential and legislative elections in Liberia later this year, Madam Sirleaf said:
“Today is just an event, but the continuity and maintenance of peace depend on each and every one of us. Therefore, we should avoid using defamatory statements because they undermine our constitution. We say to all of you: if we want peace, speak and act rightly. Pray for peace, live for peace, champion peace, and be ambassadors of peace.”
The inter-generational dialogue was attended by government officials and dignitaries, and brought together several partners including the EJS Center, Women’s Mass Action for Peace, the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), Liberia’s Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, UN Women, and the Embassies of Ireland and Sweden.
UN Women Country Representative, Madam Comfort Lamptey, and Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee also delivered remarks reflecting on this historic anniversary and their hopes to increase women’s participation in leadership roles and in maintaining peace in Liberia.
An interactive panel discussion gave attendees the opportunity to engage in meaningful exchanges with the panelists on the role of women in building inclusive societies focused on equity, development, and the rejection of conflict.