Leymah Gbowee is a Liberian peace activist, social worker and women’s rights advocate. She is one of three female recipients of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. She was born in central Liberia on 1 February 1972. On the occasion of her birthday, let us learn more about this inspirational woman.
Liberia was in a civil war that spanned for fourteen years. Leymah Gbowee is best known for leading a nonviolent movement that ended this civil war. She brought together Christian and Muslim women to lead the nonviolent movement. This movement, called the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace caused the end of the civil war in 2003.
Leymah was seventeen when the civil war had started and in her own words in a matter of a few hours, she turned into an adult from a child. As the civil war went on, she eventually trained as a social worker, a trauma counselor. She worked with ex-child soldiers. Leymah Gobwee is a founding member and Liberia Coordinator of the Women in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET) of the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP). She is also the founder and President of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, based in Monrovia.
The Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace movement paved the way for the election of Africa’s first woman head of state – Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. It also inspired women all around the world to stand up for peace and security.