Leymah Roberta Gbowee, the Executive Director of the Women Peace and Security Network Africa will address the participants of Girls Stand Up! Orientation for Girls and Young Women attending CSW 55 on the importance of girls’ rights for the human rights community.
In 2002, Leymah Gbowee was a social worker who organized the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace. The peace movement started with local women praying and singing in a fish market. She organized the Christian and Muslim women of Monrovia, Liberia to pray for peace and to hold nonviolence protests. Dressed in white to symbolize peace, and numbering in the thousands, the women became a political force against violence and against their government.
Under Leymah Gbowee’s leadership, the women managed to force a meeting with President Charles Taylor and extract a promise from him to attend peace talks in Ghana. Gbowee then led a delegation of Liberian women to Ghana to continue to apply pressure on the warring factions during the peace process. They staged a silent protest outside the Presidential Palace, Accra, bringing about an agreement during the stalled peace talks.
Leymah Gbowee and Comfort Freeman, presidents of two different Lutheran churches, organized the Women in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET), and issued a statement of intent to the President: “In the past we were silent, but after being killed, raped, dehumanized, and infected with diseases, and watching our children and families destroyed, war has taught us that the future lies in saying NO to violence and YES to peace! We will not relent until peace prevails.”
Their movement brought an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003 and led to the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in Liberia, the first African nation with a female president.
Leymah Gbowee is the central character in the 2008 documentary film Pray the Devil Back to Hell. The film has been used as an advocacy tool in post-conflict zones like Sudan and Zimbabwe, mobilizing African women to petition for peace and security.
- SAVE THE DATE! Girls Stand Up! Orientation Day for CSW 55 (thewgg.wordpress.com)