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Nobel Peace Prize – Leymah Roberta Gbowee

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Leymah Roberta Gbowee is a Liberian peace activist, who was born in 1972 of February 1st, responsible for leading a women’s peace movement that brought an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. When Leymah finished the school and was planning to study medicine, when the country began a protracted civil war. She was living with her parents and two of her three sisters in Monrovia, when the First Liberian Civil War erupted in 1989. “As the war subsided…. I learned about a program run by UNICEF,… training people to be social workers who would then counsel those traumatized by war,” wrote Gbowee in her 2011 memoir, Mighty Be Our Powers. She did a three-month training, which led her to be aware of her own abuse at the hands of the father of her two young children, son Joshua “Nuku” and daughter Amber. Searching for peace and sustenance for her family, Leymah went to Ghana where she and her growing family lived as virtually homeless refugees and almost starved. One night, falling asleep in the WIPNET office, Leymah awoke from a dream where God had told her, “Gather the women and pray for peace!”

With the help of two co-workers, she guessed that this dream meant to act upon this war. And Leymah decided: if men are willing to fight endlessly, then stop this madness can only female. She started to involve the Liberian Muslim and Christian women to fight for an end of protracted civil war in the country. She also started to be active in advocating women’s participation in elections and strengthening their role in political life. The peace movement quickly gained momentum. It was joined by both Muslim and Christian. During the joint prayers and demonstrations, they were wearing white shirts – a symbol of peace. What really impressed me about Leymah Roberta Gbowee is her strength of will and character. Not many people would put themselves in such danger by acting in public, where she can be killed for the things she was doing and speaking about. Leymah was arrested several times. However, as she was writing in her autobiography: “we were not fearing, because the worst things that you could imagine, with us already happened.”

“Sexual strike” to force men to renounce violence, declared by the movement “Women of Liberia Peace”, attracted the attention of the public in many countries. Most of the people in her place would prefer to sit somewhere aside until the war was finished, but Leymah placed people’s security over her own. When Leymah received the Nobel Prize, she announced that considers the award prize to her as “a reward for all African women. I think the world has recognized the role, mind and contribution of women and no longer able to diminish our role.” That quote of her only again proves that Leymah puts community’s well-being and safety over her own. Leymah’s work fits into the global picture of peace-making. She proved that everything can be changed; making small steps by steps you can make a great change. Leymah made a great change in her country, the war was stopped, the president of the country became a woman (Ellen Johnson Sirleaf- the first elected female head of state in Africa), women received their rights.

References

1999, l., & Gbowee., “. w. (n.d.). Leymah Gbowee – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Retrieved April 16, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leymah_Gbowee Leymah Gbowee. (n.d.). Breaking News and Opinion on The Huffington Post. Retrieved April 16, 2012, from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/leymah-gbowee# Nobelprize.org. (n.d.). Nobelprize.org. Retrieved April 16, 2012, from http://www.nobelprize.org

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