It is hard not to mention Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf when discussing examples of leadership. As Africa’s first democratically elected female head of
state, she has provided hope to a country ravaged by her exiled predecessor, Charles Talyor.
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who studied economics at Harvard, met with President Bush in the Oval office and addressed a joint session of the U.S. Congress this week. Sworn into office in January, she is faced with the task of unifying a country torn apart by 25 years of crisis and chaos, 85% unemployment and an economy based primarily on illicit activity used to finance wars that resulted in the killing of 250,000 people.
Women leaders such as Johnson-Sirleaf are playing a significant role in bringing democracy to Africa and reshaping countries that have been ravaged by violent dicatators. From an article in Foreign Policy in Focus
“Few Americans would guess that the country that leads the world in political gender balance is Rwanda, where women make up half of the members of parliament, a development that started in the mid-1990s. South Africa and Mozambique, also high on the list, are both countries with women composing more than 30 percent of their parliaments. This stands in stark contrast to the United States, where women make up only 15 percent of Congress. African countries also have higher percentages of women in cabinet-level positions. In South Africa, 13 out of 28 are women, and in Rwanda there are nine women to 22 men.”
Bush called Johnson-Sirleaf a "pioneer" and added "You're the first woman elected president to any country on the continent of Africa, and that requires courage and vision and the desire to improve the lives of your people."
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is providing a vision of democracy and economic self-reliance. We all should hope she has the courage and support to bring peace to this part of the world and that others will be inspired to follow her pioneering spirit.
Thanks to Robinhood
for the tip on this story.
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