Leymah Gbowee is a African peace activist acive in Liberia, also known as a “champion of peace”. Not only she successfully stopped the 2nd Liberian civil war in 2003, she was also rewarded a is Nobel Peace Prize because of organizing “peaceful and non-violent struggle to maintain the safety of women, and let women involve in peace-making rights” in 2011.
Gbowee encountered the first Liberia war in the age of 17, and she had participated a trauma treatment course held by in the United Nations Children’s fund, and trained as a social worker. In order to establish peace for her family, she had once gone to Ghana and found ways. Suffered from heavy starvation and poverty, she finally returned to Libya. In 1998, she received an associate degree of arts in social work, and she followed the church to become a social worker. Thereafter, she was promoted by her friend named “BB” to Samuel Gbaydee Doe, the founder of the first African Peace Organization: West African Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) to promoting peace work. In addition, she established The Women in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET), planning further women’s peace movement.
On 2002, Gbowee had dreamt of God and he told she should unite women to seek justice. This had inspired her thoughts to make Gbwoee become the spokeswomaan for the women’s peace movement. Gbowee first gathered women in the fish market to sing and pray. Then they headed to Monrovia to pray for Muslim and Christian women for peace and equality. They protested non-violently by remain seated, demanding an end to the dictatorship of president of Libya and the cease of fire as well. They also conducted “sex strike”, stopping sexual activities with their husband to voice their demand. There is a slogan WIPNET is “In the past because of our silence, we were killed, raped, abused, we were met infectious diseases and a series of family problems. War had made women realized that we should dare to refuse the war. We will not tolerate any actions towards the destruction of peace.”
When the second Liberia civil war broke out, Gbowee led the women movement by wearing white T-shirt in the symbol of peace, continuing to ask for the resignation of the dictator. Deliberated to the movement, the president finally agreed to negotiate with the rebel army in Ghana. Gbowee and her women participants kept protesting Ghana and they finally succeeded to let the government to reach an Accra Comprehensive Peace Agreement. Gbowee’s organization contributed a lot in stopping the war. After the resignation of the tranny, Gbowee’s ally Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was elected as the president in 2005 and became Africa’s first female president.
After the civil war, Gbowee did not stop promoting peace and women’s equal rights. She furthered study and earned a doctorate degree in peace-building, then she established the Women Peace and Security Network Africa (WIPSEN). Her story was filmed in documentary < Pray the Devil Back to Hell > in 2008. The movie was always used in mobilizing African women peace building propaganda. Gbowee had also written a book named <Mighty be Our Powers>.
Although Gbowee admitted in her book that she had some bad habits like excessive drinking and having causal sex relationship, her great effort paid in promoting peace building in Africa should not be forgotten. Not only did she stopped the war, she also successfully articulated peace issues with women rights and changed the stereotype of women’s image of being oppressed and losing their home. She reveals to the world that African women can also have the ability to change the world and women can voice their demand. Her effort paid for the work finally let her being rewarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011.
Leymah Gbowee’s TED Talk – Unlock the intelligence, passion, greatness of girls:
Written by Yip Pok Hei