Leymah Gbowee and the Women of Liberia

Caroline Kennedy pictured with the Women of Liberia: Leymah Gbowee, Viaba Flomo, and Janet Johnson Bryant

After watching her native Liberia devolve into a decadelong civil war in which violence, rape, and murder became part of daily life, Leymah Gbowee brought together several dozen women to pray for peace. That effort launched a movement of ordinary Christian and Muslim women who rose up together to help put an end to Liberia’s civil war. Gbowee and her colleagues – among them, Janet Johnson Bryant, Vaiba Flomo, Yatta Moore, and Etty Weah – risked their lives to stop the cycle of violence and oppression that had kept dictators and warlords in power for decades. Their remarkable struggle for peace eventually paved the way for the election of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf to the presidency of Liberia – the first democratic election of a female head of state anywhere in Africa.