Would you have the courage to stop war and rape by gathering a group of women (or men) together and staging a sit in to meet with the president and call for peace? Leymah Gbowee did and she succeeded.
After years of civil war ravaged her country she learned that since women suffer the most during war that women promoting peace would be the way to solve her country’s problem and end the war. She became a trauma counselor, joined the Women In Peacebuilding Network, and formed a group of women who worked for peace in Liberia. Their efforts forced then president, Charles Taylor to attend peace talks and eventually end the war. After that the women worked to elect a new president and the first female president, Ellen Sirleaf. Leymah is now the executive director of Women Peace and Security Network which is a women focused, women led, NGO in Ghana working to promote women’s strategic participation and leadership in peace and security governance in Africa.
The civil war that ravaged Liberia destroyed so many lives, but like all wars, someone decided to change tragedy to triumph. How did a mother of six graduate college, work, volunteer, and still make time to create such change? She took action and she gathered other concerned women to help.
- In 2002 with very little time to spare, she worked with other women of different religious backgrounds by asking for help from people she knew. Together they made flyers and would go to different churches and mosques to get more women involved in “praying for peace”.
- Once they had hundreds of women assembled, they held protests with threats of curses and a sex strike to get men to pay attention. Eventually they were able to protest in a soccer field that was part of the route where the president drove to work each day. He granted the women an audience and they convinced him to attend peace talks in Ghana.
- In 2003 the women went to the peace talks, applied pressure and after months of protest were finally able to end the war.
WHAT PEACEFUL SOLUTIONS CAN BE USED TO CREATE POSITIVE CHANGE IN YOUR COMMUNITY?