Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: a Short Journey Through Her Many Life Accomplishments
Professor GNDR 345-01 10 November 2011 Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: A short journey through her many life accomplishments In my opinion Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is a very strong woman and she should be looked up to by many women and children and men should also look up to her strength. While doing some research on Sirleaf I found out some very surprising information about her. I would have never known that Sirleaf was able to become president of Liberia being technically multiracial and because of that many people would call her Americo-Liberian even though she does not identify herself in that way.
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When she was just 17 in 1956 she married James Sirleaf who is now deceased and they had four children together. Before she was married she studied at the college of West Africa and received an education. In 1961 when her husband moved to the US she furthered her studies and earned an accounting degree and a degree in economics from two different US Universities. She also went to study further economics and public policy at Harvard where she earned herself a Masters in Public administration.
After she made all of these accomplishments in her life she decided she was going to return to her native country of Liberia where she decided to work under the Talbert’s administration as assistant Minister of finance from 1972 to 1973 until she had a disagreement about the spending. She was also the Minister of finance from 1979 to April 1983 and the new power came in she took a post as president of the Liberian Bank for development and investment.
She fled the country for the first time for Washington DC after she publicly criticized the Doe Regime and the People’s Redemption Council about their poor management of the country since they were in charge. In 1981 she then moved to the Nairobi and served as vice president of the African Regional Office of Citibank, and she gave this up in 1985, resigning from Citibank she went to work for Equator Bank.
Over the next 20 years Sirleaf help many different offices and she even lived in exile about two or three times throughout her life, despite this she was a strong woman who seemed to be very determined to not give up despite any and all the struggles that she had to face and had to endure in order to prevail and to better Liberia. One of the characteristics of a strong woman that Sirleaf seemed to be present and she was willing to live by was persistence, despite the conditions you are faced with. Besides her many higher up, “men’s jobs” that she held she also decided to run for government 4 different times so far in her lifetime.
In 1985 she returned to Liberia to run for vice president of the Liberian Action Party and then the Doe Regime put her under house arrest and then because of the government pressures she was then removed from the ticket as vice president and instead she ran for Senate. She won this race but refused to take her seat in protest of the election fraud, this led her to be arrested and jailed again and she left Liberia another time. She ran for president again of Liberia in 1997 but she lost with only 10% of the votes compared to Charles Taylor’s 75% of the votes.
Despite losing this race she decided again in 2005 to run for president and she won. This started her front in the news and in every woman’s heart; she was the first woman to be voted in as president of any African nation. After some battles with this election such women as Condoleezza Rice and first lady Laura Bush and many other foreign dignitaries were at her inauguration. She ran again for a second term for the 2011 elections and she won again, this is a major victory for the presence of women in leadership roles in Africa and worldwide.
I found a quote from Sirleaf’s 2005 campaign time from the article “Iron Lady” that sums up in a lot of the feelings from this historical event, “It was a seminal moment in the political history of not just Liberia but the entire continent, where patriarchal rule has long dominated, leaving African women on the sidelines to fetch water, carry logs, tend farms, sell market wears, and bear children, while their men-folk launched one pointless war after another” (Cooper 43-44).
Another example of the hardships she had to deal with when she was first came into office was, “there was no electricity or running water — haven’t been since 1992, when rebel soldiers bombed the country’s hydroelectric facilities” (Cooper 44). Despite these conditions in the first five years of her first taking office she had made many improvements including electricity in many parts of Liberia, school enrollment was up by around 40%, and the country’s national debt had plummeted.
Throughout the many different leadership positions she has shown that she is a good strong leader and I believe that helped her to win one of her biggest awards, the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 along with two other very strong women that violence is not the answer to every problem that we are faced with. I feel that Emmanuel Ogbodu from Monrovia only had good things to say about Sirleaf, “It’s good news for the Liberian people, it’s a good way for peace in Liberia.
Since she got in the chair, for me, we are experiencing peace. So I think she deserved it. Through her, peace came”(Cowell 6). This is how many people felt when Sirleaf was announced as one of the winners of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011. When a woman can say, “I know I represent the aspirations and expectations of women. It’s an unbelievable responsibility because I’m always under the microscope. ” But, she added, “because of me the doors are open. Women are running for political office all over the continent” (Cooper 48).
I believe most people will agree with me that major progress has been made in Liberia and that Sirleaf herself is a very humble woman too. All of the other countries in Africa and elsewhere around the world should look to Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as an example and a positive role model for women, children, and even men at how we should want to be in our lives and how we should want to live them. I am sure that I am not alone with this peaceful way of developing and taking care of a country like Sirleaf is doing and is showing all women we can do it for ourselves if we want to. . Cooper, Helene. “Iron Lady. ” World Affairs 173. 4 (2010): 43-50. Academic Search Premier. Web. 4 Nov. 2011. 2. Cowell, Alan, Laura Kasinof, and Adam Nossiter. The New York Times – Breaking News, World News ; Multimedia. 7 Oct. 2011. Web. 6 Nov. 2011. 3. “Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. ” Wikipedia. Web. 4 Nov. 2011. 4. Yedder, Omar Ben. “I Am Proud Of What We Have Achieved,” Says Ellen Johmon-Sirleaf. ” New African 488 (2009): 38-43. Academic Search Premier. Web. 4 Nov. 2011. (typo in # 4 isin our library system, not my fault)