AKA Leymah Roberta Gbowee
Race or Ethnicity: Black
Sexual orientation: Straight
Executive summary: Helped end Second Liberian Civil War
Leymah Gbowee is a social worker and activist who, in 2003, began urging the women at her Lutheran church to pray for peace in the brutal and ongoing revolution against Liberian dictator Charles Taylor. Under Gbowee's leadership, the prayer effort grew into a sex strike, and a nationwide all-woman peace initiative that soon spread to other Christian churches, reaching about 40% of Nigeria's people, and to Muslim mosques, attended by about half of the nation's citizens.
From churches and mosques to the streets, the movement spearheaded by Gbowee developed into the Liberian Mass Action for Peace, and held mass rallies at a fish market in Monrovia demanding an end to the warring factions' use of rape as a weapon. As the rallies grew, public pressure for negotiations also grew, leading to peace talks between Taylor and the rebels. When the peace talks broke down, Gbowee and hundreds of her followers protested at the site of the talks, shaming participants into returning to the negotiation table. An agreement was reached in 2003, the Accra Peace Accord, which ended the 14-year-long Second Liberian Civil War that left 250,000 dead, and effectively led to Taylor's exile from the nation.
Since the war's conclusion Gbowee has worked on demilitarization efforts, and supported the 2006 election of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf as President of Liberia. In 2006 she earned a degree in Conflict Transformation from Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, VA, and in 2011, with Tawakkul Karman, Gbowee and Johnson-Sirleaf were awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.
Husband: (div., six children)
University: MA Conflict Transformation, Eastern Mennonite University (1997)
Nobel Peace Prize 2011; with Tawakkul Karman, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf
Harvard's Blue Ribbon Peace Award 2007
Profiles in Courage Award 2009
Women in Peacebuilding Program/West African Network for Peacebuilding Founder
Women, Peace and Security Network Africa Founder, Exec. Dir. (2006-)
Liberia's Truth and Reconciliation Commission (2004-)
Author of books:
Mighty Be Our Powers (2011)
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