Sirleaf, Ellen Johnson

Sirleaf, Ellen Johnson

(sĭrlēf`), 1938–, Liberian economist and political leader. Educated in the United States (Harvard, M.P.A., 1971), she worked in the Liberian government (1964–67, 1977–80), at the World Bank (1972–77, 1980–81), and in private banking (1980, 1986–92) before before joining (1992–97) the African bureau at the United Nations Development Program. Also active in Liberian politics, she was jailed in the 1980s by Samuel DoeDoe, Samuel Kanyon,
1951–90, Liberian military ruler (1980–90). Doe joined the army after the 11th grade, and rose to master sergeant. In 1980 Doe led a group of rebels in a successful coup. President William Tolbert was killed and Doe took power.
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's regime, charged with treason by Charles TaylorTaylor, Charles Ghankay,
1948–, Liberian rebel and political leader. Taylor attended college in America and became a leader among Liberians there, mounting demonstrations against President William Tolbert when the latter visited (1979) the United States.
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's regime, and twice went into exile. She ran for Liberian president in 1997 but lost to Taylor, whom she had supported when Doe was in power, and returned to the private sector as a financial consultant. Running again in 2005, she defeated former soccer star George Weah after a runoff, becoming the first woman to be elected president of an African nation. She was reelected in 2011 after her runoff opponent, Winston Tubman, boycotted the contest. Also in 2011 she shared the Nobel Peace Prize with two other activist women, Leymah GboweeGbowee, Leymah Roberta
, 1972–, Liberian peace activist. A social worker and trauma counselor, she worked with ex-child soldiers from Charles Taylor's army, joined the Women in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET), and founded (2002) the WIPNET-led Liberian Mass Action for
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 of Liberia and Tawakul KarmanKarman, Tawakul
, 1979–, Yemeni journalist and human-rights activist. An outspoken journalist, she encountered repeated government opposition and was a cofounder (2005) of the Women Journalists without Chains, which agitates for press freedom.
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 of Yemen. Gbowee, a political ally of Sirleaf, broke with her in 2012, accusing the president of nepotism and not doing enough to fight corruption and poverty and bring about national reconciliation.

Bibliography

See her memoir, This Child Will Be Great (2009).