Gbowee, Leymah Roberta

Gbowee, Leymah Roberta

(lā`mä, bōwē`), 1972–, Liberian peace activist. A social worker and trauma counselor, she worked with ex-child soldiers from 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 army, joined the Women in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET), and founded (2002) the WIPNET-led Liberian Mass Action for Peace, which brought together Liberian women—Muslim and Christian, of varying ethnic backgrounds—in an activist coalition that ultimately played an important part in securing a Liberian peace agreement. The group also aided in demilitarization efforts and provided key support to Ellen Johnson SirleafSirleaf, Ellen Johnson
, 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
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 in her successful 2004 run for the presidency. Gbowee served (2004–5) on the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission, then cofounded and became (2006) executive director of Women Peace and Security Network Africa. Based in Ghana, where she now lives, the organization works with women in several nations to create change through peace activism, literacy education, and political action. In 2011 she shared the Nobel Peace Prize with Sirleaf and Yemeni peace activist 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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. She became (2011) head of President Sirleaf's peace and reconciliation initiative, but almost a year later she resigned, criticizing Sirleaf for governmental nepotism and for not doing enough to end corruption, fight poverty, and promote national reconciliation.

Bibliography

See her Mighty Be Our Powers (with C. Mithers, 2011); G. Reticker, dir., Pray the Devil Back to Hell (documentary, 2008).