Liberia: And Justice for All
Liberia is a country the size of Tennessee, a place where only two percent of people have access to the electric grid, and nearly 65 percent live on $1.25 a day. Beginning with a coup in 1989, the country was mired in decades of civil war and armed violence, which killed over 200,000 people and displaced one third of the country’s population, and where women and girls faced widespread rape and forced marriage. Liberia emerged from conflict in 2003, in large part due to the efforts of the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace, led by Leymah Gbowee, who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for this work. This movement brought together Muslim and Christian women to demand an end to conflict; their successful efforts were documented in an award winning film, Pray the Devil Back to Hell. These women effectively and creatively pressured the parties to not leave peace negotiations until an agreement was signed. Shortly thereafter, in 2005, Liberians elected the country’s first woman President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, who is now completing her second, and final, term.