Last year, I took a college course about building peace in post-conflict societies. It was through that class that I was introduced to Leymah Gbowee through the documentary film Pray the Devil Back to Hell (2008). This film changed my life.
We live in a world where the power of women is constantly dismissed. The story of how Gbowee organized and empowered women to stand together in the non-violent protest that helped end Liberia’s bloody civil war, however, is a story that cannot be ignored. Last month, Gbowee visited Mount Holyoke College and I must confess that I have rarely felt so empowered (which is significant, because I go to a women’s college and female empowerment is a big thing here).
Gbowee’s work did not end with the war and she later founded the Gbowee Peace Foundation, was the co-Founder of Women Peace and Security Network Africa (WIPSEN-A), and continues to serve women all over the world. In 2011, Gbowee won the Nobel Peace Prize along with Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Tawakkol Karman “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.” With all that she had done, Leymah Gbowee reminds me that we all have the power to make important change, especially if we stand together with others who also have the will to fight to make our world a better place. But please, watch her TED video, and let Gbowee remind you of that herself.