Madam Leymah R. Gbowee
2011 Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Roberta Gbowee is a Liberian Peace Activist, Trained Social Worker and Women’s Rights Advocate. She founded and serves as current President of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa (GPFA); a foundation that provides educational and leadership opportunities to girls, women and youth in West Africa and around the World, the foundation has provided scholarships and leadership opportunities for over 2,000+ Liberians and International Students, GPFA’s investment in Scholarships has surpassed 1.5 million US Dollars with its total investment in Liberia surpassing 4 million US Dollars. She also currently serves as the founding Executive Director of the Women, Peace and Security Program at the Columbia University’s Earth Institute in New York, USA. She was the founding head of the Liberia Reconciliation Initiative, the Co-Founder and former Executive Director of the Women In Peace and Security Network – Africa (WIPSEN-A) under her leadership, the Young Women Leadership Program (YWLP) was designed and initiated, as part of the WIPSEN-A engagement with the Ministry of Gender/ Youth & Sports, she was responsible for the set-up of a Modern Information Technology (IT) Center at the Samuel Kanyon Doe (SKD) Sports Stadium. In Liberia, she started her work in communities with local girls educating them on their Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR). After attending a conference on women and peacebuilding in Ghana, she brought the concept of WIPNET back to Liberia and with the blessing of the regional founder Thelma Ekiyor, Leymah started the Women in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET) in Liberia. As the founding coordinator she was responsible for recruiting members and a core team whilst fundraising for its operations. As the head of WIPNET she organized many training programs for women all across Liberia. In 2002, under her leadership WIPNET launched the Peace Outreach Project (POP) which eventually morph into the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace a non-violent campaign that contributed to the end of the civil war. As a head of the mass action campaign, Leymah spoke against the civil war and its impact on women and children. She also led the women on many occasions to protest and make a case for peace in Liberia and internationally. In a bid to institutionalize community women peacebuilding based on the success of the Mass Action Campaign, Leymah designed the Peace Hut project in 2005. This project was to ensure a continuation of the women’s activism whilst engaging community and government structures to sustain peace. Today the peace hut project is hailed globally as a unique example of the implementation of the UNSCR 1325.
From 1998 – 2002, she worked with the Trauma Healing and Reconciliation Program of the Lutheran Church in Liberia as a case worker/ trainer. He duties included working with war wounded ex child soldiers and as the only Female Trainer, training Military, Police and other Security Personnel on trauma, its effects and how to handle it, in all the fifteen (15) Counties of Liberia.
Madam Gbowee currently serves as a Member of the High-Level Task Force for the International Conference on Population and Development. She serves as a Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) Advocate for the United Nations (UN) and in 2017, she was appointed by the UN Secretary-General to serve as a Member of his High Level Advisory Board on Mediation. She is a Council Member of the World Refugee Council (WRC) and serves on the Board of Directors of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa (GPFA), Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa-USA (GPFA-USA) and the PeaceJam Foundation. She is a member of the Ara Pacis Initiative, African Feminist Forum & African Women Leaders Network for Reproductive Health and Family Planning. She has been an Oxfam Global Ambassador since 2013. She is also a member of the International Honorary Committee of the Global Biosphere Institute and a member of the Aurora Prize Selection Committee, where she joins other global leaders to award 1.1 million annually to an advocate for peace and the Business for Peace Foundation Awards Committee.
She was recently in 2018 appointed by Canadian Prime Minister to serve as a member of the G7 Gender Equality Advisory Council during Canada’s G7 Presidency.
Madam Gbowee holds an Associate of Arts (AA) Degree in Social Work from the Mother Patern College of Health Sciences (Monrovia, Montserrado County, Liberia) and a Masters of Arts (MA) degree in Conflict Transformation from Eastern Mennonite University (Harrisonburg, Virginia, USA). She holds Ten (10) Honorary Doctorate Degrees; a Doctor of Laws (LLD) Honoris Causa from Rhodes University in South Africa, University of Alberta in Canada, University of Dundee in Scotland; a Doctor in Specialty Management and Conflict Resolution Honoris Causa from the Polytechnic University Mozambique; a Doctor of Humane Letters Honoris Causa from Dartmouth College in USA, Gustavus Adolphus College in USA & Starz College of Science & Technology in Liberia; a Doctor of International Affairs Honoris Causa from the American University’s School of International Service in USA and the Cedar Crest University in USA, she is the first ever recipient of an Honorary Doctorate Degree; a Doctor of Justice Honoris Causa from the Eastern Mennonite University, USA in its 100th years history.
Madam Gbowee is the Newsweek Daily Beast’s Africa columnist and has numerous publications & opinion pieces in the New York Times, Huffington Post, amongst others. She is an Author (“Mighty Be Our Powers” translated into fourteen (14) global languages, “Giving”, Co-Authored “People Building Peace II”; Chapter on “Women & Peace” with Ms. Thelma Ekiyor and Co-Authored Chapter 10 – Gender and Sustainable Peace in Mr. Peter Coleman’s Book “Psychological Components of Sustainable Peace” with Ms. Abigail Disney). She co-chaired the International Campaign to Stop Rape and Gender Violence in Conflict (2012) and is a leader of the European Development Days (EDD), the Davos of Development’s “She is We” digital Campaign (the transformative power on a society of an empowered woman) with the tagline “She Stands Up, We are at Peace”.
Madam Gbowee was honored as a flag-bearer for the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. After receiving the Barnard College Medal of Distinction, she was named a Distinguished Fellow in Social Justice and a Visiting Transnational Fellow at the Center for Research and Leadership Studies at Barnard College of Columbia University for the 2013 – 2015 Academic Years. From 2014 – 2016, She was appointed Distinguished Activist in Residence Union Theological Seminary. Madam Gbowee was on August 20, 2016 awarded the Lifetime Africa Achievement Prize (LAAP) for Peace in Africa by the Millennium Excellence Foundation in Accra, Ghana. On November 25, 2017, she received the Sri Sathya Sai Award for Human Excellence in the category of Unity and Religions and also on April 27, 2018, she received the International Advocate for Peace Award from the Yeshiva University’s Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law; Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution.
She is a humanitarian, a fierce advocate for Justice, Speaks the truth to power without fear or favor, an outspoken supporter, an advisor for numerous organizations, a highly sought-after Speaker internationally with her Speeches to advance women’s rights, and peace and security and Guest Lecturer at many universities around the world. Her leadership of the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace – which brought together Christian and Muslim women in a nonviolent movement that played a pivotal role in ending Liberia’s Civil War in 2003 – is chronicled in her memoir; “Mighty Be Our Powers”, and in the award-winning documentary, “Pray the Devil back to Hell”. She is married to Mr. Jay Kesselee Fatormah, a Renowned Independent Corporate Information Communication Technology (ICT) Professional & Management Consultant and is the proud mother of Eight (8) wonderful children. Madam Gbowee is a Christian and proudly calls herself a “Daughter of Glorious Jesus”.