Leymah Gbowee Harnessed Power of Women to Help End War

Posted October 7th, 2011 at 10:50 am (UTC-5)
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Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee, joint winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, harnessed the power and bravery of women to help end a bloody war.

The 39-year-old Gbowee, a social worker by training, helped unite Christian and Muslim women against warlords in her country, a campaign believed to have helped end 13 years of conflict.

Gbowee founded the non-profit group Women of Liberian Mass Action for Peace, which confronted warlords and then President Charles Taylor. Members demonstrated in white t-shirts, a color meant to symbolize their non-violent approach. At one point the women held a sex strike, refusing to have sex with their husbands until the unrest ended.

The group pressured Taylor to attend peace talks and some of its member blocked rival factions from leaving a room during those negotiations.

More than 250,000 people were killed before the war came to an end in 2003.

In her autobiography 'Mighty Be Our Powers,' Gbowee described the group as an army of women in white who stood up, unafraid, to raise their voices to end war and restore sanity to their country.

Gbowee currently heads the Women, Peace and Security Network Africa, based in Accra, Ghana.

She has won the Nobel Peace Prize along with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Yemen's Arab Spring activist Tawakkul Karman.