Gbowee, Leymah Roberta

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Gbowee, Leymah Roberta

Leymah Roberta Gbowee (lā´mä, bōwē´), 1972–, Liberian peace activist. A social worker and trauma counselor, she worked with ex-child soldiers from Charles Taylor'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 Sirleaf 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 Karman. 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.

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

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