Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
The Nobel Peace Prize 2011
Born: 29 October 1938, Monrovia, Liberia
Residence at the time of the award: Liberia
Role: President of Liberia
Prize motivation: “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work”
Prize share: 1/3
Africa’s first female democratically elected head of state
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her non-violent efforts to promote peace and her struggle for women’s rights. She is the first female democratically elected head of state in Africa. Johnson Sirleaf came to power in 2005, creating peace and economic progress in the country. She strengthened women’s rights, expanded freedom of speech and became an example for other African leaders.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf had studied in the US, where she took a Master’s degree in Public Administration. She returned to her home country and served as Minister of Finance, but the government was overthrown in a military coup in 1980. Forced into exile, she worked for the UN Development Program for Africa and the Development Fund for Women.
Johnson Sirleaf lost the presidential election in 1997 to the corrupt Charles Taylor, but after he was forced to flee the country, she won the presidential election in 2005.
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