Featured Stories, National Lutheran News

Liberian Lutheran awarded 2011 Nobel Peace Prize

Leymah Roberta Gbowee

Leymah Roberta Gbowee, a Lutheran Liberian peace activist, is co-recipient of the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize. Gbowee, a member of the Lutheran Church in Liberia, is responsible for organizing a non-violent women’s movement that brought an end to a 14-year civil war in Liberia.

The Liberian women’s movement led to the ousting of ex-President Charles Taylor and to the election of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf as president of Liberia, the first African nation with a female president. (Sirleaf is a co-recipient of the 2001 award, as is Tawakel Karman of Yemen.)

Along with thousands of other women from across Liberia, Gbowee wanted to dream of a better community.

The war in Liberia began in 1989, but “the women’s movement, our protest, didn’t begin until 2003,” Gbowee said in a September 19 interview with the ELCA News Service.

The starting point of the women’s movement was war fatigue, said Gbowee, a mother of six children. She grew tired of watching children die from hunger and “waking up every morning and not knowing whether a tomorrow was possible. You can’t plan for the future.” Along with thousands of other women from across Liberia, Gbowee wanted to dream of a better community.

She decided it was time to stop the war and called together women of all faiths — Christian, Muslim, indigenous and others — from across Liberia to “step out,” recognizing that Liberian women can play a critical role in peace building.

“You always see your savior in someone else other than yourself,” Gbowee said. “So for us women, having never been socialized to believe that we have powers to interfere in the politics of our country, we were waiting for the bold men. [But] every time the bold men rose up, they rose up with guns and other things,” she said, making her realize that women needed to bring the much-desired peace “for ourselves.”

Gbowee’s story is chronicled in the documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell. She has just completed her memoir, Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War, a book that examines “the power of women and the power of faith in getting you (out) from the darkest place in your life,” she said.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,