Johnson Sirleaf Wins African Leadership Prize that Honored Mandela
21 Feb 2018
Former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has joined the ranks of Africa’s most admired and accomplished leaders, including Nelson Mandela, as the winner of the Mo Ibrahim Prize. Sirleaf, a Nobel Peace Laureate and Africa’s first woman democratically-elected head of state, is also the first woman to win what is considered the most prestigious honor awarded to African Leaders.
“I have led a life of service and sacrifice on behalf of the Liberian people,” Johnson Sirleaf said after learning that she had been selected. “As the first woman to receive the award, it is my hope that women and girls across Africa will be inspired to reach their full potential, to navigate the challenges, break through barriers, and to pursue their dreams.”
President Sirleaf governed Liberia, a West African nation founded by freed American slaves, for 12 years. She stepped down from office in January, 2018, marking the first peaceful and democratic transfer of power in the previous 73 years of Liberia’s war-torn and tumultuous history. “She took over a country that was devastated and broken by 14 years of civil war, and was struck again by the Ebola crisis,” the prize citation said, lauding Sirleaf for “transformative leadership.”
The Ibrahim Prize tops a long list of honors for Nobel Laureate Sirleaf, including the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the United States’ highest civilian award) and the Grand Croix of Legion d’Honneur (France’s highest public distinction). She was also named one of Forbes’s “100 Most Powerful Women in the World.” All praise her lifelong commitment to promoting freedom, peace, justice, women’s empowerment and democratic rule.
President Sirleaf continues to advocate for democracy and economic development in Africa and women’s and human rights. A powerful keynote speaker with a remarkable life story and history-making career, she will be touring the United States in the spring of 2018.