Africare               
 
September 10, 2007
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An Africare Leadership Spotlight:

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and the road to reconstructing a nation
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Women's Empowerment Africa-Wide:
Edwina’s Story

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An Africare Leadership Spotlight:

President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf of Liberia and the road to reconstructing a nation
 
 
WASHINGTON , D.C. , September 10, 2007 — On November 11, 2005 , in the West African country of the Republic of Liberia , a pivotal moment in the history of African politics took place.  With an impressive 59.4 percent popular vote, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became the first woman ever to be elected as president of an African nation.
 
“I want to hear and now, gratefully acknowledge the powerful voice of women of all walks of life,” stated President Johnson Sirleaf in her Inaugural Address on January 17, 2006. “Your strength brought us the victory.”
Internationally revered as Africa ’s “Iron Lady,” President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is known as a leading promoter of peace, justice and democratic rule.  She grew up in the Liberian capital of Monrovia, the very city she would later give her inaugural address as the first leading lady of Liberia, and on the continent of Africa.
  
Following the devastation of more than two decades of political corruption, including a fourteen-year civil war, the election served  as a vivid illustration of the increasing demand in Liberia for political change and renewal of national stability-- A tremendous challenge that would take the special touch of a woman to confront.
 
“I always must find a balance between what represents the nickname of ‘Iron Lady’--that’s where the hard decisions are, and also the one that says, ‘Ma Ellen,’ that brings to the table sensitivity of a mother and a grand mother,” noted President Johnson Sirleaf in an interview just after her election.  “Now we need something soft to heal the wounds of our nation.”
  
Liberia’s wounds are deeply imbedded within the country’s infrastructure.  Reconstruction efforts are centered on four key issues: 1) Expanding Peace and Security, 2) Revitalizing economic activity 3) Rebuilding infrastructure and providing basic services and 4) Strengthening governance and the rule of law.  Within the first 150 days of office, President Johnson Sirleaf vowed to restore electricity to parts of the capital city, develop strategies to put Liberians back to work, and bring the economy financial house in order.
 
“We need to have schools in every county, hospitals in every county, economic activity in every county… and that’s part of our canteen of promise.”
 
To tackle these issues head on, Sirleaf continues to work hand in hand with international development and relief organizations like Africare, recognizing that in order to maintain peace, efforts must be centered on bringing sustainable development to the people.
 
The looting and destruction of public infrastructure—including clinics—were common events during the Liberian civil war.  The provision of quality primary health care following the cessation of hostilities in 2004 was a tremendous challenge.  Africare is working to revitalize health care in some of the Liberia’s most rural and segregated localities.
 

Africare/Liberia’s Improved Community Health Project (ICHP) is a 10 million dollar nationwide effort to increase primary health care services in Liberia with an emphasis on malaria prevention, increased immunization, and improved healthcare services.  Africare’s model of sustainability and integration is the key to the projects success:  Partnerships have been established with local non-governmental organizations and community-based organizations for program implementation while links have been strengthened between communities and clinics. ICHP now manages 37 clinics in 3 counties, and reaches dozens of neighboring community with its services.  

“We often say that Africare’s work aims to help African’s help themselves,” noted Africare President Julius E. Coles.  “Our programs are constructed under the fundamental belief that empowering communities will develop and sustain healthy economies and infrastructures.  Africare joins hand in hand with the people of Liberia as we continue down the road of reconstruction.”

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On October 18, 2007, President Johnson Sirleaf will join Africare at the 2007 Bishop Walker Dinner in Washington D.C.  Here, she will be honored for her efforts to bring peace and economic prosperity to Liberia, and for her work to enhance the role that women play in the reconstruction process.  All proceeds from the event will go to support Africare’s development work on the continent of Africa .

 

“I have known President Johnson Sirleaf for thirty-five years,” noted Coles.  “I have tremendous respect for her, and the passion she has for her country.  I am also very pleased to say that she will be honored at this year’s Bishop Walker Dinner as we salute the empowerment of women in Africa . Ellen serves as a shining beacon and testament to our theme of women empowerment.”  

 

For more information the 2007 Bishop John T. Walker Dinner, contact the Africare dinner Office at (202) 328 -5364 or e-mail dinner@africare.org. 

 

To purchase tables or tickets online, click here.  To purchase offline, contact the Africare dinner office.

 


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