President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Leymah Gbowee and Tawakul Karman Photo: Los Angeles Times

Liberia’s Leymah Gbowee: The Power of the Powerless

Carol Mithers
Los Angeles Times
October 9, 2011

Friday morning, Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee — along with her country’s president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, and Yemeni activist Tawakul Karman — was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. A decade ago, this moment would have seemed unthinkable. But Gbowee’s triumph, like last spring’s Arab uprisings, is a powerful reminder that in the 21st century world, change often comes from the bottom — not from a country’s armies but its people.

In 2001, Liberia was in the grip of a civil war that had been going on for years and that had decimated the country. More than 100,000 people had died, many of them children, and countless women had been raped. As many as a third of Liberians had been displaced. Much of the country’s infrastructure — its sewage and electrical system, roads, hospitals and schools — lay in ruins. Thousands of boys had been pressed into fighting for one side or another, fed liquor and drugs and turned into killers.

To read the full column in The Los Angeles Times, click here.

Carol Mithers is a Los Angeles Journalist and the coauthor, with Leymah Gbowee, of the memoir “Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War.”http://www.mightybeourpowers.com

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