Elizabethtown College Online Magazine

Nobel Laureate Encourages Women to be Loud and Proud

leyman gbowee speaks at E-town

Leyman Gbowee speaks at E-town

“They say that only the rooster crows, but he crows every day for no reason. The hen crows when there’s a reason…,” said Leymah Gbowee, 2011 Nobel Peace Laureate and keynote speaker at the 2013 Ware Lecture on Peacemaking. Her lecture demonstrated her intelligence and passion—and her sense of humor.

Gbowee is a Liberian peace activist, social worker and women’s rights advocate. She also led Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace, an organization that brought together Christian and Muslim women in a nonviolent movement and played a key role in ending Liberia’s civil war in 2003. These events are chronicled in her memoir, Mighty Be Our Powers, and in the documentary, “Pray the Devil Back to Hell.”

Women in Africa are prepped for a quiet role in life, explained Gbowee.

“I don’t think I got involved in peace building because I was a woman. I got involved because I was pissed off,” she said.

During the Q-and-A session, an audience member asked Gbowee what she considers is lacking in the United States in regard to female leadership.

She replied that America and many other countries, including Liberia, define social roles between men and women at a very young age. Gbowee believes that this establishes different worlds for the sexes. In 2003, for instance, Africa’s first female president was elected in Liberia. Since then, the country has slowly been transforming and healing. Girls are staying in school and women are property owners.

“You ask girls in Liberia what they want to be when they grow up and they say ‘the president.’ You ask boys and they say ‘the vice president.’ They think being president is for girls,” she said.

In her keynote, Gbowee urged women to find their voice, walk loudly, follow their hearts and be whatever they want to be. “You can engage in peace. You can be a Nobel Laureate. Show some confidence even when you’ve got no idea what you’re going to do.”