Posted by: unhcragd | October 26, 2009

Film/Activist Highlights Refugee Women’s Role in Liberian Peace

For 15 years Liberia was gripped by civil war between the government of the corrupt and ruthless Charles Taylor, and warlords battling to overthrow him. More than 200,000 people had been killed and one out of three were made homeless – many became refugees in other African countries, including Ghana.

Leymah Gbowee and her countrywomen  were so desperate they decided to try and put a stop to the fighting. They became “the market women,” cajoling the fighting men and employing a tactic so old it was once used by the women of ancient Greece:  No peace, no sex. Gbowee formed a strong alliance of protest with Liberian refugee women living in Ghana.

After a defiant effort by the market women, Charles Taylor was toppled from power and banished from Liberia. The country elected a new president, the first woman head of state in Africa, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.  The story is featured in the powerful documentary “Pray the Devil Back to Hell”.

UNHCR interviewed Leymah Gbowee as she premiered the film at Eastern Mennonite University in Harrisonburg, VA. where Gbowee received her graduate degree in peacebuilding.

Gbowee talks of the incredible strength of the refugee women who worked side-by-side with her to achieve Liberian peace.

-Gbowee has a message for those who work with those who are refugees:

-And Gbowee talks about the sense of empowerment she found among refugee women:


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