January 24, 2018
Leymah Gbowee Received the Nobel Peace Prize for her Peacekeeping Work in Liberia
Leymah Gbowee, Nobel laureate and Liberian peace activist, will deliver the Alice Pope Shade Lecture at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 15, in Weber Chapel Auditorium at Susquehanna University.
The event is free and open to the public.
Gbowee received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 for her work in leading a women's peace movement that brought an end to the Second Liberian Civil War in 2003. Gbowee was only the second African woman to win the prize, preceded by the late Wangari Maathai of Kenya.
Gbowee is the founder and president of Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa based in Liberia. Her foundation provides educational and leadership opportunities to girls, women and youth in West Africa.
Born in central Liberia in 1972, Gbowee was living with her parents and sisters in Liberia's capital, Monrovia, when the First Liberian Civil War erupted. Witnessing the effects of war on Liberians, she decided to train as a trauma counsellor to treat former child soldiers.
A second civil war broke out in 1999 and brought systematic rape and brutality to an already war-weary Liberia. Responding to the conflict, Gbowee mobilized an interreligious coalition of Christian and Muslim women and organized the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace movement. Through her leadership, thousands of women staged pray-ins and nonviolent protests demanding reconciliation and the resuscitation of high-level peace talks. The pressure pushed President Charles Taylor into exile, and smoothed the path for the election of Africa's first female head of state, fellow 2011 Nobel Laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Documenting these efforts in the Tribeca Film Festival 2008 Best Documentary winner Pray the Devil Back to Hell, Gbowee demonstrated the power of social cohesion and relationship-building in the face of political unrest and social turmoil.
Gbowee has received numerous international honors for her remarkable peacebuilding work, including the Blue Ribbon for Peace from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government in 2007, the John F. Kennedy Profiles in Courage Award from the Kennedy Library Foundation in 2009, and the Gruber Women's Rights Prize from the Gruber Foundation in 2009. She has received honorary degrees from Rhodes University in South Africa, the University of Alberta in Canada, Polytechnic University in Mozambique, and University of Dundee in Scotland. After receiving the Barnard College Medal of Distinction in 2013, she was named a Distinguished Fellow in Social Justice.
In her current position as president of Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, she pushes for greater inclusion of women as leaders and agents of change in Africa. She also serves on the board of directors of the Nobel Women's Initiative, Gbowee Peace Foundation and the PeaceJam Foundation, and she is a member of the African Women Leaders Network for Reproductive Health and Family Planning.
In 2007, Gbowee earned a master's degree in conflict transformation from Eastern Mennonite University, Harrisonburg, Va. She is also the proud mother of six children.
Susquehanna's annual Shade lecture is made possible by the Alice Pope Shade Fund, established in 1983 by her daughter and Susquehanna graduate, Rebecca Shade Mignot '54, to bring nationally and internationally renowned religious scholars and leaders to campus.