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Leymah Gbowee is a Liberian peace activist, trained social worker and women's rights advocate. She is Founder and President of Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, based in Monrovia, Liberia, which provides educational and leadership opportunities to girls, women and the youth in Liberia.
She is a Co-Founder and former Executive Director of Women Peace and Security Network Africa (WIPSEN-A). She is also a Co-Founder of the Ara Pacis Initiative and Member of its Council for Dignity, Forgiveness, Justice and Reconciliation as well as founding member and former Liberia Coordinator of Women in Peacebuilding Network/West Africa Network for Peace building (WIPNET/WANEP). She serves as a board member of the Nobel Women’s Initiative and PeaceJam Foundation.
Leymah Gbowee was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize, along with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Tawakkul Karman. All three were jointly cited "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work."
Ms. Gbowee grew up in Monrovia, and witnessed the horrors of war in Liberia as a teenager and young mother. She realized women bear the greatest burden in prolonged conflicts. A social worker in Liberia in the late 1990s, she fled to Ghana and became involved with peace activists there. She organized Christian and Muslim women to demonstrate together, founding Liberian Mass Action for Peace and launching protests and a sex strike to end the second Liberian Civil War in 2003.
Ms. Gbowee's part in helping to oust Charles Taylor was featured in the documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell. Leymah Gbowee has a degree from Mother Patern College of Health and Sciences in Liberia and in 2007 earned a graduate degree in Conflict Transformation from Virginia's Eastern Mennonite University.
She is the author of the 2011 memoir Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer and Sex Changed a Nation at War. She is a Distinguished Fellow in Social Justice at Barnard College in New York City for the 2013-2014 academic year.
Ms. Gbowee has been an Oxfam Global Ambassador since 2013, and on March 4, 2014, she received Oxfam America’s “Right the Wrong” award.