Colorado State University’s Office of International Programs will welcome Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia and 2011 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, as a speaker for the 2022 Global Engagement Lecture Series.
Johnson Sirleaf’s talk will take place on Tuesday, March 29 at 2 p.m. on Zoom. Registration is free and mandatory to attend the virtual event.
Dubbed “Africa’s Iron Lady”, Johnson Sirleaf’s career has been linked to promoting peace and stability in her home country of Liberia and advancing women’s rights in the world.
Johnson Sirleaf began his civil service career in the Liberian government in 1965, becoming finance minister in 1979 before a military coup the following year overthrew and executed most government leaders.
She fled into exile, returning to run for president for the first time in 1997 at the end of Liberia’s first civil war.
Johnson Sirleaf lost the 1997 elections, but when civil war broke out again in the country two years later, she too faced a counter-movement and women in Liberia organized non-violent protests to make pressure for peace talks.
They got their wish in 2003 when negotiations ended the civil war. A transitional government, of which Johnson Sirleaf was a part, paved the way for democratic elections which she eventually won in 2005.
She remained Liberia’s president for more than a decade, guiding the country through the Ebola crisis, debt cancellation and the lifting of UN sanctions while attracting foreign investment to rebuild schools, clinics and more.
In addition to the Nobel Peace Prize, Johnson Sirleaf also received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America’s highest civilian honor, as well as the Mo Ibrahim Award for Excellence in African Leadership in 2017. She is a member founder of the International Institute for Women in Political Leadership.
She was also named to Forbes magazine’s list of the 100 most powerful women in the world and was named one of the top 10 women leaders in the world by Newsweek in 2010.
Johnson Sirleaf also continued his influence in global causes after leaving office.
In February this year, she was appointed Co-Chair of the High-Level Advisory Board of Our Common Agenda, an initiative of the United Nations Secretary-General to support the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
She is also the president of the Mano River Union, which works for political stability and economic cooperation between Liberia, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Côte d’Ivoire.
Johnson Sirleaf is the 10th speaker to join CSU in the Global Engagement Speaker Series. Past guests include distinguished women leaders from around the world such as former US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice, former President of Ireland Mary Robinson, former Prime Minister of Norway Dr. Gro Brundtland, former Prime Minister of Australia Julia Gillard, former President of Kosovo Atifete Jahjaga, and Johnson Sirleaf’s 2011 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Leymah Gbowee.