Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War
Leymah Gbowee, Carol Mithers
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WINNER OF THE 2011 NOBEL PEACE PRIZE
In a time of death and terror, Leymah Gbowee brought Liberia’s women together—and together they led a nation to peace.
As a young woman, Leymah Gbowee was broken by the Liberian civil war, a brutal conflict that tore apart her life and claimed the lives of countless relatives and friends. Years of fighting destroyed her country—and shattered Gbowee’s girlhood hopes and dreams. As a young mother trapped in a nightmare of domestic abuse, she found the courage to turn her bitterness into action, propelled by her realization that it is women who suffer most during conflicts—and that the power of women working together can create an unstoppable force. In 2003, the passionate and charismatic Gbowee helped organize and then led the Liberian Mass Action for Peace, a coalition of Christian and Muslim women who sat in public protest, confronting Liberia’s ruthless president and rebel warlords, and even held a sex strike. With an army of women, Gbowee helped lead her nation to peace—in the process emerging as an international leader who changed history. Mighty Be Our Powers is the gripping chronicle of a journey from hopelessness to empowerment that will touch all who dream of a better world.
countryside, Taylor’s troops also recruited male children, many of them orphaned by battles, and organized them into special forces called Small Boy Units. The children called Taylor their “Papay.” Taylor’s troops massacred hundreds of Krahn and Mandingo in Lofa County, in the north, and the coastal city of Buchanan, south of Monrovia. These forces and Prince Johnson’s men were soon within a few miles of the capital. As they advanced, they cut water, electricity and phone lines and blocked the
was, was based on dependence. One day, not long after he first started coming to see me, he had drawn out his wallet before he left and handed me two thousand Liberian dollars—about forty US dollars. “Get something for the kids,” he said. “I know it’s tough.” Ever since, giving me money had been a regular gesture. It wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate his help, and I needed it—having cash meant I could buy small things like diapers or soap powder without having to ask my mother for even more—but it
quarrel. In the spring of 1999, my mother complained that no one had been willing to chair the committee planning that year’s Women’s Day celebration. I still hadn’t ventured forth publicly at St. Peter’s, but with the help of Vaiba and three new friends, I took on the challenge. We raised thousands of US dollars. Afterward, I was elected president of the women’s association. Every Saturday, there were meetings, fundraisers to plan. We had a lot of fun. Tunde, church, Trauma Healing. One day,
the widespread recognition that we helped bring the war to an end. We might have made progress anyway, but if we hadn’t felt compelled to step into the public arena, it might have taken us a lot longer. MANY OF THE PEOPLE I worked with during the war and Mass Action are still trying hard to bring peace and prosperity to our country and to the women of Africa. Sugars is mayor of the town of Edina in Grand Bassa County. She is as outspoken and radical as ever, with no regrets for the path she
leaders frequently end up in jail, continue their calls for political reform. When Jestina Mukoko, a Zimbabwean peace activist, was arrested in 2008, some Zimbabwean sisters got the judge’s cell phone number and each sent him five text messages every day. The judge eventually had to change his number. A female supreme court judge threw the case out, and Jestina went free. It’s happening on the Internet, through organizations like the African Women’s Development Fund, the African Feminist Forum,