Liberian peace activist and 2011 Nobel Peace Prize recipient Leymah Gbowee will make one of her few scheduled 2012 U.S. speaking appearances at SMU on Wednesday, May 23. The author of Mighty Be Our Powers will discuss “Women, Leadership and Human Rights” at 7:30 p.m. in the Hughes-Trigg Student Center Theater.
Gbowee’s visit to the Hilltop presents a rare opportunity to hear her discuss her role in helping end Liberia’s second civil war, as well as her advice on how women can bring about change in seemingly hopeless situations.
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Gbowee began pushing for change as a trauma and rehabilitation volunteer during Liberia’s second civil war. Lasting from 1989 to 2003, the war was sparked by deep-seated anger over economic inequality, natural resources abuse and vicious rivalries between ethnic groups that included descendants of the freed American slaves who founded Liberia in 1847.
At the conflict’s center was Charles Taylor, the notorious warlord who served as Liberian president until being forced into exile in 2003, thanks in large part to Gbowee’s leadership efforts. Last month, a U.N.-backed tribunal in The Hague, Netherlands, convicted Taylor of 11 counts of war crimes – including acts of terrorism, murder and rape – for arming and aiding Sierra Leone’s Revolutionary United Front in a terror campaign in Sierra Leone and Liberia that claimed 120,000 lives from 1991-2001. It was the world court’s first judgment against a former head of state since the World War II Nuremberg trials. Sentencing for Taylor, who has pleaded innocent, is scheduled for May 30.
“Leymah represents a new movement of women in the world starting – and achieving – grassroots movements for peace, justice and human rights,” says Embrey Human Rights Program Associate Director Pat Davis. “In acts that were selfless and courageous in the face of terrible brutality, she led a group of women to help throw out a dictator [Taylor] and elect the first female head of state, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is weeding out corruption herself.”
Tickets are $10 for students, $25 for WAC members and $35 for non-members. The lecture is presented by the World Affairs Council (WAC) of Dallas/Fort Worth in partnership with SMU’s Embrey Human Rights Program, the Embrey Family Foundation, the Boone Family Foundation, Donna Wilhelm and Trea Yip.
For more information, call 214-965-8412 or visit dfwworld.org.
Written by Denise Gee