THE DIFFERENCE ONE LIFE CAN MAKE
ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF – BREAKING THE STEREOTYPE; THE FIRST FEMALE PRESIDENT IN AFRICAN HISTORY.
“The 21st century must be the century of women’s equality”
- United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
In many religions, cultures, societies and indeed the world over, the female gender are seen as lesser beings. In other words, the men are perceived as being superior to women.
Consequently, women are denied certain privileges, opportunities and rights in the society and even in the home or family. In many religions, cultures and societies wives are expected to be subservient to their husbands.
While there have been gender equality “fights” in the course of history and still on-going, a lot of progress have been made worldwide.However, there are still lots of ground to cover for gender equality to become a reality in every culture and society around the world, not just legally but also achieving a change of perception in the minds of the male gender.
MALE AND FEMALE EQUALITY
I believe in gender equality; I believe that both genders should have equal access to quality education and health; economic resources and participation in politics for both male and female; equal opportunities in access to employment and to positions of leadership and decision-making at all levels. It is important to note that I am not a “feminist”. I don’t believe in “labels” because labels confines one into the society’s mold.
Science asserts that men tend to process better in the left hemisphere of the brain while women tend to process equally well between the two hemispheres. Men’s brain are bigger in size than women’s brain but they both have equal intelligence. To be different does not equate superiority on any part.
If our Creator did not create the female gender as a lesser being, then it also holds true that women are not lesser beings compared to men. Howbeit, we are Not comparing Men with Women because you can’t compare what is uniquely different from each other and yet equal in inherent value.
THE PERSPECTIVE AND CONSEQUENCE
The World Bank’s Women, Business and the Law index reveals that women have only their three-quarters of the employment rights that men enjoy. The World Economic Forum’s 2020 Gender Gap Report found that although there has been progress in some areas it will be a century before the world over enjoy equal rights with men.
Report has it that Gender equality produces greater prosperity as the countries that has the highest rates of gender equality are outperforming those countries where women have fewer rights.
“Without the equal inclusion of half of the world’s talent, we will not be able to deliver on the promise of the fourth Industrial Revolution for all society, grow our economies for greater shared prosperity or achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals” says Forum Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab.
He also espoused, “At the present rate of change, it will take nearly a century to achieve parity, a timeline we simply cannot accept in today’s globalized world, especiually among younger generations who hold increasingly progressively views of gender equality”
Fearful and selfish thinking are the loser’s mindset. In a bid to stunt the growth and self-expression of the female gender in the home or family, the workplace, marketplace, political leadership, and the society at large, it has incurred a huge cost on everyone, the male gender inclusive. And until there is gender equality, everyone in the society will continue to bear the burden of the huge cost of selfish and fearful thinking which constitute the mindset of the category of people who are insecure in who they are.
AFRICA’S FIRST WOMAN PRESIDENT – ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF
“You’ve got to stay the course and suffer the consequences, the indignities and the difficulties.”
-Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
- The first woman to become the Finance Minister in Liberia.
- The first woman to run the United Nations program for Africa – she was the Assistant Secretary-General of the United Nations.
- The first female President in Liberia and in Africa
- Ran for vice presidency but soon arrested for criticizing Samuel Doe’s corrupt regime.
- Sentenced to ten years in prison but International pressure forced Samuel Doe to pardon her shortly into her sentence.
- Her name was removed from Vice presidential ballot.
- Sirleaf contested and won a seat in the Senate but she refused to accept it because it was widely viewed as fraudulent.
- Arrested in November 1985 – July 1986, after her release she left the country in secret and took a job as a vice president of HSBC Equator Bank in Washington.
- Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became the most outspoken critic of President Charles Taylor’s corrupt and repressive regime and her country’s most visible advocate for reform. Consequently, President Taylor threatened to have her killed. Consequently, she emigrated to Cote d’ Ivoire where she established a venture capital firm, the Kormah Development and Investment Corporation, as well as Measuagoon, a Community Development NGO for Liberia.
On January 16, 2006 Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was sworn in as the 24th President of Liberia in the first ever truly free election conducted in Liberia.
From the “mountain top” of prosperity, prior to the 1980 coup, to the dungeon of becoming one of the world’s poorest nations, beset by illiteracy, hunger and extreme unemployment.
In her first 5 years in office, she repaired the damage done by 25 years of violence and misrule which includes:
- Sirleaf negotiated the lifting of International trade sanctions against Liberia and complete writing off of the country’s crushing external debt.
- By executive order, she established a right to free, universal elementary education. She also enforced equal rights for women – which was ignored and abused during the years of civil war.
- Built over 800 miles of roads, attracting foreign investment in mining, agriculture and forestry and offshore oil exploration.
- Liberia also won support from China for construction of a new National University.
- Sirleaf gave priority on African and regional relations as well.
- President Sirleaf became a sterling model for African Presidents keeping her words to retire after serving two full terms.
- In January 2018, Mr. Weah was sworn in as Sirleaf’s successor as President of Liberia which was the country’s first peaceful, democratic transition of power in 73 years.
- In 2010, Newsweek magazine listed Ellen Sirleaf as one of the “Ten Best Leaders in the World”. The Economist called her, “the best president the country has ever had.”
- In 2011, she was awarded the Nobel Prize for Peace. The Nobel committee credited her contribution to “securing peace in Liberia, to promoting economic and social development and to strengthening the position of women.”
- Ellen Sirleaf was awarded the $5 million Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. The Mo Ibrahim acknowledged Ellen Sirleaf’s “transformational leadership of a country devasted and broken by 14 years of civil war.” The Prize is specifically awarded only to democratically elected African Leaders who leave office at the end of their constitutional mandated terms.
Never conform to anyone’s myopic estimation of you and never allow the society’s label to libel you to a life of limits.
Gender wasn’t given to devalue anyone or to shortchange destiny but to differentiate each one of us so that we can compliment one another in accomplishing our individual Purposes and together we realize the overall Purpose of the human race. That is the Mind of our Creator. That is the bond of unity and the mark of progressive societies.
THIS BOOK IS FOR YOU
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About the Author
Udeme Archibong is a prolific writer, an astute communicator and a model of excellence. Her writings have made profound impact on thousands of lives around the world through her blog: successrecipeblog.com, which has followings in over 70 countries in continents of the world.
She is a Self-Development Expert, who passionately works towards helping people maximize their destinies.
At some point, she was a motivational columnist, writing Success Recipe and Destiny Catalyst, for two Nigerian national newspapers, Vanguard and ThisDay, respectively. She is the initiator of the Revolution Series Seminars