Leymah Gbowee 2011 Nobel Peace Prize Winner

Leymah Gbowee is a Liberian activist who led a women’s peace movement that helped bring an end to her country’s long civil war, a story depicted in the film Pray the Devil Back to Hell. In this excerpt from her new book, Gbowee tells the story of how she first managed to get a meeting with the warlord/President Charles Taylor.

The morning of the eleventh, the steps of city hall were a sea of white. There were hundreds of women there, maybe as many as a thousand. Some of the city’s religious leaders turned out as well. Taylor supporters and soldiers mixed through the crowd, and local media was everywhere. Emotion ran high as women stood to testify what the war had done to their lives, and I got a little afraid that WIPNET would lose control of the gathering. As the Liberian proverb says, “Sudden rain brings the sheep and goat under the same shed.” There were women here who’d lost children and were filled with rage, women who were political radicals interested only in ousting Taylor, and women who were just drunk.

Our demands were nonpartisan, simple and clear: the government and rebels had to declare an immediate and unconditional cease-fire; the government and rebels had to talk; and we wanted an intervention force deployed and sent to Liberia.

“In the past, we were silent,” I told the crowd. “But after being killed, raped, dehumanized and infected with diseases, and watching our children and families destroyed, war has taught us that the future lies in saying no to violence and yes to peace! We will not relent until peace prevails!”

The women erupted. “Peace! Peace!”