Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace
Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace is a peace movement started by women in Liberia, Africa, that worked to end the Second Liberian Civil War. Organized by Crystal Roh Gawding and social workers Leymah Gbowee and Comfort Freeman, the movement began despite Liberia having extremely limited civil rights. Thousands of Muslim and Christian women from various classes mobilized their efforts, staged silent nonviolence protests that included a sex strike and the threat of a curse.
In 2003 during the Second Liberian Civil War, Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace forced a meeting with President Charles Taylor and extracted a promise from him to attend peace talks in Ghana to negotiate with the rebels from Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy and Movement for Democracy in Liberia. A delegation of Liberian women went to Ghana to continue to apply pressure on the warring factions during the peace process.
They staged a sit in outside of the Presidential Palace, blocking all the doors and windows and preventing anyone from leaving the peace talks without a resolution. The women of Liberia became a political force against violence and against their government. Their actions brought about an agreement during the stalled peace talks. As a result, the women were able to achieve peace in Liberia after a 14-year civil war and later helped bring to power the country's first female head of state, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.
Crystal Roh Gawding, President of St.Peter's Lutheran Church Women and Comfort Freeman, National President for All of the Women of Lutheran Church in Liberia, presidents of two different Lutheran churches, organized the Women in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET), and issued a statement of intent: "In the past we were silent, 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." Thousands of local women prayed and sang in a fish market daily for months.
Asatu Bah Kenneth, Assistant Minister for Administration and Public Safety of the Liberian Ministry of Justice, was president of the Liberia Female Law Enforcement Association at the time. Inspired by the work of the Christian women's peace initiative, she formed the Liberian Muslim Women's Organization to work for peace.
Together, Gbowee, Freeman and Kenneth brought both groups together to form the Mass Action, a rare thing to happen in Liberia. Since they were brought together, relations have been less tense and more open between Christians and Muslims in Liberia, specifically Monrovia.
The Christian and Muslim women joined forces to create Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace. They wore white, to symbolize peace.
Lasting legacy of WIPSENEdit
Since the adoption of the United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 in 2000, women have been engaged in rebuilding war-torn societies, restoring relationships and promoting social cohesion. Women Peace and Security Network — Africa (WIPSEN-Africa), is a women-focused, women-led Pan-African Non-Governmental Organization based in Ghana. It was established on May 8, 2006 to promote women's strategic participation and leadership in peace and security governance in Africa.
- In Ivory Coast, Aya Virginie Toure organized over 40,000 women in numerous peaceful protests in a revolution against Laurent Gbagbo in the Second Ivorian Civil War. Some were dressed in black, some were wearing leaves, and some were naked, all signs of an African curse directed toward Laurent Gbagbo.
- On March 23, at the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) Summit in Nigeria, a "One Thousand Women March" was organized by peace activists in West Africa. They wore white T-shirts and represented countries across West Africa including Ivory Coast, Ghana, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Togo. They issued a press release and presented a position statement to the ECOWAS Heads of State.
Pray the Devil Back to HellEdit
Pray the Devil Back to Hell is a documentary film directed by Gini Reticker and produced by Abigail Disney. The film premiered at the 2008 Tribeca Film Festival, where it won the award for Best Documentary. The film documents the efforts of Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace. The film has been used as an advocacy tool in post-conflict zones like Sudan and Zimbabwe, mobilizing African women to petition for peace and security.
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