Leymah Gbowee – Keynote Speaker

Liberian Peace and Women's Rights Activist and Nobel Peace Prize Winner, 2011

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Leymah Gbowee Profile Picture

Specialist Subjects

  • Women's rights
  • Activism


  • English


Nobel Prize Winner as a Liberian Peace Activist, Leymah Gbowee currently serves as executive director of the Women, Peace and Security Program at the Earth Institute at Columbia University. As war ravaged Liberia, Leymah Gbowee realized it is women who bear the greatest burden in prolonged conflicts. She began organizing Christian and Muslim women to demonstrate together, founding Liberian Mass Action for Peace and launching protests and a sex strike. Gbowee’s part in helping to oust Charles Taylor was featured in the documentary Pray the Devil Back to Hell. Gbowee is a single mother of six, including one adopted daughter, and is based in Accra, Ghana, where she is the executive director of the Women Peace and Security Network (WIPSEN-Africa).

Leymah Gbowee has spoken publicly numerous times on the issue of women in conflict situations. She was a panelist at several regional and international conferences, including UNIFEM’s “Women and the Disarmament, Demobilization, Reintegration and Repatriation (DDRR) Process,” and the United Nations Security Council’s Arria Formula Meeting on women, peace, and security. In October 2007, the Women’s Leadership Board at Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government honored Ms. Gbowee with the Blue Ribbon Peace Award. This annual award is given to individuals and organizations that have made a significant contribution to peace-building through innovative strategies that promote women’s leadership in peace processes on the local, national, or international level.

In 2011, Leymah Gbowee was awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize and in 2010, she was given the John Jay Medal for Justice from the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Leymah was also awarded recipient of the 2009 Gruber Prize for Women’s Rights and recipient of the 2009 John F. Kennedy Profile in Courage Award.

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