Former Liberian President and Africa’s first female Head of State, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is poised to officially launch the “Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development” along with its flagship program – the Amujae Initiative – on Sunday, March 8. The launch which will take place at the Farmington in Margibi County, coincides with the celebration of International Women’s Day.
Amujae in the Kru dialect means “we are going up.” The initiative’s mission is to inspire and prepare women to confidently take up roles in the highest echelons of public and private leadership across Africa, and to bring other women along, the project document states.
It notes that as the first democratically elected woman president in Africa, Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is passionate about supporting the next generation of women in public leadership.
Studies have shown that there is a strong link between women in leadership and better health, education and environmental outcomes as well as lower levels of corruption and lesser likelihood of using violence when faced with potential conflict, the organizers indicate.
While this may be true and the Liberian public being appreciative of some level of post-war development projects initiated by her administration, there nevertheless remains the stigma of endemic corruption on her administration.
It was the main point that many people of the Coalition for Democratic Change (CDC) dwelt on to vote for President George Weah, although the expectation is now to the contrary as reports of corruption still dominate and engulf the nation.
Sub-Saharan Africa has some of the worst statistics globally when it comes to gender equality in public life, and the Amujae Initiative is expecting to vigorously address this imbalance.
Madam Johnson-Sirleaf explains: “After leaving office, I vowed to dedicate my time to advancing the careers of the next wave of women leaders across the continent.
“Through this initiative, we are working to do just that: identifying women who are already driving change in their countries who, through mentorship and support, can reach even greater heights.
“When it comes to advancing women’s public leadership, we don’t have the luxury of time. Africa’s development depends on harnessing the energy of our women to accelerate progress,” said former President Sirleaf.
The first cohort of ‘Amuaje Leaders’ taking part in the program come from Ethiopia, Nigeria, Guinea, host country Liberia, among other nations.
With backgrounds in law, government, business, education and activism, their achievements are as varied as their origins, but they all have a common purpose; to serve their countries and advocate for their fellow women. A full list of participants can be found here: www.ejscenter.org according to the program summary.
During the inaugural Amujae Forum, participants will be coached and mentored by some of the continent’s most prominent public leaders, including former Malawian President, Dr. Joyce Banda and former Central African Republic President, Catherine Samba-Panza.
Other couches include Madame Sirleaf herself, and recently appointed Deputy Managing Director of IMF, Antoinette Sayeh. The mentees will also receive training from leading experts in communications, advocacy, planning, and finance among other areas. Liberia’s Kola V. Fofana and Cornelia Kruah-Togba are among the inaugural trainees.
The Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Center for Women and Development was founded in 2018 to be a catalyst for change across Africa, by helping unleash its most abundant untapped power – its women.
Amujae’s guidelines indicate that through a unique blend of programming, advocacy, research and exhibitions, the Center will advance women’s public leadership and social development on the continent.