— Says Liberians remains very proud of former President Sirleaf’s notable achievements
President George M. Weah has pledged his government’s fullest support to the establishment of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development, known as Amujae Initiative.
Amujae Initiative is the Center’s flagship program that derived from a phrase in Kru, a Liberian local language; meaning, “We are going up.”
President Weah, who spoke on Sunday, March 8, 2020, at the official launch of the EJS Presidential Center in Margibi County, said his administration will remain committed to working with her in advancing the empowerment and development of women.
He said throughout the country’s long history with many Presidents coming and going, the country has not had any such Presidential Center to capture its history of equality and serve as a platform for research, documentation and the promotion of noble causes in the interest of the citizenry.
President Weah added that the EJS Presidential Center for Women and Development is the first of its kind in the country’s history and will not only archive the papers and documentation from her career and presidency, but will also chronicle her activities for the empowerment and protection of other women, and serve as a springboard for the continuous promotions of her causes and interests.
He said statistics have shown that women in Liberia constitute over 51 percent of the population and that the evidence also shows that it is the women of Liberia who bear the brunt of supporting the majority of their households through earned livelihood, as it is the women who lead in raising and educating their children; it is the women who lead in agriculture to feed our nation; it is the women who lead in building the infrastructures and the women of Liberia are the fulcrum around which the life of the nation revolves.
“I, therefore, want to use this opportunity to assure the former President that my administration will give its fullest support to such a worthy endeavor. Rest assured of my commitment to working with you in advancing the empowerment and development of women,” said President Weah.
Earlier, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said the Amujae Initiative is intended to help women excel in a higher position in public places and to also help them achieve by being placed in all areas of the society to promote the policies, programs, and opportunities themselves as well as for other women.
President Sirleaf said regardless of their age or where they come from, women have so much to do for each other in Africa, adding that they have fought hard to hold their dreams, values, and ambitions, hoping that the AMUJAE Initiatives, through her Center, will help expand the number of women ready to hold leadership positions on the African continent including in Liberia.
Madam Sirleaf indicated that representation in politics is important by increasing the number of women in public life and leadership; emphasizing that the center will amplify the voices of all women and girls across Africa.
Referencing former Finance Minister of Liberia now Deputy Managing Director-designate at the International Monetary Fund (IMF), Antoinette Sayeh, the former Liberian leader added that one can take a dream that is big, stressing that, “If your dreams do not scare you, then they are not dreams.”
She then used the occasion to urge her counterparts, visiting women delegations and other dignitaries to be mentors for the younger women as well as encourage them to join hands and dream bigger dreams than they can ever imagine.
“I hope to encourage everyone here today to participate in any way you can. Become a mentor. Lend expertise. Tell a story. Tell other people’s stories. Give support. Dream big. Come together and dream even bigger!” Madam Sirleaf added.
Madam Sirleaf explained further that the desire is to help capable women across the continent achieve their goals in political life and public service, to provide a lift for emerging public leaders.
She further explained that the aim of Amujae is to create a real and virtual space where women and girls can learn from and lean on one another, a network with peers across the continent. “A place to gain skills in leadership organization, fundraising, research, and polling techniques, and most importantly, become each other’s advocates and storytellers”, she added.
“In closing my remarks when I accepted the Mo Ibrahim Prize, I said, “This restless soul cannot rest as there is more work to do. In a similar view, when leaving office as America’s first female Secretary of State, a journalist asked Madeline Albright, ‘how do you wish to be remembered?’ She replied, ‘I don’t want to be remembered. I am still here and have much more I intend to do!'”
“Those sentiments say why I am here today. And no doubt, why you all have kindly accepted to be active participants in this bold endeavor. Regardless of our ages, or where we come from, we are the same. We have so much more to do to lift women up in our own countries, in Africa, and around the world.
“We are a proud bunch here. We are ambitious, driven, and unrelenting. But we also have our fears and self-doubts and only pretend to wear those “thick skins.” And we recognize that when we put ourselves in the public arena, we may lose control of our own narratives, and therefore we must hold tight to our beliefs and values,” she said.
Former US Ambassador to Liberia, Linda Thomas-Greenfield who is the Chair of the Amujae U.S.A branch, said Mrs. Sirleaf has set the standard for women to follow during her 12 years reign. Ambassador Greenfield said the Presidential Center library will leave behind a lasting legacy that many would come and benefit from.
Former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo acknowledged the firm determination of President Sirleaf in her desire to lift women in leadership.
He gave an upbeat appraisal of his personal role in African politics and how Nigeria was able to negotiate its debt relief through his former Finance Minister, Dr. Okonjo-Iweala, a woman.
Meanwhile, the program was attended by Vice President Jewel Howard Taylor, Olusegun Obasanjo, former President of Nigeria; Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi; Dr. Antoinette Sayeh, Deputy Managing Director-designate of the International Monetary Fund, and former Liberian Minister of Finance; Madame. Catherine Samba Panza, former President of Central African Republic; former US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield; Ambassador Christine Elder, United States Ambassador to Liberia; Madame Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Managing Director of the World Bank, and former Minister of Finance, Federal Republic of Nigeria, among others.