“Put National Interest Beyond Self Interest”

Former President Sirleaf (front, center) with other delegates at the African Women's Leadership Network conference in Monrovia.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf urges at opening of Africa Women Leaders Network conference

Former president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, who is the Patron of the African Women Leaders Network has urged leaders to be willing and commit themselves to their work by putting national interest above self-interest, in order to have a better countries and institutions.

She made the statement yesterday at the opening ceremony of the two-day African Women’s Leadership Network committee meeting that is ongoing in Monrovia.

According to her, in order for those leaders to achieve their goals, [their] personal commitment, hard work, willingness and dedication are needed. They must also work together to advance an exclusive agenda that will impact the lives of women and young people of our countries.

She cautioned those women who want to be leaders, adding that “You cannot take leadership until you are willing to work, commit yourself, step up, take charge, be committed. If you want leadership, you’ve got to work for it. Do the best because it takes the institutions that go beyond building integrity, a government that will put national interest beyond self-interest. It also takes a judiciary that is committed to the rule of law and it takes women to be recognized and take their place in society and do all you can for our democracy and stand the test of time.”

She urged those women who have political ambitions but still have fears about running for political offices to wake up and allow their faith to overcome their fears.

The African Women’s Leadership Network (AWLN), a platform that seeks to enhance women’s leadership role in Africa’s transformation, kicks off its third strategic steering committee meeting. The meeting will focus on giving impetus to the flagship projects and outline its strides towards 2020.

Madam Sirleaf, who is the inaugural patron of the two-day AWLN conference, explained that AWLN has adopted a comprehensive approach, aimed at enhancing women’s leadership from grassroots to the top and ensuring a true translation of Aspiration of Africa Agenda 2063, which puts women  and youth at the centre of Africa’s transformation.

Particular attention is being paid to the role of young women leaders, women in rural communities and the issue of the access of women to capital and entrepreneurship.

“2020 is a year of emblematic anniversaries,” said Madame Johnson Sirleaf, on her welcoming speech. “The year 2020 is the Year of Beijing+20, the 20th Anniversary of the Adoption of United Nations Security Council Resolution 1325 and the year to assess the call to Silencing the Guns in Africa and all major agendas for women participation and leadership, towards Africa’s Agenda 2063 and the Global Sustainable Goal 2030.”

She called upon all of those participants who are both present and the wider AWLN membership to renew their commitments and work in synergy to advance an inclusive, transformative agenda for our continent through actions that impact the lives of women and youth of our communities.

The various pillars of AWLN, she said, must define flagship projects, develop their road map and ways to measure regular delivery, assess challenges and design innovative solutions.

Ambassador Ibrahim Kamara, special Representative of the AU chairperson to Liberia, disclosed that his office and the UN Women office in Liberia have been collaborating effectively as part of the process along with Ministry of Gender to establish a local chapter of the (AWLN) in the country, with the hope that all those efforts will impact the lives of ordinary women and girls in Liberia.

“I am glad to note that partners would also have the opportunity to support this and I wish to call on all to join and promote this noble cause when the Local Chapter of the AWLN is launched, hopefully in a month” he said.

At the same time, Madam Bineta Diop, Special Envoy of the Chairperson Of the African Union Comission On Women, Peace And Security, in her report explained that though Africa has made some progress in the area of women in political governance, the participation and leadership remains at levels that will not deliver the objectives of Planet 50:50.

“We look forward to the leadership of UNDP and the AU Department of Political Affairs in supporting AWLN’s endeavors to accelerate actions in this area,” Madam Diop said.

“This is the whole essence of the creation of the African Women Leaders Network (AWLN), and the agenda for African women’s full involvement and leadership in shaping our continent. Though still young, our platform is posing concrete actions and has made strides that augur well on delivery on its ‘Call to Action’ that was made in 2017 at the launch of the Network,” she said.

The first and second steering committee meetings were held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Deliberations at the first forum focused on women leaders’ commitments to create the “Africa We Want”. The second forum addressed ways to “operationalize the vision and strategy for implementation”.

Members also established the Network’s governance structure and identified flagship projects.

The Network comprises over 300 women leaders from a variety of sectors, ranging from political, public, private, grassroots organizations, civil society and youth.

Participants will consolidate the outcomes of the 2nd AWLN Steering committee meeting forum and define a road map for the Network, identifying concrete steps to deliver on flagship projects. They will also review and approve the structure and progress AWLN has made since the last forum. The Forum will discuss a range of topics such as Women in Agriculture, Young Women Leaders and African Women Leadership Fund and Partnership with the Private Sector.

An outcome document and call for action is expected from the meeting.


  1. My professional advice to all women of all backgrounds is simple: Work cooperatively with men and of course, we men will work hand in hand with y’all.

    Ladies, it’s okay to build mansions in the sky, but don’t build those mansions in the sky without men.

    Ladies, it’s okay to be nice to men. If you do, men will be nicer to you.

    Ladies, be affectionate and kind to men. If you do, wen men will be more “affectionate” and kinder.

    Lastly, since you ladies are the most beautiful species on earth, we men will always avail ourselves to you to make sure you’re cared for.


  2. These women not serious. You put someone to speak who is a known conniver and you want to talk about work and leadership?

  3. I hate to say but Liberian society is so corrupt I’m not sure how Liberians could convince themselves to put country first. It’s impossible without re-education like they do in China. The future of the country doesn’t look very good with such terrible people with no loyalty to country. Perhaps this cycle could be broken by educating the young generation.


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