Ellen Johnson Sirleaf the 73 year old President of Liberia has been awarded the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with Tawakel Karman of Yemen and Leymah Gbowee also of Liberia. The prize recognized the women “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work”. Sirleaf is the first and only elected female head of any state in Africa. Thorbjorn Jagland, a former prime minister of Norway, leads the Nobel committee that chose the winners released the citation for the award stating “We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society”. During her term Sirleaf signed into law a Freedom of Information bill, the first of its kind in West Africa.


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