Leymah Gbowee will be the featured guest and speaker at PeaceJam‘s Hero Awards Luncheon on Tuesday, November 13, 2013. “Bring your daughters, sons, colleagues, and friends to hear this woman of courage and determination” (tickets are $100 and are available at www.peacejam.org or 303-455-2099).
Also present at the luncheon will be the young winners of PeaceJam’s Global to Call Action Challenge for their literacy project to address the low literacy rates in New Mexico. PeaceJam is a nonprofit organization based in Denver, Colo., which connects students with Nobel Laureates. The newest Nobel Peace Laureate, Leymah Gbowee of Liberia, is coming to Denver, her only stop in Colorado, to share her story.
Liberia suffered from 14 years of back-to-back civil conflicts that claimed the lives of 250,000 people and is best known for the brutal use of child soldiers against the country’s civilian population.
Leymah Gbowee and other women in Liberia took to the streets to protest the violence, holding vigil day after day in hopes that then President Charles Taylor, former warlord, would engage in peace talks with the warring rebel groups. Charles Taylor is finally in prison for these war crimes. Witnessing the daily impacts of civil war on her children, Gbowee realized that “if any changes were to be made in society it had to be by the mothers.”
By the summer of 2002, Gbowee was the spokeswoman and inspirational leader of the Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace, which started with local women praying and singing in a local fish market. Working across religious and ethnic lines, Gbowee eventually led thousands of Christian and Muslim women to work together for a common cause. Their persistence and relentless demands for peace helped to bring an end to the civil war in Liberia.
In 2011, Leymah Gbowee was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize “for her non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work” (Nobel Committee, 2011). Formally trained as a social worker, Gbowee continues to work on trauma healing and reconciliation, including the rehabilitation of the ex-child soldiers from Charles Taylor’s army and the education of girls in Liberia. Abby Disney’s PBS documentary film, Pray the Devil Back to Hell, tells the harrowing story of Leymah Gbowee and the women of Liberia in their quest for peace.