Pray the Devil Back to Hell – how sisterhood bought peace to Liberia
In 2003, the African nation of Liberia was in turmoil; its president Charles Taylor was involved in a vicious civil war with war lords who wanted to take his place. Caught in the middle were innocent civilians who bore the brunt of the violence.
One woman, Leymah Gbowee, had had enough and she and her fellow church members, soon to be joined by their female Muslim counterparts, began their protests.
Their plan was simple; every day they would gather in the central market of the capital of Monrovia wearing T-shirts and carrying placards simply asking for peace.
As their numbers swelled, Taylor reluctantly bowed to the pressure and peace talks were set up in Ghana. From their actions came Taylor’s exile and the election in 2005 of Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, Africa’s first woman head of state.
- Leymah Gbowee joined the Woman in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET) and brought women of Christian Churches together into the Christian Women’s Initiative and then formed a coalition with the women in the Muslim organizations in Monrovia and eventually Liberian Mass Action for Peace came into being.
Etweda “Sugars” Cooper founded the Liberia Women Initiative to advocate for disarmament and free and fair elections, and also to bring pressure to bear on stakeholders for the inclusion of women in negotiating a settlement of the Liberian conflict. Liberia Women Initiative
Asatu Bah Kenneth, a police officer for 25 years and president of the Liberia Female Law Enforcement Association, Asatu created the Liberian Muslim Women’s Organization. Liberian Mass Action for Peace came into being when the two organizations joined.
Vaiba Flomo, working with the Lutheran church’s trauma healing program brought the faith groups together with the message: “Does the bullet know Christian from Muslim?”
Etty Weah, was one of many women who wore white and sat on the field day in and day out. Rain or shine. Bullets or no bullets. She believed strength in numbers would make their voices heard.
Janet Johnson Bryant, a journalist working for the Catholic radio station Radio Veritas, hosted a radio show about women’s issues and covered the Presidential Palace.
You can watch via 4oD http://www.channel4.com/programmes/pray-the-devil-back-to-hell/4od (27 days left from 25/09/2009)
For more about the documentary – see http://www.praythedevilbacktohell.com/v3/
* Liberia breaks new ground for women, peace and security http://www.un-instraw.org/en/media-centre/press-releases/liberia-breaks-new-ground-for-women-peace-and-sec-2.html