Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
First Elected Female Head of State in Africa & Nobel Peace Prize Laureate
Internationally known as “Africa’s Iron Lady,” Nobel Laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is a leading promoter of freedom, peace, justice, women’s empowerment and democratic rule. As Africa’s first democratically-elected female head of state, she has led Liberia through reconciliation and recovery following the nation’s decade-long civil war, as well as the Ebola Crisis, winning international acclaim for achieving economic, social, and political change.
Recognized as a global leader for women’s empowerment, President Sirleaf was awarded the prestigious Nobel Prize for Peace in 2011. She is the recipient of The Presidential Medal of Freedom—the United States’ highest civilian award—for her personal courage and unwavering commitment to expanding freedom and improving the lives of Africans. Her many honours also include the Grand Croix of the Légion d’Honneur, France’s highest public distinction, and being named one of Forbes’s “100 Most Powerful Women in the World.” And in 2017, former President Sirleaf was awarded the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, which celebrates excellence in African leadership. The Ibrahim Prize recognizes leaders who, during their time in office, have developed their countries, strengthened democracy and human rights for the shared benefit of their people, and advanced sustainable development. Sirleaf was the first female recipient.
President Sirleaf was elected President of the Republic of Liberia in 2005, two years after the nation’s bloody civil war ended. Her historic inauguration as Africa’s first democratically elected head of state took place on January 16, 2006. Prior to the election, she had served in the transitional government, where she chaired the Governance Reform Commission and led the country’s anti-corruption reform. She won reelection in November 2011.