GUEST POST BY LAUREN SUPINA FARBER
Recently, Vital Voices hosted an informal talk by Leymah Gbowee in honor of her memoir: Mighty Be our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War. If you haven’t heard of Ms. Gbowee, she is an African peace activist and credited with leading the peace movement that ended the Liberian Civil War.
Herself a child victim of war, she realized that the young boys with guns were merely trying to survive themselves so she set out to understand them and obtain peace. Most of us cannot fathom her courage in protesting Charles Taylor’s Liberian government. In 2002, knowing how Taylor’s militants treated any government opposition with rape and torture, Gbowee was undeterred and proceeded to organize a peaceful protest of women. Wearing white, thousands of women arrived in the heat in peaceful protestThey had found in each other a new strength…”after being killed, raped, dehumanized and infected with diseases, and watching our children and families destroyed, war has taught us that the future lies in saying no to violence and yes to peace!” What started as a “mass action for peace” became a spontaneous uprising with astounding results. Her passion, strength and power are portrayed in the upcoming PBS seriesWomen, War and Peace(http://www.pbs.org/wnet/women-war-and-peace/) which premieres on PBS from Oct. 11 – Nov. 8th. Gbowee is also featured in the 2008 documentary film Pray the Devil Back to Hell.
At Friday’s roundtable discussion, she talked about her faith and her work in bonding Christian and Muslim women. By uniting them, she created a space where women could come together and cross the lines that divided them. “I’ve seen the power of grassroots” she has said. “Strength comes in numbers and through building strong communities and through the bonds that are formed.” She is clearly a heroic woman to watch.