15 quotes by Nobel laureate Ellen Johnson Sirleaf that show the importance of enabling women

By Tenzin Norzom|10th Jan 2021
These powerful quotes by Nobel laureate and first woman President of Libera, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, shows her commitment to gender equality.
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In the African continent rife with the patriarchal rule, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became the symbol of women empowerment when she became the first woman president of Libera in 2006 and led the country for two consecutive terms.


An Economics and Public Policy graduate from Harvard University, she has received more than 20 honorary recognitions and awards, including 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,” along with Tawakkul Karman in 2011. The following year, she was also awarded the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament, and Development.


A pioneering woman, she documented the journey in This Child Will Be Great: Memoir of a Remarkable Life by Africa's First Woman President.


As Ellen continues her fight for gender equality, here is a look at her words on why women deserve an equal seat at the table.

On women and leadership

“Ethnicity should enrich us; it should make us a unique people in our diversity and not be used to divide us.”


“To girls and women everywhere, I issue a simple invitation. My sisters, my daughters, my friends; find your voice.”


“Leadership is never given on a silver platter, one has to earn it.”

“Once the glass ceiling has been broken, it can never be put back together, however one would try to do that.”

“I believe that there are certain attributes in a woman that give her some advantages over a man. Women are usually more honest, more sensitive to issues and bring a stronger sense of commitment and dedication to what they do. Maybe because they were mothers, and being a mother, you have that special attention for the family, for the young, for children.”


“Women are working for change and I will be with them, and one of them, forever.”


"I demand more rights for women because I know what women can do."


"We ask justice, we ask equality, we ask that all the civil and political rights that belong to all citizens, be guaranteed to us and our daughters."


"Seeing gender as integral to the economy brings the true value of women into the conversation."


"There will always be those who will tear us down and tear us apart because they want the status quo to remain. But together we can break down the barriers that have kept women from achieving the equity they rightfully deserve."

On women and the pandemic

“This year has pushed many of us to the limits of our capacity, but it has also shown us the greatness that can be achieved when we work together towards a common goal.”


“What’s needed now is equity. What’s needed now is solidarity. What’s needed now is humility. Each pandemic is unique. We must learn from COVID-19 so we can better respond to its next phase and better prepare for the next pandemics we will face."

"Building equal and inclusive societies is more urgent than ever before, as we work to recover and rebuild amid COVID-19."

"In addressing the rising cases of gender-based violence and the violation of women's rights in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, we need more examination of the laws in countries regarding the protection of women."


Edited by Kanishk Singh

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