The Executive Director of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women Empowerment and Development, Dr. Ophelia Weeks says the vision of its founder is to raise women’s ambition into leadership position.
“Madame Sirleaf has a vision to embolden and empower women, to raise women’s ambitions to leadership positions; not just one woman here and one woman there, but waves of women leaders, through deliberate programing efforts that create pipelines of women aspiring to top positions,” Dr. Weeks said as she delivered her acceptance speech on Sunday.Dr. Weeks the immediate past President of the University of Liberia was vetted and appointed as the first Executive Director to head the EJS Presidential Center with its flagship program the Amujae-meaning we are going up.
The ESJ Presidential Center for Women Empowerment Executive Director noted that the center will also provide corrective lens for those in power (not just political) to see the importance, the necessity of including women in leadership positions.
Dr. Weeks explained that the library, museum, exhibitions and archives will preserve President Sirleaf’s experiences, her life’s work and legacy, for current and future generations, and will serve as a lighthouse for all.“No matter what side of the fence one sits or stands, the reality is Liberia’s 24th president, our 24th president is the first democratically elected female president on the continent of Africa, one who served two terms at the will of the Liberian people; and when her term was up after 2 6-year terms of leadership, she stepped aside, which was unprecedented for 7 decades of presidential leadership in Liberia. She is also a Nobel laureate and the first and only female so far to have received the Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. There are so many firsts and experiences, that are inspirational, that should be digitized, preserved and celebrated, and this center will do just that” she opined.
Expectation for the Center
“We can all look forward to a world class PCWD that has broad local, African and global appeal,” Dr. Weeks explained.“We look forward to a Center that will ensure that Liberia as it develops and grows, that Africa as it develops and grows will be gender equitable and inclusive within its leadership landscape,” she added.
However, she acknowledged that there is still much work to be done and it requires the efforts of all and sundry.
Dr. Weeks said the center has many dimensions: “There is a ‘bricks and mortar’ component, which includes a presidential library a museum, a training center, that needs to be built…funding is required; there are presidential papers and memorabilia that need to be collected, digitized, and archived, continually and sustainably; there are the Amujae Leadership Fora that must be sustainably implemented in a 3-sessions cycle annually.”
On Sunday March 8, former President Sirleaf launched the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center flagship Amujae, at which time she encouraged women to participate in the program which is aimed at grooming women to take up future leadership roles in their countries.
“I hope to encourage everyone here today to participate in any way you can. Become a mentor. Lend expertise. Tell a story. Tell other people’s stories. Give support. Dream big. Come together and dream even bigger!” Mrs. SIrleaf said.
There were special congratulatory messages from former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Former U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde.