Former President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf says, she is humbled and touched by the warn birthday messages and festivities marking her 83 birthday.
Mrs. Sirleaf whose birthday coincided with the 2021 Amujae Leadership Forum, a flagship program of the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center took to her Twitter feed on Friday, October 29, to express her gratitude.
“I am humbled and touched by the warm birthday messages and festivities today. I am grateful to be able to celebrate another year with friends, loved ones, and fellow Liberians,” Mrs. Sirleaf said.
Mrs. Sirleaf left office in January 2018, after two successive terms in office. She was elected Liberia and Africa’s first female president in 2005. She won her second term in 2011 on the heels of winning the Nobel Peace Prize just days before the election.
She was awarded the 2017 Mo Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership, just a month after she stepped down from office. The award provided $5 million, disbursed over 10 years, followed by an annual $200,000 stipend for the rest of Mrs. Sirleaf’s life. It also brought the possibility of the foundation awarding $200,000 annually over the course of 10 years to charitable causes supported by her.
In the same year, Mrs. Sirleaf will go on to bag another accolade, an induction into the International Women’s Forum (IWF) Hall of Fame. The award, the second-highest international at the time came as Mrs. Sirleaf celebrated her 80th birthday.
Mrs. Sirleaf, a mixed Gola, and German heritage. Her father was the first indigenous Liberian to sit in the national legislature. She was educated at the College of West Africa in Monrovia and at age 17 married James Sirleaf (they were later divorced). In 1961, Mrs. Sirleaf went to the United States to study economics and business administration. After obtaining a master’s degree (1971) in public administration from Harvard University, she entered government service in Liberia.
She served as assistant minister of finance (1972–73) under Pres. William Tolbert and as finance minister (1980–85) in Samuel K. Doe’s military dictatorship. She became known for her personal financial integrity and clashed with both heads of state. During Doe’s regime, she was imprisoned twice and narrowly avoided execution. In the 1985 national election, she campaigned for a seat in the Senate and openly criticized the military government, which led to her arrest and a 10-year prison sentence. She was released after a short time and allowed to leave the country.
On September 8, this year, Mrs. Sirleaf, was presented with the Emily Winifred Dickson Award at a virtual ceremony.
Emily Winifred Dickson, another pioneering woman, broke boundaries when she became the first female Fellow of RCSI in 1893, making her the first female Fellow of any of the surgical royal colleges in Britain and Ireland. In 2015, RCSI established the Emily Winifred Dickson Award in honor of the achievements of this pioneering woman.
As part of the ceremony, former President Sirleaf delivered a guest address followed by a Q&A discussion with Professor Mark Shrime, O’Brien Chair of Global Surgery at the Institute of Global Surgery at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences.
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. Mrs. Sirleaf has held several international portfolios.
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.
She is also 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.
Mrs. Sirleaf is now on a campaign of empowering women in Liberia, Africa, and the rest of the world through her Presidential Center flagship program Amujae.-Written by Othello B. Garblah.