Liberian leader, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is expected to depart Liberia for India for a five-day state visit in that part of the world, as she arrives on Sunday, September 9th, 2013. This visit, according to a dispatch from India will mark an important chapter in India’s growing engagement with the African continent. It will be Ms Sirleaf’s first visit to India — she is said to have expressed her eagerness to visit the country. And New Delhi, eager to step up its engagement with a leader who is also seen as an important interlocutor in African affairs, is rolling out the red carpet for her.
It’s the first bilateral visit from the West African nation at this level and New Delhi hopes to share with the Liberian leader its views on African affairs and Africa-India partnership. New Delhi is also well aware that President Sirleaf’s commands respect among African youth and her views on democracy and people’s participation carries weight.
Popularly known as Liberia’s “Iron Lady”, President Sirleaf who has championed the cause of gender equality and women’s rights is also a Nobel peace prize winner. She was conferred the award in 2001 for her “non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work.”
While in the capital, the 75-year-old leader will be conferred the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development for the year 2012. The prize is being awarded to her for serving as an example and inspiration to women in Africa and beyond and for ensuring the return of peace, democracy and development in Liberia.
The importance of the Liberian leader's visit can be gauged from the fact that no less than nine ministers will be accompanying her.