In the fall of 2005, for the first time after a brutal, 14-year civil war that had ended two years before, Liberia held national elections. The November 8 runoff offered voters two choices: George Weah, a famous footballer with little education or government experience, and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a Harvard-educated international finance expert.
The women of Liberia, who had borne the brunt of the country’s violence, knew who they wanted; it was largely they who, in an enormous showing of political resolve, made Johnson Sirleaf Liberia’s first female president, and the first elected female head of state in Africa.
By then, Johnson Sirleaf, a 67-year-old grandmother, already had a long and varied career behind her. She was both of Liberia and of the global elite, having been educated and lived outside the country. She had worked in her country’s government, as finance minister; in the private sector, for Citibank; and in international organizations, for the United Nations and the World Bank.
Source: News Now /The Atlantic Online/Reuters News Agency