Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf made history when becoming the first woman to be elected for an African country. As president of Liberia in 2006, she embodied a sign of hope for female leadership in Africa.
In 1985, she had openly criticized the military government, which led to her arrest and 10-year prison sentence. However, she was released in short time with permission to leave the country, wherein she spent her 12 years of exile in Kenya and the United States. During this time Liberia was suffering through civil war, which is when Ellen became an influential economist for the World Bank, Citibank, and other financial institutions. Her successes in involvement with Liberia during this time finally made her president in 2006, known as the “Iron Lady.”
While her presidential journey wasn’t always rosy and involved corruption allegations, Ellen worked to promote peace, reconciliation, and social and economic development. She took authority over a country at a time of great vulnerability, and trie to rebuild infrastructure and lift sanctions from ground zero. Her efforts led her to receiving the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011, and was awarded the 2017 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership. She has been ranked among the top 100 most powerful women in the world (Forbes 2012), the first most powerful woman in Africa (Forbes Africa 2011) and one of the top 10 female leaders (TIME 2010).
Artist: Veronika, from Ukraine