Sat 10 Dec, 2011 09:56 pm
By Swanee Hunt.
Print Email Comments (2) (Page 1 of 2)Looking out the airplane window at a white winter landscape in Oslo yesterday, I thought back to another flight. Several years ago, a U.N. helicopter took me “up country” to the Liberian bush. Sitting in circles on rickety chairs in the heavy heat, women leaders (albeit illiterate) told me their hopes for the country’s new president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. “If Ma Ellen can do it in that big White House in Monrovia that she’s in, then we can do it in our houses!” one said. She began a song and snake dance with the refrain, “Side by side, side by side, men not in front, women not behind, but side by side, side by side.” They and their sisters across the country had ended the brutal 14-year war. At the time, few within Liberia or around the world knew what they’d accomplished.
How far we’ve come.
Hours ago, I watched Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Leymah Gbowee receive the Nobel Peace Prize. Both are longtime members of the Women Waging Peace Network, which we started in 1999, after I founded the Women and Public Policy Program at the Kennedy School of Government. (Subsequently, we spun the network out of Harvard and created the Institute for Inclusive Security in Washington, D.C.)