Washington, D.C.—On Friday, September 23, the International Republican Institute (IRI) presented Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf with a Women’s Democracy Network (WDN) “10 for 10” award, in recognition of her leadership of Liberia. IRI Board Member and former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Connie Newman presented the award to President Sirleaf.
In her remarks at the gathering, President Sirleaf reflected on the qualities of leadership and its role Liberia’s democratic transition and her election in 2005. “I'm glad that WDN focuses not only on the highest office, because leadership is not just being President—leadership is all levels of society,” said President Johnson Sirleaf. “What it takes is for you to be the one that is bold enough to say what you feel and what you think... That was what it was all about in 2005. We've come a long way since then.”
WDN launched the “10 for 10” campaign to commemorate the 10-year anniversary of the Network, launched in 2006 to increase women’s political and civic leadership globally. The “10 for 10” campaign recognizes 10 remarkable women who have demonstrated determination, passion, and a commitment to building a better world. Previous honorees include South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, Belgian Member of Parliament Miet Smet and Tunisian trade union leader Wided Bouchamoui.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the 24th President of Liberia and Africa’s first democratically elected female Head of State. She is a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate who has dedicated her career to good governance, women’s rights and expanding educational opportunities for Liberia. She was elected president in 2005, leading the post-conflict country in its transition to democracy and restoring its economic infrastructure and international credibility. She has been named one of the world’s top 10 women leaders by Time magazine; one of Newsweek’s “leaders other leaders love”; and was called “the best President the country has ever had” by The Economist.