Africa elects first woman as prime minister

// 23 November 2005

Amongst all the debate of whether men are still necessary and whether christmas can be either ethical or feminist I think it wise to remember a few feminist moments.

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has been elected the first president of an African country. She will take power at the weekend in Liberia, a country long ravaged by war. Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf has been educated at Harvard and worked as an advisor to the World Bank before standing for the presidency. And her job will not be an easy one. Liberia’s civil war is reknowned for the conscription of children as soldiers and the current peace is largely stable because of the presence of UN Peacekeepers.

Women have particularly welcomed her election saying in news reports they welcome the peace she will bring (automatically equating masculinity and war) and that they hoped she might be able to protect their children and promote economic growth.

Some men were shown on news reports saying that they felt western leaders visiting Liberia would assume she was a president’s wife, in one go pointing up the sexism which exists in the country and a very genuine possibility. Its not that Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf will be seen as the First Lady but will western leaders truly respond in the same way to a well-educated black woman demanding debt relief for a third world country as they would to a man? Only time will tell.

More information is available at the BBC website.

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