Ellen Johnson Sirleaf
From 2006-2016, Liberia was the only country, out of 54, to improve in every category and sub-category of the Ibrahim Index of African Governance.
Highlights – timeline
Born in Monrovia, Liberia.
Studied at the College of West Africa
Earned Masters of Public Administration, Harvard
Became Assistant Minister of Finance under the government of William Tolbert.
Moved to Nairobi to serve as the Vice President of the African Regional Office of Citibank.
Appointed the Director of the United Nations Development Programme's Regional Bureau for Africa at the rank of Assistant Administrator and Assistant Secretary General (ASG).
Ran as the presidential candidate from the United Party against Charles Taylor and was placed second, getting one-fourth of the total votes in a controversial election. As a result, she left the country soon after and went into exile.
Returned to contest for the post of President and took over as the leader of the Unity Party, winning the election.
Became Africa's first elected female head of state.
Became the recipient of ‘Common Ground Award’, the ‘Africa Prize for Leadership for the Sustainable End of Hunger’ and the ‘David Rockefeller Bridging Leadership Award’.
Awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian award given by the United States.
Elected to a second term in office.
Conferred with the Nobel Prize for Peace, shared with Leymah Gbowee and Tawakkul Karman. The award was given "for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work".
Received the ‘Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development’. Also awarded France’s highest award and public distinction, the Grand Croix of the Légion d’Honneur.
Awarded the 2017 Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership.
Citation & Achievements
The Prize Committee found that, confronted with unprecedented and renewed challenges, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf demonstrated exceptional and transformative leadership.
She took over a country that was devastated and broken by 14 years of civil war, and was later struck again by the Ebola crisis.
Throughout her time in office, she staunchly maintained her priorities and her determination to succeed on behalf of the people of Liberia.
Over the last decade, Liberia was the only country, out of 54, to improve in every category and sub-category of the Ibrahim Index of African Governance.
She courageously embraced opponents and fought for generational change, and paved the way for her successor to follow.
Life after National Office
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf stepped down at the end of her two terms in office. In February 2018, it was announced that she was awarded the Ibrahim Prize for Achievement in African Leadership.