Monday, May. 08, 2006

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf

Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf is a magnificent leader and an amazing woman. In January I attended her inauguration in Monrovia, where she delivered a moving and inspiring address that spoke directly to the women of Liberia, of Africa and of the world. From her service as a Liberian Cabinet Minister in the 1970s, senior United Nations administrator in the 1990s and now Liberia's President, Johnson-Sirleaf, 67, has never stopped working for democracy for her country.

When she opposed the military rule of Samuel Doe, she was imprisoned before eventually fleeing Liberia. Her years in exile afforded her valuable international experience through her work at the World Bank and the U.N. As the first woman ever elected President in Africa, Johnson-Sirleaf is an example of what can happen when girls are educated. Educated women are better positioned to contribute to their economies and their countries. When women are equipped with knowledge, they can be better mothers. Now that Liberia's 14-year civil war has ended, we hope women will follow Johnson-Sirleaf's example and return to their home country and be a part of Liberia's economic future.

Johnson-Sirleaf's courage and commitment to her country are an inspiration to me and women around the world.

Mrs. Bush is First Lady of the United States