Nobel Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee stands strong for women activists

“The peace activist, 43, who shares the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize with two other women, appeared as the lone speaker about “The Role of Women at the Front Lines of Peace Building” at the Beverly Wilshire hotel Tuesday.

In her speech, she delivered a blunt message to a primarily female audience: “Life’s never, never just about you.”

For her – an unflinching activist who played a pivotal role in ending Liberia’s civil war in 2003 by bringing Muslim and Christian women together in peaceful protest – life is about the call “to change the situation for a woman, for a girl, for a boy …" 

Gbowee travels a lot – to Libya, Sudan, North Korea, New York City and elsewhere – to tell stories that give a public voice to thousands of women in the countries she visits who have none.

"Myth and stereotype blind the world to the reality of what African women are accomplishing,” she wrote in an op-ed piece for the L.A. Times last year. It was about Nigerian women who stood up to Boko Haram after the abduction of hundreds of schoolgirls.

She is the mother of six children; a survivor of physical abuse at the hands of a former husband; a social worker and now a distinguished fellow in social justice at Barnard College in New York City.Gbowee riffs on the Eleanor Roosevelt quote (“Do something that scares you every day”) and makes it her own: “Do one good thing every day that everyone else is scared to do.”

For her that means working to educate girls in Liberia and Ghana, talking with women in Libya who had never dared talk about their stories of rape, and sharing the message that women do use the power to stand up and shake their governments to achieve real, sustainable change in human rights. It’s a story she says happens out of the media’s line of vision.

Gbowee has written a memoir, “Mighty Be Our Powers,” and is the subject of a documentary about her activism called “Pray the Devil Back to Hell.” She serves on the boards of the Nobel Women’s Initiative, the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa and the PeaceJam Foundation.”

Info: Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa; Visionary Women

Read the full piece here

Please Help Fund Leaves of Learning’s PeaceJam Ambassadors!

For more than five years, my school, a non-profit organization named Leaves of Learning, has been involved with the non-profit, youth focused, PeaceJam. 

You can read more about PeaceJam Here!

Over the years our student-ran PeaceJam group has facilitated countless projects for our school, community and region, including volunteering, service projects, fundraising, and community events to raise awareness and help others in our community take action and participate in our global calls to action. 

In addition we have also attended the Great Lake’s region PeaceJam conferences, in which we meet other PeaceJamers, complete service projects and meet a Nobel Peace Prize laureate. Unfortunately Great Lake’s PeaceJam has been hit by hard economical times and may not be able to host a slam this year. This would force our group from Cincinnati  to journey to Florida to attend a conference. This combined with our groups own economical struggles has made it very hard for our group to attend and complete service projects.

This being said, it would mean the world to every single one of us if you could chip in a couple dollars to our IndieGoGo campaign to get us on the road to Florida! All money will be put towards the trip or future PeaceJam projects.  Even if you can’t donate, please signal Boost.

Okay... a tad upset.

I understand the way you come to the conclusion that peacejam doesn’t count for hours if we just attend meetings, but we DO stuff for the community. I wish you wouldn’t compare that with attending a basketball game. Peacejam is involved with the community, and peacejam is making a change within our school, and eventually in the bigger picture of our nation, and then the world. I hope you understand that making change within yourself is the beginning of making a global change. We need help spreading that, and if you continue to cut down peacejam, how can it thrive? How are we supposed to grow towards positivity when we are being blocked by people on our very own level? There needs to be a greater understanding of peace and change in our community. I only hope this is not the attitude that will be spread in our generation’s future. We need to think positive to make a positive impact on the greater community. Let’s work together.

Just got home from Peacejam!

First priority? Making up for all the cat pictures I would have been reblogging over the weekend.

I think this should make up for everything.

Seriously though, this weekend was amazing. I feel like I just swam through a big pool of love, inspiration, and encouragement the entire weekend. I can’t wait to go back next year. :)


A survivor of sex slavery, the Cambodian Somaly Mam managed to overcome incredible odds, return to her native land, and give back as much as she can to those who need help. Somaly is taking on the second most lucrative criminal business in the world—human trafficking–an enterprise involving tens of millions of people and billions of dollars. For her courage, she has been recognized by many world organizations. Who knows? She may get a Nobel for her troubles.

Talking about the Nobel, here is a man who is a candidate. Ivan Suvanjieff, president of PeaceJam, has an incredible story and a great sense of perspective. I was at the United Nations General Assembly last Spring when he got a standing ovation from people in the hall. He has a great project, one we should all support. His sense of humor and real-life ways may give the wrong impression, but there is no doubt that he is on a very serious mission. Here is how he addressed my audience in Portland and beyond:

I will be meeting this incredible woman today and will be spending the weekend with her. Her name is Shirin Ebadi and she was the first female judge in Iran until Muslim religious extremist came into power and told her she could only serve as a secretary in the same court she had presided over. She did not take it very well and fought back…and she has been for years. The Iranian government and several others have threatened her life and she has been exiled from her country. She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003 for her commitment to women’s and children's rights and their roles as leaders. 

My weekend is going to be so amazing. 

So I got the chance yesterday to go to a PeaceJam HERO award luncheon and here some incredible people speak. Nobel Peace Prize laureate Laymah Gbowee was one of them and she’s the most amazing and inspiring person in the world, so honored to even be there. #PeaceJam #laymahgbowee #peace

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