I am a Liberian, but currently live and work in Accra, Ghana as Executive Director of Women Peace and Security Network Africa. I lead a team of highly competent women to promote women’s participation in peace and security governance in Africa. This entails training rural women in community peacebuilding processes (one of my true passions), and organising and mobilising non-violent peace advocacy campaigns. I also spend part of my time lobbying policy makers for implementation of the many instruments on women’s involvement in peace and security processes, specifically UN Security Council Resolutions 1325 and 1820. I initially did not like lobbying as it seemed too focused on talk, with little or no action. However I realised that decision makers at this level have only a bird’s eye view of what is happening. I also realised that my “big mouth” is a means of communicating what women in conflict situations are really going through.
I call myself a feminist because I believe women have the right to live and achieve their full God given potentials. I feel sad at the state of women in the world and wish for more change in the situation alongside the acknowledgement that women are leading the way in changing this. I am always willing to work with other women for the improvement of women’s status. In Liberia, I joined my fellow countrywomen in calling for an end to the war that plagued our lives. I always aim to help others become aware of how much further women need to go and how society restricts them and predetermines their roles. I strongly believe that we can only make a difference in the world through unity and our collective strength.
In most African society the misconceptions about feminism have caused many African feminists to face unneces- sary stigma. We are labelled as unmarried, lesbian, lawless, radical women, who refuse the African “tradition” of women submitting to their men. I am aware that many people do not fully understand what feminism is about. I feel that naming myself as a feminist and clearly stating what I stand for is really important. I have named myself, but also walked the talk, which has silenced a lot of critics.
I draw strength and inspiration from the strength and resilience of African women, who continue to mobilise and seek change in their situations, despite having little or no resources. The level of passion for change that is exhibited by an ordinary African woman speaks to me personally. My thought is always, “if she is not giving up, despite the odds, who am I to give up?”. I first witnessed this through the lives of my mother and grandmother, the first African feminists that I knew.