Mighty Be Our Powers | Leymah Gbowee

Summary of: Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War
By: Leymah Gbowee


In ‘Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War,’ Leymah Gbowee shares her incredible journey from a happy high school graduate to a Nobel Peace Prize-winning peacebuilder. As civil war broke out in Liberia, with factions fighting for control, Gbowee’s dreams of becoming a doctor faded away. Instead, she delved into social work, counseling traumatized victims of war. Discover how Gbowee’s healing efforts expanded as she joined forces with other women to create the Women in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET) and how their fearless, united activism eventually forced peace negotiations, ultimately leading to the end of Liberia’s years of violence.

The Unforeseen War in Liberia

Leymah Gbowee recounts her comfortable life in Monrovia, Liberia as a high school graduate with a bright future. With the outbreak of war, everything changed as chaos and violence engulfed the country.

Leymah Gbowee’s memoir, Mighty Be Our Powers, details her life growing up in Monrovia, Liberia, during the outbreak of war. With a comfortable family life, excellent grades, and aspirations of becoming a doctor, Gbowee’s future was looking bright. However, all of this changed when the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) rebel group, led by Charles Taylor, arrived in Monrovia. The NPFL was one of two rebel groups fighting both the government and each other, causing the country to spiral into chaos. Gbowee recounts the horrors of soldiers holding executions in the streets, the sudden shortage of food, and the abrupt loss of access to electricity. As a result, Gbowee’s future was uncertain, and her once comfortable life was no longer. Mighty Be Our Powers highlights the unexpectedness and devastation of war, and its ability to dismantle even the most stable of societies.

Surviving War and Building a Better Future

Leymah Gbowee’s journey through war, refuge, and unexpected motherhood leads her to social work, where she finds purpose and helps rebuild Liberia.

Leymah Gbowee’s life has been marked by struggle and unexpected turns. When rebel soldiers arrived in Monrovia, she and her family were fortunate enough to find accommodation in the US embassy. But as the war raged on, they were forced onto a cargo ship and eventually ended up in a refugee camp in Buduburam. Though they were safe from the rebels, the camp was a difficult place to live, with a constant stench, exposure to mosquitoes, and oppressive heat.

When peacekeeping troops finally put an end to the fighting, Gbowee returned to Monrovia, only to find that her dreams of becoming a doctor were shattered. But her life took another unexpected turn when she began dating Daniel and became pregnant with her son Joshua. After giving birth to her daughter Amber, Gbowee found herself in an abusive relationship and sought solace in work with a Unicef training program.

It was here that Gbowee found her true calling in social work. Just as she was beginning this new chapter of her life, Liberia’s fragile peace was threatened once again. But with her newfound purpose and a determination to help others, Gbowee became a force for change in her community. She co-founded the Women in Peacebuilding Network and led the Liberian Mass Action for Peace, a coalition of women’s groups who worked to bring an end to the war and secure a peaceful future for their country.

Through it all, Gbowee’s resilience and commitment to building a better future for Liberia shines through. Her journey shows that even in the most challenging of circumstances, there is always hope for a better tomorrow.

War and Survival

During the Liberian civil war, Leymah Gbowee escaped with her family by boat, enduring unsanitary and cramped conditions. Upon arriving in Ghana, they faced further hardships and financial struggles. Gbowee gave birth to her third child prematurely and was forced to stay in a hospital until a doctor paid their bill. When the war ended, Gbowee returned to Liberia with her children.

Leymah Gbowee’s Journey to Healing

Leymah Gbowee, a survivor of abuse, started her journey to healing by supporting herself and her children. She took classes at a health college, volunteered at a trauma healing program, and helped former child soldiers heal their emotional wounds. Her work earned her a steady salary, allowing her to afford a small apartment and become a healer in her community.

Women’s Power in Peacebuilding

Leymah Gbowee’s inspiring journey from creating the Women in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET) to leading the fight for peace in Liberia.

Leymah Gbowee, a member of the Trauma Healing project, attended an international conference in Ghana organized by the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP), where she met Thelma Ekiyor, a Nigerian woman. Ekiyor proposed creating a peacebuilding organization focused on women, and Gbowee took up the idea and established the Women in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET). Organizing WIPNET became Gbowee’s primary concern, as she aimed to give voice to the women who were affected by war.

During wartime, women played a critical role in caring for their families, including finding food and water while also keeping their loved ones safe. However, peace treaties were considered men’s business at the time, which made it difficult for them to participate in the peace process. Gbowee knew that it was essential to have a women-centered agenda to ensure the effectiveness of peacebuilding.

As Liberia moved towards a state of emergency, Gbowee took her children to Ghana, while she stayed in Liberia to fight for peace. Alongside her fellow WIPNET members, she distributed flyers in the streets that appealed to women to participate in the peace process. Their efforts paid off, and eventually, they organized a sit-in protest that grew into a nationwide movement. The women demanded peace and the removal of the warlords, which led to an end of the civil war in Liberia.

Gbowee’s story is a testament to the power of women in peacebuilding. She recognized the importance of a diverse coalition that reflects the demographics of the society in an effort to achieve long-lasting peace. It would be best to include narratives from different people, including women, in pursuits of peace to ensure that their voices are heard and their opinions matter.

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