afrol News, 12 October - Africa's first woman elected President of Liberia, Ms Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, records her name in history on 21 October when she will be honoured with the 2006 laureate of the African Prize for Leadership for sustainable end of hunger. A noble award, shared with Nelson Mandela and other big African dignitaries.
The announcement was made today by Hunger Project President Joan Holmes on a global conference call. President Johnson-Sirleaf was praised for her commitment to empower women and to rebuild her nation following 14 years of devastating civil war.
Ms. Holmes said, "Can you imagine the courage it would take, the vision it would take, and the belief in the goodness and resilience of people it would take to lead a country with this amount of devastation? We have always said that we award the Africa Prize to leaders who exhibit courage, vision and the commitment to the well-being of Africa’s people. This statement has never been more true than in the case of Ellen Johnson Sirleaf."
Ms John-Sirleaf will be feted at a high profile dinner in New York, which would be attended by more than 1, 200 people from 25 countries in the world. Her prize includes a cash award to further the laureate's work for the well being of the people of Africa.
The awarding Hunger Project presents itself as "a strategic, global organisation" based in New York, committed to end hunger and abject poverty in the developing world.
The prestigious prize, which is often referred to as the "Nobel Prize for Africa", started in 1987. It is an honour to distinguished Africans who exhibit remarkable courage, vision and commitment to the well-being of their people.
In the past, the prize was won by Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu of South Africa and Graca Machel - wife of the late Mozambican President Joachim Chissano and current wife of Me Mandela. The dinner is to be attended by former winners of the prize, including Kenyan-born, Wangari Maathai.
In her response to the development, the Liberian President said, "I am indeed extremely honoured to have been nominated and to join the ranks of the sterling group of persons who have received this award. I will accept this award in person at the event scheduled and I will do so on behalf of the thousands of market women of Liberia who made great sacrifices during both war and peace to ensure that our nation is fed."
"This cash award will be needed to support the programme of the NGO which I sponsor, Measuagoon, whose prime activities are to improve the working conditions of our market women," she added.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is a skilled development expert who was a former head of UNDP Africa Bureau. She has also held senior positions with the World Bank, IMF and African Development Bank. She is a highly respected economist who held top posts with Citibank and the Equator Bank.
Upon taking office on 16 January 2006, President Sirleaf immediately launched the "First 150 Days Action Plan" to start rebuilding the nation after 14 years of civil war. This plan hinges on expanding peace and security, revitalising economic activity, rebuilding infrastructure, strengthen good governance and rule of law, among others.
She was also said to have "fulfilled her promise to battle poverty within the Liberian civil service" by firing 12 top officials of Finance Ministry. "Through her sound economic policies," the Liberian treasury was able to increase its revenue by 34 percent.
She is also doing well to provide free education for every Liberian child, in particular the girl child, the awarding committee found.
And to nail the coffin, her government had launched Truth and Reconciliation Commission, which seeks to heal the wounds of the long civil war.
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