After nearly two decades of brutal civil war, Liberia is a nation ready for change. On January 16, 2006, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was inaugurated the country’s first elected female president and Africa’s first freely elected female head of state. A Harvard-educated economist and grandmother of eight who had been exiled to Nigeria and nicknamed the Iron Lady, Johnson Sirleaf won a run-off election with 59 percent of the vote, but faces enormous obstacles in rebuilding a war-torn country.
Despite massive support both in Liberia and abroad, Johnson Sirleaf must not only find ways to reform a corrupt authoritarian government saddled by astronomical debts, but must also confront opponents loyal to former President Charles Taylor—all without alienating her voter base.
Since taking office, Johnson Sirleaf has appointed an unprecedented number of women to leadership positions in all areas in the Liberian government. With the exclusive cooperation of President Sirleaf, IRON LADIES OF LIBERIA goes behind the scenes of this groundbreaking administration during its first year, as it works to prevent a post-conflict nation from returning to civil war.
This film will be shows on PBS at 9pm on March 18 as part of the Independent Lens series.