Mighty Be Our Powers: Building Women, Building Peace
2011 Nobel Peace Laureate Leymah Gbowee is a Liberian peace activist, trained social worker and women’s rights advocate.
She currently serves as Executive Director of the Women, Peace and Security Program at Columbia University’s Earth Institute, and is the founder and current President of the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, the founding head of the Liberia Reconciliation Initiative, and co-founder and former Executive Director of Women Peace and Security Network Africa (WIPSEN-A). She is also a founding member and former Liberian Coordinator of Women in Peacebuilding Network/West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WIPNET/WANEP).
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[00:00:07.006]ANNOUNCER: Today you
are part of an important
our shared future.
[00:00:12.112]The E.N. Thompson Forum on World
Issues explores a diversity
[00:00:15.415]of viewpoints on international
and public policy issues
[00:00:19.052]to promote understanding
and encourage debate
[00:00:21.888]across the University and
the state of Nebraska.
[00:00:25.325]Since its inception in 1988
hundreds of distinguished
[00:00:29.529]speakers have challenged
and inspired us,
[00:00:32.365]making this forum
one of the preeminent
[00:00:35.802]speaker series in
[00:00:39.539]It all started when
E.N. Jack Thompson
[00:00:42.976]imagined a forum
on global issues
[00:00:45.445]that would increase
[00:00:47.714]of cultures and events
from around the world.
[00:00:50.917]Jack's perspective was
influenced by his travels,
[00:00:54.354]his role in helping to
found the United Nations,
[00:00:57.123]and his work at the Carnegie
[00:01:02.195]As President of the Cooper
Foundation in Lincoln,
[00:01:05.197]Jack pledged substantial
funding to the forum.
[00:01:08.401]And the University
of Nebraska and
[00:01:10.103]Lied Center for Performing
Arts agreed to co-sponsor.
[00:01:14.707]Later, Jack and his wife
Katie created the Thompson
[00:01:18.411]Family Fund to support the
forum and other programs.
[00:01:22.682]Today major support is provided
by the Cooper Foundation,
[00:01:28.021]Lied Center for Performing Arts,
[00:01:30.089]and University of
[00:01:32.959]We hope this talk sparks an
exciting conversation among you.
[00:01:39.599]And now on with the show.
[00:01:48.975]MIKE ZELENY: Good evening
ladies and gentlemen.
[00:01:50.610]I'm Mike Zeleny and I'm
delighted to welcome you
[00:01:52.512]to this evening's E.N.
Thompson Forum on World Issues.
[00:01:55.548]The forum, as you
know, is sponsored by
[00:01:57.317]the Cooper Foundation
in partnership with
[00:01:59.285]the University of
[00:02:00.620]and its Lied Center
for Performing Arts,
[00:02:02.489]now celebrating its
30th anniversary year.
[00:02:05.291]Tonight we are honored to
present Ms. Leymah Gbowee
[00:02:09.027]who is a Liberian
[00:02:10.997]social worker, and
women's rights advocate.
[00:02:14.300]Ms. Gbowee received the Nobel
Peace Prize in 2011 for her
[00:02:17.904]leadership of a women's
movement that played a pivotal
[00:02:20.106]role in ending Liberia's
14 year civil war in 2003.
[00:02:24.677]The year before she gathered
thousands of Christian
[00:02:27.313]and Muslim women in a
movement which later would
[00:02:31.050]become known as women of
Liberia, Mass Action for Peace.
[00:02:34.854]For many months the
women prayed for peace,
[00:02:37.290]and eventually held daily
[00:02:40.126]and sit-ins to protest Liberian
dictator Charles Taylor.
[00:02:44.731]With more than 2000 women
gathered outside his office,
[00:02:48.101]Taylor finally granted
them hearing in 2003.
agreed to attend
[00:02:52.805]regional peace talks
in Accra, Ghana.
[00:02:55.174]When the peace talks stalled
Ms. Gbowee led a group
[00:02:57.744]of 200 activists to
Accra, where they barred
[00:02:59.846]the delegates from leaving
without reaching an agreement.
[00:03:02.849]The Accra Comprehensive
[00:03:04.751]was signed on August
18, 2003 ending the war.
[00:03:09.289]Ms. Gbowee currently serves
as Executive Director
[00:03:11.491]of the Women Peace
and Security Program
[00:03:13.493]at Columbia University's
[00:03:15.962]She is also the founder
and current President of
[00:03:18.264]the Gbowee Peace
[00:03:20.500]They provide education and
[00:03:22.769]to girls, women,
and youth in Africa.
[00:03:25.338]She also was the founding
head of the Liberia
Initiative, and co-founder
[00:03:30.376]and former Executive
Director of the
[00:03:32.078]Women Peace and Security
[00:03:34.714]She also is a founding
member and former
[00:03:36.749]Liberian Coordinator of Women
in Peace Building Network,
[00:03:39.953]West Africa Network
for Peace Building.
[00:03:42.221]Ms. Gbowee serves as a
Sustainable Development Goals
[00:03:44.591]Advocate for the United Nations,
[00:03:46.192]and is also a member of
the World Refugee Council.
[00:03:48.962]In 2017 she was selected
to serve as a member of
[00:03:51.564]the United Nations
[00:03:53.499]High Level Advisory
Board on Mediation.
[00:03:56.336]Her work is chronicled
in the memoir,
[00:03:58.438]Mighty be Our Powers,
how Sisterhood, Prayer,
[00:04:01.874]and Sex Changed a Nation at
War, and in the award winning
[00:04:05.044]documentary Pray the
Devil Back to Hell.
[00:04:08.881]Tonight's event will
include a presentation
[00:04:10.583]by Ms. Gbowee followed
by questions from
[00:04:12.885]our audience here
in the Lied Center,
[00:04:14.287]and via our Twitter feed
[00:04:18.791]After tonight's lecture Ms.
Gbowee will also be available
[00:04:21.461]for book signing in the Lied
Centers orchestra lobby.
[00:04:23.997]Now please join me
in giving a warm
[00:04:25.732]Nebraska welcome to
Ms. Leymah Gbowee.
[00:04:41.881]LEYMAH GBOWEE: Thank you.
[00:04:44.517]Thank you so much.
[00:04:46.452]It's truly an honor to
be here tonight to speak
[00:04:49.555]to you all at the
E.N. Thompson Forum.
[00:04:55.395]I'd like to say thank you
to all of the organizers.
[00:04:58.164]It's been one roller
coaster ride getting me here
[00:05:05.538]from Mexico, to Iowa, to Boston,
[00:05:09.976]to Geneva, and
Geneva to Nebraska.
[00:05:14.447]That's a lot of flying around
just to get right here.
[00:05:18.918]But I'm happy to be here.
[00:05:20.319]I'm happy to share my thoughts
on some global issues.
[00:05:23.790]I'm happy for us to engage later
[00:05:26.659]after my talk with
questions and answers.
[00:05:30.963]I don't know if I have
all of the answers
[00:05:32.999]but I will attempt to give
it from my perspective.
[00:05:38.004]So in 2002 a group of us
went to a refugee camp,
[00:05:45.645]an internally displaced
camp in Liberia.
[00:05:48.915]And the essence
of our trip was to
[00:05:52.285]sit and listen to
stories of the women.
[00:05:57.523]We had gone to the
back of this camp.
[00:06:00.993]There was a hut, a circular hut.
[00:06:04.297]Prior to the war we used
to call the Palaba Hut.
[00:06:07.867]That's where people
said to talk issues.
[00:06:11.637]But after the war
now, people want
[00:06:13.706]to refer to it as the Peace Hut.
[00:06:16.242]Because Palaba led to war,
[00:06:18.444]and we don't want
to remember war.
[00:06:20.847]But we went to the Palaba
Hut and we all agreed
[00:06:23.516]at that moment that that
space was our Sandit.
[00:06:28.755]And the Sandit is the
secret society for women.
[00:06:32.191]So we sat in that
space and we began
[00:06:36.362]a conversation about
all of the issues
[00:06:40.533]that were impacting
the lives of women.
[00:06:43.269]One after the other,
women from the internally
told their stories.
[00:06:50.510]People told stories of
how they walked for miles,
[00:06:54.280]how they suffered
to get to the camps.
[00:06:57.316]And there was this
woman sitting there.
[00:07:03.422]The length of her hair,
but she was blind.
[00:07:08.327]And she walked, she had a cane
[00:07:10.763]and had a huge
bandage on her leg.
[00:07:14.934]She said there was an
attack on our village
[00:07:21.240]and I ran with my three
kids and my husband.
[00:07:25.912]We got to a checkpoint and he
was shot at point blank range.
[00:07:31.484]We walked, of course she was
by the soldiers.
[00:07:38.558]The kids were taken by
some good Samaritans.
[00:07:43.229]She said we ran, I
tried to run away
[00:07:46.766]with some other women
who had been taken.
[00:07:50.002]And we passed through some
swamp, and I hurt my leg.
[00:07:56.909]And then maybe it was
the water that we swim in
[00:08:01.147]or something, but it
started bothering my eyes
[00:08:05.585]and I started losing my sight.
[00:08:08.621]But we came to the camps and
I had not gotten any ration.
[00:08:15.962]I don't have a tent to live in.
[00:08:19.799]I was eventually reunited
with my children.
[00:08:24.303]But the person who is
responsible for giving
[00:08:27.874]the tents would
only give me tent
[00:08:31.844]and food ration if
I had sex with him.
[00:08:38.885]At that moment, everything
normal in me turned upside down.
[00:08:45.291]I was boiling with rage.
[00:08:47.793]And one of the things
that I have perfected
[00:08:50.930]is my ability to not cry.
[00:08:54.934]During the war I cried a lot.
[00:08:57.370]And by 2002 I told myself I
had to be the strong person.
[00:09:03.342]But I broke down in front
of all of the women,
[00:09:06.579]and we all just cried.
[00:09:09.548]As we were leaving
the camps someone
[00:09:12.551]asked what are you
all going to do?
[00:09:14.954]I said well we are
going to this particular
[00:09:18.824]and we're going to get justice.
[00:09:21.694]So we went, asked
to see the boss.
[00:09:26.198]He granted us audience,
we explained the story,
[00:09:30.970]called the name of the staff.
[00:09:35.474]Immediately they asked us
to go back to the camps
[00:09:39.645]the next day and to
document the number
[00:09:42.782]of vulnerable women in the camps
[00:09:46.452]for them to be able to
provide them with ration.
[00:09:50.723]This lady got her
ration, she got her tent.
[00:09:53.693]But every other thing
that was owed her
[00:09:55.761]from the past were given to her.
[00:09:59.832]In many of our societies
leaders and all of
[00:10:05.104]the different group of people
really want to talk about
[00:10:08.474]the broken system, the
brokenness of our society.
[00:10:13.112]Primarily if the women and
girls have been impacted
[00:10:15.948]by decisions that
men and leaders make,
[00:10:19.151]not many people want
to talk about it.
[00:10:22.555]And this is what I
formed as we started
[00:10:25.491]this peace work, this movement.
[00:10:28.160]It's important and
it it's necessary
[00:10:31.230]for women to just
stay in their space.
[00:10:35.368]We don't need you to come
outside to rock the boat.
[00:10:39.572]Everyone knows that
things are very bad.
[00:10:43.309]We just don't want
it in our faces.
[00:10:46.846]So join me tonight as
I try to talk briefly
[00:10:49.915]about building women,
[00:10:53.686]but also re-imagining all of
our humanitarian discourse.
[00:11:00.192]And bringing it back to
the center of reality,
[00:11:04.997]which is our common and
[00:11:09.402]So after we did that,
we were emboldened.
[00:11:12.905]I like to move around.
[00:11:15.074]Trust me I won't jump down.
[00:11:18.477]We were emboldened
by that one action.
[00:11:22.681]And that one action
led to a second action.
[00:11:26.719]And the second action led to
[00:11:28.387]a third action, a fourth action.
[00:11:31.290]But one of the things
that we realized
[00:11:33.459]as we started this
movement is that
[00:11:36.195]we could not give
what we didn't have.
[00:11:40.066]And we were fighting
to build peace.
[00:11:43.869]But a lot of us didn't
have peace, we were broken
[00:11:46.906]from all of our
experiences as survivors
[00:11:51.243]or people who were trying
to survive a civil conflict.
[00:11:55.714]So we would eventually go into
[00:11:58.984]these spaces where would exhale.
[00:12:00.519]I'll pause for a moment.
[00:12:04.557]Every woman in this
room is a sponge.
[00:12:09.462]You say how am I a sponge,
I'm a human person.
[00:12:13.399]You are a brand new
sponge that soaks
[00:12:17.503]all of the dirt around
you, the dirt of hardship.
[00:12:26.278]Don't get me wrong
men also soak it in.
[00:12:30.216]But it's easier for them to
express to their buddies.
[00:12:33.953]Most of us women, especially
from our different cultures
[00:12:36.889]are supposed to be
the strong ones.
[00:12:39.625]So we don't express a lot.
[00:12:43.229]You have to take it in for
the sake of your children,
[00:12:47.766]for the sake of your community.
[00:12:50.569]So most of us who had
gone through the war
[00:12:54.507]were just collecting
all of the pains.
[00:12:58.310]And so when we
came to that point
[00:12:59.979]where we decided we
wanted to build peace,
[00:13:04.049]building peace meant
we had to squeeze out
[00:13:07.720]all of the dirt in
order to be able to give
[00:13:12.791]what we had now,
which was peace.
[00:13:16.362]So the first part of our
work was dealing with
[00:13:18.664]the individuals, re-socializing
as we went through
[00:13:23.369]the process of trauma healing.
[00:13:26.939]Most of us had been
socialized to believe that
[00:13:29.775]we were not supposed
be in a public sphere.
[00:13:33.078]Politics and peace
was a male domain,
[00:13:37.416]and women were supposed
to stay at home.
[00:13:40.486]And this is not just
a Liberian phenomena.
[00:13:43.022]it was in Sierra
Leone, New Guinea,
everywhere you have war.
[00:13:47.927]Because you see our
politics and the histories
[00:13:50.930]of our countries is that
everything was established
[00:13:54.833]on the basis of discrimination,
[00:13:56.802]patriarchy, and all
of those things.
[00:13:59.338]Liberia is a unique case.
[00:14:02.274]In 1821 free slaves
left this country
[00:14:06.579]and went back, 19,000 of them.
was done to them on
[00:14:12.484]the plantation they did
to indigenous people.
[00:14:17.122]So as a nation we have
a complicated history.
[00:14:22.628]Liberia was established
1827 by free slaves.
[00:14:28.367]But our indigenous people, so
when were they established?
[00:14:32.438]So our history within
itself is complicated.
[00:14:36.508]Women were not allowed to
be involved in many things.
[00:14:40.679]So from 1847 when we
gained our independence
American, our flag,
[00:14:47.987]our money, our constitutional
structure of government.
[00:14:53.225]Our President gives
State of the Nation,
[00:14:55.394]you give State of the Union.
[00:14:58.597]Your elections are
November, ours is October.
[00:15:04.336]Second Monday every
year, or third Monday
[00:15:08.340]you give you State of the Union.
[00:15:10.276]Ours is second
Monday or something.
[00:15:13.646]Women are indigenous
[00:15:16.382]and the women who
were allowed to vote
[00:15:19.952]we're women who were
part of the elite class,
[00:15:23.522]did not vote until almost
100 years after independence.
[00:15:29.728]So with this background
imagine a group of women
[00:15:34.500]deciding that we're
going to get involved
[00:15:37.069]in the politics of our country,
[00:15:39.338]we're going to build
peace, we're going
[00:15:42.107]to step out there
and do something.
[00:15:43.776]Once we started with that
healing process the next thing
[00:15:46.378]we decided to do was to boldly
put out their a statement.
[00:15:52.484]At that time Taylor
[00:15:54.586]he was one of the worst
dictators in Africa.
[00:15:58.590]But he had given an instruction
that anyone who protested,
[00:16:02.961]even if it was his mother
should be flogged publicly.
[00:16:07.633]So we decided to do a statement.
[00:16:11.036]When we did that
statement someone says
[00:16:13.372]so who do we say
wrote this statement.
[00:16:15.741]Another person says say
the women of Liberia.
[00:16:18.477]I said that's fraudulent.
[00:16:20.179]How can seven people
sit in a room and claim
[00:16:22.581]to be the women of
an entire nation?
[00:16:26.652]Let's name ourselves.
[00:16:29.088]As risky as it was, we
named ourselves and signed.
[00:16:36.028]Somebody had $10
in their handbag.
[00:16:39.498]And we put our statement out.
[00:16:43.402]Next day every media
personnel in Liberia
[00:16:45.904]wanted to know who these
seven crazy people were.
[00:16:49.274]Don't you know you are
dealing with Charles Taylor?
[00:16:52.077]You put your name
on this article?
[00:16:56.515]That's the second
lesson we learned.
[00:16:59.351]You can't transform any
situation by being a fraud.
[00:17:04.656]You can't fight evil with lies.
[00:17:08.227]Today we have a
lot of young people
[00:17:10.295]who are activists
on social media,
[00:17:15.567]but they still cannot
boldly put their names.
[00:17:17.903]They go with mechanic, funny
face, issue in the press.
[00:17:22.107]Just think about whatever name.
[00:17:24.542]But we decided we wanted
to name ourselves.
[00:17:28.981]And from that
moment onward it was
[00:17:31.717]one action after the other.
[00:17:35.487]But I'll come back
[00:17:38.624]Because what we did
when we stepped out
[00:17:41.794]was to put our broken
bodies in front of the world
[00:17:45.731]to say to them that
when you watch CNN,
[00:17:49.101]BBC, Al Jazeera, and all
of the international news
[00:17:53.672]on Liberia all you saw
was the boys with guns,
[00:18:00.279]heads on sticks,
Charles Taylor speaking,
[00:18:04.616]or some warlord speaking.
[00:18:07.052]There were no coverage
of the human persons,
[00:18:11.623]people who were being
impacted by the war.
[00:18:15.327]So when we step out publicly,
[00:18:17.996]we step out to shake
the status quo.
[00:18:21.300]We were putting our
broken bodies out there
[00:18:23.802]for the world to see that
there was a second side
[00:18:27.706]to this war that no
one was talking about.
[00:18:32.511]And then it became one
thing after the other.
[00:18:37.115]Last time few of the women
and I who started the protest
[00:18:41.753]were sitting together,
and one person said
[00:18:43.355]you know we can write
volumes of stories
[00:18:45.757]based on the things that we did.
[00:18:48.494]And we can write volumes.
[00:18:50.562]One of the days the
[00:18:52.831]came to have a meeting,
no one told us.
[00:18:57.102]One of the African
Ambassadors called and say
[00:19:00.506]you need to go to so,
so, and so please.
[00:19:03.208]We got there, there were all
these US government officials.
[00:19:09.715]And we had this very
young, two young women
[00:19:12.551]in the entire
movement, very sassy.
[00:19:17.823]We had put plastic
on our statements
[00:19:21.326]because it was in the
peak of the rainy season.
[00:19:24.596]So we kept the
statement in our clothes
[00:19:27.432]so that it didn't get wet.
[00:19:29.801]One person said
I'm crossing over
[00:19:32.771]to give the statement
to those men.
[00:19:35.674]And you say how do you do
that, AK-47 all over the place.
[00:19:40.245]And the other person
said we can do it.
[00:19:43.215]And they started
crossing the street.
[00:19:46.351]The soldiers turned to them.
[00:19:49.354]I say the Swedes are very nosey.
[00:19:52.658]They wanted to know who those
women across the street were.
[00:19:56.261]Who are those girls
in the middle of
[00:19:59.064]the street standing
in front of the gun?
[00:20:01.466]And the guy came out,
and another came out,
[00:20:03.368]and another came out,
before you know it
[00:20:06.538]the entire delegation
[00:20:08.774]people we're standing
in front of us.
[00:20:11.043]And we're giving
[00:20:13.845]But that protest lasted for
as long as the war lasted.
[00:20:19.885]If you see Pray the
Devil Back to Hell
[00:20:21.820]you see all of the different
things that we did.
it home to the global
issues that we face today.
[00:20:31.363]If you look around the
world that we're faced with,
[00:20:34.566]we have the whole issue
of climate change,
immigrant issue in this country.
[00:20:45.010]Racism is facing all of us,
staring all of us in the face.
[00:20:50.382]Homelessness is a
huge issue here.
refugee wars are still raging
[00:20:57.889]in places like Yemen,
Iraq, Syria, you name it.
[00:21:03.562]And you ask yourself how can
we transform all of these,
[00:21:08.433]or how can we
transform our world
[00:21:10.168]in the face of all of
these different things?
[00:21:14.373]Some of the places you go, I go.
[00:21:17.242]And some of the stories
I hear leave little
[00:21:20.345]to desire about our
[00:21:22.848]or the fact that we have
anything at all left.
[00:21:27.919]In April I found
myself in Cameroon
[00:21:31.089]leading a peace
[00:21:37.529]Those missions that they
would name like that.
[00:21:44.536]I decided to do this even though
[00:21:46.171]I knew I would get traumatized.
[00:21:51.343]And I listened to all the
war stories from women,
[00:21:54.212]from girls, and
people were sending me
[00:21:56.982]hidden videos from hidden
locations of individuals,
[00:22:01.219]a group of people being burned,
[00:22:03.088]and beheaded, and
hacked, horrible stories.
[00:22:08.493]The one story that broke me down
[00:22:12.164]was sitting with
a group of women,
[00:22:15.100]and I asked them is there
an increase in prostitution?
[00:22:21.940]This one woman stood up in
the room and said to me,
[00:22:27.713]yes she said, look at me, I'm
45, I have three children,
[00:22:35.687]I work with the government,
own a car, own a house.
[00:22:39.257]My life was okay until
this war started.
[00:22:44.730]We moved because there's
no, in that war there is not
[00:22:49.201]an internally displaced camp
sanctioned by the government.
[00:22:52.671]So IDPs, internally
[00:22:55.140]have to move in with families.
[00:22:57.943]She said we came to my sister,
[00:22:59.511]there were over 28 individuals
living in that house.
[00:23:04.015]I saw the toll of finding
food for all of us on her,
[00:23:09.721]her finances, and
I decided to leave.
[00:23:13.191]She said I left that
house and I've become
[00:23:17.562]an airplane without
[00:23:22.033]Any man who offers me
his bed I take and sleep.
[00:23:29.875]So if my life is the increase
in prostitution, yes there is.
[00:23:38.150]Why was I broken down?
[00:23:41.219]I was broken down
because these are stories
[00:23:43.688]I've heard in many
[00:23:48.093]In the DR Congo, many years
ago I was in a hotel room.
[00:23:53.498]And I heard this
young woman screaming
[00:23:56.468]bad man, bad man, bad man.
[00:23:59.037]The activist in me woke
up and I ran outside
[00:24:04.042]with a piece of
cloth tied up here.
[00:24:07.045]For all the Africans in the room
[00:24:08.647]you know what I'm talking about.
[00:24:11.550]When you come home and you
just want to be comfortable,
[00:24:13.885]just at peace with
[00:24:17.055]But I just heard a woman
scream and I had to go.
[00:24:21.293]I got outside and this
girl was screaming
[00:24:23.695]that he brought me to
his room, he's trying.
[00:24:26.064]And in a moment men
with guns entered.
[00:24:30.468]And they started dragging,
beating, and kicking.
[00:24:34.005]I jumped in that group,
forgetting what I had on
[00:24:38.310]and just screaming let me
take her, let me take her,
[00:24:42.948]let me take her, please
don't take her away.
[00:24:45.116]They are kicking,
stomping her head.
[00:24:47.452]And I'm trying to
push every man.
[00:24:50.589]The guy in the hotel
was like get away
[00:24:53.325]because as far as he was
concerned I was black
[00:24:56.728]and I was probably another
prostitute in that hotel.
[00:25:01.933]They took her to an
all new location.
[00:25:05.570]And the next morning
[00:25:08.006]I was a part of, I
explained to them.
[00:25:12.210]And I was the only black
woman in a white delegation.
[00:25:16.715]And my colleagues got up
and walked over to this guy
[00:25:20.585]and said where did you
take that girl last night?
[00:25:24.122]And he turned to look at me.
[00:25:26.358]I say yes, I work
with this group.
[00:25:30.028]He went on to explain
that she's a troublemaker
[00:25:32.964]and that she's going to be
okay, no need for us to worry.
[00:25:36.801]But listening to this
woman in Cameroon
[00:25:40.238]in 2019, and going back to
2010, and going back to 1990,
[00:25:48.280]and going back to 1996,
the question I asked myself
[00:25:54.686]is when are we ever
going to stop this?
[00:25:58.790]Meanwhile I sit in
rooms with individuals
[00:26:02.460]with the power to say
we're ending these wars,
[00:26:06.898]we're ending the issue
of climate crisis.
[00:26:10.035]We are ending
all of the troubles that
we find ourselves in.
[00:26:16.474]And the conversation
turns to policy,
[00:26:20.078]politics, and bureaucracy.
[00:26:24.616]This week in Geneva
there was a whole
[00:26:29.554]And people in the room are
sitting and rewriting documents
[00:26:32.757]that they've already
written 10 years ago
[00:26:36.461]about the proliferation of arm,
[00:26:38.430]and the threat of
a nuclear warfare,
[00:26:41.066]and the threats of
[00:26:43.535]like the US getting out
of arm trade treaty,
[00:26:45.737]nuclear weapons treaty, and
all of the different things.
[00:26:50.075]And I was asked to
come into that room
[00:26:51.943]to give a civil
[00:26:55.580]The one thing that
has dawned on me in
[00:26:57.816]all of these global issues
that we are fighting
[00:27:01.152]is the absence of
the human person
[00:27:03.888]in the middle of the discourse.
[00:27:07.058]Recently everyone is
excited about Greta,
[00:27:11.162]Greta the climate change girl.
[00:27:13.798]When you call Greta's
name everyone wakes up.
[00:27:18.536]But Greta is able to gain
the attention of the world
[00:27:24.109]because she's taken
a huge conversation
and made it personal,
it isn't rocket science.
[00:27:34.519]So when we're
talking about racism,
[00:27:37.522]as long as racism becomes
a statistical policy issue,
[00:27:43.361]there would be
very little change.
[00:27:46.865]If racism take the shape and
form of everyday people's life
[00:27:53.505]then people begin
to pay attention.
[00:27:56.007]Why are you paying
attention to Greta?
[00:27:58.943]Because she's breaking
it down in 20 years,
[00:28:01.613]in 10 years how their
lives will be impacted.
[00:28:05.884]So when we're talking gun
violence in this country
[00:28:09.421]there is a need for us to take
it away from the statistics
[00:28:14.225]of numbers and bring it
down to the families.
[00:28:19.397]I was in one of your big
cities working with the mayor
[00:28:21.766]on bringing down gun violence.
[00:28:25.770]And in that entire meeting
my skin was creeping
[00:28:29.641]because he kept turning
to me and say Miss Gbowee
[00:28:31.943]my numbers are dropping,
my police officers
[00:28:35.280]are working and my
numbers are dropping.
[00:28:39.584]And you know sometimes
I use my Africanness
[00:28:43.621]as a means or
disrupting a space.
[00:28:45.757]So I would just say
something and say sorry
[00:28:48.359]in my culture we don't have
a way of processing that.
numbers, I say.
[00:29:01.806]What you mean numbers, Mayor?
[00:29:05.076]Can people here what
you're talking about?
[00:29:07.912]Those numbers are you
referring to the babies
[00:29:10.448]that are being murdered
on a daily basis?
[00:29:14.853]And he looked at me.
[00:29:15.987]And everyone in the
room got uncomfortable.
[00:29:19.457]And I could see my assistant
biting her nails like
[00:29:22.260]we're about to be
kicked out of this room.
[00:29:25.330]I said sir I'm sorry, but as an
[00:29:28.433]African mother I have
to put that one in.
[00:29:31.169]as an African mother
I cannot sit here
[00:29:35.240]and allow you to
keep saying numbers.
[00:29:37.876]Because by saying numbers
you have dehumanized
[00:29:41.913]this entire process, so it
becomes about the statistics.
[00:29:47.919]You've taken the dead
people's children out of
[00:29:50.455]this conversation and it's
become a political dialogue.
[00:29:54.225]I did not come here for that.
[00:29:55.660]I don't even have
a vote in the US.
[00:30:01.466]He wasn't very happy.
[00:30:05.770]Okay, okay, okay.
[00:30:07.172]Even the picture we took,
he wasn't smiling on it.
[00:30:11.776]I don't think I ever
collected my copy
[00:30:14.412]because the feeling was mutual.
[00:30:19.851]The point that I'm making
is until we bring it home,
[00:30:25.657]until we begin
to have conversations
that men can understand
[00:30:32.197]about the reproductive
systems of women,
[00:30:37.302]we will keep having
[00:30:40.905]of their reproductive
health and rights.
[00:30:44.142]Until people can understand
the impact of war, we will
about different things.
[00:30:55.286]I was fortunate to have gone
to this refugee camp in Jordan.
[00:31:01.993]But I looked back to my
own life as a refugee.
[00:31:05.897]We were the Buddha Purim
refugee camp years ago.
[00:31:09.067]And I used to be one
of those refugee girls
[00:31:11.402]who was 10 and
see these convoys.
[00:31:13.938]Who's been a refugee here
before and in a camp?
[00:31:17.375]You've been in a camp before?
[00:31:20.378]You imagine how when
the UN convoy come,
[00:31:22.947]and you're a refugee you
are just looking and wishing
[00:31:24.616]that someone would look at you
[00:31:25.783]and take you away
from that place.
[00:31:27.852]No one else, only these
girls and I've been refugees?
[00:31:30.555]There are no other
refugees from camps?
[00:31:33.458]This is a nice place.
[00:31:37.028]So I used to look an say wow.
[00:31:40.098]So this year we get to
Jordan and of course
[00:31:45.803]I become one of those
people but imagined
[00:31:49.440]my 17 year old self used to say
[00:31:52.377]I wish these people just
stop and ask me a question.
[00:31:57.482]So we get there and
there's all guards.
[00:32:00.952]This way Ms. Gbowee,
that way Ms. Gbowee.
[00:32:05.356]Have you all seen those
kinds of delegations?
[00:32:07.458]At least if you haven't been
a refugee you know how it is.
[00:32:10.061]Come on this way Ma'am, and
let's go this way Ma'am.
[00:32:13.765]And then someone wants to
approach you and they said stop.
[00:32:18.303]But that morning
when I was going,
[00:32:20.672]even though we're told
not to take hand bag,
[00:32:22.206]I'm sure it was
the Spirit of God,
[00:32:24.909]told me to take $100
and I put it in my bra.
[00:32:28.746]I was determined to give
that money to someone.
[00:32:33.051]So we get to this camp, and go
this way, and come this way.
[00:32:36.788]Things they were interested in
[00:32:38.356]was what they wanted to show us.
[00:32:41.392]I broke free from the group.
[00:32:43.828]And there was this woman
cleaning the bathroom.
[00:32:46.597]And I went to her,
I was drawn to her.
[00:32:50.902]And I put my hands in my
brassiere and took out the $100
[00:32:55.640]and gave it to her,
she looked and shove it
[00:32:57.575]back in my hand, shove
it back, she shoved.
[00:32:59.410]She can't speak English, I
can speak Arabic or whatever
[00:33:02.714]she speak, so we're pushing
money back and forth.
[00:33:04.782]And we're looking around to
see what the hell is going on.
[00:33:10.555]Eventually I put it in her
hand squeezed it tightly
[00:33:13.624]and she was like
this African woman
[00:33:14.992]is determined to break
my hand, and she said.
[00:33:19.197]And I walked away.
[00:33:21.966]After a while she came back.
[00:33:25.436]And Tauako, who is my Nubile
sister was standing next to me.
[00:33:30.908]And she speaks Arabic to Tauako.
[00:33:33.711]And Tauako said she say she
wants to tell you something.
[00:33:37.448]And I said Tauako you can't
tell anyone anything she says.
[00:33:42.086]And she says no no, no no no.
[00:33:44.355]So she asked Tauako to ask me,
[00:33:46.290]how did I know she needed money?
[00:33:50.061]I said I don't know,
but you see when we came
[00:33:54.298]to Ghana as refugees it was
my mother with 10 children.
[00:34:01.005]And I knew how, I didn't
know she had money
[00:34:04.108]but I mean she had money problem
but by virtue of the fact
[00:34:07.545]that she was cleaning
[00:34:08.413]obviously she was working
to support a family.
[00:34:11.482]And she showed me pictures.
[00:34:13.583]She was alone with five
kids, her old mother.
[00:34:17.255]And she wanted to take
a picture with me.
[00:34:20.425]Afterwards no one
could contain me.
[00:34:22.760]The security people
they had with me give up
[00:34:25.663]because everyone was going
left, I was going right.
[00:34:29.132]And I was off, the next
place they found me
[00:34:31.969]was in the midst of
some little girls.
[00:34:34.739]One spoke perfect English.
[00:34:38.141]And she dreams of being
a translator at the UN.
[00:34:44.315]The point that
I make, distinguished
ladies and gentlemen,
[00:34:49.219]global issues, world
issues, are world issues.
[00:34:54.158]But until we sit down, and
do our personal analysis
[00:35:01.599]of the human impact
of those issues,
[00:35:04.936]we will never really understand.
[00:35:08.406]Many days people ask
me how is it that
[00:35:13.311]your movement was successful?
[00:35:17.048]One, because we lived
the personal experiences
[00:35:22.220]of each and every
member of that group.
[00:35:27.024]Two, our conversations
about the war
[00:35:31.028]and ending the war
[00:35:35.333]It wasn't in some textbook
or in some UN document.
[00:35:39.737]Three, it was about
the future of a nation
[00:35:44.675]and not about few politicians.
[00:35:48.746]Today in every field,
[00:35:52.984]people are saying let's
bring it back to our field.
[00:35:56.487]I understand that
in a medical field
[00:35:59.090]there is this thing written
by a professor from U Penn
[00:36:02.059]about how medicine should
move away from social justice.
[00:36:05.763]A few years ago I was
in London at a meeting
[00:36:09.233]where a group of
Generals were saying
[00:36:11.235]Generals in the army should not
have to deal with civilians.
[00:36:16.240]We're there to fight
and to calm wars.
[00:36:20.711]I'll tell you two stories
and then I'll shut up.
[00:36:29.921]In medicine everyone is saying
[00:36:33.124]let's move away from
social justice issue right.
[00:36:39.530]In 1996 I arrived in
Ghana for the second time
[00:36:46.871]as a refugee
five months pregnant,
and less than 90 pounds.
[00:36:56.547]My blood level was so low that
[00:37:00.885]the doctor said I
need a transfusion.
[00:37:05.156]When I sat in a doctor's
office I also had pneumonia
[00:37:11.429]so I could barely breathe,
and he lashed at me.
[00:37:15.099]How can you a little girl be
pregnant with your third child?
[00:37:20.137]You need, you need, and
he went on and on and on.
[00:37:24.008]And because I couldn't
speak, I put my hands
[00:37:27.211]in my pocket and took out my
passport, and handed it to him.
[00:37:33.017]He opened the page
and saw I was 24.
[00:37:38.756]He was like no no, no no
no, I got to help you.
[00:37:42.860]You're going to die.
[00:37:45.963]He bought my medication and
every other week he would
[00:37:51.068]send for me to come, he
would give me transportation.
[00:37:56.073]And I'll get to his office,
he would buy me food,
[00:37:58.042]and then buy my medication
after treating me for free.
[00:38:02.346]The Sunday I went to give
birth to this premature baby,
[00:38:06.183]my doctor had lost
his mother on Friday.
[00:38:09.620]I delivered, I
didn't have a dime.
[00:38:12.490]They put us in the hallway,
I put this baby here.
[00:38:17.328]I didn't know that was the life
[00:38:18.529]saving thing I
was doing for him.
[00:38:21.332]I slept on the floor in
the hallway of a hospital
[00:38:24.135]in Ghana for a week
until he came back.
[00:38:28.906]Someone told him your
patient's up there.
[00:38:31.776]But some good Samaritan
had taken me that morning
[00:38:34.512]off the hallway into her room.
[00:38:37.048]When he came, where is my
grand-baby, bubbly happy.
[00:38:43.320]Paid my bills,
made sure the baby
[00:38:46.157]was taken care of,
and sent us home.
[00:38:51.829]That doctor, even though
is a medical doctor,
[00:38:57.535]stepped into a
social justice space.
[00:39:01.906]I was a refugee with no
status, he helped me.
[00:39:07.178]But not only did he help me,
he gave me hope in humanity,
[00:39:13.517]that there were still
good people in this world.
[00:39:16.287]Even though I had come back from
[00:39:18.789]one of the bloodiest civil wars.
[00:39:22.526]Second, Festus Okonkwo,
a Nigeria General.
[00:39:29.600]We get to this
conference in London.
[00:39:31.469]Every other general
in the room was saying
[00:39:34.405]we are not supposed to
protect civilians in war.
[00:39:37.608]And this is the year
when the conversation
protection was very high.
[00:39:43.147]General Okonkwo gets up to make
and puts a slide up.
[00:39:52.890]And the slide was a
very violent photograph.
[00:39:57.027]There was this woman who
was an activist in Liberia.
[00:39:59.764]She was a mere marketer.
[00:40:02.099]And she used to criticize
President Taylor every day
[00:40:06.003]and talk about the
evils of his government.
[00:40:09.340]She was abducted,
raped, and killed.
[00:40:16.247]When they kill her, as if
to send a message to any
[00:40:21.786]other woman who might dare to
stand up to this President,
[00:40:26.357]they took a tiny
tree, inserted it
[00:40:30.060]in her private it
came out of her mouth.
[00:40:33.697]It was that picture that
General Okonkwo put up.
[00:40:39.003]He turned to the
Generals in the room
[00:40:43.040]and said to all of
the men in this room
[00:40:46.410]who are saying they spent
years at the military academy
[00:40:49.780]not to protect civilians,
which of you on your watch
[00:40:56.086]will see this happen
and go back home
[00:40:59.557]and look your wife, your
daughter, your mother in the eye
[00:41:06.363]and say you've done a great job.
[00:41:10.401]At the end of that
meeting those generals
[00:41:15.105]had a turnaround, and today
there is a UN Resolution 1820
[00:41:22.346]that recognized sexual
violence as a war crime.
[00:41:31.388]Even as we discuss immigration,
[00:41:35.993]even as we discuss
[00:41:41.131]even as we discuss education,
[00:41:45.069]if the conversation is
not centered around people
[00:41:49.740]distinguished ladies and
gentlemen, we will remain
[00:41:53.844]seeking for answers for
the rest of our lives,
[00:41:57.815]and our children will
come seeking for answers.
[00:42:04.688]Local issues, regional issues,
global issues must have
[00:42:11.562]the human face at the center
of all of those issues.
[00:42:18.302]Two things happen, not
only do we solve them
[00:42:24.141]but the individuals
around that has lost hope
[00:42:28.279]in humanity will
gain hope again.
[00:42:32.750]They will be able to say
at least there are some
[00:42:37.855]good people in this
world, or that the systems
[00:42:41.558]and structures of our
world is not useless.
[00:42:47.498]In Liberia we position ourselves
[00:42:51.135]to face everything we're facing.
[00:42:54.104]When I look back
from 2003 till today,
[00:42:58.709]I tell myself I'm able
to do the work that I do
[00:43:03.113]because of the work we did
with those women.
[00:43:07.017]They had so much
faith in our ability
[00:43:09.820]to transform our
nation, which we did.
[00:43:13.057]And today I can step into
spaces and use my voice
[00:43:17.361]to speak against evils because
I know that someone has to.
[00:43:27.538]At the end of the Libyan war
[00:43:30.607]no one wanted to
talk about rape.
[00:43:33.610]Everyone was afraid to
even mention the word rape.
[00:43:38.315]Dr. Abulash and I, and
some Italians, went in.
[00:43:42.886]And he was angry
everyday, just angry
[00:43:46.790]because NATO had
destroyed that country.
[00:43:48.892]And there was no plan for
reconstruction till today,
[00:43:52.496]no plan for trauma
healing till today,
[00:43:55.466]no plan for taking arms
from people till today.
[00:43:59.436]The conversation was about
taking out a Dictator.
[00:44:05.776]After he was taken out
no one talked about
[00:44:11.348]the people who stayed and
suffered under the Dictator,
[00:44:16.053]and who suffered as a
result of the bombings.
[00:44:19.990]Today Libya has
become a basket case
[00:44:23.827]and no one wants
to talk about it,
it's too complicated,
[00:44:31.969]militarily it's too complicated.
[00:44:35.939]So the people are left
hanging in a balance.
[00:44:41.945]I went to that country,
stood on a stage
[00:44:45.082]in front of all of
their powerful people
[00:44:48.185]and mentioned rape for
as many times as I could.
[00:44:53.090]And I think every time
mentioned, someone cringed.
[00:44:56.627]But I remember the last
thing I said to them
[00:45:00.130]was that if
people, if the revolution
was to create a change,
[00:45:09.406]then it had to take
[00:45:11.508]the pains of the Libyan
people, or else that new regime
[00:45:17.047]was no different from
the Qaddafi's regime.
[00:45:22.719]We have a world that
is in need of help
[00:45:31.028]from Mandela, to King,
to Gandhi, to Tutu,
[00:45:35.132]to Shirin Ebadi, to Rosa
Parks, to Leymah Gbowee,
[00:45:40.270]to Nadia Murad, to
[00:45:42.673]Those of us who have been
fortunate to receive something
[00:45:45.442]called the Nobel Peace Prize,
and global recognition.
[00:45:51.582]Our work wasn't abstract,
it was encountering people,
and finding ways
[00:46:01.024]to transform the
pains of people.
[00:46:05.596]Maybe all of us in this
room cannot win the prize.
[00:46:10.601]But trust me you
can win more prizes
[00:46:13.871]by helping to shape the
world that you live in.
[00:46:20.477]Every time you think
about climate change,
[00:46:24.148]think about the impact
on a human person.
[00:46:27.651]Every time you think
about gun violence,
[00:46:31.288]let it not be
thoughts and prayers.
[00:46:34.358]Think about those families who
[00:46:36.560]will never see that child again.
[00:46:39.029]Every time you think
[00:46:42.399]think about what conditions
are created in our societies
[00:46:47.337]that makes it difficult
for people to keep a home.
[00:46:51.241]Every time you're
confronted with racism,
[00:46:55.445]ask yourself what is
the color of blood
[00:47:00.651]of that brown
person, green person,
[00:47:03.120]white person that
I intend to harm?
[00:47:07.991]Because it is by bringing
our collective humanity
[00:47:12.062]into the center of all
of these global issues
[00:47:17.267]that we're able to
start from local
take it up to global.
[00:47:23.774]I thank you.
[00:47:59.843]It's been a long day.
[00:48:02.379]MIKE ZELENY: Ladies and
gentlemen if you would like
[00:48:03.580]to engage Ms. Gbowee
[00:48:06.183]there are ushers and the
aisles to collect them
[00:48:08.218]please and bring
them to the stage.
[00:48:09.953]You may also submit
questions via twitter
[00:48:12.055]using the hashtag
[00:48:14.825]Mighty be our Powers, Building
Women, Building Peace.
[00:48:19.263]Thank you for the
powerful message Leymah.
[00:48:21.365]We are all enriched by
your presence this evening.
[00:48:25.736]We'll start with a
couple of questions
[00:48:27.271]from our Twitter
feed this evening.
[00:48:30.107]So many people in
this country feel like
[00:48:32.042]change is so difficult to
achieve because of corruption,
[00:48:38.482]What can you say to the
young people in this room
[00:48:40.484]to encourage them
to keep trying?
[00:48:44.121]GBOWEE: Well there's no other
way out but to keep trying.
[00:48:48.458]If you look at what
where we find ourselves,
[00:48:51.161]it's not the desirable space.
[00:48:54.898]I mean I can go on
telling you stories of
[00:49:00.437]some of those issues
that were listed.
[00:49:05.542]And let's imagine our
world is this stage.
[00:49:11.114]And it's all darkness out here.
[00:49:14.918]If one person stood on
this stage with light
[00:49:17.854]they've disrupted that darkness.
[00:49:21.558]And I think this is what young
people need to understand.
[00:49:25.495]You may not see that
change in your lifetime,
[00:49:29.533]but you may have
contributed to that change.
[00:49:34.237]25 years ago when I started
working, or over 25 years ago,
[00:49:40.243]no one in my community
could talk about
[00:49:42.679]female genital mutilation
publicly, no one.
[00:49:48.819]It was not only a threat
from the traditional society,
[00:49:55.625]but powerful people
[00:49:57.094]because that's how
they got votes from
[00:49:59.363]the traditional people
when they kept with
[00:50:02.666]the cutting of women and girls.
[00:50:06.236]Today FGM is on the
floor of Parliament.
[00:50:15.212]Are you following?
[00:50:17.280]25 years ago it wasn't even
near a public dialogue.
[00:50:23.754]25 years later is on
the floor of Parliament.
been banned by traditional
leaders for one year.
[00:50:38.168]So imagine all the
problems, young people,
[00:50:42.105]that you are working
on as a big ball.
[00:50:43.874]I'm trying to give you a
mental picture of change.
[00:50:46.643]So this problem that
you want to work on
[00:50:48.612]is a big ball of true problem,
think about big cheese ball.
[00:50:55.886]And if you go and chip off a
piece, is that ball whole again?
[00:51:02.426]No right, something
is taken out.
[00:51:06.196]And if someone chips out
a piece, another thing,
[00:51:08.832]and before you know it
if we're all chipping
[00:51:11.301]at those things that
we're passionate about,
[00:51:13.737]it's not a whole big
ball of problem anymore.
[00:51:17.374]It's probably half, or
three quarters of a problem.
[00:51:22.813]So you cannot give
up on those things
[00:51:25.048]that you're passionate
about, you have to keep
[00:51:27.684]breaking at it, you
have to keep pushing
[00:51:30.153]at it so that there is a change.
[00:51:32.622]Don't give up because giving
up means corruption has won,
[00:51:36.560]racism has won,
discrimination has won,
[00:51:39.296]and bureaucracy is
going to roll over you
[00:51:42.232]and your children
[00:51:52.509]ZELENY: Let's turn to politics.
[00:51:53.643]What do you think this
world would look like if all
[00:51:56.580]countries adopted gender quotas
in their legislative bodies?
It would be a beautiful world,
what are you talking about?
[00:52:06.122]Let me tell you something.
[00:52:08.258]It's not that women
are better than men.
[00:52:14.331]It's just that they're
[00:52:24.241]Men you are allowed to clap.
[00:52:29.379]In most of the negotiating
rooms that we sit in
[00:52:34.150]when people are having
conversations about peace,
[00:52:38.221]the men are more concerned
about the political positions,
[00:52:43.059]and the women are
more concerned about
[00:52:45.729]re-establishing a whole society.
[00:52:50.600]If we had more women in
Parliament they would transform
[00:52:55.605]the conversation away from
the money and the power,
[00:53:00.010]and reposition it
back to everything
[00:53:02.879]we talked about tonight,
people so there's
[00:53:06.216]confidence in governance again.
[00:53:09.252]It would not just be
about women's issue.
[00:53:13.056]And that's where people miss it.
[00:53:14.991]It will be about a global
or a national issue,
[00:53:19.596]issues that is impacting
[00:53:23.900]And again Parliament
will not be as dull,
[00:53:27.671]with all dark suits, there would
be a lot of color in there.
[00:53:36.246]ZELENY: As an educator what do
you think the most important
[00:53:39.316]lesson there is to
share with students?
[00:53:42.652]GBOWEE: I think practical lessons.
[00:53:45.088]We focus too much on textbooks.
[00:53:49.059]Some of the Universities
that I go to lecture,
[00:53:51.895]or spend time in a
classroom of my students,
[00:53:54.698]when they give me
one theory of change
[00:53:57.634]I'm like Jesus, where
is that going to work?
[00:54:03.306]Somebody telling you the
way I'm going to transform
[00:54:04.808]the world is by Skyping
into children in Africa.
[00:54:10.614]First things first,
where you are Skyping
[00:54:12.682]there is no electricity,
[00:54:16.219]let alone Internet connectivity.
[00:54:18.054]And they are so very very strong
on I can make this change.
[00:54:24.461]Come on now, it's
not going to work.
[00:54:28.264]So as an educator it's
very important for us
[00:54:31.768]to take some of
our students heads
[00:54:33.570]out of the clouds and
bring it a reality.
[00:54:36.973]It's important for
us to tell them that
[00:54:40.910]it's time for us to
debunk the myth of
[00:54:44.147]the North going to
rescue the Global South.
[00:54:50.286]You can clap thank you.
[00:54:56.660]It's time for us to tell
them that when you get
[00:54:58.161]into a community,
you are on a journey
[00:55:01.364]to accompany a group of
people, not to teach them.
[00:55:06.102]I will give you a quick example.
[00:55:08.872]A group of people went
to a village in Liberia
[00:55:11.141]during the war and saw
women walking 30 minutes
[00:55:13.610]to get water and
coming back 30 minutes.
[00:55:17.080]Without any dialogue they placed
[00:55:19.849]a hand pump in the
middle of this village.
[00:55:23.820]Several months later
another group went to do
[00:55:26.022]their social research
to see the impact
[00:55:29.059]of this hand pump in the
middle of the village.
[00:55:32.696]Of course, statistically
[00:55:37.167]But they recognized
[00:55:40.170]Alcoholism had taken over
the women in the community.
[00:55:44.841]Let's ask them.
[00:55:47.077]When they walked 30
minutes to the stream,
[00:55:49.779]that was the therapy
[00:55:52.816]about the abuse and
everything they were facing.
[00:55:55.852]Coming back was their healing.
[00:55:59.723]When you take that away
from them without creating
[00:56:03.326]a space in the community
where they can sit and talk,
[00:56:07.363]the only thing they could
turn to was alcohol.
[00:56:12.268]Please young people, don't
come with that mentality.
[00:56:17.073]Come with the mentality of I'm
here on a journey to learn.
[00:56:21.644]And in learning let's exchange.
[00:56:26.149]ZELENY: Thank you.
[00:56:32.055]An audience member here
at the Lied Center asks
[00:56:33.990]having come this far
with advocacy for women,
[00:56:36.426]what's your perspective
now on the rights of women?
[00:56:38.762]And do you think
much has changed?
[00:56:41.197]GBOWEE: Well I always said
knowledge is power.
[00:56:46.369]Knowledge is power.
[00:56:48.071]And people would say
oh we hear a lot.
[00:56:51.541]But the question is, is
it worse than the past?
[00:56:56.212]Or is it that people
are more aware now
[00:56:59.282]so they're putting it out there?
[00:57:02.085]I would think that
we've made some strides.
[00:57:05.155]There are nations and people
that want to take us back,
[00:57:09.025]and this is where the fight is.
[00:57:11.828]I tell women in the
[00:57:14.097]we toast ourselves for too long.
[00:57:19.102]So you win victories, you
celebrate, you move on.
[00:57:22.939]Not to spend too much
time celebrating this.
[00:57:25.842]Because one of the things
I have come to recognize
[00:57:28.211]is that international
bodies, governments, have now
[00:57:31.548]mastered the language they
think women want to hear.
[00:57:34.951]Our President calls
himself Feminists in Chief.
[00:57:37.253]I don't know what
the hell that is.
[00:57:41.958]With only two cabinet
women, cabinet ministers.
[00:57:45.361]And you call yourself
Feminist in Chief.
[00:57:49.065]You know, so they've mastered
a language that they think
[00:57:52.468]daughters like to hear, the
[00:57:53.970]So if you go to the UN
you speak that language.
[00:57:56.105]They will applaud you.
[00:57:58.274]So we need to be stepping
into those spaces
[00:58:00.877]and really disrupting
some of those languages,
[00:58:03.213]and telling them no
this is not what it is.
[00:58:05.448]But we've made some gains.
[00:58:07.884]But we still have
a lot more to do.
[00:58:11.087]Resting is not an option, yeah.
[00:58:14.691]ZELENY: Thank you, what role--
[00:58:20.396]Leymah, what role
does journalism play
[00:58:21.965]in the global perspective,
[00:58:24.567]And how has it either furthered
or set back your advocation?
[00:58:27.937]GBOWEE: Well journalism has
really, let me take a step back,
[00:58:38.314]I mean in every
part of the world
[00:58:43.152]it's very difficult to
find a balanced news.
[00:58:48.925]It's worse in this country.
[00:58:53.363]You go on this side,
it's this thing.
[00:58:55.965]You come on this
side, it's that thing.
[00:58:58.234]That's the first thing.
[00:59:00.036]So the polarization of
all of our societies
[00:59:03.806]is primarily contributed to by
[00:59:07.277]the kind of journalism we have.
[00:59:10.747]I don't listen to radios
when I go to Liberia.
[00:59:13.816]You just have to
turn it on to know
[00:59:15.618]who's for the President
and who's against him.
[00:59:18.988]Internet radio is
the same thing.
[00:59:22.558]The second thing is,
all of these projections
[00:59:25.762]of women as victims perpetually,
[00:59:30.099]is exacerbated by the
reportage from wartime.
[00:59:33.937]Because most of the report
that the journalists
[00:59:37.040]want to carry is about
the rape and abuse,
[00:59:40.543]and not about the strength
that these women possess
[00:59:43.680]even in the midst
of all of the pain.
[00:59:47.984]So there's a lot as we
re-imagine the world,
[00:59:50.753]journalists need to re-imagine
how to put stories out there.
[00:59:54.557]The more you put the
stories of the guns,
[00:59:57.827]and the weapons, and the non
entities that become warlords,
[01:00:01.898]seeing themselves on CNN,
and Al Jazeera, and BBC,
[01:00:06.436]the more you embolden other
non entities to take guns
[01:00:09.772]and wage war on their people
as a means of coming to fame.
[01:00:13.142]So we really need to
[01:00:16.012]moving away from militarism,
overly sexualized content
[01:00:22.385]into those things that
really preach peace.
[01:00:25.455]One of my favorite
moments was after one of
[01:00:27.623]the mass shootings in the US
and I think it was the one,
[01:00:32.495]this person went to a
predominantly gay bar
[01:00:36.566]and shot up a whole
bunch of people.
[01:00:38.868]And I watched Anderson
Cooper 360 that night.
[01:00:42.905]And one of the things
he said I refuse
[01:00:46.109]to mention your name
on this program.
[01:00:49.946]And I think there more
people take stands to say
[01:00:53.282]I am not going to call the name
of a warlord on my program,
[01:00:57.520]not giving you access
to this news feed.
[01:01:00.123]I'm not giving you access
to front page headline
[01:01:02.625]to New York Times,
to Al Jazeera,
[01:01:04.527]the more we're
making it impossible
[01:01:06.929]for foolishness to
reign in our world.
[01:01:11.167]The more we decide we're doing
these things, the more these
[01:01:14.504]people would be emboldened
to do what they need to do.
[01:01:17.940]So I met a professor
[01:01:21.544]and he was the one a few weeks
ago he said, for him his role
[01:01:26.783]in preaching gender
equality in the world today,
[01:01:29.585]he refused to be on
all male panel anymore.
[01:01:33.556]He refused to go
to a man-posium.
[01:01:40.363]So each and every one of
us in our different fields
[01:01:43.199]can do what we can do to
transform the world, yeah.
[01:01:46.636]ZELENY: Thank you.
[01:01:52.008]How can we build women
women solidarity networks
[01:01:54.610]that can overcome racial class,
and geographic differences?
[01:01:58.915]GBOWEE: You know this is
something that is,
[01:02:04.053]I won't say difficult to do,
[01:02:06.389]but I would say it is
gonna take a lot of work.
[01:02:09.859]Because women are
not just there.
[01:02:23.206]They knew what they were getting
[01:02:24.507]into when they invited me here.
[01:02:30.379]We are more than our bodies.
[01:02:36.185]I think before we talk
about building any kind
[01:02:38.788]of movement across geographic
we have to consider,
[01:02:43.126]what is bringing us
together as a group.
[01:02:47.763]The mistake we often
make when we talk about
[01:02:51.067]movement building is to think
that we can build movement
[01:02:54.003]based on our sex, or
our gender identity.
[01:02:57.773]There has to be a
[01:03:00.977]In Liberia the theme
that brought us together
[01:03:03.613]was peace, and the quest
for peace not our, no.
[01:03:12.455]So if we find a group
of women, and there are
across borders working
[01:03:18.461]on issues that they
are passionate about.
[01:03:20.997]But for people to begin to
imagine that just because
[01:03:24.000]I am a woman I can come and
mobilize women in Nebraska.
[01:03:28.538]If I asked her now, I'm just
here to listen to this talk.
[01:03:32.241]And she probably has something
[01:03:33.743]else that she's
[01:03:35.711]And if you ask
another woman there's
[01:03:37.246]something else she's
[01:03:38.881]And another person is
passionate about something else.
[01:03:41.083]So it's going to
be very difficult
[01:03:42.385]to try to bring all of us
together based on that passion.
[01:03:47.723]You have some women who, like
me, do things differently.
[01:03:52.428]You have some who
do things different.
[01:03:54.764]So we are not just one group
of people based on this.
[01:03:58.768]We have our own brains
and to think that
[01:04:01.404]we can bring all of us
together on the basis of this.
[01:04:08.077]You understand what
I'm trying to say?
[01:04:10.012]ZELENY: Loud and clear.
have to spice it up a bit.
[01:04:18.554]ZELENY: Leymah one last
question this evening.
[01:04:20.256]As a survivor, you
don't seem angry.
[01:04:23.226]How do you take anger and create
passion and change without?
[01:04:29.065]Yeah we'll stop there.
[01:04:30.299]How do you take the anger and
create passion and change?
[01:04:35.871]GBOWEE: First thing first.
[01:04:38.808]Unforgiveness is having
someone have power over you.
[01:04:43.446]Can I have two volunteers?
[01:04:45.781]Since this is the, come on
baby girl, come on mama.
[01:04:50.753]Since this the last
question I'll take my time.
[01:04:54.657]Because I really want
people to capture this.
[01:05:04.533]I tried to be modest tonight,
to cover all of this.
[01:05:10.006]Can you come and
help me a bit here?
[01:05:15.144]Just to hold my mic for me.
[01:05:17.713]All right so, I'm not
going to say who is who but
[01:05:23.152]this is a victim and
a perpetrator of war.
[01:05:27.690]Someone hurts someone.
[01:05:32.461]So one person is hurt,
okay, excuse me for saying
[01:05:35.631]you are hurt, she hurt you.
[01:05:38.534]Bring your hands.
[01:05:43.606]No no no.
[01:05:46.008]So during the moments
[01:05:50.012]what I've come to
recognize is that
[01:05:54.517]you are bound to the
person that, thank you.
[01:05:59.021]You are bound to the
person who traumatized you.
[01:06:02.625]Think for a moment,
I'll bring it home.
[01:06:06.028]You're married to this nice man.
[01:06:09.098]You work so hard for
everything you got.
[01:06:12.101]You had his babies, and then
[01:06:17.940]you added a few pounds like me.
[01:06:21.043]And after 10 years he leaves
you for a young thing.
[01:06:28.651]You're angry, you're upset.
[01:06:30.219]He's angry because
of certain things.
[01:06:32.121]There's a bitter divorce,
you're tied together.
[01:06:36.826]Someone you're close to
sexually assault or molest you.
[01:06:43.132]You're angry, you're
bitter, you're tied to them.
[01:06:47.069]Someone kills your
relative, you know them,
[01:06:50.606]they know you,
you're tied to them.
[01:06:54.343]Try to go left, and
try to go right.
[01:06:58.714]It's impossible for you
to make any progress
let me bring it home.
[01:07:09.525]Imagine refugee communities.
[01:07:13.996]If you've been to any
[01:07:16.665]people are sitting and the
grass is growing literally in.
[01:07:24.273]There's very little
development around them
[01:07:27.943]because there is this feeling of
[01:07:30.279]I got to deal with that issue.
[01:07:33.048]So there's all this anger there.
[01:07:36.252]So since she is the
perpetrator, she decides.
[01:07:44.059]But first thing first,
every time the way
[01:07:47.430]you know you are
tied to this person,
[01:07:49.765]every time you see them
your heart skip a beat.
[01:07:52.301]Anyone have seen
this happen to them?
[01:07:58.541]I know I'm not a
crazy African woman.
you are tied to them.
[01:08:07.149]Every time you
see them your body
[01:08:09.318]go through some
kind of emotions.
[01:08:11.954]Some people have
[01:08:14.590]Some people have
bitter biles in their
[01:08:17.859]throat and they
want to throw up.
[01:08:21.663]And this person
who did this to you
[01:08:24.899]is also going through
[01:08:27.970]They are always own attack
mode, I wonder they're?
[01:08:33.242]Am I making any sense here?
[01:08:37.046]So then she says I can't
deal with this anymore.
[01:08:43.886]So I'm going to
her to apologize.
[01:08:48.224]She is the perpetrator, right.
[01:08:52.995]So she comes to her and
say, I'm sorry, forgive me.
[01:08:58.868]I want to make amends for
everything I did to you.
[01:09:02.837]And she says till I die,
I will never forgive you.
[01:09:21.156]And she's carrying all of it.
[01:09:27.263]Or she decides, I don't want
to deal with this anymore.
[01:09:34.002]So she confronts her.
[01:09:36.337]What you did to
me really hurt me.
[01:09:41.609]But you know what,
I forgive you.
[01:09:46.448]And she says I'm justified.
[01:09:49.417]It was the war, and I have no
remorse for whatever happened.
[01:10:04.867]She's still carrying,
and she's free.
[01:10:09.471]Help me people.
[01:10:12.107]Do I want to carry
my own burden,
[01:10:16.378]and someone's burden
for the rest of my life?
[01:10:19.815]So that's why it's so
important when we say to people
[01:10:25.321]it's painful, it's
hurtful, but sometimes
[01:10:31.060]you have to find that
place of healing, not just
[01:10:35.931]for yourself but for
progress, and for your future.
[01:10:41.303]Because by carrying
this burden it becomes
[01:10:44.173]impossible for you to
[01:10:46.475]It's impossible for
you to keep a job.
[01:10:48.611]It's impossible because you,
you're still carrying this
[01:10:52.014]and you're still thinking
someone is about to attack me.
person has moved on.
[01:11:00.189]And some days when I
want to make women vexed,
[01:11:01.790]when I tell this story I
say in cases of divorce,
[01:11:06.061]the man will come
and say I'm so sorry.
[01:11:09.498]It just wasn't working.
[01:11:11.600]And she's like no I
can never forgive you.
[01:11:14.570]Those are the moms who
show up in sweat pants
[01:11:16.839]to their children's
school, scattered hair.
[01:11:21.243]And the father has moved
on and he's looking
[01:11:24.580]20 years younger with
his young, whatever.
[01:11:29.351]And you're still adding
on pounds, still angry.
[01:11:32.121]Men are just horrible.
[01:11:34.323]Because you're still carrying
that baggage of your past.
[01:11:40.829]Girl, boy, women, men
[01:11:48.404]save yourself that extra burden.
[01:11:53.242]Life has its own
burden, let it go.
[01:11:57.346]I refused at one point in
my life, and that was 1999,
[01:12:04.353]to allow the pain of my
abuse, the pain of war,
[01:12:10.259]the pain of many things
to keep going with me.
[01:12:14.496]Life is too damn short to
be angry for a long time.
[01:12:19.802]I bundle up all of my
pains, gave them to Jesus.
[01:12:24.206]And now I am just being pretty.
[01:12:25.407]Thank you all.
[01:12:38.787]ZELENY: Ladies and gentlemen thank you
[01:12:39.988]for attending tonight's
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