Liberia’s Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Elected First Female Chair of ECOWAS
By CHARLES AYITEY*
Liberia’s president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has once again broken the gender-ceiling by making history as the first female elected chairperson of the Economy of West African States (ECOWAS).
During the 49th ECOWAS Heads of State Meeting in Dakar, Senegal on Saturday, Madam Sirleaf was elected by her fellow presidents and is expected to succeed Senegalese president Macky Sall, whose term in office as head of ECOWAS 2015 draws to a close.
The summit was attended by all heads of state from member countries with the exception of Gambia’s Yahya Jammeh, José Mário Vaz of Guinea Bissau, Muhammadou Buhari of Nigeria, and Faure Essozimna Gnassingbé of Togo.
The leaders discussed important issues such as the protracted cases of political insecurity, peace and security, pre and post election violence, the border dispute between Gambia and Senegal, and terrorism.
Meanwhile, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has pledged to work towards the achievement of the regional community’s Vision 2020, which among other things includes the achievement of a single currency policy for the sub-region.
The Liberian president takes the mantle following the declaration of her country free from the deadly outbreak of Ebola which ravaged the West African economy in 2014.
A woman of stature and power, Ellen Sirleaf is revered not just as one of the most powerful women in the world but also the “Iron Lady” or “Ma Ellen” of Liberia, considering the strides chalked in rebuilding a broken Liberia after 14 years of civil war and also placing value on the country’s falling economy through prudent fiscal policies.