REMARKS BY HIS EXCELLENCY DR. GEORGE MANNEH WEAH PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA AT A PROGRAM MARKING THE OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF THE ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF PRESIDENTIAL CENTER FOR WOMEN AND DEVELOPMENT – FARMINGTON HOTEL MARGIBI COUNTY, MARCH 8, 2020.
HIS EXCELLENCY DR. GEORGE MANNEH WEAH
PRESIDENT OF THE REPUBLIC OF LIBERIA
AT A PROGRAM MARKING THE OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF THE
ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF PRESIDENTIAL CENTER FOR
WOMEN AND DEVELOPMENT – FARMINGTON HOTEL
MARGIBI COUNTY, MARCH 8, 2020.
Madame Jewel Howard Taylor, Vice President of Liberia;
H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, former President of Liberia;
H.E. Olusegun Obassanjo, former President of Nigeria;
H.E. Joyce Banda, former President of Malawi;
H.E. Catherine Samba Panza, former President of Central African Republic;
The Speaker, President Pro-Tempore, and Honorable Members of the 54th Legislature;
The Chief Justice and Associate Justices of the Supreme Court of Liberia;
The Dean and Members of the Cabinet;
The Doyen and Members of the Diplomatic Corps;
Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield, former Assistant Secretary of State of the United States of America, and former United States Ambassador to Liberia;
Ambassador Christine Elder, United States Ambassador to Liberia;
Hon. Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, former Managing Director of the World Bank, and former Minister of Finance, Federal Republic of Nigeria;
Dr. Antoinette Sayeh, Deputy Managing Director-designate of the International Monetary Fund, and former Minister of Finance, Republic of Liberia;
Other Officials of Government, here present;
Members of the Fourth Estate;
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen:
I am delighted to have been invited to participate today in the formal launching of the Ellen Johnson Presidential Center for Women and Development. It is an honor, and my pleasing duty, to be here with you today.
My illustrious predecessor, Madame Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is well known for her exemplary leadership, both at home and abroad. Her career has spanned a lifetime of extraordinary achievements, many of them as the first female to attain such heights.
As a Nation and as a People, we Liberians remain very proud of these notable achievements. Madame Sirleaf was the first democratically elected female President in Africa, and the first of two Liberian females to have won the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize. These, and many other international accolades bestowed upon her, reflect a lifetime of advocacy, hard work and commitment to the betterment of Liberia and humanity in general.
Former President Sirleaf came to office at a critical juncture in our country’s history. With Liberia reeling from the devastation of many years of war, she took on the difficult task of strengthening democracy, peace and security.
When I assumed the mantle of authority in 2018, I undertook to build upon the foundation she had left in order to consolidate our democracy, preserve the peace and ensure economic viability. Without the foundation she had laid, my task of nation-building would have been even more difficult.
Liberia, throughout its long history since 1847, has had many Presidents, with me being the 25th. It is worthy to note that, in spite of the many presidencies our country has experienced, we have not had any such Presidential Center to capture history and serve as a platform for research, documentation and the promotion of noble causes in the interest of our people.
The Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development is the first of its kind in our history. It will not only archive the papers and documentation from her career and presidency, but will also chronicle her activities for the empowerment and protection of women, and serve as a springboard for the continued promotion of her causes and interests.
I therefore want to use this opportunity to assure the former President that my administration will give its fullest support to such a worthy endeavor. Rest assured of my commitment to working with you in advancing the empowerment and development of women.
Statistics show that women in Liberia constitute over 51 percent of the population. The evidence also shows that it is the women of Liberia who bear the brunt of supporting the majority of our households to earn a livelihood. It is the women of Liberia who lead in raising and educating our children.
It is the women of Liberia who lead in agriculture to feed our nation. It is the women who lead in building the infrastructure. The women of Liberia are the fulcrum around which the life of the nation revolves.
It is sometimes said that there is no force in this world more powerful than an idea “whose time has come.” As we continue to observe the celebration of International Women’s Day 2020, there is a global and collective recognition of such an idea, which I now quote directly from President Sirleaf’s Nobel Peace Prize Citation:
“We cannot achieve democracy and lasting peace in the world unless women obtain the same opportunities as men to influence developments at all levels of society”
This is an idea whose time has come. By extension, therefore, Liberia cannot succeed in achieving its objectives of socio-economic transformation if we continue to marginalize women. In fact, if we do not accept and recognize women as equal and respected partners, or even as leaders in the attainment of our national objectives, we will not be able to build that “wholesome, functioning society” that one of my predecessors spoke about many decades ago.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen, Madam Former President, let me reiterate my pledge that I and my government will give our fullest support to this Presidential Center for Women and Development. Please do not hesitate to call upon us whenever necessary, so as to ensure that this historic enterprise will remain a resounding success.
I wish you well in all your endeavors.
I thank you.