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First female elected president in Africa Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Politician and economist, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the first female elected president in Africa.

Madame President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf

Politician and economist, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the first female elected president in Africa.

After two years of rule by a transitional government, democratic elections in late 2005 brought President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf to power. 

She subsequently won reelection in 2011 and remains challenged to rebuild Liberia's economy, particularly following the 2014-15 Ebola epidemic, and to reconcile a nation still recovering from 14 years of fighting.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf stated “If asked to describe my homeland in a sentence, I might say something like this: Liberia is a wonderful, beautiful, mixed-up country struggling mightily to find itself.”

Liberia Madame President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf 10 Fast Facts

Born October 29, 1938 in Monrovia, Liberia

Studied economics at Harvard University and other institutions.

Johnson Sirleaf began her political career in the 1970s as her nation's first female minister of finance. Worked within the banking industry at Citibank and the United Nations.

She was imprisoned in the 1980s for criticizing the government and she has gone into exile twice to escape persecution. First ran in the Liberian presidential election of 1997 but was defeated.

She was later elected as president in 2005 and then re-elected in 2011.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the first female head of state ever to be democratically elected in Africa.

She won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011 or their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf delivered her Nobel Lecture on December 10, 2011 at the Oslo City Hall, Norway.

In 2016, she was named the 83rd-most powerful woman in the world by Forbes Magazine. She has been called the Iron Lady due to her strong will and political persistence.

Under the 1986 Liberian Constitution, the president is democratically elected by voters to a six-year term, which may be renewed once. On January 16, 2006, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was sworn in as the twenty-fourth and current president, making her the first elected female president in Africa.


Settlement of freed slaves from the US in what is today Liberia began in 1822. Liberia is some 43,000 square miles of lush, well-watered land on the bulge of West Africa, a country slightly larger than the state of Ohio, a very small nation with a giant history. It has a population of 3.5 million people from some sixteen ethnic groups speaking some sixteen indigenous languages plus English.

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