BBC calls Laymah Gbowee Liberia’s Peace Warrior. The Nobel prize committee said they chose her because she:
…mobilized and organized women across ethnic and religious dividing lines to bring an end to the long war in Liberia, and to ensure women’s participation in elections. She has since worked to enhance the influence of women in West Africa during and after war.
Gbowee has known the violence that 14 years of civil war can create, and she has responded with action. She became a trauma counselor and worked with women and girls that had been raped by militamen. She and the women were desperate for the war and abuses to end.
According to a BBC report, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-15215312, Gbowee and the women she organized in Liberia were deeply committed, as they picketed, fasted and prayed for peace:
Amid the shells and bullets, they prayed and protested for days on end, demanding that the conflict between former President Charles Taylor and rebel forces stop.
The protestors even followed President Taylor to Ghana’s capital when he flew there for peace talks, continuing to pursue him until they were successful. They indeed met their goal. Mr. Taylor is no longer the president.
Although Mr. Taylor is on trial at The Hague for war crimes, Gbowee makes it very clear in an interview with Stephen Colbert that he is not on trial for war crimes against Liberia. http://www.colbertnation.com/the-colbert-report-videos/233532/july-14-2009/leymah-gbowee.
In this same interview, she talks about how the women went on a sex strike in order to influence their men to stand up for peace. They denied sex to those that were fighting and those that were not fighting. The women wanted even non-fighting men to speak to their friends and relatives that were choosing to fight, and participate in putting an end to the conflict.
According to the BBC report mentioned above, Ms. Amanor, Gbowee’s assistant shed some light on Gbowee’s reason for announcing the sex strike:
Ms. Gbowee also suggested that Liberian women might go on a sex strike to increase pressure on the various (male) faction leaders.
Their message to the men was that they can’t go and kill mothers and daughters and then come home [to expect sex], said Ms Amanor.
This topic came up at our recent Path of the Sacred Feminine Women’s Retreat. While sex is certainly a powerful way to inspire positive and peaceful behaviors in men, this concept triggers a spiritual question for me regarding our choices and sex. Clearly, she sees this choice as providing necessary motivation, and she has written a book about it entitled, Mighty Be Our Powers: How Sisterhood, Prayer, and Sex Changed a Nation at War.
Is it wise for a woman to accept a man into her body, when he is engaged in behaviors of anger, intolerance, violence and the manipulation of others? Yes, he might be in love with you, but when you are engaged in sexual intercourse, the boundaries aren’t that distinct. You are receiving a man into you. A woman has a responsibility for her body. It is her temple. Spiritually, it is a woman’s right and personal duty to herself to consider carefully what energy she is willing to receive.
By not receiving into our bodies men that are living lives filled with anger, violence, greed or manipulation, or are negligent in protecting women from violence, we are in fact making a statement about what is acceptable. We make a significant statement about our values personally and globally when we choose to receive, in our lovemaking, men that live in peace, compassion, generosity and humanitarian love.
This is one of the great powers of the Sacred Feminine. We are the vessels. Our wombs are the crucibles in which life is forged. So, isn’t it appropriate that we be the guardians of our bodies, and the new lives that may emerge from sexual union? Isn’t it appropriate that we, when our men do not, set the standard for the type of energy we want to experience within our temples?
What Gbowee and thousands of women teach us is that claiming our power has nothing to do with being angry, yelling or attempting to force our desires upon another. However, feminine power is clear, persistent, sacred, and holds to a standard of peaceful engagement.
If you would like to listen to Leymah Gbowee’s brief, yet inspiring message for the world in her own word’s, the Nobel Media provides a 2 minute interview with her that allows you to hear her clarity of purpose and her personal power: http://www.nobelprize.org/mediaplayer/index.php?id=1639