Sunday, March 7, 2010

Women in Government: Liberia

This New York Times article reports on Liberia's president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first elected female head of state in Africa. Six of the twenty-two cabinet posts are held by women. What can we learn from this government's model?


  1. Shawna Bruell (Extra Credit Commentary)
    Although Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is a woman to be reckoned with,as President of Liberia she and her cabinet made up of 6 women, are strong advocates of women in politics. Although I think Sirleaf has the right idea, that women should be equally aloud to work in politics and make big decisions etc... I disagreed that she said women were " better" at such jobs because we are more committed and hardworking and less likely to be drawn to corruption. I think she is absolutely not true, those statements made her seem almost "reversely" sexist. I believe men AND women can do an equally good job at anything they set their mind to, weather that be government or raising kids. It takes motivation. However, something we can learn from Ms.Sirleaf is purely determination and admiration. She is a first woman president in the african nation of Liberia. That is a big deal. Clearly she is knows what she is doing and isn't afraid to help fight for woman's freedoms, which is a struggle in many countries all over the world.

  2. Delaney Tomczak

    From this governments model, I believe we can learn that both men and women are able to complete and work in positions equally. Women, should in deed, be able to hold and work in positions equal to men and prove themselves just as men have been able to. The only thing that bothered my was her sexism towards men. She bantered that women have "stronger committment," and men are "more tempted by corruption." This is very untrue to me. I dont think the way to gain support is to attack how the system used to be (dominated by men). I personally think that if a person if gonig to work hard and be committed...then it is their choice; it does not make a difference if the person is a man or a woman.

  3. Kelsey Brennan (extra credit)

    Whether for political reasons or not, we can learn from this article that it is important to focus your campaign or pieces of literature at the right audience in order to gain full support. Mrs. Sirleaf used her position as a woman to gain popularity among fellow women and mothers that would help vote to put her in office. In turn she placed women in six of her twenty-two cabinet positions which creates a unity among the political members. Although Mrs. Sirleaf holds some strong sexist opinions towards men, she is a very intelligent woman that knew who her audience/supporters would be, and focused her political career around them. Everyone can learn from this example how important it is to know who will listen to your opinions, whether it is as a politician, an author, or even just a salesman. Center your sales pitch or book towards the right audience, and you will reap the rewards.

  4. Tuba Ahmed


    Mrs. Sirleaf’s participation in and approach to contemporary politics serves as an example of a government that takes into account the meaningful relationships and roles that people inherently have rather than simply matters of money, obligations, and strategic appeasement. Mrs. Sirleaf’s government model goes beyond basic sex differences and takes into account the reasons why certain sexes perform politics in a certain way.

    To respond to a previous comment, Mrs. Sirleaf never claims that ALL women are more committed, or that ALL men are corrupt. She simply states that in her cultural context (she literally says “in Africa”), this is the general attitude that each sex displays, particularly in a political environment. In separating these key differences, Mrs. Sirleaf justifies the role that women play in the government, but doesn’t seek to discredit the role men play altogether, either.

  5. Kayla Hirschmugl (extra credit commentary)
    Gender equality is something that every nation in its own right and way struggle with. In our nation there has always been an issue of men getting better jobs, getting higher salaries, and getting all around better opportunities than women. There has always been a power struggle, and the one thing I hate is when I hear that women are not capable of doing the work that a man can do. Which brings me to a point that Delany has already mentioned above; the sexist feeling towards men throughout the article. I understand that in different nations they hold different views of different genders, however I almost felt as though she was being unfair in a way towards the male gender, stating that, “men are more tempted by corruption” and, “Women have stronger commitment. They work harder. They’re honest, and the experience justifies it.”
    My personal views on the issue of this metaphorical war on gender is that every gender deserves to be treated equally, given equal opportunities, and that, no matter the gender, a person should never be told they cannot do something better than someone else.

  6. A probable reason citizens are reluctant to elect women into office is because is because it has
    never been done before, and people are afraid of change. However, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf made it
    clear that change doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing. In fact, she feels very strongly that it
    can be a positive thing and lists many positive qualities than women have over men. To state my
    own opinion, the ideal cabinet is lead by both men and women, for both have different strengths
    and weaknesses. This article goes to prove that the government is just one more place where
    women need not nor should they be treated inferior to men. While much of the world has come a
    long way in the struggle of equality between men and women, there is still a long way to go.
    Sometimes all it takes is one strong-willed woman to propel that struggle forward and make a