Looking out the airplane window at a white winter landscape in Oslo yesterday, I thought back to another flight. Several years ago, a U.N. helicopter took me “up country” to the Liberian bush. Sitting in circles on rickety chairs in the heavy heat, women leaders (albeit illiterate) told me their hopes for the country’s new president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf. “If Ma Ellen can do it in that big White House in Monrovia that she’s in, then we can do it in our houses!” one said. She began a song and snake dance with the refrain, “Side by side, side by side, men not in front, women not behind, but side by side, side by side.” They and their sisters across the country had ended the brutal 14-year war. At the time, few within Liberia or around the world knew what they’d accomplished.


Hunt, Swanee. "Nobel Peace Prize Winners Leymah Gbowee and Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Recognized." Daily Beast, December 10, 2011.