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Carter Center Partners with Traditional Leader of Liberian Women

Mama Tumeh, leader of the country-wide Traditional Women for Peace, a Carter Center partner, is regarded as the spiritual leader of women throughout Liberia. Her work is bringing a message of hope and empowerment to women who are survivors of the country's 14-year civil war, many of whom lost their husbands and other family members. In this Q&A, Mama Tumeh reflects on the "new Liberia."

What difference will the new laws in Liberia make for Liberian women?

The new laws and the new government have opened their eyes, so now they know their rights as women of Liberia.

What does the average Liberian woman face today?

They have empowerment to be able to succeed for themselves and their children, because they lost everything in the war. They have empowerment to be able to keep themselves busy; and once they are busy, they will not going to sit down and worry about the war, to keep thinking about the war, but they will moving forward. They will be busy doing things.

Where would you like to see the women of Liberia in five years?

Five years from now, the women will be in the forefront of development because of the support they are getting from the government and from Madame President (President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the first woman elected president on the African continent). In the past, women were not involved in meetings with government officials, but right now, they are involved.

How have you seen Liberia change from before the elections until now?

Number one, you are getting your salary. People are getting paid now on the 25th of every month, and they have increased the salary. So…you can go straight to the bank and cash the check, and you can laugh about it. You have money in your hands. The salary and payment structure-everything-is alright. Even the street vendors are getting their money on time, and so they are happy to work.

What would you like people in the United States to know about Liberia?

I would like President Carter and the world to hear that they should not get tired of helping Liberia…to continue to help Liberia. We are the grandchild of America, so you should not get tired of helping Liberia.

If President Carter were sitting here with you, what would you say to him?

I would tell President Carter 'thank you' and also thank The Carter Center for giving support to the TRC (Truth & Reconciliation Commission) and the work that the Center is doing in other communities along with other NGOs. The Carter Center helped to end the war and we thank the Center for that, and for encouraging us through work you are doing in the rule of law, so that people do not go back to war. The Carter Center did not make a mistake to come back to Liberia, to be engaged with the local communities….by engaging with the women and empowering them to do more.

Mama Tumeh
Photo credit: Carter Center/ C. Nelson

Mama Tumeh

View Slideshow: Strengthening Liberia's Rule of Law >

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