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Africa’s Two Female Presidents Confer in Liberia

Malawi's new President Joyce Banda gives a press conference in Lilongwe (file photo).
Malawi's new President Joyce Banda gives a press conference in Lilongwe (file photo).

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  • Butty interview with Sirleaf spokesman Jerolinmek Piah

James Butty

Malawian President Joyce Banda Sunday ended a two-day visit to Liberia where she had discussions with President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first-elected female president.

Jerolinmek Piah, Sirleaf's press secretary said the two leaders discussed how best to cooperate to advance women’s issues in Africa.

Specifically, Piah said Banda came to Liberia to thank Sirleaf for her support during Banda’s troubles as Malawi’s vice president.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf sits at a ceremony to mark her second presidential inauguration at the Capitol in Monrovia, Liberia, January 16, 2012.
Liberian President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf sits at a ceremony to mark her second presidential inauguration at the Capitol in Monrovia, Liberia, January 16, 2012.

"One of the leaders on the whole African continent who really stood by her, in her [Banda’s] own words, was President Sirleaf.  Now that she’s president of Malawi, she thought it was proper to come to Liberia specifically to show appreciation for all that President Sirleaf did by standing with her during her own very difficult time,” he said.

During a program Sunday organized by Liberia women’s groups, Piah said Banda told them she views Sirleaf as her role model.

“At that gathering, President Banda was very clear that President Sirleaf has been an inspiration and a role model whose example she wanted to copy,” he said.

Piah said Banda noted that part of the reason for Sirleaf’s success was the support she has received so far from Liberian women.

“One of the things she [Banda] thought she could copy is how the women of Malawi could be made to stand by her so that those things that concern women in Malawi and on the continent as a whole can be advanced properly,” Piah said.

He said Liberian women told Banda that they were rooting for her success because they believe the success of women leaders in Africa represents success for African women.

Piah said both leaders also talked about the need for greater partnership in advancing women and children’s issues in Africa.

“Part of the reason why President Banda came was to foster this kind of partnership with President Sirleaf as both of them would be working with the rest of the leaders on the African continent to tackle some of the problems facing women,” Piah said.

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