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The Women of Liberia

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opednews.com Headlined to H4 7/26/09

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PBS's Bill Moyers Journal recently profiled an interesting documentary on an important Women's movement in Liberia. The Documentary is called "PRAY THE DEVIL BACK TO HELL."

The Women's movement that came to be called "The Market Women" aka "The Women of Liberia" was a force to be reckoned with, and brought much needed attention to the plight of women in Liberia. ... To all of the suffering they had endured over 14 years of civil war and the breakdown of society.

In 2003, Charles Taylor's hold on power was rapidly decaying due to revolutionary groups controlling two thirds of Liberia. The Ghana peace talks that are discussed in the documentary eventually proved ineffective due to Taylor leaving the talks and the rebel forces: "Movement for Democracy in Liberia" (MODEL) and "Liberians United For Reconciliation and Democracy" (LURD) advancing on the capital of Monrovia and threatening to plunge the city into awful chaos and bloodshed. A horror from which the city had been submerged throughout the 1990s as a result of Taylor's "NPFL" forces and other rebel groups.

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Finally, American and Nigerian (ECOWAS) intervention led to a besieged and desperate Taylor agreeing to leave Liberia for exile in Nigeria.

The Market Women were an important factor in the dictator Charles Taylor's fall from power. They would line Broad Street dressed in their white shirts, lappas, and head ties, holding protest signs. They delivered petitions to the American embassy and eventually caught the attention of American officials; they opened their hearts to the horrible suffering the population was enduring at the hands of warlords where there was no rule of law, but only might makes right.

I have seen this suffering firsthand. I visited Liberia in the winter of 2007. What I saw for myself is that tensions still run deep, and there is still a lot of corruption. What Liberia needs now more than anything is a working economy, an economy that provides real employment for the citizens of Liberia. What Liberia mostly has now is foreign interests exploiting the country's vast natural resources and leaving the people of Liberia with little to nothing. Many people struggle just finding enough to eat. With that said, the current President, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf, is making progress in rebuilding the country. Roads are being rebuilt, and electricity is being reestablished throughout the city of Monrovia and into the countryside.

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Positive changes are happening, in no small part thanks to the Women of Liberia, and hopefully, the rule of law can continue to grow.

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