In the United States, we are still awaiting the day when we can celebrate the election of a woman to the presidency, but for the country of Liberia, the wait is over.
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, a 67 year-old, Harvard educated economist, is the first female to be elected president in the history of Liberia. For her, and much of the rest of Liberia's female population, the change to female leadership was long overdue.
Staggering unemployment and crumbling infrastructure due to a civil war lasting more than a decade are the legacy left to Sirleaf. With unemployment at 85%, electricity distribution problems and only 1 textbook for every 27 children, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf certainly has her work cut out for her. But she, and the many women who helped to elect her, have nothing but confidence in her ability to rise to these many challenges.
In the period of over 160 years in which Liberia has had independence, men have ruled and, in the words of many of the women they "have failed us." Sirleaf adds that the male leadership "either by commission or omission enabled these wars" that have led to the devastation of their West African nation and that what the women of Liberia said clearly in the last election was that "now is the time for change."
And change has come. Half-way into her first term as president, Sirleaf has rebuilt the army, taken on corruption and begun to rebuild the infrastructure. It remains to be seen just how much more can be accomplished under this powerful woman's command.