Leymah Gbowee: I think there is a moment in everyone’s life — we all have it — when you’re pushed so far back against the wall, you have two options: allow that wall to swallow you or fight back. And when you’re fighting back — even if it is a child — that is when the Liberians will say, “You don’t give a damn. You’re just fighting back!” And that is where I was because I was living the war with those women on a daily basis, whether it was the ones that had been raped repeatedly — one of the leaders of that group, who came every day from the internally displaced camp, had so much energy and was giving people so much “whoop!”
One day, she sat down with me to tell her story: that the soldiers had come to arrest someone, and she went and stood up for this person. And those soldiers decided to strip her naked in a camp of 20,000 people and ask her to walk naked in the streets of that camp and pick up paper. And as she was picking up paper, they were inserting their AK47s in her private parts. That incident happened, and afterwards, they took her — five men raped her, but she came back the next day to protest for peace. And she’s telling me this story and saying, “I will not stop until this stops.”
So every moment — I was standing either in front of a warlord or in front of Taylor’s people — it wasn’t about me. It was never, until this day — even up until now, the work that I do, it is not about me. It is about those people that I represent or those women in other parts of the world, even as we’re speaking now, who are going through similar things.