While some world leaders awkwardly padded their congratulatory statements for president-elect Donald Trump in diplomatic speak and tradition, one of the world’s handful of women leaders had the guts to say exactly what she, and many others, think about Hillary Clinton’s loss in the US presidential election. Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was clear about her disappointment with America’s failure to elect a woman to the White House for the first time.
“We are extremely saddened by this missed opportunity on the part of the people of the United States to join smaller democracies in ending the marginalization of women,” Johnson Sirleaf told the BBC on Nov. 9, according to Reuters.
Johnson Sirleaf was also bold enough to list her concerns over president-elect Donald Trump’s rule. Liberia is a country on Africa’s west coast that was founded by freed African American slaves, returning from the US. The two countries have maintained strong ties over centuries, but Johnson Sirleaf is worried about the Trump era.
“We are concerned as to whether president-elect Trump will have an African agenda, will be able to build bridges with Africa. We can only hope that he will do so in due course,” she said. “I’m worried about trade deals for Liberia, for Africa. I’m worried about investment and the special programs that have been put in place by president Obama and by president George Bush before him, and we just don’t know what the policy towards Africa will be.”
Johnson Sirleaf, 78, is the first woman to be elected as a head of state in Africa. She has served two terms as president, trying to rebuild Liberia after a civil war and leading the country through the devastating Ebola outbreak. With her tenure drawing to an end ahead of the 2017 elections, the world stage will be a lonelier place for women in leaders.
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