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The 'Remarkable Life' Of Liberia's 'Iron Lady'

Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007.
Chip Somodevilla
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Getty Images
Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf became Africa's first democratically elected female leader when she was elected president of Liberia in 2005.

Johnson Sirleaf began her political career in the 1970s as her nation's first female minister of finance. Her political path has not been an easy one; she was imprisoned in the 1980s for criticizing the government and she has gone into exile twice to escape persecution. In 1997, she lost a presidential election to Charles Taylor.

Since taking office in 2006, Johnson Sirleaf has fought to reconstruct the state and rescue Liberia's failing economy. She has been called the "Iron Lady" due to her strong will and political persistence.

Johnson Sirleaf chronicles her struggles in her new memoir This Child Will Be Great: Memoir Of A Remarkable Life By Africa's First Woman President.

Copyright 2023 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

Dave Davies is a guest host for NPR's Fresh Air with Terry Gross.

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