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Unemployment at 80 percent. 14 years of civil war. High rates of infant mortality. These are just a few of the enormous challenges Liberia was facing in 2006, when Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa’s first elected woman president, took office.
During her presidency, she convinced creditors to erase almost $5 billion of external debt and managed Liberia’s Ebola crisis. And in 2011, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for her efforts to protect women's rights.
These advances were possible, she says, thanks to international support: “Aid has been very helpful to get Liberia to where we are today. We could not have done it on the basis of our own domestic resources.”
She recently came to CGD for an event, and joined CGD’s Amanda Glassman on the podcast to discuss the future of Liberia, the urgency of action on climate change, the biggest global health challenges, the impact of private sector investment in the developing world, and much more.
CGD and Brookings recently co-hosted Former Finance Minister of Nigeria and Distinguished Fellow Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala to discuss her new book, Fighting Corruption is Dangerous: The Story Behind the Headlines. The book is part memoir, part how-to, as she draws on her years of experience as Nigeria’s Finance Minister to describe the dangers of fighting corruption and how best to do it. I drew four main takeaways from our conversation.