Withholding Sex Changed a Nation: Leymah Gbowee

Phyl Campbell By Phyl Campbell, 16th Oct 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Celebrities>Personalities

There are some amazing women in our world today. One who stopped a war -- without resorting to guns, bonds, or chemical agents – is Leymah Gbowee.

How to Stop a War With Peace

Leymah Gbowee helped stop the second Civil War in Liberia by empowering women. She was no government leader. She was not someone of any consequence. She had been a victim. She lived in fear.

Then one day, her fear turned into anger. Instead of picking up a gun and fighting, she moved her nation in a different way. She got groups of women to protest the war by sitting in open fields, with no food -- only water -- for 12 hours a day. This lasted for three months. She knew it was not enough.

Sex Strike

Gbowee arranged a sex strike. The woman who was mother to six children, the woman who had been raped and beaten, got the women of the cities and the women of rural areas to withhold sex from the soldiers. The soldiers were husbands and partners. The women told the men that they must fast and pray for peace. During fasting, sex is frowned upon. So at first, the men did not realize it was a sex strike. But as the movement grew, and certain "needs" grew, the men with the guns started taking the women more seriously. At one point, Gbowee was going to be arrested. She offered to take off her clothes. She told Jon Stewart in an interview "no one wants to see that … They ran away."

Spreading the Peace Movement

Gbowee's movement has traveled Africa and the Middle East, spurring many women to consider sex strikes, fasts, sit ins, and prayer until peace is achieved. For her efforts, Gbowee has won the Nobel Peace Prize. In every country plagued by civil war and militant action, women should remember Gbowee and work to end the fighting. Her book, Mighty Be our Powers, refers to the power of women to change situations despite a life-long status as victims. Gbowee is a testament to the philosophy that any woman may be mighty.

Author's Note

Continuing in the wake of the Lampudesa Boat Crash and efforts of migrants to leave places of civil war and unrest, I will be partaking in brief sketches of women who have used their influence to make positive change. You can make a positive change by writing what inspires you: click here.

Images courtesy of WikiCommons and the Leymah Gbowee site.


Africa, Civil War, Fasting, Lampudesa, Leymah Gbowee, Liberia, Nobel Peace Prize, Prayer, Sex Strike

Meet the author

author avatar Phyl Campbell
I am "Author, Mother, Dreamer." I am also teacher, friend, Dr. Pepper addict, night-owl. Visit my website -- phylcampbell.com -- or the "Phyl Campbell Author Page" on Facebook.

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author avatar Connie McKinney
16th Oct 2013 (#)

Wow, I guess it worked! Amazing story, Phyl.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
17th Oct 2013 (#)


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