In 2011, Australian journalist Clair MacDougall (@ClairMacD
) visited Liberia to cover the re-election of President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Africa's first female head-of-state. Based in neighbouring Ghana at the time, MacDougall became fascinated with what she calls "this small but deeply complex country". She moved to Monrovia two months later.
"Part of the reason I was drawn to Liberia was because it was the first African nation to be led by a female president," MacDougall told Crikey
. "Women also played a major role in the peace movement.
"Yet despite the fact that some women hold a significant amount of political power, life is very difficult for the ordinary girls and women. The government has enacted numerous pro-women policies, yet women and girls continue to face high levels of violence. The president has described child rape as ‘endemic’ and girls face abuse within their communities and sexual harassment in schools. I am interested in exploring the tension between the president as a figurehead for women’s empowerment and the reality for Liberian women on the ground."