Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center For Women and Development Is Now Open For Applications

The Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development (EJS Center) is opening applications for women leaders to join its flagship program, the Amujae Initiative. The program is aimed at preparing African women to reach the highest levels of public leadership.

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Photographer: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images
Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Photographer: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

Participants in the program—known as Amujae Leaders—receive world-class mentorship and training from former heads of state, leaders of international organizations, and renowned experts in various fields. It is the only course in the world that is specifically designed to support talented African women leaders through direct coaching from former female heads of state who have forged the path before them. The program also facilitates collaboration, providing the Amujae Leaders with an opportunity to strengthen and grow a multi-generational network of distinguished women leaders.

On International Women’s Day 2020, the EJS Center unveiled the Amujae Initiative with an inaugural cohort of 15 dynamic women with impressive and diverse backgrounds in public leadership and beyond. In this first year, the first cohort of Amujae Leaders has accelerated their leadership journeys, driven COVID-19 responses in their countries, and mobilized action to increase women’s participation in public leadership.

The EJS Center is now opening applications to women across the African continent to join the 2021 cohort. From 14-30 September 2020, women who fit the criteria below are invited to apply on the EJS Center’s website.

Aspiring Amujae Leaders should be women who:

  • Are citizens of and reside in any African country.
  • Have proven leadership talent, having excelled in their chosen fields and distinguished themselves as leaders who can deliver transformative impact.
  • If not already involved in public service, have the vision and proven commitment to become exceptional public leaders.
  • Have demonstrated a commitment towards the upliftment/ empowerment of other women.
  • Are patriotic, demonstrating commitment and service to their home country/countries.

In announcing the application process, former President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf said: “By unleashing the power of women leaders, we can create a massive step-change in our continent’s progress. I have high expectations of the women who join this initiative, nothing less than changing the lives of millions of Africans.”

She continued, “Of course, every woman has the power to be a change-maker in her community, but I’m particularly reaching out to those who want to excel in public leadership. Today, African countries have lower numbers of women in government than their peers on average; this must change for the continent to accelerate development.”

The vision for the Amujae Initiative is to shift the landscape for women in public leadership in Africa, moving from a culture of tokenism to one that truly values women leaders. EJS Center Executive Director Dr. Ophelia Weeks highlighted the impact of the initiative, noting, “Increasing the profile of women in leadership will also amplify the voices of all women and girls, giving them the confidence to pursue their dreams and ambitions. There are so many wins from this initiative, but perhaps one of the most important is that involving more women in public leadership is essential to create more inclusive societies, where all people can thrive.”

To be considered for the Amujae Initiative, talented women leaders are encouraged to apply through the EJS Center website. Those who are chosen to join will enjoy a unique opportunity to receive support to help them fulfil their leadership ambitions, and will hopefully echo the sentiments of one of the 2020 cohort of Amujae Leaders, who proudly said, “I now have a sister in every corner of the continent.”

About the EJS Center

The Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center for Women and Development was founded in 2018 to be a catalyst for political and social change across Africa by helping unleash its most abundant latent power — its women. The Center aims to amplify the voice of women and girls in all spheres of life by increasing the representation of women in public service leadership roles in Africa. Through a unique blend of programming, advocacy, archival research and museum exhibitions, the Ellen Johnson Sirleaf Presidential Center seeks to become a premier institution dedicated to advancing and sustaining women’s political and social development on the continent.

Through its work, the EJS Center envisions more voices heard, talents unleashed, and leaders launched that prioritize the aspirations of women. Its mission is to champion women’s ascension to the highest levels of leadership and challenges systemic barriers to girls’ and women’s advancement.

The Amujae Initiative is the EJS Center’s flagship program. Amujae, pronounced ӓ mōō jāēē, means ‘we are going up’ in Kru, a Liberian language.

As the first democratically elected woman president in Africa, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf led Liberia from 2006-2018. Having been recognized internationally for her leadership, she is passionate about supporting the next generation of women in public life across the continent.

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