Liberian president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was one of three women awarded the Nobel Peace Prize today. Elected in November 2005, Johnson Sirleaf is the first female head of state in Africa.
Born in Monrovia, the 72-year-old worked as an economist, was imprisoned for speaking out against a military regime, and has lived through two civil wars. She's gained international recognition for securing forgiveness for billions of dollars in Liberian debt, and has changed Liberia's formerly brutal image on the world stage. She is seeking a second term in the October 2011 presidential election.
Johnson Sirleaf joins women around the world who have beat all odds to gain positions of political power. Indira Gandhi was elected Prime Minister of India in 1966, and led the country till she was assassinated in 1984. Across the border in Pakistan, Benazir Bhutto was the first female prime minister in 1988. She too was assasinated, in 2007. Megawati Sukarnoputri became Indonesia's first female president in 2001, and in 2006 Michlele Bachelet became Chile's first woman president.
Prime Minister / 1917 - 1984
Indira Gandhi was India's third prime minister, serving from 1966 until 1984, when her life ended in assassination. She was the daughter of Jawaharlal Nehru, India's first prime minister.