Women in Liberia from all walks of life staged a non-violent sit-in protest at the Executive Mansion at the seat of the presidency leading to the end of a 14-year brutal civil war and the subsequent resignation of politician and guerrilla leader Charles Taylor in the country.
Problems and Purpose
The long-standing civil war in Liberia was characterised by intensely prolonged violence and civil unrest. An estimated 250,000 people were killed alongside mass displacement, harm to young children, and instances of sexual violence . This led the Liberian women, who were often regarded as victims, to take action against these atrocities. As the war continued to negatively shape the lives of Liberians, a group of 200 women in Liberia exercised their political agency by engaging in a peaceful sit-in protest at the executive mansion at the seat of presidency [1,2]. The purpose of the protest was to address the lack of seriousness and urgency of the peace talks that were already taking place  and propel the conclusion of the peace agreements. This group of women requested that the peace talks move forward with critical seriousness.
Background History and Context
This was not the first time Liberian women engaged in participatory efforts. There were long standing efforts of activism that went on for years before the sit-in that took place in 2003 at the seat of the presidency. Peace-making efforts in Liberia have been going on since the first civil war . In fact, the failed attempts at previous peace-building efforts contributed to the second civil war in Liberia that began in 1999 .
At that time, Charles Taylor forwarded a military-led rebellion against Samuel Doe that sparked hope for the Liberian people. That hope however, was replaced by mass frustration when the new government began replicating the ways of the past oppressive system. The surge of the new government was characterised by an abuse of power, corruption, and oppression of the Liberian people. After the first civil war, there was failure on the part of the peacebuilding project. The lack of “Disarmament , Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DDRR)” as well as the underlying causes of the first civil war all played a part in the failure to execute peacebuilding initiatives . From November 1996 to February 1997, there were aims at disarmament as an attempt to secure peace in the nation and this was overseen by Economic Community of West African States Monitoring Group (ECOMOG) [3,4]
It is important to note the political climate of the country leading up to the protest that took place at the presidential palace. The mode of governance was a military-based authoritarian system that posed a threat to human rights. The Taylor regime was characterized by significant political repression. The authoritarian system led by Taylor committed several human rights violations such as the repression of the media, political parties and any third parties that attempted to question or oppose the regime as well as extreme acts of violence, including the murder of political opponents . The media was a major target of the regime, with the goal of intimidating the Liberian society into submission . The media in Liberia at the time was threatened on several occasions by the Taylor regime in an attempt to prevent social upheaval. Furthermore, several tools to mobilize society against Charles Taylor were inevitably repressed. This included any oppositional parties, social movements and the media. . Moreover, the lack of accountability during the Taylor regime was a consequence of the undemocratic structure of the government whose officials were hand-picked by Taylor himself. 
Organizing, Supporting, and Funding Entities
With the support of a women's program developed by Thelma Ekiyor called Women in Peacebuilding Network (WIPNET), the women of Liberia engaged in peacekeeping activities that initiated advocacy and non-violent protests in the country before the sit-in that took place at the seat of the presidency . Through the legacy of WIPNET, founding actor Leymah Gwobee led an organization known as The Women of Liberia Mass Action for Peace (WLMAP), that mobilized groups of mothers and women to use their individual and collective political agency to act against Charles Taylor and the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) rebel leaders . The WLMAP was successful in mobilizing women across the country to host protests and sit-ins and vigils. There had been several failed attempts by international non-government organizations like the United Nations and the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) to mobilize peacekeeping troops . Moreover, there was an increased awareness about the campaign led by Gwobee with help from churches, mosques and market places increasing the number of mothers and daughters coming together collectively for the purpose of peace . Organizations such as the Federation of Liberian Women provided funds for some of the women to receive training sessions on conflict resolution. 
There is limited information on the funding entities or financial costs associated with the protest.
Participant Recruitment and Selection
This form of social mobilization was mostly an open recruitment for women in Liberia. This included mothers, grandmothers, aunties, nieces, and daughters. By aiming to recruit women for a collective cause, the main objective of the WLAMP was to strengthen the collective political agency of the women in Liberia. It is important to note that women in Liberia were often seen as the victims of war and rarely consulted as political agents of peace. WLAMP called for all women from diverse backgrounds, regardless of their religion, class, or level of education, to come together and fight for the safety of their children and for peace in Liberia. This type of mobilization is the one of the first of its kind to bring together women of different religious backgrounds in Liberia. The WLAMP started off with just a handful of women but as word began to spread rapidly, other women joined the collective action . Moreover, there was an increased awareness about the campaign led by Gwobee and others through the outreach of churches, mosques and marketplaces. The number of women grew as they shared a common goal of peace . Because of the nature of this initiative, the WLAMP was aimed mostly at mobilizing and facilitating the political engagement of women, so limited information of male participants was found.
Methods and Tools Used
The main method used in this participatory action was non-violent protests. The WLAMP movement operated mostly through meetings and deliberation to voice their concerns, as well as gathering women to come together to hold prayer sessions.
The use of religion played a major role in mobilizing groups of women. The film titled, “Pray the Devil Back to Hell” documents the events that transpired during peace-making efforts, highlighting the major role religion played in the protests. Also, sex was used as a tool mostly amongst married women who swore to deny their husbands sexual intimacy as a repercussion.  In addition, stripping and revealing nakedness, a sacred and feared cultural mechanism, was used by the mothers in the protest to threaten the men engaged at the peace talks to see its success through and ultimately end the violence. Even though women were not permitted into formal discussions on the peace talks, in-person dialogues between the women and the acting politicians took place at the scenes of some of the protests. Furthermore, even after the well-documented sit-in at the seat of the presidency, digital and print media were utilized to extend the call for female participation even beyond Liberia .
What Went On: Process, Interaction, and Participation
The consequences of the war were characterised by horrendous human rights violations against women and children, including sexual violence, murder, and displacement. As the principal recipients of the violence associated with war, the women (mostly mothers) were frustrated with the lack of political agency given to them. Often seen as the victims of war and excluded in primary decision making in the public, private and political spheres, the women were motivated to employ their agency and take action[1,6]. Religion was the foundation and common denominator used to mobilize the women in Liberia. As a very religious nation, Gwobee and others believed in the power of prayer and the divine intervention of God to rescue their children from the violence at their doorsteps. Women from multiple religions came together to pray under the same roof for the common good of the nation. [1,5,6]
Furthermore, the women took to the streets of Liberia chanting “we want peace, no more war” . Some of these protests were characterised by long hours in the sun, fasting and hunger strikes that brought about national and international attention . These vigils and marches could sometimes have up to 1000 women participating a day with the help of organizations, individuals and religious bodies; the agenda for peace was pushed further and with greater significance . The media also played a major role in putting a spotlight on the atrocities of the Taylor administration and the peace efforts from the women in Liberia. The issues of the war were discussed during meetings and vigils hosted by the groups of women. With the newly formed group, the Women of Liberia Mass action for Peace hosted a collective of women to deliberate on how to mobilize their political agency and fight for peace [1,6]. Hundreds of women agreed to withdraw sexual privileges from their husbands and even threatened to strip themselves naked in public-—a culturally significant and feared act held by mothers to place a curse upon its witnesses. 
The groups of women were able to arrive at peace meetings and voice their concerns and wishes for peace to seating politicians and officials in informal settings. There were several meetings and protests prior to the one that took place at the seat of the presidency. These meetings were facilitated by a group of educated women in the country. The protest that took place at the presidential palace involved roughly 200 women from diverse backgrounds in Liberia. The women dressed in white and marched to the conference hall where peace talks were taking place in the city of Monrovia [1,2,3]. By locking arms with one another, they formed a blockage preventing the delegates of the peace talks from exiting until a final agreement was ordered [1,2,3]. The women demanded that the talks be taken seriously and a consensus be met once and for all .
Influence, Outcomes, and Effects
The political mobilization and protests resulted in the finalisation of the peace agreements as well as the subsequent step-down of Charles Taylor. The efforts of these women went beyond inspiring change in Liberia but also set an example for women groups and activists across the globe. With the release of “Pray the Devil Back to Hell”, the rhetoric of motherhood underscored the importance of women’s participation globally and called to action the strengthening of female voices publicly and politically . In addition, the gendered stereotype of women as merely victims and not agents for reconciliation or political avenue was challenged . The influence of this process facilitated the opening of positions of power for women, making Liberia the first nation to elect a female head-of-state in Africa, Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf. This was a remarkable and globally recognized event.
Analysis and Lessons Learned
The outcome of this form of participation was successful in carrying out the goals and objectives held by the group of Liberian women. The ability for the organizing parties to mobilize individuals in large numbers and hold the government accountable, is paramount. The WLAM’s and other women groups in Liberia effectively addressed a gap within the patriarchal society that foreclosed the agency of women in Liberia. Amidst the peace deliberations, women were given superficial invitations to the tables and were unsurprisingly denied access into formal discussion. However, after several failed attempts and resistance from the leaders of the peace talks, the women of Liberia never gave up and through their frustration with the state of their country, went back to the drawing board and found ways for their demands to be heard. The results were positive and the main objective in demanding peace for the nation was honoured. Although the agency-based approach used to mobilize groups of women created positive outcomes and generated new avenues for participation for women in Liberia, there were a few shortcomings that compromised its work  . For instance, most of these formal organizations were led by elite women whom were formally educated, thereby excluding rural women .
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The initial version of the case was produced and submitted by an undergraduate student at the Centre for Critical Development Studies at the University of Toronto Scarborough with the support of UofT graduate students, Kieran Way, Reem Sheikh-Khalil, and Nyanquoi Suah.