In 2005, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf defeated George Weah to become President of Liberia and the first woman elected to head an African country. Women voters were widely credited with her victory. This paper quantifies this claim by analysing newspaper content during the election period to gauge civil society group activity. It finds that consistency in their activities may have allowed women's groups to surpass other civil society groups in impacting the election. Activity levels of women's groups remained stable between the election and run-off periods, unlike other major group types whose activity level dropped by between 37% and 70%. It concludes that the environment surrounding the 2005 election was conducive to participation by women because of their existing, latent power in many spheres; their long experience as peacebuilders; the decimation of conventional social and political structures; Liberian women's experience in leadership positions; the failure of multiple male-dominated efforts; and the presence of a well-qualified female candidate.
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