President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has been awarded Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy (Honoris Causa) for her distinguished and invaluable contributions to humanity by Israel-based Haifa University.
According to a dispatch from Israel, President Sirleaf, at a colorful event in the Middle Eastern nation, commended Israel for its support to the fight against the Ebola Virus Disease in Liberia. She was speaking on behalf of the recipients of the degree of Honorary Doctorate of Philosophy (Honoris Causa). The Liberian Chief Executive expressed profound thanks and appreciation for the honor bestowed upon her. She noted that each honoree has indeed excelled in his or her professional discipline which enabled each one to stand as individual and a diversified group in knowledge and experience. The Liberian leader said the group stands with a commitment reflected in every person’s life and work to the new global development agenda, which will replace the Millennium Development Goals and lead to a new global partnerships where a transparent world order in economic exchanges will provide dividends for all. “It is a commitment to a new paradigm of development which demands a shift in mindset, recognition of the need to address the universality of issues such as inequalities, injustice, intolerance and marginalization,” she indicated. She then applauded Professor Klaus Schwab, whose World Economic Forum brings together an unprecedented array of leaders, scholars, officials, activists, practitioners, activists from Governments, international organizations, the private sector and civil society to debate and examine progress and discuss challenges to world development. President Sirleaf commended Haifa University’s contribution to scientific research and academic excellence in the field of history and religion, the performing and creative arts, governance, philosophy, business and public service, all of which are anchored in a determined objective to enhance human development. She said she was proud over such an invitation to join this sterling group of achievers and added that this is also due in large measure to recognition of my historical journey to leadership and the ongoing process of democratic and economic transformation of my country, Liberia. She described it as a journey of hills and valleys, of her various roles -- as activist, opposition political leader, commercial banker, development administrator and international civil servant., coupled with a determination and focus on the dream of bringing change to a nation quaint for too long. She told the gathering that her administration negotiated and obtained the cancellation of an external debt burden of US$4.7 billion in a record period of five years under the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries (HIPC) Initiatives – thus returning the country to the path of economic recovery by expanding the fiscal space to propel its agenda for inclusive growth and development – investing in human capital, governance and infrastructure. The private sector, promoted as an engine of growth, responded in foreign direct investment on the order of US$5 billion in mining and large-scale export agriculture over a multi-year period, she said. President Sirleaf told her all ears audience, that by the end of 2013, Liberia experienced the first shock; a sharp decline in the global prices of its two main exports, iron ore and rubber, which was exacerbated in 2014 when Ebola struck, “threatening not only to wipe out the progress, but our very existence.” “We were confused because our country had never before had an incidence of Ebola, our weak health system was utterly ill-equipped and unprepared. The tragedy also affected two neighboring countries, Guinea and Sierra Leone, who together with Liberia lost over 10,000 citizens,” she lamented. She thanked the State of Israel for its invaluable support given to Liberia during its period of tragedy. She said she was particularly honored to have been chosen as the first Liberian to be honored by an Israeli University and accepted the honor on behalf of the Liberian people, particularly women in Liberia, in Africa and the world – because accordingly to her, “as the first democratically elected President, I represent their expectations and aspirations.” She, however, paid homage to “the many women of the world who blazed the path before us, including your own former Prime Minister Golda Meir.” President Sirleaf observed that although throughout the continent, few spots remain safe, political pluralisms and the democratic process are more the norm than the exception. However, she said: “Our challenge for the future thus lies in the implementation of the New World Order, our Africa 2063 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goal which aims to improve the human condition and save our planet”. President concluded her remarks with a quote that is the epitome of her life story: “The strength of a woman is not measured by the impact that all her hardships in life have had on her; but the extent of her refusal to allow those hardships to dictate who she becomes”.