Here, you will find a summary and questions/answers to the chapter “A Voice for Freedom” by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf which is a part of the Class 12 syllabus for students studying under the Nagaland Board of School Education (NBSE).
Summary: As she accepted her Nobel Peace Prize, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf delivered “A Voice for Freedom.” Sirleaf says in her speech that she is accepting the award on behalf of all women in Liberia, Africa, and the world. She speaks about the atrocities that women face around the world in various circumstances, and she encourages women to find and raise their voices.
The Nobel Laureate dedicated her prize to women in Liberia, Africa, and all over the world. She called for an end to the evils of female exploitation and the restoration of democracy in Africa, especially Liberia. According to her, there is a need to eliminate the evils of female exploitation in Africa, particularly Liberia, and restore democratic practices in the continent. A political shift is also necessary to uphold women’s dignity.
A. Answer these questions
1. What was the response of the Norwegians in the face of the adversity they faced?
Answer: The response of the Norwegians in the face of adversity has been consistent at every level of public and private Norwegian life which was committed to the historic values of openness, integrity and justice. They always stood strong and united when their country faced any tragedy.
2. How are the three women selected for the Nobel Peace Prize-linked?
Answer: The three women chosen for the Nobel Peace Prize share a commitment to bringing about change for women’s safety and rights, as well as to promoting the rule of law and democracy in war-torn societies.
3. Who was Wangari Maathai?
Answer: Wangari Maathai was a Kenyan environmentalist, political activist and the first African woman to receive the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004.
4. Who are the countless women, whom Ellen thanks in her speech?
Answer: The countless women thanked by Ellen Johnson Sirleaf in her speech “A Voice for Freedom” are those whose efforts and sacrifice will go unnoticed, but who helped shape our world in their private and silent struggles.
5. Who does the speaker credit for shaping her values?
Answer: Ellen Johnson gives credit to the values of her parents and two of her grandmothers who were native Liberian farmers and traders for shaping her career in her speech “A Voice for Freedom”.
6. Why do you think the speaker says that her life was ‘forever transformed’ when she started to serve the people of Liberia?
Answer: The speaker says that her life was “forever transformed” when she became the President of Liberia as she had the huge responsibility of rebuilding the nation that was nearly destroyed by war, conflict and plunder. There was no definite plan for post-conflict transformation, but the only thing that was clear was that there was a great responsibility to maintain peace in the country and not to slip back into the past.
11. What does Liberia’s continued progress depend on?
Answer: Liberia’s future progress is dependent on policies and programmes that invest in people and strengthen democratic institutions while remaining committed to the rule of law. The speaker further adds that they must stand the test of time and must not be dependent on any leader or any political party.
B. Think and answer
1. It will judge us by the legacy we leave behind for generations to come. What legacy is the speaker referring to in these lines?
Answer: The speaker is referring to the legacy of contributing and doing what is right that will uplift the lives of their countrymen and women. Legacy is something that people leave behind to be remembered by generations. She says that the award belongs to the people whose aspirations they have the privilege to represent and whose rights they have the obligation to defend.
The speaker says what they say at the moment of receiving the award is not what history will judge them by. Words spoken will be forgotten by the people but what is done next to bring changes in the world for the progress and people in the world will be remembered. The legacy is the work that they will be doing to help their fellow people.
3. According to Sirleaf, what are the challenges faced in many parts of the world as far as crimes against women are concerned?
Answer: According to Sirleaf, there are still many challenges that women continue to face. Rape continues unabated during times of lawlessness and the number of lives devastated by such evil defies comprehension. Women paid and continue to pay the price of domestic and international armed conflict through physical abuse and the destruction of their ambitions and dignity. The suffering of women, however, is not limited to war but is extended to the negligence of education. Girls’ education is still underfunded and understaffed, viewed far too often as an unnecessary extravagance rather than the critical investment that it is. Too often girls are discouraged from pursuing academic training, no matter how promising they may be. Girls and women often fall into the traps of human trafficking. Even at home, they are not safe and their lives are often marred with domestic violence and abuse. The speaker grieves at the state of women and encourages them to find their inner strength to fight for justice and equality.