She Is One Episode 6: Leadership and Rule of Law
Behind every statistic, there is a story to tell.
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In this episode, Counselor Christiana Tah, Former Minister of Justice for Liberia, discusses her lifelong commitment to public service and the responsibility of judiciary leaders to work toward a more inclusive world.
For Counselor Christiana Tah, the legal profession has been an opportunity to make a difference for all members of society.
Counselor Tah served as Justice Minister for five years. But her journey began well before she was nominated for the role by Africa’s first woman president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf: when she was just five years old, her father encouraged her to enter public service.
Counselor Tah cites many of her own experiences and observations as driving factors in her path to leadership. After noticing that she had never seen a man tried for adultery in the informal judicial system, she “resolved to look at not just that, but other issues” such as inheritance law and equal opportunities for education. She also noticed the mistreatment of prisoners, which ultimately drove her to go into corrections.
Although she was interested in public service, Counselor Tah initially pursued a degree in education and later sociology. However, she does not see this as an unorthodox path to the legal profession: “I think law, sociology, politics are all interrelated,” she says; they are all driven by “passion for the people you serve.”
On the subject of her role as a woman leader and the impact of gender in leadership, Counselor Tah notes that gender inequality is both social and structural. She notes that bias persists in the way women are viewed in society, but simultaneously, “the structures, the institutions that were built, were built by men.” Because of gender equality is structural, “those things don’t change overnight simply because you have a woman president or a female minister of justice.”
Achieving gender equality and other aspects of social change will be difficult, she says, but it can happen when there are people working toward a better world. As for her role? “I have the opportunity to do it, I need to make a difference.” This difference must include both men and women.
Part of this progress toward equality includes bringing more women into the legal profession. To facilitate this, says Counselor Tah, women leaders must live by example to inspire others to follow their path. More importantly, “we need to work together as women,” not just to advocate for equal rights, but also to enable all women to make choices that empower themselves and others. This includes educating and informing women at all levels of society.
Her advice for aspiring women leaders is simple: “I would say to any woman, anywhere in the world: select what it is you want to do. Choose whatever it is that interests you.” Most importantly, she says, you must persevere no matter what challenges you may face.
Learn more about Counselor Tah here.