New Delhi: Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was conferred the Indira Gandhi Prize for Peace, Disarmament and Development here on Thursday, with India honouring her for being "an example and an inspiration to many women in Africa and beyond".
Sirleaf, who became Africa`s first woman head of state in 2006 when she took over as president of her civil war-scarred West African nation of four million people, was given the award by President Pranab Mukherjee at a well-attended function at the historic Durbar Hall of Rashtrapati Bhavan.
Sirleaf is the 26th winner of the prize that was first given in 1986. Among those honoured have been presidents, royalty, global leaders, world statesmen and community activists.
Sonia Gandhi, the chairperson of the Indira Gandhi Memorial Trust, in her tribute to Sirleaf, said: "Owing to her integrity, good governance, and courage to swim against the tide, it gives me immense pleasure that Her Excellency Dr.Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf’s name is now being added to the distinguished list of recipients of this prize.
"The extraordinary story of her life, her charismatic personality, and her strength of character, are an inspiration to all of us, women and men alike, around the world."
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also paid her handsome tributes, saying, "You have made history as the first elected female head of state in Africa. More importantly, you have set your country on the path of peace, stability, democracy and development after two decades of suppression, violence and conflict."
"Your success shows the hope and promise of your country, your region and your continent. You have therefore richly deserved the accolades and awards that have been bestowed upon you," the Prime Minister said.
He expressed gratitude to her "for hosting a small community of Indians and a growing number of Indian investors in Liberia".
President Pranab Mukherjee called her "a powerful voice for conflict resolution, harmony, peace and democracy in Africa".
The citation said the award was being given to "President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf for serving as an example and an inspiration to many women in Africa and beyond; for ensuring the return of peace, democracy, development, security and order in Liberia; and for her strong interest in the consolidation and improvement of Liberia`s relations and India".