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Strategic Research and Communications

ELLEN JOHNSON SIRLEAF / Pillars / Strategic Research and Communications

Through its work, the EJS Center envisions more voices heard, talents unleashed, and leaders launched that prioritize the aspirations of women. The Center’s strategic research and communications efforts are critical to achieving this aim.


The EJS Center conducts a range of communications activities aimed at highlighting the importance of women’s public leadership, showcasing the work carried out by Amujae Leaders, and sharing Madam Sirleaf’s efforts to advocate for gender equality.

The Center actively engages journalists across Africa and around the world, raising awareness about the benefits that women’s public leadership brings to societies and economies—and working to level the playing field for women seeking the highest leadership positions.

In addition to this, the EJS Center has a robust news operation of its own, leveraging its platform to highlight the work of inspiring women leaders within Center’s network and beyond.



Through its research activities, the EJS Center uncovers the systemic barriers faced by women leaders—or those seeking leadership roles—and explores the actions needed to address them. It also highlights the positive impact that advancing women’s public leadership has had in countries across the continent.

The Center seeks to contribute to the understanding of gender equity in public leadership in Africa, gathering data on key indicators and establishing a baseline to monitor progress.

The Center’s first research report, “Taking Stock of Women’s Public Leadership in Africa: 2020 Year in Review,” highlighted the positive developments for women’s public leadership over the course of 2020 and noted that further progress is needed to achieve equal representation across the continent. The upcoming 2021 Year in Review will assess what has changed one year on from the report’s release.



The EJS Center undertakes advocacy campaigns aimed at mobilizing support for greater representation of women in public leadership roles.

In 2020, the Center launched the Spotlight a COVID-19 Heroine campaign, which solicited nominations for women who have demonstrated exceptional leadership and dedication to their communities through their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic. Hundreds of nominations from 35 countries were received over the course of the campaign, highlighting the crucial role of African women in all aspects of pandemic response. Twelve of these women were selected and profiled.

In 2021, the EJS Center launched the Have Her Back campaign, which called upon men across the African continent to make concrete pledges to further women’s leadership in their spheres of influence. It also offered women the opportunity to recognize the men who have supported them over the course of their careers—and encouraged other men to follow their lead. The campaign secured commitments from H.E. President Alassane Ouattara of Côte d’Ivoire, H.E. President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, H.E. Ernest Bai Koroma, former president of Sierra Leone, H.E. Olusegun Obasanjo, former president of Nigeria, businessman and philanthropist Dr. Mo Ibrahim, and founder and president of the African Center for Economic Transformation, Dr. K.Y. Amoako.


Media Training

One of the barriers to women’s advancement in public leadership is adverse media coverage—including both under-coverage and biased or toxic coverage. To create an enabling environment for African women to ascend to the highest levels of leadership, it is crucial to equip journalists with the skills to cover women equally and fairly and to address subconscious biases and stereotypes.

The EJS Center launched a program in 2021 aimed at training journalists to identify biased reporting, understand its impact, and implement strategies to ensure balanced coverage. Working with local partners and international trainers from across Africa and beyond, the EJS Center conducted three training workshops with journalists in Zambia, Kenya, and Senegal. The interactive workshops included lectures from experts on media and gender as well as small group exercises and facilitated group discussions. Based on assessments carried out before and after the training, reporters left the sessions with greater confidence in their ability to recognize gender bias in the media and explain the concept of gender bias to a peer. They also left with a greater understanding of the importance of unbiased reporting during elections to the democratic process.

These workshops were accompanied by a media-monitoring exercise to track coverage of women candidates before, during, and after the election in Zambia. The results of this media monitoring will be released in a report to be published in early 2022.