17 August 1996
History was made in Western Africa when, for the first time, a woman, Ms Ruth Sando Perry, was unanimously elected at a meeting of West African heads of state to become the third chair of Liberia's ruling council. Perry, victorious over two male contestants, became head of the transitional government, thereby making her Africa's first woman to act as head of state. Perry was mandated to execute the daunting task of leading her country from a devastating seven-year civil war, to peace under a sub-regional plan of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS). Although serving in a non-partisan capacity, Perry was a member of the National Democratic Party of Liberia. She was leader of Liberia from 3 September 1996 until 2 August 1997. Perry has since served on the board of a children’s hospital, been instrumental in the development of infrastructure in Liberia and has received numerous awards for her efforts in the advancement of women and for her national development endeavours.