20 February 2013

Liberia: Scholarship Fund Named in Honor of Laureate Gbowee in Belgium

A university in Belgium, KU Leuven University, will just under two days' time inaugurate a scholarship foundation in honor of Liberian Nobel Laureate Leymah Roberta Gbowee, the Heritage has reliably learnt. The KU Leuven University, at a symposium on female leadership and sustainable development to be hosted at the university, will on Thursday, 21 February 2013 inaugurate the Leymah Gbowee Scholarship Fund for Leadership for African Women.

When launched, the Leymah Gbowee Scholarship Fund for Leadership for African Women will provide scholarships for African women to be initially drawn from some West African countries to enable them [African women] study at West-African universities at bachelor degree level, and to continue their studies at Master's level at KU Leuven University.

Under the Leymah Gbowee Scholarship Fund for Leadership for African Women, Funding will be provided, and the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa will choose candidates from conflict torn West African countries like Liberia, Ghana, Sierra Leone and Nigeria to complete an undergraduate degree in West Africa, followed by a master's at KU Leuven.

"The fund is a close cooperation between the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa and the KU Leuven. KU Leuven is the first European university to set up this partnership and will actively promote this partnership with other universities worldwide, and especially Europe," a statement from KU Leuven read.

"Leymah Gbowee's personal and professional experiences attest to the significant role education plays in the advancement of girls and women," the KU Leuven statement pointed out, adding that: "She [Leymah Gbowee] is acutely aware that in order to preserve peace and ensure equitable allocation of economic, social and political development in regions of conflict, women need to be in key decision-making positions."

According to the Belgium university, the Leymah Gbowee Fund for Leadership will secure the financial support girls need to develop as leaders within the classroom and beyond, further stating that the Leymah Gbowee Leadership Fund intent is to help communities identify potential leaders, support their schooling, and instill a sense of responsibility among scholarship recipients to return and develop their communities.

In 2011, Madam Gbowee emerged joint Nobel Peace Prize winner with fellow Liberian, President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf and Yemeni Peace activist, Tawakkul Karman, for what the Norwegian Nobel Committee called an honor "for their nonviolent struggle for the safety of women and for women's rights to full participation in peace-building work."

She was instrumental in the formation of the Liberian Mass Action for Peace, an alliance of Christian and Muslim women, in public protest during Liberia's turbulent times. She served as the group's leader during the war days in her native land-Liberia. Currently, through her organization, the Women Peace and Security Network Africa, the Nobel Laureate trains and empowers women in Africa to bring peace to their own countries.

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