Heritage (Monrovia)

26 February 2013

Liberia: Leymah Gbowee Scholarship Foundation Launched in Belgium

A scholarship fund in honor of Liberian Nobel Laureate Leymah Roberta Gbowee has been launched in conjunction with the KU Leuven University in Flanders, Belgium. The Katholieke Universiteit Leuven (Catholic University of Leuven), now referring to itself simply as KU Leuven, is a Dutch-speaking university in Flanders, Belgium. It is located in the centre of the historic town of Leuven, home to the university since 1425. It is considered Belgium's oldest university, and one of that country's most prestigious higher institutions of learning.

The Leymah Gbowee Scholarship Fund for Leadership for African Women, on 21 February 2013 took place at the 'Female Leadership as Cornerstone for Sustainable Development' symposium. By the launch of the scholarship fund, Laureate Gbowee and the KU Leuven University are now collaborating to prepare West African girls to take on meaningful roles in their countries.

The Leymah Gbowee Scholarship Fund for Leadership for African Women is intended to give young women from West Africa's conflict-riddled countries like Liberia as well as Sierra Leone and Ghana the opportunity to take on leading roles in their respective countries. The scholarships will enable talented and motivated girls to complete a bachelor's degree in Africa followed by a master's program at the KU Leuven University.

"For me, an education is a fundamental right of every woman. If you empower a girl, you empower a whole community," said Laureate Gbowee at the occasion.

Listen to Laureate Gbowee: "I recently met three young women of about eighteen in a village not far from Monrovia [Liberia's capital city]. They are in 4th, 5th and 10th grade, respectively, because they have been repeatedly forced by circumstance to leave school. But they don't give up. It's girls like these we want to offer scholarships."

Under the Leymah Gbowee Scholarship Fund for Leadership for African Women, funding will be provided the Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, which will carefully select candidates for the program.

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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