Posted by Steve Lettau on Mar 15, 2023

By Diana Schoberg

In 2011, Liberian peace activist Leymah Gbowee was in Oslo, Norway, waiting in a room with a few friends before she delivered her Nobel lecture.

Gbowee had lived in a refugee camp, worked as a counselor for child soldiers, and led a nonviolent peace movement that played a pivotal role in ending a bloody 14-year period of civil war in Liberia. But still, they asked her, “What’s next?” “

My answer was simple,” she recalls. “Duh, I just won the Nobel Peace Prize. I’m going to retire at 39. They said, ‘No, you’re still young. Think.’ The only thing I could think about in that moment was girls and education.”

She went on to found Gbowee Peace Foundation Africa, which focuses on just that. Since its inception in 2012, the organization has awarded more than 500 full scholarships to African young people, most of them women, to study across Africa, Europe, and North America. It has also provided support to schools in Ghana and Liberia that benefited almost 2,000 students. The foundation has held campaigns to inspire and train women and young people to help maintain Liberia's peace. It has moved beyond the classroom to do work in sexual health and reproductive rights, and produced radio programs that encourage discussion about gender-based violence.