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Liberia Nobel Laureate Gbowee launches peace foundation
by Staff Writers
Monrovia (AFP) Feb 6, 2012

Joint Nobel Peace Prize winner Leymah Gbowee on Monday launched a peace foundation in her country Liberia aimed at lifting young girls out of social squalor and giving them life skills.

"We have many challenges ahead of us as Liberians and Africans. Our girls face discrimination, violence and vulnerability due to no fault of their own -- save from being born a female," Gbowee said during the launch in Monrovia.

Gbowee won the 2011 Nobel Peace Prize along with Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Yemeni activist Tawakkol Karman for their struggles for peace and democracy and advancing women's rights.

She said that teenage pregnancy was one of the main problems facing young girls in Liberia, along with gender-based violence, low literacy levels and high infant and maternal mortality rates.

"Though these challenges are daunting, they are surmountable," she said.

The activist in 2003 led a group of about 200 women to Ghana where they blocked rival warlords from leaving peace talks after 14 years of brutal civil war. The fighters eventually signed a peace treaty in Accra.

Charles Gyude Bryant, who led an interim government after warlord-turned-president Charles Taylor went into exile, attended the launch of the Gbowee Foundation for Peace in Africa.

He said the body "was dedicated to lifting young girls out of the social squalor and decadence by turning them into assets of a peaceful nation building."

President Sirleaf attended the launch, saying the nation was proud of "what she (Gbowee) represents and what she continues to do."

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