Luther College student receives grant to launch women’s health initiative in Liberia

September 21, 2022

Luther College student Junita Sangare ‘25 received a $10,000 Davis Projects for Peace grant for her proposal titled “Girls Let’s Talk.” Her primary goal is to empower young women in Liberia through sexual reproductive health education–something that is desperately lacking in the country. 

“Empowering young women with education gives them the ability to make sound decisions about their health and bodies. Overall, this leads to a greater sense of awareness, strong self-esteem, purpose orientation and high achievements,” said Sangare. “With impact projects like ours, we believe we can achieve this reality for every young woman in Liberia, across Africa, and in the larger world.”

In Liberia, sex and sexual reproductive health are taboo topics. According to Sangare, 67% of adolescent girls with no education are either pregnant or have at least one child to care for, which is a life-altering struggle in a developing country like Liberia.

Being a member of this community, I have seen firsthand the detrimental realities that these challenges pose to young women, including my very own sisters and relatives. From being a high school dropout to street vendors and then diving deeper and deeper into poverty that is oftentimes extremely difficult to recover from.

Junita Sangare '25

“Being a member of this community, I have seen firsthand the detrimental realities that these challenges pose to young women, including my very own sisters and relatives. From being a high school dropout to street vendors and then diving deeper and deeper into poverty that is oftentimes extremely difficult to recover from,” said Sangare.

Her project was essentially a seven-day intensive workshop for 75 women between the ages of 15 to 20 in two Liberia locations. Working with a team of eight youth leaders, Sangare succeeded in developing a life planning curriculum based on the educational resources provided by the World Health Organization on adolescent health and development. The project covered topics like sex education, teenage pregnancy prevention, gender roles and equality. Sangare empowered young women with education about their sexual reproductive health and life planning skills while creating a safe space that enhanced their growth and development. 

“It brings me nothing but great joy to do this work. This is the space where I feel fulfilled and purposeful,” said Sangare. “This project has left me with a strong sense of hope—hope that there are still plenty of chances to create a better world. I am proud to say that our successes have extended to starting a non-profit called Educate Women Liberia under which we hope to continue this work.”

Davis Projects for Peace was established by Kathryn W. Davis on her 100th birthday to fund selected students with $10,000 to create and build peace anywhere in the world. Funding for this specific project was used mainly for equipment and supplies in addition to marketing and event promotional support. 

Since the creation of the grant in 2007, Luther students have established 22 projects in 21 countries. In total, 36 Luther students have been awarded this prestigious grant to spread sustainable peace around the world.

 

About Luther College

Luther College is home to about 1,800 undergraduates who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at luther.edu