Conference focusing on change in Africa to feature talk by Nobel laureate

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Nobel Peace Prize laureate Leymah Gbowee of Liberia will be the keynote speaker at the third annual Sankofa54: Youth Empowerment Conference, a two-day event aimed at providing students with the tools, networks, and mentor relationships needed to effect change in Africa.

The conference, sponsored by Yale Undergraduate Association for African Peace and Development (YAAPD), will be held on Friday and Saturday, April 4 and 5. This year’s theme is “Pan-Africanism in the 21st Century.” During the conference, YAAPD will explore strategies to overcome the dilemmas of divisions and how individuals, communities, and nations can work together to forge partnerships that foster success across the continent. This year, the YAAPD is providing key networking and recruitment opportunities with top companies and NGOs on the continent including groups such as Dalberg Global Development Advisors.

Gbowee’s address — also sponsored by the Chubb Fellowship — will take place on Friday at 4:30 p.m. in Levinson Auditorium of Yale Law School, 127 Wall St. Doors open for seating at 4:10 p.m.

Gbowee, a peace and women’s rights activist, won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2011. Realizing during the civil war in Liberia that women bear the burden in prolonged conflicts, she organized Christian and Muslim women to demonstrate together, founding the Liberian Mass Action for Peace and launching protests and a sex strike. Her part in helping to oust Liberia’s former president Charles Taylor was featured in the documentary “Pray the Devil Back to Hell.”  She currently is the Newsweek Daily Beast’s Africa columnist and is the executive director of the Ghana-based Women Peace and Security Network.

Other conference events will explore African leadership, civil society and current challenges, the urban-rural divide, climate change, remittances and repatriation, primary health care on the continent, and telecommunications and innovation, among others. There will also be an exhibit of photographs by Ifeanyi Awachie ’14, and career-related breakout sessions, in addition to other events.

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