Passionate about human rights and justice, Satta Sheriff, Wittenberg class of 2023, has been named one of four winners of the 2021 Goalkeepers Global Goals Awards for the Sustainable Development Goals under the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation & Project Everyone.
The youngest award recipient this year, Sheriff, from Kakata City, Margibi County, a city 45 minutes from Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, earned the Campaign Award for her work in Liberia and that she continued at Wittenberg with the goal of ending sexual violence and human rights violations. She is the founder and executive director of Action for Justice and Human Rights (AJHR), a youth-led non-governmental organization in Liberia, which advocates for human rights especially on issues of gender-based violence and child marriage, and she is also president of the Affiliation of Women and Children Rights Advocates.
“I am humbled and honored to be one of the four winners,” said Sheriff, who was nominated by One Young World. “It came as a surprise, but I am grateful. I hope this award brings more of a spotlight to the issues of women and children in Liberia. I like to think that the Campaign Award doesn’t only belong to me, but to the hundreds of young people I have had the opportunity to work with over the years, including the thousands of children, survivors, and victims of sexual abuse in Liberia. This award is for every young Liberian who’s on the front line fighting for social change, justice, and respect for human rights every day. This award is for my mom, aunties, and all the women in my circle who have experienced sexual or domestic violence. Thank you for inspiring my work and for giving me a reason to help make Liberia a safe place.”
Sheriff, already internationally recognized as a leading advocate for children’s rights, peace, and empowerment before ever stepping foot on Wittenberg’s campus, joins the Goalkeepers community made up of 400 leaders from more than 50 countries around the globe and across government, business, technology, media, entertainment, and civil society.
According to its website, Goalkeepers are leaders who take a stand on the issues they care about and take action in their respective countries to achieve the Global Goals by the year 2030. About 70 percent are emerging leaders, most of whom are under 40. In partnership with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the annual Global Goals Awards honors individuals who have been working to tackle some of the world’s biggest issues. These emerging influencers are in turn inspiring local and global audiences to engage with and support the progress of the goals. Past recipients of the Global Goals Awards include Aya Chebbi, African Union Youth Envoy; Gregory Rockson, Founder mPharma; Nadia Murad, 2018 Nobel Peace Prize winner; Amika George, Period Poverty campaigner; Ria Sharma, Founder Make Love Not Scars; Yusra Mardini, professional swimmer and UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador; Hauwa Ojiefo, Founder She Writes Woman, and Bonita Sharma, Founder SOCHAI.
Sheriff, who works at the Womyn’s Center on campus, is the diversity senator with Wittenberg’s Student Senate and a member of the Kappa Delta sorority. At 16, she was elected as the first female Speaker of the Liberian Children’s Parliament representing the voices of Liberian children. She traveled locally, nationally, and internationally, including to the United Nations and African Union, to speak and advocate for the rights of children. During that same year, she was awarded Most Influential Teenager in Liberia because of her stand against violence and injustices. However, her leadership journey began at age nine as a member of the Daughters of the Kings (DOK), a local adolescent girls’ group in Kakata.
At the time, a 13-year-old girl was set to be married to a 39-year-old man, but the DOK intervened, and the marriage was stopped. This case marked the start of Sheriff’s activism and made her realize the power of her voice and how a group of committed people can make a huge difference together.
For more information on the award, click here.