Thursday, December 3, 2009

COMMIT ACT DEMAND: Freedom of choice for women


About Moremi

Founded in 2003, The Moremi Initiative for Women's Leadership in Africa strives to engage, inspire and equip young women and girls to become the next generation of leading politicians, activists, social entrepreneurs and change agents: Leaders who can transform and change institutions that legitimize and perpetuate discrimination against women. We firmly believe that the full and active participation of women in leadership is a pre-requisite for positive change and development in Africa, and addresses leadership imbalances. Moremi Initiative is headquartered in Ghana with offices in Nigeria and the United States- and works throughout Africa.

About MILEAD Fellows

I was honored to be nominated among 25 outstanding young African women leaders as 2009/2010 MILEAD Fellows. The MILEAD Fellows represent some of Africa’s most extra-ordinary young women leaders with the courage and commitment to lead/effect change in their communities. The Fellows, selected from a pool of more than 500 applicants represent 21 African countries and the Diaspora and include emerging young women leaders engaged in actively leading change on critical issues that range from women’s health and HIV/AIDS, economic justice, community development to political participation and environmental justice. They are between 19 to 25 years but have already demonstrated their commitment to serve and lead society at large. Together, they form a unique community which can dramatically affect the lives of future generations.

About 16 Day of Activism Against gender Violence

16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence which is an international campaign originating from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute sponsored by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership (CWGL) at Rutgers University in 1991. Participants chose the dates, November 25, International Day against Violence against Women, and December 10, International Human Rights Day, in order to symbolically link violence against women and human rights and to emphasize that such violence is a human rights violation. This 16-day period also highlights other significant dates including November 29, International Women Human Rights Defenders Day, December 1, World AIDS Day, and December 6, which marks the Anniversary of the Montreal Massacre.

The 16 Days Campaign has been used as an organizing strategy by individuals and groups around the world to call for the elimination of all forms of violence against women by:

• raising awareness about gender-based violence as a human rights issue at the local, national, regional and international levels

• strengthening local work around violence against women

• establishing a clear link between local and international work to end violence against women

• providing a forum in which organizers can develop and share new and effective strategies

• demonstrating the solidarity of women around the world organizing against violence against women

• creating tools to pressure governments to implement promises made to eliminate violence against women

The theme for this year’s campaign is: Commit ▪ Act ▪ Demand: We CAN End Violence against Women!

Therefore, we all have a role to play; we all have a responsibility to end gender-based violence together as women, girls, men, boys, and individuals of all generations, religions, occupations, sexual orientations, abilities, political persuasions, and socio-economic backgrounds. In my capacity as the first and only Gambian to be awarded the MILEAD Fellowship 2009/2010 which enables us, the fellows to cross-examine concepts of leadership in a broad African context, cultivate the skills and experiences women need to occupy and excel in leadership positions and gain knowledge on cutting-edge issues critical to African women and their communities. We are each empowered and supported to create change in our community. Each fellow is leading change on a critical issue of importance to her community, and I am doing my part here in my community.
My project on early and forced marriage: In my fight against violence against women, I am looking at one of the major courses of domestic violence in my community which is early forced & arranged marriage which today results in profound physical, psychological and emotional consequences for affected girls and most often cut off educational opportunity and chances of personal growth for them. It further results in premature pregnancy and childbearing and potential lifetime of domestic and sexual subservience over which these girls has no control. These phenomena is destroying the lives of too many girls and young women in our community and denying them opportunities and rights that they may never have back. It requires urgent and immediate action Therefore, my project is a small but an important step in this direction- to mobilize and sensitize parents, girls and the community on the negative implications of this practice, promote community dialogue and action on the issue.

2009 marks the 10th anniversary of the United Nations’ formal recognition of November 25th as International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. There are many other landmark dates and documents that are the direct result of ACTION that women’s rights activists and defenders have taken. The anti-violence against women movement provides one of the best illustrations of how local activism can translate into global action. Individuals, organizations, governments, etc. should take action on the commitments they have made to ending Violence against women. Each commitment – be it a personal pledge to speak out, a local or national law, an international convention or resolution, the Beijing Platform for Action – should be seen as a promise that has been made to women. NOW is the time to act on these promises. Every action, no matter how big or small, can make a difference!

At the Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing in 1995; women’s organizations from around the world met with government representatives and collaboratively produced the Beijing Platform for Action – one of the most forward-thinking government negotiated documents on women’s rights to date. This ground-breaking document set forth a list of actions, which, if implemented, would significantly reduce incidences of violence against women. 2010 marks the 15th anniversary of the Beijing Conference on Women. Therefore, we must all demand implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action, as well as other key documents, and demand state accountability for ending impunity, allocating adequate resources, and implementing good laws and national action plans to address Violence against Women. We also call on the UN to take bolder action on the UN Secretary-General’s “Unite to End Violence against Women” Campaign.

What each and every one can do to end violence against women:

• Don’t abuse your daughter, wife, mother, girlfriend or any female

• Speak out against violence against women when you see one

• Parents must desist from forcing their young and innocent daughters into marriages that they are not ready or prepared for.

• The media should help create awareness about this important issue.

• Those who want to be part of my campaign or wish to support my campaign can contact me on +220 6206600 or send an email to

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Violence against women is a worldwide yet still hidden problem. Freedom from the threat of harassment, battering, and sexual assault is a concept that most of us have a hard time imagining because violence is such a deep part of our cultures and lives.