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April – May 2017 Newsletter

Equality Now board members from all over the world gathered in London this month to discuss our global strategic vision for the next five years. This was also the first meeting that included our new Kenya Board, led by its Chair, Irũngũ Houghton, who is also on our global Board of Directors. We were also delighted to welcome one of Africa’s foremost media personalities and producers, Patricia Amira, to the Kenya Board.

General Updates

On 4 May, our Global Executive Director, Yasmeen Hassan, was honored for her inspiring work as a South Asian gender justice activist at the Sakhi 2017 Gala. Sakhi unites survivors, communities and institutions to eradicate domestic violence in the South Asian community. In her acceptance speech, she stressed the importance of everyday activism: “We shape our culture and we all have a responsibility to speak out where we see injustice.”

We are pleased to introduce our new Director of Development, Evelyn Chen, based out of our New York office. Evelyn has spent more than a decade developing and implementing fundraising strategies for mission-driven organizations. For Evelyn, the foundation of a positive, productive relationship is based on trust; at a societal level this trust can and should manifest in the rule of law. 

In our 25th anniversary year, we are reflecting on the women in our lives who have inspired us to find our voices. Whether they are our mothers, sisters, teachers or friends – we wanted to thank and acknowledge the bold and fearless women who have taught us so much.


Campaign Updates

Kenyan schools use art to fight harmful practices

Equality Now was proud to partner with Kenya’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology as a judge for the 58th Annual Kenyan National Drama Festival. For the first time in the Festival’s history, performing arts were used to intensify the campaign against female genital mutilation (FGM) and “child marriage”.

Program Manager, Mary Wandia, explained how using the arts is empowering teachers and students to become activists.

Watch the video here

Jordan close to repealing exemption for rapists

Momentum continues! Jordan’s Parliament has requested that King Abdullah II hold an extraordinary session to discuss the recommendation to repeal the law that allows rapists to go free by marrying their victims (Article 308). Read more in the Huffington Post.

First ever FGM prosecution in the US

Following the 12 April arrest of Michigan doctor Jumana Nagarwala for performing female genital mutilation (FGM) on two 7-year-old girls, another doctor and his wife were arrested and charged with conspiracy to perform FGM. The three are the first people charged under the US federal law that criminalizes FGM.

Read More

Progress In Bolivia

“I started realizing I wasn’t the only one and that my perpetrator took a lot from me. He took my dreams, he took my childhood, but he wasn’t going to take my voice away.” -Brisa de Angulo, A Breeze of Hope founder

Brisa de Angulo, who has been working for years to stop child sex abuse in Bolivia following her own violation as a teen, is moving closer to justice! The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights alerted us that they had finally found Brisa’s case admissible — five years after she filed it and 15 years after her assault. It now moves on to the merits stage where we’ll have the opportunity to submit additional facts, highlight the human rights violations and potentially request an in-person hearing.


Liberia stalls on action to end FGM

Female genital mutilation (FGM) claimed another life in Liberia this year when 16-year-old Zaye Doe died  after having FGM forced on her as punishment for using ‘abusive language.’ Her tragic death came despite a 2012 ban on the activities of the women’s secret society groups (Sande Society) who typically perform FGM, and President Johnson-Sirleaf’s 2015 public call on countries to ban the human rights violation. Read more in The Guardian. Women and girls continue to suffer while the government does nothing! Please join Equality Now and Women Solidarity Inc. in renewing the call on Liberia to urgently enact a law against FGM.


Women Who Made New York

We were thrilled to partner with the NoVo Foundation at Google NYC to co-host an amazing night of discussion with women who are shaping the future of New York City. Our incredible panel was moderated by Julie Scelfo, whose book The Women Who Made New York, served as the inspiration for the event. We are honored that so many people came out to hear about the power of activism and how to make the world a more just place for women and girls!

Check out moments from the event!

Students Debate Kenyan Gender Policy

On 4 May, Equality Now, SOAWR, Strathmore University Law School and Safaricom co-hosted a debate competition for Kenyan law students in Nairobi. Law students from all across Kenya came out to debate the country’s 2/3 gender policy. The student’s enthusiastic arguments gave us hope for the next generation of gender justice lawyers!

In the Media

The LA Times covers Jordan looking to repeal their rape-marriage law

Do we need a new term for child marriage? – Devex

Elected women unlikely to meet one-third gender rule – Citizen TV Kenya

Second doctor arrested for FGM – Voice of America

African Review writes about how now is the time to ban FGM in Liberia