Global Fund Board Member Mu Sochua honored in remarkable documentary play

MuSochuaMu Sochua, our Board member from Cambodia and an inspiring political leader in her country, was one of seven remarkable women from around the world whose life and contribution was honored in a documentary play called Seven.

Produced by the Vital Voices Global Partnership network, the play featured the work of seven award-winning playwrights and premiered in New York last month, to an enthralled audience. Vital Voices is a Global Fund grantee and an international women's nonprofit in Washington, DC, that identifies, trains, and connects emerging women leaders around the world.

The production, featuring seven individual monologues told by seven actresses, is a collaboration between Vital Voices and seven award-winning playwrights, including Anna Deavere Smith, and is directed by OBIE winning director Evan Yionoulis. The playwrights interviewed the women and created a script that resounds with the women's individual voices. The Global Fund is proud to note that Board member Mu Sochua,  is among the chosen seven. Currently the secretary general of the Cambodian Sam Rainsy Party, Sochua is the former Minister of Women's Affairs. In 2005, she was co-nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for her work against sex trafficking of women in Cambodia and neighboring Thailand. Sochua was also profiled in O magazine (Download pdf of the article).

Some of the other remarkable women who were co-featured in this play were:

Hafsat Abiola, Nigeria
, an advocate for human rights and democracy following the murder of her activist parents, founded the Kudirat Initiative for Democracy, which provides skills-training and leadership opportunities for young women across Nigeria. She now helps build bridges between African and Chinese women, as China increases its engagement in the African continent.

Farida Azizi, Afghanistan, became an activist fighting the marginalization of women under Taliban rule in her native country. Because of threats on her life, she has gained asylum and now lives in the United States with her two children and works on women's rights and peace-building in Afghanistan.

Annabella De Leon, Guatemala, raised herself and her family out of poverty by getting an education. She has been a Congresswoman since 1995 and has received death threats because of her fight against corruption and for the rights of the poor, particularly women and indigenous peoples.

Marina Pisklakova-Parker, Russia: Against tremendous odds in 1993, she founded the first hotline for victims of domestic violence, which has since grown into Center ANNA, part of a coalition that has provided crisis and counseling services for 100,000 Russian women.

Mukhtar Mai, Pakistan: Gang raped by four men and forced to walk home almost naked in retribution for an alleged "honor crime," Ms. Mai and her harrowing story grabbed headlines across the world. Instead of taking the traditional "women's" route of committing suicide, she brought her rapists to justice, built schools to improve the condition of women, and became an advocate for education in her country.

Inez McCormack, Northern Ireland, is an activist for women's and human rights, labor, and social justice and a former President of the Irish Congress of Trade Unions. She now chairs a program, the Participation and Practice of Rights Project, that helps the disadvantaged access resources and services in Ireland, both North and South.

Learn more about the work of Vital Voices.

 

Kenyan Women Resist Post-Election Violence


Education_KenyaFebruary 4, 2008
Kenyan Women Resist Post-Election Violence
Kenyan sources report that to date, over 1,000 Kenyans have died and over 800,000 are displaced and living in 311 rescue camps all over the country. We have recently reached out to help our Kenyan partners as they scrambled to respond to this unexpected turn of events. Read Full Post

 

Kenyan Women Resist Post-Election Violence

Kenyan Women Resist Post-Election Violence

Education_KenyaKenyan sources report that to date, over 1,000 Kenyans have died and over 800,000 are displaced and living in 311 rescue camps all over the country. Kathleen Cravero, director of the U.N. Bureau for Crisis Prevention and Recovery, called for aid for Kenyan women and reported that attacks against women have doubled since the outbreak of post-election violence. We have recently reached out to help our Kenyan partners as they scrambled to respond to this unexpected turn of events. One key partner is GROOTS Kenya.

Led by a young woman who long ago recognized the potential power of women's collective action, GROOTS Kenya mobilizes women in Nairobi's vast slums and rural communities to respond to crippling poverty, lack of educational opportunities, and staggering numbers of AIDS deaths.

In the wake of the recent post-election violence, GROOTS is putting a priority on long-term reconciliation processes. While food and shelter are being provided by the Red Cross, GROOTS is organizing peace dialogues to bring divided communities together to air their grievances and find healthy ways of making their concerns known to the leaders that are so removed from the realities in the slums. This includes the young men who have been easily manipulated to inflict harm on their neighbors, including rape. Uneducated, unemployed, with no perspective on how their actions do not address their own marginalization, it is important that they be reached and convinced to see reason. GROOTS also hopes that the peace dialogues will highlight the common suffering among ethnic groups so as to enable non-violent advocacy actions.

The Global Fund for Women also works with the Gender Violence Recovery Centre (GVRC) in Nairobi. It is the only post-rape trauma center of its kind in East Africa, offering HIV post-exposure prophylaxis, comprehensive STI testing, pregnancy testing, counseling, and referral to legal services – all for free. As rape is reported in increasing numbers, GVRC has dispatched mobile units to the slums and Internally Displaced People's camps in different parts of the country to provide its critical services to women and girls who otherwise have no money for care. In a context of almost 7 percent HIV prevalence and an estimated 2.4 million AIDS orphans, access to life-saving anti-retroviral drugs is critical to prevent new HIV infections. Women's foundations from around the world – including Urgent Action Fund, African Women's Development Fund and Mama Cash – have also funneled funds to GVRC to respond to the rampant sexual violence.

As a human rights organization that mobilizes funds to respond to violations against women and girls around the world, the Global Fund for Women is no stranger to the persistent use of women's bodies as the battlefield for political gain and influence. Whether it's in Bosnia, Rwanda, South Africa, Japan, Democratic Republic of Congo, or Colombia, intimidation by sexual terrorism is a dark but under-reported fact of political history. Just as we have in the past, the Global Fund does and will continue to award  grants to women's groups in these countries to advocate against the culture of impunity as well as to provide emergency services to victims of rape.

Photo of Kenyan women by the Nomadic Pastoralist Education Project.

Muadi Mukenge is the Senior Program Officer for Africa.

 

900 Girls in Zimbabwe Speak Out

GCN900 Girls in Zimbabwe Speak Out
Betty Makoni, founder of the Girl Child Network in Zimbabwe, a dynamic Global Fund grantee that works to end all forms of violence against girls and to promote education and leadership of girls, recently shared with us a declaration issued by Zimbabwean girls at a crucial conference. Over 900 girls attended the Girls Speak Out Conference. Given the rising incidence of HIV/AIDS and poverty, which jeopardize girls’ health and lives, they talked about, and then declared, what girls need from their society so that they can thrive.

Read the Declaration:

We, the participants at the Girls National HIV/AIDS Speak Out Conference. Being aware of the dangers posed by the continued spread of HIV to the well being of the girl child.

Taking cognizance of the efforts of all sectors of society from Government, NGOs and private individuals in trying to reduce the impact of HIV/AIDS on the aforementioned girls.

Yet still recognizing that girls of the ages of the participants are among the most affected by HIV/AIDS, do make the following Declaration:

1. That the media be sensitive in its portrayal of HIV /AIDS issues especially where they concern girls.
2. The media should publish for all ages and not focus on adults. This also refers to the adverts carried in the media about HIV.
3. Home based care programmes should be strengthened and involve all sectors of society to allow girls space to attend school as they are spending a lot of school time taking care of relatives.
4. Programmes that fight discrimination and stigma must be strengthened, especially in school, and specific AIDS programmes must be introduced into the school curriculum and taught by specially qualified staff.
5. HIV education and awareness programmes on abuse should begin in Grade Zero to raise awareness of HIV and abuse from the earliest learning age.
6. There is need to increase awareness about other forms of transmission of HIV, not to focus on sexual transmission.
7. Children’s income generating programmes especially in school clubs be promoted and strengthened to allow children to gain financial capacity too care for the needs of fellow children infected and affected.
8. Programmes that benefit orphans and vulnerable children, especially those living with HIV should be scaled up.
9. Money allocated to HIV/AIDS programmes for children should be used transparently and be accounted for properly
10. All cases of rape and child abuse should be treated swiftly and equally without considering the position or influence of the alleged perpetrator.
11. Access to Post Exposure Prophylaxis should be a right for all victims of rape.
12. Testing and counseling centres should engage children as peer counselors to enable children to speak out better.
13. Children living with HIV /AIDS should have access to playing a meaningful role in programmes that affect them.
14. Discussion on HIV issues and the status of members should be openly discussed from national to family level to demystify the issues.
15. All organisations that work in the field of HIV/AIDS should work closely together between themselves and with the national programmes in order to derive maximum benefits for the girls who need the interventions.

Agreed to on this 2nd day of December 2007 at Seke Teachers’ College, Chitungwiza.

Photo on top from Paola Gianturco's book Women Who Light the Dark, published by powerHouse Books.

 

What America Must Do: A Woman's Worth

FPcover Recently, Foreign Policy magazine asked a group of the world's leading thinkers to answer one question: What single policy or gesture can the next president of the United States make to improve America's standing in the world? Global Fund CEO and President Kavita Ramdas  was among those invited to respond to this question.

Read more »
 
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