When Sparks Fly - Updates from the V-Day Africa Summit
"The V-Africa summit made it possible for women and girls to realize how solidarity and unity of purpose can bring political gains for women. Women have to realize the power of their numbers and support each other and impose political will on men and leaders to end the sexual atrocities vetted on women and girls."
- Dr. Isatou Touray, Executive Director of GAMCOTRAP
From August 27 - 29, V-Day, with support from the Skoll Foundation and the Wallace Global Fund, convened 48 activists and social entrepreneurs from 17 countries in Africa including Burundi, DRC, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Lesotho, Libya, Namibia, Nigeria, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Africa, Sudan, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, for the first ever V-Africa Summit, held in Nairobi, Kenya.
This inspirational coalition utilized the three-day event to learn from one another, envision and establish a continent-wide V-Africa coalition, create a platform from which to communicate about their work and demands to the international community, and address the issues of legislation, anti-violence work in conflict zones, and the inclusion of V-Men and V-Girls.
The Summit concluded by adopting a declaration rejecting all forms of gender-based abuses and specifically the use of rape as a weapon of war. The Summit also affirmed its commitment to fight all forms of abuses, including rape, domestic violence, honor killings, Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), child and forced marriage, incest and teen-dating abuses.
"Thank you to our African delegates for your stories and your pain and your victories and your tears. Thank you for risking arrest or violence, for putting your lives on the line. Thank you for speaking truth to power. Thank you for creating a declaration and trusting your activist sisters and brothers. This summit is the beginning of a mighty African web weaving a golden path of connection and possibility across the continent. You are the weavers, the life givers. You are the ones up ahead, leading with tenderness and mighty love and fierce compassion" stated Eve Ensler.
The summit garnered national press and created momentum for One Billion Rising in Africa.
Below is a snapshot of the summit, including first hand accounts from attendees, press clips and videos. We expect more content about the summit over the coming weeks so check vday.org!
Sparks Fly by V-Girls SA Action Team member Mbali Khumalo
When you're invited to be spend a week with powerful women and men that work tirelessly to improve the lives of women in their communities and end Female Genital Mutilation, you get excited. When you arrive at the beautiful Safari Park Hotel in Nairobi and actually meet, talk, listen and share someideas with them, the word 'excited' suddenly becomes one of the greatest understatements of the year as an attempt to describe the feeling of being around these power-houses, game-changers, freedom-fighters, fierce Vagina-Warriors, lights of hope. There were about 50± of us there. We gathered every morning from what was supposed to be 9am-3pm, but usually turned out to be from 9am-5pm(passionate discussions don't follow time constraints..hehe). All of us, young and old, black and white, men and women, were there for the same purpose: to come together as Africa and be the greatest propellers of social change the world has seen, because we can and we must and it shall be done from the ground up.
Shifting Paradigms by Gillian Schutte, South Africa
It has taken most of us a few days to recover from the first V-Day Africa Summit - not because of arduous deliverances and hard work - but because of the intensity of this gathering of powerful and moving African women activists who are relentless in their calling to change the world for women. The narrative of this gathering is one that is so textured, so woven with complexities of darkness and light, sorrow and joy, pain and play, that it will take many articles to excavate the depth of it. But here is my first offering, my first witnes sing of a paradigm shift that happened right before my eyes - in a room full of women who throbbed with the passionate intent to change the world for women. It is told in threads that all weave together into the story of a feminine shift that manifested in Kenya, 29 August 2012, a day that happens to mark my birthday. I have focussed on one facet of the gathering and have left out the work that the remarkable women at the summit are doing - but that is another article.
Synopsis of the V-Africa Summit: One Billion Rising to End Violence Against Women in Africa by Isatou Touray and Ammie Sissoho
Everyday a girl child or a woman is crying because of the pain she is going through. She has been betrayed by the adults she trusted most, the one she loved and believed in. Nobody seems to hear her cry, noticed that she is sobbing from a deep emotional lost. She has lost hope in life. She is not safe at home, on the street, in the institution or society at large. She has been labelled, her image tarnished, she has been silenced, yet no one seems to care about the perpetrators. It is the plight of girls and women in such situations that is a concern for many women’s rights activists and young girls who have found their voices and are Rising and speaking out to put an end to violence against women.
"We are very glad to let you know that we held the first stop rape training today where we had a total of 51 beneficiaries and this training is very significant immediately after the Africa Activist Summit. We also danced ahead of the ONE BILLION RISING and will continue doing so as we carry out activities in Kenya and other Countries in Africa. We shall soon update you on the SA program."
- Winnie and Duncan
Dolphin Anti-Rape and AIDS Control Outreach