I have tried to think of one moment of hope but now with World Pulse it has become impossible. My head and heart are full of those exquisite moments when I read about one more woman, one more strong story of courage, of dedicated action, another courageous voice declaring that we are faced with a global human rights violation, the subjugation and violence against women and girls, and the bullying of men and boys to be silent and follow the rules at its epicentre. Every time I read a story exposing this, that leap of happiness in my heart, that flooding of joy that this new wave of change is taking place, every time I read that a woman is willing to say she is for freedom for women and girls, I have a moment of hope.
And so I have decided to write about these moments of hope that I have had reading stories from the latest participants in the Advanced Digital Training, because of the hope that these women give me. The beauty of Cecille’s paintings of women from the Philippines, her recognition of family beyond blood lines, her heart joyful that we are connecting as women. The dedication of Adelfj empowering women in rural areas of the Congo. The perseverance of Larieta in Fiji to counter prejudice, with success now lobbying for her country to ratify rights for people with disabilities. Sophia’s work in Ghana to help girls escape abuse, her unapologetic identification as a Women’s Rights Activist. Araba’s recognition in Ghana of the power and importance of women’s friendships with each other. Kundai in Zimbabwe “Like The Sun” shining her light on how disrespected women are while giving birth and how silenced when suffering mentally having faced life and death up close. Aramide in Nigeria choosing building an orphanage over secure and steady income, working with girls who have been abused, and saying it out loud: “There is power in synergy when women unite”. Austina, also in Nigeria wanting every woman to be all she can be. Dr. Rejoice in Zimbabwe creating “For Women by Women” to help women succeed. Edinah in Zimbabwe dedicating all her resources to amplify women’s voices, calling out that “All women are phenomenal”. Jue from China, boldly a Women’s Rights Activist empowering and giving voice to migrant women. Funmilola in Nigeria creating the first Career Counselling Centre for Women. Gaok committed to gender equality in Botswana. Immah in Kenya devoted to “Make Girls’ Life Better”. Kadablah in Rwanda creating a Health Care App for pregnant women that will save lives. Kamila in Afghanistan unafraid to call herself a Women’s Rights Activist and to call on men and boys to join in creating change. Katia from Mexico imagining a world in which “women and girls know their worth…and deserve to live without fear”. In Cameroon, Konda, another Women Rights Activist getting pads to girls and encouraging them to stay in school, Sally (Maselein’s) teaching sexual and reproductive rights and Sophie Ngassa teaching girls to Code and lead. Shirley in the Philippines is deeply committed to the history and well being of Indigenous People, using her savings to create change. Lulu in Zambia with her steadfast belief that by educating girls we will all have a better world. In Kenya, Memory changing the lives of disadvantaged youth. Smeijka in Poland doing visionary work with autistic children. Mercedes in Guatemala describing how they ousted a corrupt President, and providing leadership workshops to girls. Stelz in Ethiopia working to change the lives of women living with untreated fistula and facing community scorn. Shrutir in India who has created Sayfty, support and self defence for women and girls. Rosemary working in Tanzania against girls being forced into marriages. And Lily in Ethiopia laying out the trials of organizing meetings, refusing to give up, creating a memorable time and sharing the success of it all with us.
When I think about a moment of hope, every one of these women has caused my hope to grow, as has every story I have read in World Pulse, every message I have been able to send, every connection I have made that has become a friendship in shared commitment, every message of encouragement received to my own plans and ideas, every message of support and leadership from our brilliant, dedicated and loving Team and Board.
In the moments that I feel overwhelmed, when I wonder how to find the strength to read the news, to learn about one more woman or girl harmed, the moments when I wonder how we can effect this change, how to embrace all we need to do, I am encouraged to, inspired to, energized to continue because of all of you. I am continually fed by this hope flowing within our beloved World Pulse, by joy as we meet and share our lives, by the depth our connections, our respect for each other and our trust that together that we are making change possible everywhere.