The Executive Committee, the Board of Directors, the Advisory Board, the Nomination Committee, Volunteers and Event Planners of Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation (GWPF) send their profound appreciation to all of their sponsors, donors, supporters, speakers, awardees, presenters, panelists, partners, and walkers for helping to make the 2019 Global Woman Awards and the Walk To End FGM a great success this past Friday evening and Saturday afternoon. GWPF hosted their 2-day event, with the activities commencing with their Global Woman Awards ceremony Friday evening at the Milken Institute for Public Health at George Washington University. The Friday event was in collaboration with George Washington University in explaining why laws and policies are important in protecting girls from female genital mutilation (FGM) in the U.S.
Following refreshments, light fare, mixing and mingling, the guests were escorted to the auditorium for the program to begin. With the Mistress of Ceremony, Tyra (Tyra G) Garlington opening by giving a brief history of the organization, and introducing Dr. Karen McDonnell of the Milken Institute, Angela Peabody of GWPF, silent auction items, the excitement and curiosity grew. Tyra kept the audience laughing and engaged, as they made their way through the evening.
Angela Peabody respectively gave welcome remarks, and asked the audience to join her in a moment of silence. She asked them to remember their 2018 First Place Literary Awardee, Kameel Ahmady, who had been with them only a year ago. She said, “As we gather here tonight, Kameel sits in an Iranian prison for his work against injustices against women, including FGM.” She told their guests that Kameel’s only offense is using his literary ability to bring attention to the blatant injustices imposed on women. She asked that they keep Kameel in thought and prayer.
Peabody then shared some of the work and successes Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation has accomplished in the last 6 years. She turned the podium over to Dr. Karen McDonnell, who briefly unveiled an educational toolkit on FGM which the Milken Institute recently completed. She told the audience that the toolkit is designed to be used by school nurses, other medical personnel, teachers, and the general public. Angela Peabody returned to the podium to introduce the Keynote Speaker of the evening, Dr. Morissanda Kouyate of Inter-African Committee. In his fifteen-minute PowerPoint presentation, Dr. Kouyate explained the importance of laws and policies in ending FGM in the U.S. as well as other parts of the world. He described the types of laws, forces of laws, the place and role of laws, and why there should be laws against FGM. Dr. Kouyate spoke about the difficulties in implementing laws, and the actions to be taken to uphold those laws once implemented. He emphatically said, “We imperatively need to develop anti-FGM laws, and have the courage to implement them.” He continued, “The best way to undermine a law is to refuse to enforce it.” It was evident that Dr. Kouyate is a devout advocate against the practice of FGM. He was instrumental in having the United Nations declare February 6th as the “International Day of Zero Tolerance for FGM”. He shared his bewilderment when he heard that a Federal Judge in Michigan had thrown out a Federal FGM case from the 2017 FBI arrests in that state, and declared it unconstitutional. Dr. Kouyate drew laughter and applause when he said, “I would like to confront that Judge face to face.”
Shelby Quast of Equality Now and a 2016 GWPF Awardee took to the podium and shared how easy it is to send emails to your Congressional Representatives and Senators to support special legislation against FGM. She invited the audience to take their phones and go to her website, click on “Take Action” and use the self-populated text in an email to U.S. Congress. Other panelists of the evening joining Dr. Kouyate and Shelby Quast were Michelle Mitchell of Partnerships for Health in the state of Maine, Chisina Kapungu of the International Center for Research on Women, and Rahmah Abdulaleem of KARAMAH.
GWPF recognized and honored 9 people on Friday evening, including a graduate student from New York, Edwige Dossou-Kitti for the “Student Ambassador Award”. Dr. Morissanda Kouyate received the “Man of the Year Award” while Monalisa Dugue received the “Lisa C. Bruch Woman of the Year Award”. Attorney Sandra Roland received the “Legal Award”, Dr. Willa Jones was the recipient of the “Medical Award”, Djessou Kouyate received the “Advocacy Award”, Maryum Saifee received the “Survivor Activist Award”, Dr. Ghada Khan was the recipient of the “Education/Training Award”, and Representative Thomas P. Murt was awarded the “Political Award”.
The delicious refreshments and food was the product of
some top Culinary Art students in the
Washington, D.C. area, most of them attending the Prince George’s Community College Culinary Art School. The purpose was to offer knowledge of FGM to those students and their faculty, as well as helping them receive the exposure they will need in becoming professional chefs.
On Saturday afternoon, the crowd could not have asked for better weather. At the National Sylvan Theater, Representative Thomas Murt shared his work he has done in Pennsylvania to have FGM criminalized. He said how ironic it was for them to be standing at the Washington Monument discussing an injustice against girls and women, when Dr. Martin Luther King delivered his speech about his dream only a few miles away. After the moving and riveting keynote from Representative Murt, it was time to hand out the prizes to the 3 top teams that raised the highest amounts. Assisting with giving out the prizes were Dr. Kouyate and Senator Michael D. Brown. Third prize went to Jacqui Olkin’s team, a member of GWPF’s board and second prize went to Dr. Karen McDonnell’s team while Maria Sanchez, a new Advisory Board member walked away with first prize. Maria, who flew in from California only to attend the 2-day event had set up her team at $0 only less than 3 weeks prior to the event; she continued to raise funds, while surpassing other teams until she worked her way to first place.
Following the consumption of bananas, donated by Giant Foods, granola bars, donated by GWPF’s board member Wallicia Gill, and bottled water donated by Wegmans, the crowd lined up and began the walk from Memorial Drive and 15th Street in Southwest Washington. They made their way in the direction of the Lincoln Memorial, passing various other memorials until they finally arrived at the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, just before the Reflecting Pool. They all sat down on the steps for a group photo. As a tourist nearby offered to take the group photo, he became involved with the chant, “No more FGM!” The tourist said, “On the count of 3, say it.” The crowd roared, “No more FGM!” The crowd drew the attention of other tourists, and before long, they too were filming and snapping photos of the group with purple shirts, chanting “No more FGM.
GWPF has already applied to the National Park Service for their permit for next year, and will have confirmation later this week. They will announce next year’s date in the upcoming newsletter. They hope to see you in October 2020!
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