Special Interest

UN Women Appoints First Regional Goodwill Ambassador For Africa

UN Women has announced the appointment of the first Regional Goodwill Ambassador for Africa, Jaha Dukureh, a renowned activist in Gambia.

Jaha Dukureh participates in a panel discussion following the US premiere of Jaha’s Promise, hosted by UN Women and the Wallace Global Fund, held at United Nations in New York. Photo: UN Women

Newly appointed Regional Goodwill Ambassador, Ms. Dukureh, aims to support UN Women’s advocacy to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage in Africa, with focus on mobilizing youth.

As a survivor of FGM, and forced into child marriage at age 15, Ms. Dukureh founded the “Safe Hands for Girls”, an NGO that provides support to African women and girls who are survivors of FGM and addresses its lifelong, harmful physical and psychological consequences.

Alongside women’s organizations and civil society, she has also contributed to the Gambian Government’s ban on FGM after youth mobilization and campaigning in the country.

In addition, Ms. Dukureh advocated with President Obama’s administration to investigate the prevalence of FGM in the United States, and the subsequent Summit to End FGM on 2 December, 2016 at the United States Institute of Peace.

Globally, 200 million girls alive today have undergone FGM, and in Africa alone, some 125 million girls and women alive today were married before their 18th birthday. 

Ongoing initiatives throughout the continent, from those of the African Union, women’s organizations and grassroots activists, the European Union-United Nations Spotlight Initiative, to the long-standing global programming of UN agencies such as UNFPA and UNICEF, are addressing these issues and beyond.

UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka said: “Jaha Dukureh is a compelling and eloquent advocate who has profound experience of these issues from her own life and work. She is a reflection of the new empowered young African women, who are global citizens. She remains committed and dedicated to her continent Africa, while embracing service to the women and girls everywhere in the world. Hers is a story of courage that tells us that girls and young women are capable and ready to change the world. Where they start from does not define where they will end up. We look forward to her efforts and the youth voices she will mobilize to help end these harmful practices. Her support will boost UN Women’s work and that of a wide range of current champions.” 

“These issues are personal to me, they’re part of my life history. We won’t have equality until girls can grow up with control over their own bodies and futures. I am proud to join UN Women in their fight for the rights of women and girls all over Africa. I want to see the day when no parent makes a decision that will change and limit their daughters’ lives. The girls of Africa and worldwide need to know that their future is bigger than they imagine,” stated Ms. Dukureh.