Why do we need #ActForEqual to achieve gender equality in Africa in our lifetime?
Swiss-Ghanaian actress Marie Humbert at the intersection of African identity and women’s equality.
Marie Humbert’s voice for women’s equality in Africa is a voice that resonates.
The Swiss-Ghanaian actress, who has lived in nine countries on four continents, represents an emerging class of African artists who are making their voices heard and drawing attention to the social issues they are passionate about.
For Humbert, who is Oxfam Ghana Sufficient! As a project activist, her life and profession have taken her all over the world, but women’s empowerment and African identity have always been a common thread – the social elements that fascinate her most.
It’s not hard to see why: no country in the world on track to meet the United Nations global gender goal between men and women by 2030. COVID-19 has also rolled back much of the progress made as women have been disproportionately affected by the impact of the pandemic.
In addition, Africa is lagging behind behind the rest of the world in achieving the UN’s global goals, including the goal of achieving gender equality by 2030.
Women in North Africa hold theless than one in five paid jobs in the non-agricultural sector while women in Nigeria and many other African countries face harmful cultural practices like FGM, poverty, Economic inequality, misogynistic laws, and political exclusion.
These questions motivate Humbert’s activism and in the context of the Generation Equality Forum, a global gathering for gender equality organized by UN Women and co-organized by the governments of Mexico and France which was held in Paris. from June 30 to July 2.
Global Citizen spoke with Marie Humbert about women’s empowerment in Africa and why we all need #ActForEqual to achieve gender equality:
GC: Why do you think conversations around identity are important in Africa?
Humbert: Colonialism left indelible traces in the societies of pre-colonized African countries. West Africa was colonized by the French (ie Mali, Niger, Senegal, Ivory Coast) and the British (Ghana where my mother is from, Nigeria, Cameroon), decades later, the impact on our identity is always present. Colonialism caused the underdevelopment and disarticulation of the African economy.
It also devalued the local culture and imposed what is now widely called colorism. At the same time, the idea that the grass is greener on the other side still exists, when we know that in reality our exceptional resources have largely contributed to the growth and wealth of Europe and the West. (they still do today).
Real and honest conversations about the history, importance and beauty of our diverse heritage allow us to understand, respect and appreciate who we are before we pay too much attention to what people think we are. or expect from us.
What inspires your activism?
A belief in humanity. A desire to be an active part of the change I want to see. A desire to leave a positive impact, big or small, and to live authentically, unabashedly.
Use my voice and believe it’s important. I want to contribute to a better, safer, more just and more sustainable world.
How do you think creativity and activism intersect?
Creativity requires deeper thought, any form of emotional connection. Art has the power to move, inspire, provoke and challenge people. I see art in everything from the way a person laughs to annual seasonal transitions, for example. When you are in tune with your self-esteem, there is no limit to what you can achieve.
Artists are activists in their own way, they can influence people through their art to take action. Activists, on the other hand, need to be in touch with their creative side in order to reach people, ignite them and empower them to believe and fight for a cause.
What made you decide to partner with Global Citizen?
The pandemic has been a difficult and delicate time for all, but it has also brought to light relevant issues such as police brutality, systemic racial injustice and the abuse of women in the home. On the optimistic side, the world has noticed that women are better in politics. New Zealand, Germany, Finland and Taiwan have outperformed the vast majority of countries led by men.
Personally, I felt that frank and informative discussions were needed, both on identity (#theidentitytalks) and on a more serious topic like gender-based violence (#reclaimxpower).
Global Citizen is a movement of engaged citizens using their collective voice to inspire positive change. GC is known for running massive global campaigns like Mandela 100 and Vax Live to amplify calls to action, working with the team made perfect sense as there was synergy.
Can you describe some of your work on GBV and women’s rights?
Swiss-Ghanaian activist and actress Marie Humbert. Image credit: Marie Humbert
With two amazing women, Mallence Bart-Williams and Dr Khumoetsile Moetse, “Reclaim Your Power” was created. @reclaimxpower is a series of Instagram Live discussions held with the aim of dismantling the different layers of abuse, exploitation and GBV.
A serious increase in violence against women and girls has been recorded following the global pandemic lockdown measures. Most women found themselves stranded at home with their abusers and struggled to access health services.
“In Africa, reports of abuse such as intimate partner violence, sexual harassment, child marriage, female genital mutilation (FGM), domestic and sexual abuse of women and girls have increased, especially under confinement, ”according to UN Women Africa.
As three proud African women and three survivors of abuse, we come together to end GBV through impactful conversations, sharing our own stories, and hopefully helping others with survival tools. We invite people to walk with us to dismantle, heal, change and ultimately claim victory over GBV.
What has been the general response to your efforts around GBV?
Extremely generous and beautiful. There are no limits to the power to use your own voice. You feel a complete transformation inside and you are reminded that you are not alone, a whole community of people from all over the world will connect with you. I have only received words of encouragement, love and support and I feel blessed that I can use my platform to effect positive change.
Many survivors reached out to us to thank us for making space for these important discussions and for continuing to empower ourselves to be seen and heard on our own terms. Raising awareness of GBV as much as possible is the first step in achieving certain objectives such as education against victim blame, stigma, culture of silence and demand the strengthening of measures taken towards perpetrators who prioritize the protection of victims. vulnerable people.
What are your hopes for women’s equality?
Ensure that women are represented in equal leadership positions, hold decision-making power, are better protected, heard and seen. It is time for women to stop being treated as “victims” or “weak”, but rather as “powerful agents of change”.
What personal message would you like to share with the global community?
Gender-based violence is a state of emergency, significantly across the African continent, so the elimination of all forms of violence must not be compromised. Laws, policies and sanctions condemning harmful practices and all acts of violence should be strengthened. I pledge to work with Global Citizen and UN Women to protect vulnerable women and girls at this year’s Gender Equality Forum.