Member News: Campaign updates, Events and Team News

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Equality Now to honor Gloria Steinem & Salma Hayek on 3 Nov

On 3 November, we will host our 2nd Make Equality Reality fundraising event at the Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills, California USA. Equality Now is proud to celebrate and honor Board Member/UK Trustee and 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom Honoree, Gloria Steinem – during her 80th birthday year – for her life-long work for gender equality. We are also excited to recognize the contributions of Salma Hayek in ensuring justice and freedom from violence for women and girls. For sponsorship  information, click here.


Momentum to end FGM in Kenya, the UK and the U.S.
Photo: Paul Munene

Thousands of you have taken action on behalf of girls fleeing female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage in Kenya, and we want to let you know that we’re making progress!  In the last several months, the new Anti-FGM Board and the Director of Public Prosecutions’ (DPP) Anti-FGM Unit have greatly stepped up efforts to investigate and enforce the 2011 law and educate communities. The Unit has been deployed to high FGM prevalence areas throughout Kenya and within its first few weeks brought several cases to court. Nationally, Kenyan legislators re-iterated to the public that violators of the law will be prosecuted, and Parliament members are working on a motion to increase penalties for FGM and to thoroughly review existing FGM cases. While there is still extensive work to be done, Equality Now and our partners, the Tasaru Ntomonok Initiative and Women Rights Institute for Peace, are encouraged by the increased political will to protect girls from FGM, regionally and nationally. Read more in the Daily Nation.

Following the July release of interim findings from a study conducted by Equality Now and City University London that reflected a considerable increase from 2001 estimates of the number of women living with FGM in England and Wales, British Prime Minister David Cameron publicly pledged to strengthen legislation against FGM and committed 1.4 million pounds to FGM prevention. Equality Now and City University’s final report on FGM in the UK is expected to be released in October. The UK Government also committed to “mandatory reporting for health, educational and social work professionals in known FGM cases.”  In September, Britain will open its first health clinic for child victims of FGM in London. Read more in the NY Times.

"I'm so excited because this is exactly what we asked for…It is a great success not just for me but for everyone who has fought for this. But it doesn't stop here, we are not going away…” - Jaha, Safe Hands for Girls

Following intense advocacy with FGM survivor activist Jaha -- who started a petition to President Obama that received more than 220,000 signatures! --, Representatives Crowley (D-NY) and Jackson Lee (D-TX), Equality Now and The Guardian, the Obama Administration committed to launch a prevalence study into the scope of FGM in the U.S. as the first step to eliminating FGM. According to the dated 1997 statistics, FGM is estimated to affect hundreds of thousands of U.S. women and girls. The goal of the study is to get up-to-date research on where FGM is happening, so that concrete plans and sufficient resources can be allocated. We worked to get FGM recognized as a form of gender-based persecution in the U.S. in 1996 and helped to strengthen the federal anti-FGM law in 2013. Applying our decades of experience on this issue, Equality Now and our partners have been drawing on the global momentum to end FGM to hold the U.S. Administration accountable to its commitments in the U.S. Together with our partner Safe Hands for Girls , Equality Now held a series of high level meetings in June with the White House and the Departments of Justice, Education and Health and Human Services on the issue. In July, Cathy Russell, the U.S. ambassador for global women's issues, announced that the Department of Health and Human Services will conduct the requested study. Read more about the campaign in The Guardian, Women in the World and Cosmopolitan, and download our factsheet here.

Success! Suriname grants women equal nationality rights
On 10 July, Suriname changed its law to give women the same rights as men to pass their nationality to their children and spouses! Thank you for signing our petition, and please continue to take action so that other countries follow Suriname and Senegal’s lead and end sex discrimination in their nationality laws. London Director Jacqui Hunt recently wrote about our campaign for Thomson Reuters. Equality Now is one of the few international organizations working on this issue and sits on the Steering Committee of the International Campaign to End Gender Discrimination in Nationality Laws.

Information needed on rape laws around the world
In June, we teamed up with The Guardian to crowdsource rape laws to create a global database for advocacy. Information is particularly needed on laws in Eastern Europe, the Middle East and Asia. If you have are in a position to participate, please click here to complete the short survey and help fill in the gaps! Equality Now is also embarking on a detailed analysis of rape laws with the International Bar Association (IBA) for more targeted advocacy.

Download Survivor Stories and advocate for change   
Our Survivor Stories series, featuring 18 first hand testimonies from survivors of trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation from 12 countries around the world, is now available for download. Created in partnership with survivors of trafficking and commercial sexual exploitation and organizations working on the issue, more than 65,000 have visited the site which has been covered in numerous prominent international news outlets since its March 2013 debut. We hope you will use and share Survivor Stories to help raise awareness of sex trafficking, dispel myths and galvanize your government representatives to #ListenToSurvivors and take action to implement laws and policies to end the human rights abuses so powerfully illustrated in the testimonies. Equality Now is extremely grateful to the courageous, outspoken survivors who generously shared their time, experience and expertise with us, and to our fantastic partners who together with survivors work to end sex trafficking and exploitation around the world. We are also thankful to the Los Angeles-based Book Club, a club of seven women dedicated to creating a kinder more equitable world; Chime for Change, founded by GUCCI; and our Catapult project donors for their generosity in funding the series. Download Survivor Stories here.


Mary Wandia joins Equality Now as FGM Program Manager
Equality Now is pleased to introduce Mary Wandia who will be leading our global anti-Female Genital Mutilation program out of our Nairobi office. Mary has a passion for human rights and over 14 years’ experience working for regional and international organizations on women’s rights, regional integration and governance. Prior to Equality Now, Mary worked with the Open Society Foundation, Oxfam Great Britain, ActionAid International and FEMNET. She is skilled in navigating the African Union and UN agencies, building coalitions, and in policy advocacy and campaigns. We are excited to welcome Mary to our team!

Welcome to our new Advisory Board members

We are thrilled to have these dynamic women on the Equality Now Advisory Board:
Elisa Jagerson: CEO, Speck Design
Elisa Steele: EVP of Strategy and CMO, Jive Software
Jessica Rothenberg-Aalami: Partner, Co-Founder Gobee Group, and CEO, Cell Ed
Lisa Stone: CEO and Co-Founder, BlogHer
Nabila Hamza: President, Foundation For the Future

Equality Now Co-Founder and Honorary President visits Nairobi office

On 20th August, Equality Now Co-Founder and Honorary President, Jessica Neuwirth, and long time supporter of Equality Now, Gloria Neuwirth, visited the Nairobi Office accompanied by three other family members. They were briefed on various campaigns that the staff are engaged in ranging from ending FGM, sexual violence and discrimination against women and girls.

Promoting human rights round the world
Equality Now staff, board members and partners are advancing women’s rights, globally.

  • On 7 October, Global Director Yasmeen Hassan will be part of a dynamic panel in New York to  address the challenges and opportunities  to creating a thriving environment for adolescent  girls alongside speakers from Plan International and  the NoVo Foundation
  • In July, staffers Jacqui Hunt, Shelby Quast, Brendan Wynne, Mary Wandia and Antonia Kirkland took part in Girl Summit 2014 – a future free from FGM and child and forced marriage events in London, Nairobi and Washington D.C.
  • Board Member & UK Trustee Gloria Steinem was a headliner at UN Women's Beijing+20 campaign launch in June. View pictures from the event here.

Read about our past and upcoming events here.

Mandy’s Corner - Equality Now in the News

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Our Website Is Now Mobile-friendly!
If you are viewing this on a smart phone or tablet, you may have noticed that our website and emails are now easier to read—we hope this change makes it even easier to take action on our campaigns, find resources on our site, support our work and share information with your networks when you’re on the go!