Ambassador Stephanie Sullivan’s remarks
at Luncheon Honoring the Woke Women Task Force
Mobile Web Ghana – Accra
September 11, 2019; 12:00 – 1:00 p.m.
Distinguished Woke Women task force members;
Administrators and teachers from schools who allowed their students to participate in female empowerment programs;
Advocates for the rights of women;
Our NGO peers who do critical, grassroots work on behalf of women;
Dear students present here today.
Good afternoon. Thanks for giving me a warm “akwaaba” – I am truly honored to join you today. We are pleased that Ms. Linda Anaabah of Bolgatanga is here today. She is a tireless advocate for the basic human rights of women and girls in the northern regions of Ghana.
To quote the late Dr. Aggrey, “When you educate a woman, you educate a whole nation.” That is what you, the Woke Women Task Force, have been doing: educating women and this nation on the fundamental truth that the rights of women and girls must be championed by all citizens – including men – to truly promote peace, progress, security, and prosperity in Ghana and throughout the world. You also demonstrate the highest spirit of “sisterhood” in women supporting and championing one another. Ayekoo!
You know, as I know, that the challenges, victimization, and oppression faced by Ghanaian women and girls also exist throughout the world, including in the United States, and that efforts are needed to stop these abuses. You knew change had to start somewhere. So you pledged to be a force for positive change, and by doing so inspired women and girls to believe in themselves, to be aware of and defend their own rights, and in turn inspire and educate other women and girls in their communities.
Because of your leadership and efforts, you are my sheroes. It is my hope that other women emulate the example which you have set for others to follow as advocates for women’s rights.
I would like to share a few personal comments about the members of the Woke Women Task Force.
Assistant Commissioner of Police Patience Quaye has spent her entire career working on behalf of trafficked persons and survivors of sexual violence. She is a leader who receives invitations to share her expertise globally.
Superintendent Sophia Ennim of the Domestic Violence & Victim Support Unit educates about the local traditions impact survivors of sexual violence. She also educates women and girls about Ghanaian laws.
Dzifa Attah, Ph.D., who brought her knowledge of human psychology to the task force. She uses psychological tools, coupled with her presentation on self-esteem, to help the young women present better understand the heavy emotional and psychological toll poor self-esteem, sexual harassment and sexual violence imposes onto its survivors.
Florence Toffa is perhaps Mission Accra’s most active alumna. She is a Mandela Washington Fellow who is the CEO of this wonderful hub, the site of our program today. She is also mentors and coaches females, with a special focus on finances. And dear Florence gave birth to the first Woke baby earlier this year.
We are so grateful that our friend Linda Anaabah could join use today. She is the hardest working mentor of girls in northern Ghana. Linda works on a range of issues, especially sexual violence and female health issues. She partnered with Mission Accra on our October 2018 sexual violence program in Bolgatanga.
Augustina “Didi” Djoka is the youngest member of the task force. Didi is our upbeat, inspirational member, who is always dancing and taking selfies. She connects well with the young women at our workshops with her passion and her honesty about her experiences, some of which were extremely difficult.
Embassy Accra’s own Rita Awuku is the co-creator of Woke Women. Rita has an amazing group of contacts – it sometimes seems she knows everyone in Ghana. When she called, each of these amazing women responded. Without Rita’s hard work and her relationships with people in all areas of Ghanaian society, there would be no Woke Women. There might be only “Asleep Women!”
And inspiring them all has been Myra Brown, the U.S. Department of State’s Regional Public Engagement Specialist based at the U.S. Mission in Accra. I want to thank her for her leadership, initiative, and commitment to mentor women and girls by expanding our professional networks throughout Ghana in both rural and urban communities.
Rita and Myra, thank you, and well done.
I want to thank each of you for your selflessness, dedication to improving the lives of young women, and for your contributions to promoting development and the rights of women and girls in Ghana and beyond. I now look forward to meeting with you and listening to your stories about making a positive impact.