Toronto, ON, September 6, 2019 – Canadian volunteer cooperation agency Crossroads International is marking International Day of the Girl on October 10th by shining a light on the threats to the rights, safety, and well-being of girls and women around the world, and calling for Canada to be a voice of moral authority through bold action.
Crossroads International volunteers work with local partners in some of the most challenging places in the world to be a young woman, including Burkina Faso, where the child marriage rate is a staggering 52%; Swaziland, where one in three girls experience sexual abuse by the time they turn 18, and Tanzania, where domestic violence legislation is eclipsed by the lack of resources, and therefore access, to justice, to name a few.
In fact, Tanzania is a key centre in the global fight for girl’s and women’s rights. In 2016 lawyer Rebeca Gyumi petitioned the High Court of Tanzania to change the Law of Marriage Act, 1971 which allows girls as young as 14 to get married. The Court sided with Ms. Gyumi, raising the marriage age to 18 for both boys and girl, but the government appealed, and there is a stay of execution until the Court of Appeal has decided on the matter. A ruling is expected soon.
Ms. Gyumi will be headlining Crossroads’ 8th annual Day of the Girl breakfast in Toronto to raise funds for Crossroads’ Girls’ Empowerment Program that reaches more than 3000 girls annually in several countries in Africa. Through these efforts the organization is seeing concrete results in decreases in teen pregnancy, increased academic performance, and more reporting of abuse.
“Rebeca Gyumi is an inspiring leader in the fight for equality and justice for women and girls,” said Heather Shapter, Executive Director of Crossroads International. “We are thrilled she is speaking at our breakfast, sharing her lived experience and professional insights as a human rights lawyer in Tanzania.”
Ms. Gyumi, a UN Human Rights Prize recoipent is also Founder and Executive Director of the Msichana Initiative, an organization in Tanzania that empowers girls through education. Growing up in Dodoma, Tanzania’s capital city, Ms. Gyumi was inspired to become an advocate and lawyer by observing women like government minister Asha Rose Migiro. Ms. Gyumi is now in a position to affect meaningful change.
“My personal and professional experience in Tanzania demonstrates what is possible when we listen to women and girls and act in their interests,” said Ms. Gyumi. “Canadians and their government have made and must continue to make an important contribution to the fight for equality around the world, especially in countries such as my own. Organizations like Crossroads International demonstrate the cooperative and supportive way people can work together to improve the conditions of, and opportunities for, women and girls in the global South.”
“Canada must be both a beacon of hope and a bulwark against attacks on women’s rights,” said Ms. Shapter. “Crossroads is encouraged by many of the positive measures taken by the federal government but concerned over a rising global tide of divisive rhetoric and dangerous policy that undermines the rights of women and girls. We must continue to reach out, to speak up, and to stand in solidarity with the most vulnerable female populations around the world.”
About Crossroads International
Crossroads International is a leader in international cooperation and has been fighting inequality for almost 60 years. Crossroads works in some of the world’s poorest nations in Southern Africa, West Africa, and South America, with local partner organizations to create decent jobs and to empower women to become leaders and live free from violence. Every year, we engage experienced volunteers and staff North and South who apply their expertise locally to address global issues. Together we are leveraging knowledge, expertise, and dollars to create a more just and equitable world.
To arrange an interview or for more information, please contact:
Christopher Holcroft Empower Consulting 416-996-0767/ 514-844-0664
Crossroads International gratefully acknowledges the International Day of the Girl Breakfast sponsors, without them this event would not be possible.