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February’s speaker was Fiona Sampson, of The Equality Effect (via Skype). Check out their link at www.theequalityeffect.org

Fiona shared the project called 160 Girls….and asked that we have a look at the website, sign up for their e-mail updates, and consider supporting in whatever ways we could.

Fiona is a Trent University & University of Toronto graduate, a lawyer, member of the Ontario Human Rights Commission, who gave up the security of a “real job” as her Mom would say and ventured into the world of non-profit. Along with three other women, Fiona works with women in Kenya, Malawi and other countries to fight through the courts for women’s rights, and to bring justice to those who perpetrate crimes such as rape (most often males). Fiona shared the story of Mercy, the woman who runs a crisis shelter in a small Kenyan village, and she told the story of Millie, who had the courage to speak up, suggesting that she would never be able to move on or heal from the ordeal of having been raped as long as her perpetrator was able to continue to walk the village streets unpunished. That was when Mercy realized that she would continue to rescue women (she had been doing the work for eight years at that point), but nothing would really change — and that is when she asked Fiona and her team for assistance.  Under the leadership of The Equality Effect, a court challenge was launched. The girls successfully established that the police failure to enforce existing defilement laws, and the police failure to protect them from defilement, is a violation of domestic, regional and international human rights law. The girls have achieved access to justice for themselves, and legal protection from rape for all 10,000,000 girls in Kenya.

Fiona makes me proud to be a fellow Trent grad, and a fellow Canadian. Perhaps we can find some common ground where we can work to support the work of  ”The Equality Effect”since it has an international focus, but is Canadian-based, and most importantly, so closely aligns with the Soroptimist mission — “to improve the lives of women and girls through programs that provide social and economic empowerment.”

If you missed this meeting and would like more information, check out www.theequalityeffect.org