So, I will be the first to admit that I have a bit of a personal stake in today's topic. I have volunteered for about 5 years with Amnesty International (Canadian Branch) and about a year ago, I also became an Amnesty Coordinator, meaning that I have the great honour of communicating with Amnesty activists all across Canada, letting them know about new actions, helping organize events, etc., etc. My area of focus as a Coordinator is with a group called WOZA, which stands for Women of Zimbbawe Arise. WOZA is a Ndebele word meaning "come forward," and that is exactly what the 75,000 members of WOZA do--since 2003, they have held over 500 peaceful protests demanding better from the Zimbabwean government.
These women (and men) have faced countless hardships. Magodonga Mahlangu and Jenni Williams are two of the leaders of the movement, and they have been jailed over 30 times. They are currently facing charges of "disturbing the peace" and are set to go to trial on December 7th. If convicted, they will face up to 5 years in prison.
On Monday, Magodonga Mahlangu and Jenni Williams were honoured by U.S. President Barack Obama with the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, a very prestigious honour. The women of Zimbabwe, for all their courage and hard work, certainly deserve this award! (Now I only hope that it is backed up with some more tangible support of Zimbabwean civil society!) Check out the presentation of the award and the awesome speech by President Obama.
If you are interested in getting more involved with Amnesty International, check out this website and go to the top right hand corner to find if you have an office in your country.
If you want to know more about the current political situation in Zimbabwe, check out this great site.
If you want to get involved with supporting the activism of WOZA, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
(Come forward, healing spirit)