Day 10: Maman Shujaa

Day 10: Maman Shujaa

For the past 16 years, the Democratic Republic of Congo has been called the most dangerous place in the world for women. But there is a vital movement for women's empowerment underway and today we salute the work of Maman Shujaa.

Maman Shujaa means "Hero Women" in Swahili. Founded by Neema Namadamu, who has earned international acclaim for her inspirational leadership, this group of grassroots women often speak out through WorldPulse, a global media and communication network. From their internet cafe and Media Center in Bukavu, Maman Shujaa share their stories of healing and transformation with the world. The Media Center supports an average of 150 women and girls per week with digital and internet literacy training.

As Neema says, "The Maman Shujaa are traveling the globe daily via the internet and we have come to see ourselves as world citizens. Yes, we are proud to be Congolese, but we also esteem our oneness with the entire world."

To attract international support earlier this year, they posted a Petition for Peace online which gained over 100,000 signatures worldwide and earned an appointment with President Obama's National Security Council. Their request, that the U.S. State Department appoint a Special Envoy to DRC and the Great Lakes Region, was met with the appointment of Sen. Russ Feingold.

"Women must be sitting at the table that 'negotiates' for our countries, our regions, and our world's future," says Neema. "And not just in token number, but in equal representation. For when peace is the goal and peace is present, the negotiation simply becomes agreement."

Neema recently joined two other grassroots journalists to participate in "Voices of the Future," an 18-event, U.S. speaking tour sponsored by WorldPulse, where she addressed audiences at the State Separtment and the Clinton Global Initiative, among others.

To learn about other international groups who are using digital tools to promote women's empowerment and take a stand against gender-based violence, visit the Communications X-Change.

PHOTO: Neema Namadamu in center of Maman Shujaa contributors.

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