a letter from tikhala itaye, chair of SheDecides.
My name is Tikhala Itaye, and I am thrilled to have been appointed to serve the SheDecides movement as Chair, with Lilianne Ploumen MP as Vice-Chair. Together we, alongside the Guiding Group, Champions and Friends of the movement, are committed to create a world that is better, stronger, safer for every girl and woman all over the world.
I am honoured that the politicians and other global leaders who are responsible for the SheDecides movement have appointed me, a 28-year-old young leader from Malawi. Being young, African and a woman in a global leadership role is a unique privilege and a welcome opportunity to challenge the global status quo.
The SheDecides Manifesto paints a picture of a world I want to see. A world where every girl and woman can exercise their reproductive health rights, have access to comprehensive sexual education, be free from violence or harm and be able to decide for herself about her body, her life, and her future. Without question. These are her basic human rights that everyone has to respect and promote.
Around the world, it’s clear to see that we are taking steps in the right direction. Ireland’s decision to repeal the eight amendment to their constitution was a bold, progressive move. However, many countries around the globe are still denying women decisions about their lives. I’m referring not only to the vote in Argentina this week [13 June] where we hope women will be allowed to choose about their bodies, but also to women in Mauritania and Egypt who do not have the same rights as men in marriage, in South Sudan, only one-quarter of which attend primary school; daughters in Lebanon who do not have inheritance rights. The list goes on – and as Chair of SheDecides, I am committed to driving forward positive change so all of these girls and women can be free to decide about their bodies, their lives and futures – everywhere, every day and in every way.
I am proud and excited to work with Lilianne Ploumen MP, the former Minister for Trade and Development Cooperation of the Netherlands, whose brave action at the start of 2017 led to this movement being created. Lilianne has continued to lend her enthusiasm and intellect to putting the voices and rights of girls and women at the forefront of the global agenda.
Friends and champions all over the world, at this very moment I am deeply encouraged by all the work you are doing and I will commit my time to join hands with you. Girls and women everywhere, have embodied the SheDecides movement. They have had the courage to speak out about their most painful traumas, and acknowledge untold stories. Our determination together will create a better future for all these girls and women. I may be a young woman filling up a big role but this little woman is fierce, bold and confident and is ready with your support to champion every girl and woman in our respective society.
By taking the first step of signing SheDecides Manifesto, then asking others to join, together we will create the world that is better, stronger, safer. But only if. And only when. SheDecides.
Yours in power and solidarity,
Chair of the SheDecides Movement; Co-Founder of Her Liberty