Ask Her Talks, May 2015

The inaugural Ask Her Talks featured five dynamic African women leaders, speaking on philanthropy, change and power to audiences in Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa. Working with the women of these Ask Her Talks — and the thousands more who inspired the Foundation to hold the Talks — is a remarkable experience. It was an honour to hear Jessica Horn's insights about the response of women's community efforts to subdue the Ebola virus, Marie-Jeanne M'bachu's searing account of the resilience of women in response to sexual violence as a strategy of war, Jennifer Ayot's experiences as a human rights lawyer working in the 'post-conflict' areas of Northern Uganda, Netty Musanhu's incisive remarks about the way in which funding can subvert the realities of grassroots communities, and Theo Sowa's analysis of the decline in funding for women's rights organizations.

The Ask Her Talks are a potent reminder that there are remarkable leaders in Africa at the community level. Women are at the heart of the response to AIDS, are overwhelmingly the frontline health care workers, are tackling the epidemic of sexual violence—and yet we rarely, if ever, hear from them. African women are leading the way, and are experts on what works, what kind of support is most effective, and what challenges need to be met. These women are engaged in courageous and sophisticated work that is making a tangible improvement in the human condition on the African continent. Their models of change are hard won, tested by urgent realities, and developed despite the many failures of governments and international leadership.

The inaugural May 2015 Ask Her Talks were just the beginning. Visit www.askhertalks.com for highlights from subsequent installments of this provocative speaker series, and for information about other other events to come!

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