2012 Afrikan Goddess Awards Keynote Speech

| June 25, 2012

Good evening.  I want to thank the Founder of Afrikan Goddess for inviting me to speak to you tonight at such a significant occasion.  I am humbly honored to be your guest speaker tonight, honoring African women.

When I was asked to speak tonight, I wanted to find out more about Afrikan Goddess and what it was all about.  I must admit that I was riveted, as I saw how parallel the missions of Afrikan Goddess and Global Woman® are.  I was pleased to see that like Global Woman, Afrikan Goddess acknowledges and honors women who fight hunger, poverty, human trafficking, female genital mutilation and sex crimes on women.

We are here tonight to honor a very special lady, Ms. Betty Makoni, who is so rightfully deserving of this honor and award tonight.  I am not embarrassed to admit that when I first read Ms. Makoni’s biography, I read it through teary eyes.To read about a woman whose innocence was snatched away from her at 6 years old, and as though she had not endured enough, 3 years later she watched her father beat her mother to death – but she overcame the worse hurdles in her life by turning negative into positive. 

She did not give up – instead she continued to strive for an education, to position herself to help educate other girls.  Betty knew that she was able to make a difference in other girls’ lives, if only she persevered.  Betty had a dream and a vision, on which she remained focused.  Just think, had she given up and succumbed to the poverty and abuse in her environment, we would not be honoring her tonight. 

I easily relate to what happened to young Betty Makoni’s mother because my late sister, Rose lost her life at the hands of her abusive husband many years ago.  It left me with zero tolerance for domestic violence, and I knew at the time, that there was a need for women to be empowered and prepare themselves so that they will no longer be the victims but the victors.  Betty represents my sister Rose, her own mother and all of those women and girls that perished at the hands of abusive men.  She represents the thousands of girls who did not survive the practice of female genital mutilation.  She represents all of the women who have been victims of gender based violence.

Betty’s dream and vision began in a classroom in her native Zimbabwe with only 10 students and it has grown into a global network with branches in Sierra Leone, South Africa, the United States, Uganda and the United Kingdom, Swaziland and Ghana.  However, she does not intend to stop there; she plans to continue to spread her Girl Child Network to all parts of the world.

The recipient of the renowned CNN Heroes Award, Betty Makoni has proven that when one woman sets out to help others, the help is returned to her.  We should all pattern our lives after Betty, by reaching back and extending a hand to help another woman up the ladder when we arrive to the top of it.  Too few women remember that they too were once at the bottom of the ladder and someone might have reached back and extended a hand to them.  My fellow ladies, Betty Makoni remembered where she was in her life, prior to her education – she remembered the violation and abuse she suffered – she remembered losing her mother at 9 years old.  She remembered to reach back and help those girls that needed an encouraging word or the motivation and inspiration to help advance their own lives.  Betty made a difference in the lives of those girls and continues to do so.

Women have always been leaders in the world.  As mothers, most of them ran their households and raised their children.  They engaged in farming, taught schools and mentored children.  With the likes of Harriet Tubman, Eleanor Roosevelt, Indira Ghandi, Hilary Clinton and the many women around the world who have set the example for women to step forward in leadership, we must take that step

We are empowered but most of us do not realize how empowered we are.  Physically, men are generally the stronger gender but women are much stronger at heart and will.  When people express how calm I am when everyone else around me is stressing, I tell them that I am a survivor of one of the bloodiest coup d’etat in Africa’s history, so what is a little stress.  We African women are raised to develop a certain strength that keeps us standing when others are falling.  But what are we doing with that special strength?  We should take that strength and extend it to the next generation of women. 

When I first established Global Woman, I told my family that there were not enough women in the world that care about what happens to other women and how they fare.  Tonight, I stand here proud to say that women are no longer willing to sit quietly, while their sisters around the world are violated, abused, traded, mutilated and prevented from pursuing an education.  With such organizations as Afrikan Goddess, Tigerlily, Girl Child Network and Global Woman, women have a newfound liberation.  Women must no longer assume that because the abuse is not happening to us, it is not our concern.  We must not assume the attitude that it is something that only happens in indigent neighborhoods, or only in Haiti, Africa, Asia or the Middle East.  Anytime a woman is violated or a little girl is mutilated, it is indeed our concern.  It is our concern when a 6 year old girl is raped – it is our concern that 8000 little girls are genitally mutilated every day in the world – and it is our concern that most of the victims of human trafficking are women and girls. When I pick up the newspaper and read that girls are being poisoned in Afghanistan, to prevent them from attending school, indeed, that should be our concern.  I recall tuning in to the evening news once and learned that a West African father in Atlanta, Georgia had been arrested for taking a pair of unsterilized scissors and clipping off his 3-year old daughter’s clitoris.  It was only when she fell into convulsions from excessive hemorrhaging, that he rushed her to the emergency.  These are not isolated cases occurring in a far-away land.  These abuses are happening right in our backyards.  But regardless of whether women and girls are being abused next door or across the ocean, we should be moved to take action.It was only a few years ago when the leader of Afghanistan passed the law that men had the legal right to force sexual intercourse from their wives, even if the women did not feel well or feel like engaging in the act.  Those should be the concerns of every woman in the world. 

I appeal to each of you here tonight to please think about how you can make a difference in someone else’s life, and take that action.  I call on journalists and writers to take action by writing stories that will inform and educate women.  I call on teachers to mentor girls and set examples for them, like tonight’s honoree, Betty is doing.  Render a kind word of advice to a young lady, which just might prevent teenage pregnancy.  We cannot save the world but if each of us made a difference in one person’s life, we would have made our contribution.

I thank you for your attention.  Good night everyone!


By Angela M Peabody
Publisher, Global Woman Magazine
President, Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation
Saturday, June 9, 2012
Trinity University
Washington, D.C


All Rights Reserved © Copyright 2012 Peabody Writes, LLC

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