In light of this year’s theme for 16 Days of Activism, #HearMeToo, Danai Gurira was recently introduced as the new ambassador for UN Women Goodwill at an open-dialogue event at the African Leadership Academy. 

Danai, who is an actress best known for a role as General Okoye in the Black Panther movie, and who is also a writer and an activist, was chosen by the executive director of UN Women, Dr Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka. 

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“Through a person like Danai, we’re hoping to bring attention to the issues of young people and women in general that are not receiving adequate attention; women whose voices are being muzzled because of where they are in society,” Dr Phumzile says. 

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Backstage with a few good men. #GlobalCitizenFestival #Mandela100

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“We’re hoping that by having a young person who is also very committed to the issue of gender equality, we could have a conversation with young people – young men and women – about the role they can play in advancing gender equality,” Dr Phumzile adds. 

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#HearMeToo is a tribute, Dr Phumzile says, to the #MeToo hashtag because MeToo has helped to highlight the prevalence of sexual harassment, but it has also helped us bring powerful perpetrators to book, which has broken the mould of the ‘untouchables’. 

However, not all women are able to speak up or find platforms that could help them do this, so Dr Phumzile hopes that the women involved will inspire and encourage the women whose stories are not heard to say #HearMeToo. 

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“Through having someone like Danai who could inspire women, we would like them to believe that where they start doesn’t have to be where they end,” says Dr Phumzile.

At the event, Danai was in conversation with African women who have used their voices and personal stories to create awareness around women’s issues. She was joined by rape survivor and author, Grizelda Grootboom; nuclear scientist, Nomso Kana; poet, Tanatsei Francicsa Gambura; and activist, Naledi Chirwa. 

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All the women on the panel, including Danai, shared their personal stories and attested to the reasons why fighting for women’s rights and fighting to actively address women’s issues is important to them. 

“We have been afflicted, we have been broken, but we have not been destroyed. We have created ways of moving forward that will help heal the rest of the world, and these women personify that in ways that I could never stop saying,” Danai said in reflection to the stories shared. 

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