Regional UN Women Ambassador Jaha Dukureh

Jaha Dukureh. Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown
Photo: UN Women/Ryan Brown

Renowned activist Jaha Dukureh was appointed Regional UN Women Ambassador for Africa in February 2018. Herself a survivor of FGM, and forced into child marriage at age 15, Ms. Dukureh will dedicate her efforts to support UN Women’s advocacy to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage in Africa, with focus on mobilizing youth.

Ms. Dukureh is the CEO and Founder of the NGO “Safe Hands for Girls” that provides support to African women and girls who are survivors of FGM and addresses its lifelong, harmful physical and psychological consequences. Alongside women’s organizations and civil society, she contributed to the Gambian Government’s ban on FGM after youth mobilization and campaigning in the country.

“These issues are personal to me, they’re part of my life history. We won’t have equality until girls can grow up with control over their own bodies and futures,” said Ms. Dukureh. “I am proud to join UN Women in their fight for the rights of women and girls all over Africa. I want to see the day when no parent makes a decision that will change and limit their daughters’ lives. The girls of Africa and worldwide need to know that their future is bigger than they imagine.”

About Jaha Dukureh

Ms. Dukureh was born in Gambia in 1989 and became a US citizen in 2015. She is married with children from her second marriage. Her first, an arranged marriage, took place at age 15 to a much older man.

She is the founder and CEO of non-profit organization Safe Hands for Girls and contributed to President Obama’s administration investigating the profile of FGM in the USA and the subsequent Summit to End FGM at the United States Institute of Peace.  Alongside women’s organizations and civil society, Ms. Dukureh also contributed to the Gambian Government announcing a ban on FGM through youth mobilization and campaigning in Gambia. She has been the subject of a 2017 feature documentary, “Jaha’s Promise,” which details her life and work to end FGM. 

Ms. Dukureh was named to the Time 100 list of the most influential people in the world in 2016,  and one of the 100 most influential Africans of 2017,  by New African magazine for her work as an activist. She was also honoured with the  “Human rights activist, Humanitarian of the Year” at the seventh annual African Diaspora Awards in 2017. In 2018, she has been named as one of the top 100 gender global policy influencers by Apolitical and is a nominee for the Nobel Peace Prize.