When my good friend and colleague Salome asked me to write something for AkiDwA’s (Akina Dada wa Africa) tenth anniversary celebrations, I felt honoured but at the same time apprehensive as to how I could do justice to this remarkable organisation with a few words.
It is great testament to Salome and her colleagues that AkiDwA now easily stands as the premier non-governmental organisation in Ireland dealing with issues pertaining to migrant women and certainly one of the leading migrant-led organisations in the country.
I have had the pleasure in recent years of working closely with Salome and her team, particularly when I was on the organisation’s Advisory Board. I was able then, to see firsthand, the passion, dedication, professionalism and expertise that was clearly obvious within the organisation.
Besides that advisory role, I would have interacted quite significantly with Salome, Nobuhle, Alwiye, Kerry and the rest of the AkiDwA team in various capacities working on equality, human rights, immigration, refugee, gender and children’s issues. Because of the proficiency that the organisation has gained over the years, I have been able to call upon their expertise, particularly in the areas of strengthening the voice of migrant women in Ireland, applying a gender perspective to existing policies and practices and the promotion of equality of migrant women in Irish society, free of gender and racial stereotyping.
Lately, it has been a pleasure to work closely with AkiDwA in its campaign for the prohibition of female genital mutilation (FGM) through the enactment of effective legislation in Ireland. It is with great credit to the organisation and its partners that the FGM Bill was published with much cross party support in Dáil Éireann and it is hoped that progress will be made in the 31st Dáil to push and properly implement this much needed legislation.
It is gratifying to see that 10 years on, AkiDwA is widely regarded as an authoritative and representative body for migrant women, irrespective of their national/ethnic background, tradition, religious beliefs, socio-economic or legal status.
It is particularly praiseworthy that AkiDwA is celebrating 10 years in an environment where the majority of migrant-led organisations have a very limited shelf life due to extreme funding constraints that exist in the sector.
Congratulations are most definitely in order and may the next 10 years be even more eventful and fruitful!
A luta continua!