Today is International Women’s Day, a day very close to my heart. For over 15 years, protecting the rights of women and girls in the U.S. has been at the forefront of AHA Foundation’s work. We have made great strides forward, all thanks to your support—from helping to more than double the number of state bans on female genital mutilation (FGM) to amplifying the voices of survivors of gender-based abuse.
Let me share with you some recent breakthroughs that you have empowered.
With our many allies, we campaign to outlaw child marriage across the nation. Can you believe that 43 states still allow minors to be married off—usually girls to adult and sometimes abusive men? Ending this practice is a long way off, but the more we speak up and the more pressure we put on the people in power, the quicker that day will come.
That is why I was delighted to hear the news that Senator Aisha Wahab has introduced a bill to ban child marriage in California. I hope the bill passes, and I’d like to share with you a blog by Davinder Kaur, a U.K.-born child/forced marriage survivor now resident in California, to show how damaging this practice is. I hope sharing Davinder’s voice will help us to get the California bill over the finish line. Read her story here.
I was also heartened by the news that a bill we are working on to ban child marriage in Vermont recently passed in the House and is on the way to the Senate. And we are also busy supporting bills in Washington state and Connecticut that would ban child marriage. You can read AHA’s Foundation’s testimony in support of these bills here, here, and here, respectively. We also testified orally in support of a bill in Maine and have requested an amendment to an otherwise strong bill making its way through the legislature in West Virginia to ensure that if passed it would ban child marriage without any exceptions or loopholes.
There is also a bill pending in Hawaii that would ban female genital mutilation (FGM), while in Connecticut we are pushing hard for an anti-FGM bill to be raised by the Judiciary Committee.
These are just some of the recent highlights your support has enabled us to achieve—we continue to work tirelessly in other states as well.
Together, our voices have created this momentum: let’s keep it up.
This International Women’s Day, I am also proud to share a blog interview with another impressive woman, Nighat Dad. Nighat is a Pakistani lawyer, digital rights activist, and member of Facebook’s Content Oversight Board. She has spent decades fighting for the rights of women in her country and championing the importance of free speech as a tool for the vulnerable to overcome oppression. Though we might have different approaches, her perspective is invaluable. Read the interview here.
In honor of International Women’s Day, I would also like to announce that AHA Foundation’s 12th state legal guide for FGM survivors is now freely available on our website. This new guide is for New Jersey; see here for more information and to access all of the guides themselves. I hope this new guide helps more women find justice for what they have gone through.
In other news, on March 14, AHA Foundation’s campus program is hosting a live Q&A webinar on hate speech, counterspeech, and the First Amendment with a very special guest: former American Civil Liberties Union president Nadine Strossen. Sign up for what is sure to be an exciting and insightful webinar here.
As ever, thank you for making our work possible. While there is much left to do, without you, there would be much less to celebrate this International Women’s Day. Please consider renewing your support by giving to our match campaign today. A generous donor has pledged $15,000 in matching funds, so your gift will be doubled until we reach this goal!
Our voices are our greatest weapon. Please, add yours to the call for justice and liberty.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Founder