Friday, November 17, 2017

Marie Abanga: The African Woman must heal and dare to be whoever she is



1) Who is Marie ABANGA?

Ms Marie Abanga, is a lawyer by profession and recently founded her own law firm AbangaandPartners. She is equally a consultant, a dynamic and passionate advocate of Women's rights, a mental health advocate and wellbeing coach, a motivational speaker, an author, a blogger and was a pioneer community champion of the UN Women Knowledge Gateway for Women's Empowerment among others. As a consultant, she has managed the African Region of the Women In Parliament Global Forum (now Women Political Leaders Global Forum), where she rallied the African Female Members of Parliaments to attend the WPL summits and other activities of this very important global network. Ms Abanga also collaborates with the Black European Women's Council, is Board Secretary of her mum's Diversity Management and Consulting Limited Firm, and the Country Director of the GBM Foundation for epilepsy and mental well-being. Last but definitely not the least, Marie is a single parent of three active teens and has found out that team work with her boys is the easiest way to make home affairs work.

2) What drives Marie Abanga?

I am driven by desire to live a purpose filled life. I spent several years searching for my purpose and came to realize I was actually learning the skills through my different experiences in life to fulfil this purpose. Now that I have come to this awareness and clarification, I am driven by the wish to help as many as I can in their own journeys to such an awesome enlightment.

3) Who is Your role model?

My maternal Grandmother. Here is a recap of this great woman as recorded in the anthology of memories written on her demise titled “Helen Atabong Asaba Fontem: The Life and Times of a Humble Servant”, « She fought for her economic empowerment, left an abusive marriage, sent her girls to school, fought for inheritance rights and became the first woman in her village to be allowed to inherit property. She dared to rally the women into the first co-operative ever, and was the pioneer president of the local chapter of the ruling party when the country finally attained its independence ». Is this resilience or what? This is just a recap but her powerful legacy lives on in me of course – she is forever my first and best role model and she was oh so gentle and tender and full of love for all with no discrimination.

4) Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

In the next five years I will be an expert on mental health and personal/emotional well-being in Cameroon Lord Help. This is sure different from legal background but this is my ultimate goal – I have so more passion and personal experience in those fields and I am continuing education in those areas as I write. With regards to my legal practice and other ventures, I am forging on and doing my best but I don’t have any 5 year plan with those.


5) What are the challenges of the African Woman?

The African woman has sadly been conditioned to believe or resign to the idea that her ‘identity’ is only defined either in her ‘Father’ or ‘Husband’. This is simplified and used with quotes and I think many can understand what I write. This lack of believe in an inherent identity, has greatly impacted the African woman’s believe in her ownself , to assert herself and go for what she wants without the nagging feeling of having to explain why you can’t just be ‘conventional’ and satisfied with your role of ‘wife’, ‘daughter’ or even ‘second class employee’.

6) How do you unwind tension from work? How do you relax?

I love reading and writing in abundance. Those help me relax just so much and the best is when am doing those in my ‘serene space’. Next I also like doing to relax is hang out with my sons (I don’t call them 3 musketeers for nothing) and we are so buddies I can tell them any and everything and this is mutual. I am not so social (not anymore to be honest) so my social life is more online than otherwise – but that is also relaxing.

7) What is Your Ice Vision?

My ICE vision which I am working on regardless of any setbacks, is to mentor as many as possible from near or far. I have done this by sharing my story in 4 good memoirs, started an organization called Inspiring Positive Actions Now and share in abundance through my numerous social media platforms. I also don’t hesitate to accept invitations to guest blog, go on radio/tv to talk and share different messages through different magazine both on and offline.

8) Any plans for the AU?

Not really, I feel if I go to the AU I will not have the independence and platform to do  what I want to do in individual lives.




9) Should you be named the Minister of Women's Empowerment and the Family , what wrong Will you right with your vision?

I will make informal education as important as formal education for girls right from childhood, because they are the women of tomorrow and mothers of humanity. I will mandate billboards all over that boys learn to see their sisters and mothers in every woman they come across.

10) What is Your greatest influence?

My greatest influence is the urge to see women empowered and living in peace and security from any form of abuse. If you had asked ‘Who’ that would have been different. I am influenced by my own personal transformational journey to believe it is possible for just every other woman.

11) What is Your ICE (inspire, celebrate and empower women) inspiration?

I am inspired by just how selfless and full of generosity many people are in the world. With just a little love, you can help turn someone’s word around – hence inspiring, celebrating and empowering one another is so imperative for us women.

12) One thing you hate in girls and women today you will like to see adjusted.


I don’t appreciate when girls compare themselves to each other based on physical/material attributes, and think the measure of their worth is in who or what they got – ignoring themselves in the whole process – focus more on who you are and what you are doing from your soul, because such assertiveness boosts your self esteem and shields you from imposed or received abuse of any kind.

13) Any advice for the African Woman?

Heal and dare to be you wherever you are. If you sincerely love the ‘comfort zone’ you currently are in, then fine – if not, you must not resign to your plight or fate, You can if you dare even if you begin only with baby steps right where you are. There are many role models in Africa today and even in your own environment. Come on you can even decide to be your own role model why not?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Leila KIGHA: A woman that is trained and empowered with knowledge on her identity and potential is worth her weight in gold

- Who is Leila KIGHA?

Leila Kigha, Cameroonian from the North West Region.
I coach, write, and speak, not only to inspire learning individuals to unlock their potential, using holistic and innovative methods but i also inspire, empower and educate them on how to  clearly communicate their unique value, raise their visibility by connecting with their true selves and successfully realize their career and personal goals. I am an enthusiastic ,forward thinking, and passionate person and I use those to help others especially women, identify their uniqueness and leverage it as a determining factor in their careers and lives.
Having spent more than 10 years in broadcast journalism, media communications, public relations and event management today I will say am a Personal Branding and communication coach.
I am founder of KARA Communications S.A (www.karacommunications.com) a consultancy where I operate all the magic on the people am privileged to work with through lunch and Learn sessions, one on one or group sessions as well as corporate trainings. I share my personal and professional thoughts on my blog as well (www.leilakigha.com). I also the coordinate SHINE a LIGHT Africa (SALA) an association which advocates for the protection of women and girls from all forms of misconception, discrimination, sexism, gender-based violence, abuses and crimes which are the result of the wrong perception of the woman in society. We already began work in my home town (kisenjam-nkar jakiri) with amazing women. We set up cooperatives where these women who are basically farmers who are so eager to share their craft with the world and are learning how technology can connect a rural community to the world.We look forward to extending to other communities next year.
I equally volunteer as media and promotion planner for AGAPE and A New World Altogether, all humanitarian organizations in Cameroon.

I am Vice President of Phenomenal African Woman and a member of worldpulse.comI hold a B.Sc. (hons) in Journalism and Mass Communication, certified Personal Brand Facilitator/coach, (diplomas) in marketing, leadership, theology, Marriage and Family Education.

 - What drives Leila KIGHA?

Purpose: “Who am I? Where did I come from? Why am I here on earth? 
The answers to these questions are found in the Creator and not the creature. Destiny is what God has foreordained you to be. Purpose is your ability to walk in it…” This is an excerpt of the book
“Burning with Purpose” by Dr Annie Smith that changed my life forever. She brought me into a deeper understanding of the quality of the choices I make and the consequence which is living a fully, enjoyable
and abundant life! I believe a purposeful life, a life that is lived intentionally is a life that will affect generations. That is the kind of life I strive to live and inspire other women to as well.

Passion:  “Light yourself on fire with passion and people will come from miles to watch you burn.” ? John
Wesley. This describes everything I am. I learnt you cannot make a difference unless you do the things you are passionate about. I believe an extraordinary life is one that lives out its passion and purpose. When you discover what you were cut out for life becomes a journey of exploit where the little steps you take grow to become the change your community needs. In this part of Africa, you may not survive the challenges life offers when you step out if you don’t truly love what you do. I knew and still know it is not easy to bring about change but I am kept ablaze by the unending passion that fuels me from within!

 - What is your greatest influence?

Jesus Christ:  Who else? Hahahaha
He brought me joy and peace. He showed me how precious and worthy I am. I have a life that is free of worry, anxiety, and fear, not to say they don’t come every day but he has me anchored in His love and I am living free from any form of bondage. Who else could have such an influence on my spirit, soul and body?

 - Who is your role model?

Three women have affected and influenced my life deeply:
My Mother: She is the most open hearted and tenacious woman I know. Her simplicity, care, concern, largess amaze me every day. She brought us all up not in hate but taught us to be open hearted and love others.Train up a child in the way she/he should go so that when he/she grows up they will not depart from it? My mother did a great job with us and I am grateful.

Dr Annie Smith: (Gospel Of Christ Ministries) This is a woman of passion, dedication and commitment I am forever grateful I met her. Besides being my spiritual guide alongside her husband, she has taught me so much only
eternity can tell.I draw inspiration to move on,to pursue purpose because she is the light in my path.

Susan Hodgkinson: (The personal Brand Company) this is an amazing personal
brand expert God placed in my path. At a moment when I was asking questions
about how to go about being an influence in my community, she came and offered
to train and lead me. She teaches me every day that is more blessed to give than to receive. And I am looking forward to give and give and give of myself even if it is just for one person!

 - Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

I look forward to being a thought leader in my domain in this part of the world.
A role model to women who want to embrace heart centred entrepreneurship.
An advocate for women’s rights with influence.
A source of blessing to this world in every aspect.



 - Are you proud of the African Woman today? 

I am so so proud of the African woman today. When I look at what is being achieved in my community for one, the number of women getting Into STEM  for example, number of social entrepreneurs, the advocates, the inventors and innovators, I can say we may not yet be where we want to be but we are not where we were yesterday. Am so proud of the noise we are making today as one voice across different nations and cultures.

 - What are the challenges of the African Woman?


Wrong or false identity; I believe African women are still victims of identity crisis
that has kept them subject in life and in their minds to the supposed norms of
our societies. If every woman were to know she is a world of wealth with so
much to offer based on her multi-tasking strength it will make a difference.
I lend my voice to any campaign that empowers the woman, I train women on how to embrace your uniqueness and make the difference.
I am running a campaign under Shine A Light Africa (SALA) themed “Your Body Your Choice” it’s a call for women to be courageous enough to look at themselves and love every aspect of their being.

 - What will you change  at the Ministry of Women's Empowerment and the family, if you were named the boss today?

Hahahahahahahaha
I think one of the very first aspect I will look into is how at the level of the ministry we can influence policies on gender violence.
I will also influence policies on gender inclusion in the Work place. The future of the workplace is the woman. I strongly believe this.
Forge More opportunities and partnerships to Empower and educate women.

 - What don't you like in young girls today, you will quickly address if you had the chance, and how?


Don’t like? I don’t think so  but I am sure our girls can do better and bigger if they have the right influences and we are the ones to prepare and present the platforms for them. Together we can make a difference one day at a time, one community at a time, one nation at a time.

  - What is your ICE Vision?

African women need to be heard more and to do that they need people who can inspire them to speak up, encourage them to take steps towards a much more better life and empower them to practically become the change they desire to see. She has so much to offer that if they gave her an opportunity to express herself, I believe our communities will be better, our children will grow to become the leaders we desire to see.A happy and fulfilled woman equals a blissful home and society.
I offer lunch N Learn training sessions monthly during which I teach my signature 5 steps to Personal Brand Clarity. It’s a relaxed, fun filled training while having lunch. This has helped many young women especially get clear ideas on what they are about and how they can build their businesses.
I also offer one or two day tailored training for companies that want to empower their staff for maximum productivity by investing in building their personal brands.


https://m.facebook.com/KARACOMMUNICATIONS/

https://youtu.be/qDCVRKHVOsc

https://m.facebook.com/Leilakighadotcom/

https://youtu.be/84835o6G_wg

https://youtu.be/I_Jezgi_cT8


  - Any plans for the AU or UN?


I would love to be part of the training and education unit. I believe a woman that is trained and empowered with knowledge on her identity and potential is worth her weight in gold. I will love to offer them holistic self-empowerment skills that can make them stand out and make a difference.

  - Any advise for the African Woman?


You are the change you want to see around you. You have more than what you know to make a difference, do not underestimate yourself and dare to dream and act. Take those baby steps, however insignificant they may seem and see the ripple effect around you.
You are not just a woman, you are a mother, a sister, a professional, an expert, a voice, a wife.. Do not trade it for anything in the world. 
Cheers to your extraordinarily brilliant life!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Dr. Mrs FON Elizabeth FONONG: The African Woman is unique and has dynamic solutions to challenges




 Who is Dr. Mrs FON Elizabeth FONONG? 

My name is Dr FON FONONG Elizabeth – TESHO (Team Spirit Holistic) CEO.


What drives Dr. Mrs FON Elizabeth FONONG? 

Passion to reduce STRESS in Family and Work place relationships. When I started work in 1985 as a young medical doctor, HIV/AIDS was some scary new disease that we had to deal with. The first AIDS patient was a curiosity that drew all the doctors in our Laquintinie Hospital to take turns observing her. 
A fierce campaign was mounted in the media to educate the population on this new disease that was transmitted through unprotected sexual contact. All the stake holders were scared of this strange disease and the messages on the billboards and the media reflected this fact. The first messages were quite scary; “Beware AIDS kills!” 
Despite these scary messages, the stake holders witnessed an even scarier rise in the HIV numbers. 
As a doctor involved in educating the population on HIV prevention, I taught them the A,B,C messages conceived by WHO later on and distributed all over the world. We learnt to pass on the A,B,C of HIV prevention to the population and evaluation tests revealed that the population could parrot all the right answers at the end of our various workshops. 
Despite the fact that the population knew all the right answers on HIV prevention, the HIV numbers did not slow down appreciably as a reflection of this increased knowledge. 
That was when I started really talking and listening to the patients. Professionally, we were taught not to pry into the patients’ private lives. However, I noticed that when I gave them a listening ear, they had this yearning to tell me the story behind their HIV infections. In most cases they were so scared of stigmatization, discrimination and rejection by family members and colleagues that I was the only one they could confide in. As I listened to their stories of HIV in marriage, there was one common thread that answered the question my husband and I had been asking ourselves. The question was this: “why is it that almost everyone who has attended a workshop on HIV prevention, listened to a radio or TV message on HIV prevention can pass a written or oral examination on the subject but this knowledge is not translated into effective HIV prevention in their marriages or co-habiting relationships”? 
After hundreds of hours of brainstorming with friends, patients, married and unmarried people, we conceived the TESHO (Team Spirit Holistic) concept. We then tested the modules on a one to one basis with patients and other individuals. When we got positive feedback from those we had counselled using the TESHO program, we then decided to go public with it. News about TESHO has spread by word of mouth and we are in high demand in our town of Douala. After an introductory TESHO presentation, we ask the participants to indicate by writing down their names, phone numbers and signatures if they think that TESHO will meet their needs on HIV prevention. Over 90% of the participants sign up.

Who is your role model?

My late mother.

 Where do you see yourself in the next five years?  

As a world ambassador for TESHO.

 What are the challenges of the African woman?

        - She is very strong and clever but she has let herself be dragged into a futile physical fight with the men over who is cleverer and more powerful than who.
-         The African woman does not know that emotional intelligence is more powerful than physical strength.
-          She does not know that she is intelligent enough to have a successful family life and a successful career. She is brainwashed into believing that it is either one or the other and when she chooses one, she immediately feels guilty for abandoning the other dream of hers.
-         She is looking for solutions to her challenges outside of Africa and from outside sources instead of looking inside her to conceive and implement her unique solutions that are context-appropriate just for her.
-         She needs to change her mind-set before she can achieve to her full potential.

 How do you unwind tension from work? 
        
         -    I Read a book,

-         I Put off the TV and have a 30 minutes conversation with my husband on family subjects,

-        I Converse with our children especially have a woman to woman talk with our daughter – thanks to whatsapp we can talk for hours.

What is your ICE Vision?

         - TESHO of course; teaching families to build healthy relationships with the skills that are easy and fun to learn and implement.
-    Make TESHO a household word and a household program for all families of all socio-economic and intellectual classes.

Any plans for the African Union? 

For African problems and challenges, we need to conceive, implement, monitor and propagate African context-appropriate solutions.

Should you be named the Minister of Women’s Empowerment and the Family, what wrong will you right with your vision?

Teach relationship building skills for the work place and the home in schools from the primary to the university level with age- appropriate manuals and books. These books and manuals have to be written by Africans who will incorporate in them what is best in our African culture.

What is your greatest influence?

Just being myself and living my TESHO Vision. This is my personal observation of our society. Like little children who believe in Santa Claus or father Christmas, young adults believe in living happily ever after in marriage. 
Just as little children have only a vague clue about where Father Christmas comes from, in the same way young adults have only a vague idea of how happy marriages come about. 
Come to think of it, many adults, even those in long term marriages are just going through the motions of being married. They do not know what it takes to live happy, exciting and fulfilling marriages. As a consequence, they cannot help their adult children attain that goal. 
When people get married, their deepest desire is to live happily ever after in their marriages. In many cases, a short time after the wedding, something horrible happens to their beautiful marriages and they are helpless to do anything about it. 
That was our conclusion when we started research on how to develop strategies that will foster faithfulness in marriages in order to avoid HIV. 
After interacting with young adults and with couples from all socioeconomic classes and cultures, we realized that there are certain facts that the society has ignored leading to sad consequences for everyone concerned. 
Marriage is one of the few professions that offer a license or certificate before the individual has learnt to perform the complicated task. With other professions, one has to go through lessons and a stiff test before that person is offered a license to perform the task. Many adults know that marriage is a complicated task but the society is not doing anything to prepare the young adults for this complicated task. 
The society views marriage as the couples’ private life. In the Western world, this inertia of the society to do anything about preparing young adults for marriage leads to an almost 50% divorce rate. In sub-Saharan Africa, we do not divorce like the Westerners but most couples stay in miserable marriages and seek solace outside the home leading to HIV and all the ills that follow in the wake of a marriage or co-habiting relationship gone sour. 
In sub-Saharan Africa, HIV in marriage is just the tip of the iceberg that tells the society that all is not well with our marriages. The other fall-outs are delinquent street children, increased crime, psychosomatic illnesses and depression for those who decide to stay in the marriage despite the misery. 
The stake holders in HIV control programs have shifted their emphasis from HIV prevention to provision of antiretrovirals to those who are infected. They have made giant strides by providing more and more PLWHA with antiretrovirals which is commendable. 
However studies carried out between 1996 – 2005 show that 42% of all new HIV infections in Uganda occurred in the married or cohabiting couples. Dr David Apuuli Kihumuro head of the Ugandan AIDS Commission (UAC) had this to say “There have been great strides in providing antiretrovirals to Ugandans but when we see the number of new infections in married or cohabiting couples, here is a changed face of the epidemic. Here is evidence that we have to emphasize different areas of prevention from what we emphasized in the 1990s. For every 02 people placed on ARV therapy, 05 others will contract HIV”. 
TESHO is an answer to the problems that couples have been grappling with for a long time. Problems occur in marriage because young adults have not learnt to build team spirit in their relationships. 
They have not learnt because no one has taught them. No one has taught them because no one knows or even if they know, they consider marriage the couple’s private business. 
It is time the society wakes up to realise that they have to do something to help married or cohabiting couples find harmony in their marriages in order to avoid HIV and other marital ills. 
If the society does not act, many a marriage that started off in “love land” will end up in “coldest Siberia”, the land of of no return.

What is your ICE (Inspire, Celebrate and Empower) inspiration?

The African woman is not aware of the fact that she is so beautiful, powerful, phenomenal, assertive and talented. She inspires me to bring out the best in her so families and the world at large can benefit.

One thing you hate in girls and women today you will like to see adjusted.
           
Putting too much effort to beautify and show off the outside forgetting to develop what is inside of them. Letting themselves be brainwashed into believing that a pretty face with a scantily clad body will open doors for them.I would say that God in His infinite mercy revealed TESHO living to us. We started trying out some of the basic principles that make for a cordial relationship between husband and wife like effective listening and showing sympathy. It was not an overnight sort of thing. It took years with input from many sources for us to reach a stage where we can comfortably talk about TESHO living and effectively live TESHO in our family. 
The first TESHO workshop was given to the workers of my husband's company. He had given me the privilege of naming OUR company which proved that TESHO (we did not call it TESHO at that time) was bearing fruits in our life. I promptly named our company TEFON as in Thaddeus/Elizabeth FON our names. It is rare to see a sub-Saharan man involve his wife in his business so I felt like the most valued woman on earth. Since I was intimately involved in his business (he gave me a run-down of his day's activities each evening at dinner time), I was able to see that he had problems at the office. TEFON had grown so fast that the bonding he had had with the first few workers could not be repeated with all the new recruits and team spirit at the TEFON work place was at an all time low.
In addition, really listening to my HIV/TB patients made me realize that many patients lacked team spirit in their relationships at home. The tensions generated by family conflicts drove many of them to go out as a means of escape only to come back home with HIV. 
My husband and I started talking and brainstorming on how we could build effective team spirit in our workers at the office. Then it occurred to us that if we really wanted to build team spirit in our workers, we needed to help their spouses build team spirit with them right from home. That way, talking about team spirit to a worker who left home happy would be much easier. I gave my first BTSM (Building Team Spirit in the Marriage) workshop to the spouses of our employees and it was an immediate huge hit. The workers and their spouses could not stop talking about the new skills they had learned, skills that had drastically transformed their relationships from the routine and boring to the thrilling and exciting. They shared so many positive and uplifting testimonies with us that we were encouraged to go on doing research, giving more talks and writing out what we were learning. The more we gave presentations and listened to the worries, questions and feedback from the participants, the more we realized that marriage is not as easy as the society treats it. Marriage is not a matter of living happily ever after like it is portrayed in the romance novels. We were able to gather the challenges facing families into 15 modules that we dispensed according to the needs of the participants. That was when the name holistic replaced marriage. We realized that families, workers and just about everyone needs team spirit skills in order to build meaningful relationships at home, work place and the community.
From having problems in our marriage and learning from the mistakes we made, TESHO was born. My husband and I including our kids are still in the learning process but now that we have learnt to think and act as a winning family team, there are fewer tensions in our home.
How is TESHO fighting against gender-based Violence and what recommendations will this decade long concept propose to global citizens to concretely wipe out this vice robbing girls of a conduisive study environment?

Recognized in 2015 by the Cameroon Leadership Academy at the Eneo Human Resources Training centre of OMBE in Cameroon for training hundreds of youth and women across the country and continent to become useful to the society, Tesho intends to inspire many more youth and women with innovative programs that keep them creative, assertive and proactive.  
TESHO focuses on teaching team building skills to boys and girls, to men and women for healthy stress-free relationships in the home and work place. A woman alone cannot achieve a harmonious family or work place environment because she cannot live in a vacuum. In her daily interactions in the family and the work place, she is confronted with having to relate to men and women. They all need to know how to build healthier relationships. The very inspiring and motivational TESHO team will continue to device creative means of unleashing leadership potential in dynamic global citizens.  

When a marriage is not working, divorce or stay?

 The Tesho programme is the answer to family and relational problems. It teaches life skills to the family members so that stress, HIV and marital misery will be things of the past. Tesho gives long lasting solutions to couples so they can work things out and stop threatening the cohesion of the family unit. There are however exceptional cases whereby Tesho must step out of its love, unity and acceptance options to preserve life and the dignity of a human being.  If there is physical or mental violence, separate to go for counselling and then get back together to implement the new skills with regular guidance from the counselor.

What are the consequences if they decide to stay in a dysfunctional marriage despite everything?

         Stress with a capital S leading to stress-related illnesses for the spouses and children. The consequences of these stress-related illnesses can be deadly ranging from withdrawal, sleeplessness, anxiety, clinical depression, suicidal tendencies, battery, alcoholism, unfaithfulness with all its complications. The children living in a dysfunctional family situation also suffer from the same stress-related illnesses in addition to delinquent behavior and prostitution or abandoning the home to become street children. Working on fixing the marriage is the best choice for any right-thinking individual.

Any advice for the African woman?

African Woman, you are very clever and powerful. Do not compare yourself to other women or to the men. Believe in yourself. Believe in your uniqueness and look for unique solutions to your challenges that you can be proud of.


BIH Pascaline: The African Woman is an embodiment to greatness


Who is Bih Pascaline?
Bih Pascaline is a young woman passionate about seeing women and girls reach their full potential. She is of Mankon origin in the North West Region of Cameroon and from a family of 5.

For over 5 years, she has been working within community organizations, empowering and advocating for women and girls rights; getting them valued; their voices heard in decision making processes and educating girls on their sexual and reproductive health and rights.  

In in July of 2015, she Founded Dare Africa a campaign and challenge for every young woman in Africa to dream big and dare to lead bold change in their lives, homes and communities. Through Dare Africa, she runs programs and creates platforms and opportunities for women and girls to be inspired and empowered and celebrates the stories and achievement of women.

She equally serves as the Program Director for African Girls Personal Health and Career Programs in Cameroon.

What drives Bih Pascaline the team leader of Dare Africa?
Passion for change especially on issues that concern women and girls I think. For a longtime now addressing the issues of women and girls and making them see themselves as more has been the reason I go to bed late, wake up in the middle of the night and get up every day.

What is your greatest influence?
My greatest influence has been the fact that I am born a girl in Africa. Growing up as a girl in Africa, you have as an obligation to do more if you have to be more and I think that is the foundation on which my actions are based. Working hard not to be a disappointment to myself, the girls and women looking up to me, gives me a reason to wake up in the morning do that which I do every day.

Who is your role model?

I have had a couple of women mold me into the woman I am now; my mother to begin with, love her fighting spirit and her ability to keep going even when things are tough. I have been inspired a lot by Oprah Winfrey, love her strength and passion for what she does and how much change she is creating through her work.  



Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

For Dare Africa programs to have Evolved!
So far 2 of Dare Africa programs are running;

- Woman Emerge: Providing platforms and opportunities for the inspiration and empowerment of women through Emerging women Leadership Breakfast and Networking Circles.

- Applause: Celebrating the stories and achievements of women who dare by profiling women who share a more expansive vision of what a woman can do with mission to inspire others to do more

This December 2 more are to be kick-started;

- The She Impact Hub: Creating a vibrant and unique ecosystem of passionate and social entrepreneurial women who share an underlying intention to bring about positive change and putting together meaningful content, learning spaces, and facilitated conversations, the right experiences that can enable them build successful businesses.

- Girl Champions: Finding and empowering girls with great leadership potentials who can serve as ambassadors for change on issues girls face in their community and inspire other girls to want to be more.

In five years I envision;

-      - The first Woman Emerge Regional Conference bringing together young women from different African Countries for experience and best practice sharing to lead change

-       - The 3rd edition Applause Women’s Award of Excellence: 

To To have supported at least 10 Women social Entrepreneurs build their businesses from the ground up

To To have empowered at least 100 Girl Champions all over Africa   
  
Are you proud of the African Woman today?

The African Woman has come a long way, breaking barriers that stand on their path, surmounting obstacles, building bridges, breaking stereotypes and redefining who an African woman is and what she can do. From being denied education, defined as housewives, subjected to different forms of violence to becoming pilots, engineers, doctors, teachers, women rights activists, CEO’s of globally recognized companies and institutions that changing lives worldwide and while doing all these, still playing the awesome role of wives and mothers, they have proven beyond every reasonable doubt that “African Women Can” and this, I am so proud of.

What are the challenges of the African Woman?

Though there has been a considerable improvement in the status of women in the last years, there is no denying that the African woman still has a good number of challenges;
Economic exclusion 
- Limited access to startup capital
Limited participation and engagement in political, public life and on peace tables
Lack of access to education and poor retention of girls in schools 
-        -  Gender-based violence 
-        -  Harmful cultural practices and more

What will you change at the Ministry of Women's Empowerment and the family, if you were named the boss today?

I would do 3 things;

1)    More dialogue with women and girls at the grassroots level

2)    Synergy among key actors (major Institutions and partner Ministries) who run services that we can together work to ameliorate the situation of women.

3)    More national and international empowerment opportunities for Ministry employees to be able to perform at their best.

These are things I will love to see change.   

What don't you like in young girls today, you will quickly address if you had the chance, and how?

There is a disturbing increase rate of teenage pregnancies among girls today. Unfortunately, there is no quick fix for this issue but comprehensive sex education at home and in schools will be an awesome way to start addressing the issue. This however is an exercise I have been doing a lot of lately; organizing sexual health and rights education workshops in schools and communities and distributing a self-authored “Girl’s Guide to understanding her body” and I have gotten quite a good response from that. If schools and parents can join in, I think we’d go far. 

What is your ICE Vision? Inspire, celebrate and empower women

This is at the very center of Dare Africa’s vision and I look forward to a time when the now platforms and programs I am running, evolve and advance into more structured, highly recognized and supported initiatives so more women and girls can benefit from.

I look forward to Applause not only outstanding women who dare but giving awards to deserving women; I look forward to the Emerging Women Leadership Breakfast and Networking circles evolving into inspiring and empowering Woman Emerge Conferences; I look forward to the She Impact Hub raising successful women social entrepreneurs and the Girl Champions inspiring more girls to dare to lead change. 

Any plans for the AU or UN?

No plans for now. At the moment I am local to the very core. I believe a lot in driving change from the grassroots level and hardly will want to put myself in a position where I can’t influence that change directly. There is still a lot to be done around me and my current mission is finding ways to conquer that territory first. AU/UN maybe in the future! 

Any advice for the African Woman?

You are an embodiment of greatness. You were designed for a purpose greater than yourself, for without you Africa and the World is at least a solution less. So it is vital that you see yourself as important and valuable; Believe in yourself, Dream Big and Bold, Dare to Lead and be bold for change.