Wednesday, November 15, 2017

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.

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