By Dan Walton
On Saturday, September 7th, four of the Valley Go Go Sisters attended a landmark tribunal in Vancouver.
More than 1,000 people most of them grandmothers attended the African Grandmothers Tribunal at UBCs Chan Centre. The event, hosted by the Stephen Lewis Foundation, was a forum for six grandmothers from various countries in Africa to provide their testimonies of supporting their grandchildren orphaned by AIDS, and dealing with other pressing human rights issues affecting them.
They mainly spoke about the atrocities that are going on for women in Africa, and how they have to raise their grandchildren because an entire generation of parents have died from the AIDS epidemic, Go Go Sisters chairperson Sherry Dewey told The Pioneer. There are so many rights for men, but so few for women.
The tribunal was a one-off event to draw attention to the Stephen Lewis Foundation, and it was attended by Stephen Lewis himself. Mr. Lewis launched his foundation after serving as the United Nations special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Africa.
The six African grandmothers had all persevered through adverse situations, said Ms. Dewey, who believes the tribunal event will speed progress towards solutions.
They were very strong women, and fought for what they believe and won, she said. They want to get the governments of various African countries to support these women and actually recognize their problems and help them set up different organizations. I think it might just happen with pressure from people like us, but its going to take a long time.
After hearing their testimonies, four judges (Gloria Steinem, Joy Phumaphi, Theo Sowa, and Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond) made their recommendations on how to bring attention to their concerns.
The Stephen Lewis Foundation launched their Grandmothers to Grandmothers campaign in 2006.
More than 240 groups have been established across Canada and over $19 million dollars raised to support community based projects established by African Grandmothers.
Our local group, the Valley Go Go Sisters, consists of more than 50 members, and they invite anyone to join their Grandmothers and Grand Others group. For more information, contact Sherry at 250-342-9733.