Message from the Executive Director

semhar As the world takes time to acknowledge the many roles of women and girls in our communities for International Women's Day,  DAWN joins in the celebration and extends our gratitude to all the fearless female changemakers in the African diaspora and around the world.  

This year, President Barack Obama declared March as Women's History Month, a day to "teach our daughters that no obstacle is too great for them, that no ceiling can block their ascent".  Similarly, the UN Foundation and its partners just convened its Women in the World Conference, which included some of the African diaspora's greatest female changemakers, such as Leymah Gbowee (Liberia) and Edna Adan Ismail (Somaliland).
For DAWN, International Women's Day is today and every day.   We strive to recognize and honor our DAWNers, DAWNistas and DAWN Mentors on a regular basis - from our DAWNers of the Month, to our Meet with a Mentor nights, to our newly launched SEEDS Mentorship program.  Our purpose and achievements as women and members of the greater community are realized every day and DAWN is here to celebrate that.   DAWNers' inspiration to aim high and never give up comes from the legacies before us and those that continue to be made today. We thank you for joining us and look forward to celebrating more achievements with you.


Semhar Araia
Executive Director and Founder of DAWN

International Women's Day - Celebrating Women Today and Every Day
Pictured Above: Rebecca Lolosoli (Kenya), Ann Njogu (Kenya), Jestina Mukoko (Zimbabwe), US Deputy Assistant Secretary for African Affairs Susan Page, Vivian Lowery Derryck (Photo Courtesy of State Department)
IWD State
In honor of International Women's Day,  DAWN was invited by the US State Department Bureau of African Affairs' Office of Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs to attend a private meeting with three incredible women from Kenya and Zimbabwe, two of whom who are this year's State Department International Women of Courage Awardees. 
Ms. Ann Njogu and Ms. Jestina Mukoko shared their personal stories of courage and determination to fight for peace, justice and human rights in their home countries. These civil society leaders, who are also mothers, spoke openly and passionately about their quest for peace and equality, and shared their harrowing stories of imprisonment and torture during the 2007 post-election crisis in Kenya and the 2009 formation of the unity government in Zimbabwe.
DAWN had the chance to ask how women of the African Diaspora could help support their efforts from afar.  They firmly answered that the best way we could help was by sharing their story, disseminating information to our networks, and helping them locate resources to reach more communities in their countries. They urged us to keep paying attention to their movement and to tell it to as many people as possible.
DAWN hopes to continue highlighting their work and thank Ann and Jestina for sharing their stories with us.  DAWN would also like to especially thank the State Department and Vital Voices for allowing us to participate in this event and meet these inspiring women on such a special day.

Time to Rise with DAWN!
The Spring 2010 Membership Drive

"It's a DAWN of a new day and new beginnings!"

Spring is upon us!  It is a season that represents new life and new opportunities.  The title of DAWN's Spring 2010 Membership Drive is "It's Time to Rise with DAWN...and Open the Door to a World of Opportunities."  From the social to professional development, DAWN is embarking this year on many initiatives that will give its members new opportunities to grow and flourish.

Not only is spring a time for new opportunities, it is also a time for new life.    From March 1- 31, DAWN is opening up its membership to welcome new, dynamic women of the African Diaspora who have a proven commitment to the continent and her community.  We are looking for amazing women to fulfill our mission of "developing and supporting talented women and girls of the African Diaspora focused on African affairs."  Some of the exciting programs the DAWNers can look forward to this year include:
  • Professional Development Workshops
  • DAWN SEEDS Breast Cancer Walk
  • White House Tour
  • DAWN Monthly and Annual Dinners
  • And more!
If you know of women who are dedicated to Africa and her Diaspora, please encourage them to apply to become a DAWNer at http://www.dawners.org/join-dawn.html or contact the Director of Membership, Nkechi Mbanu, at membership@dawners.org.

DAWN SEEDS Opportunities
Ways to serve

Mentorship Program
The DAWN SEEDS 2010 Mentorship Class was launched at last month's DAWN dinner on February 26th. Ten DAWNista mentees and 10 DAWNer mentors broke bread together for a wonderful evening of conversation and common purpose. The dynamic group of DAWNers rolled up their sleeves and got down to business empowering the next generation.

As always, please contact Bridget Mburu, Mentorship Program Officer, at mentorship@dawners.org with questions and suggestions.

Join the 2010 Annual DAWN Dinner Committee

Our Annual Dinner Planning Committee (ADPC) needs your help! During the last couple of years, our Annual DAWN Dinners were unique because they are planned entirely by passionate DAWNers.Opportunities to get involved with this year's dinner vary from co-chairing the committee to volunteering onsite on the day of the dinner.

We are looking for a group of dedicated DAWN members to join our planning committee and to be an integral part in the dinner planning process. Serving in the Dinner Planning Committee will be a rewarding experience you will be using your existing talents while developing new ones.

To join this annual dinner planning committee or to find out more details about this opportunity please contact DAWN's Director of Strategic Planning and Initiatives, Esraa Bani, at esraa.bani@gmail.com.

DAWN Hope for Haiti Campaign Needs You!
Hope for Haiti Logo
We will never forget the tragedy that devastated the Haiti on January 12th. We launched the  DAWN Hope for Haiti Campaign, an online resource portal and initiative aimed at directing you to the relief organizations in Haiti, with ways you can help and opportunities and events in support of the nation.

Join our campaign as we work towards long-lasting initiatives that will produce collaborative partnerships and  long-lasting contributions to the re-building effort in Haiti. Our committee will focus on three important pillars:
If you are interested in volunteering with us this year, please contact martha@dawners.org.

DAWNer of the Month
Rahama Wright

Over the last five years Rahama, founder of Shea Yeleen International, Inc. has led a fight for women shea butter producers in Africa. This fight has taken Ghanaian Rahama from Mali to Southern Sudan in an effort to bring greater awareness to the issues of women producers in rural communities across the African continent.

The mission of Shea Yeleen International is to connect women producers of shea butter to global consumers of this popular skincare product. Rahama first became a shea butter activist while living as a Peace Corps volunteer in Mali. There she was directly impacted by the lives of women struggling with poverty.

Rahama's vision is to assist women in rural communities to overcome poverty by selling shea butter as an income generating activity. She believes that consumer education is the key to changing the imbalance in power between shea producers and big business. Currently, she is working to assist close to 5,000 shea butter producers in Mali. By linking producers directly to consumers her organization is playing a role in changing the face of skincare through transforming the lives of shea butter producers.

In addition, Shea Yeleen is a member of the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics which advocates for safe and healthy products in the US skincare market. As the organization expands its product line and mission, be sure to see this rising star on the forefront of change within the African Diaspora.

African News

Africa's Success Stories in Gender Empowerment
Whenever gender empowerment is a vibrant topic of discussion internationally, some of the countries in Europe, Asia and Latin America are invariably singled out for their success stories in politics, education, health care or civil liberties even as Africa is mostly left out of political reckoning - and wrongly so.
Read More

Female Hip-Hop Artists Challenge Stereotypes
African hip-hop prides itself on a more positive portrayal of women, but traditional cultural attitudes towards women still dominate the industry, say Namibian female rappers. Read More

Upcoming Events

Time: 1:00PM EST
About this event: Our monthly dinner this month will be a lunch hosted by DAWNer, Umra. She has kindly and generously offered us the opportunity to come together as DAWNers for the month of March for a potluck lunch at her residence.

N.B. This is an exclusive DAWN event. You must be a registered DAWNer to attend. If you would like to take part to this or other exclusive monthly events, click here.
What: Nigeria's Oil Crisis: Screening of "Sweet Crude" and Panel Discussion
Time: 4:30PM EST
About this event: This award winning film examines the adverse effects of decades of oil production in Nigeria's Niger Delta, gives voice to the region's complex mix of stakeholders, and highlights the political, environmental and economic implications of natural resource extraction.

For a listing of more events in the Washington, DC area, please visit DAWN's Calendar of Events at http://www.dawners.org/events.html
DAWN's Monthly Inspiration

"It's in the click of my heels, the bend of my hair, the palm of my hand, the need of my care,
'Cause I'm a woman Phenomenally. Phenomenal woman."

-Maya Angelou, Poet
In This Issue
International Women's Day...Celebrating Women
Time to Rise with DAWN!
DAWN SEEDS: Our Mentorship Program
DAWNer of the Month: Rahama Wright
African News
Upcoming Events
Monthly Inspiration
Quick Links
Join Our Mailing List!
Our Mission
The Diaspora African Women's Network is a non-profit organization whose mission is to develop and support talented women and girls of the African diaspora focused on African affairs.

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