It was a historic moment for Cameroonian activist Aissa Doumara at the Élysée Palace on Friday.
Doumara was awarded the first women’s rights prize dedicated to late minister and abortion campaigner Simone Veil by French President, Emmanuel Macron.
The 100,000 euro prize was created last year in memory of Holocaust survivor who died in 2017, known for legalising abortion in the 1970s.
I really hope that this initiative (the prize) which was created here will be taken up by governments of other countries.
“I really hope that this initiative (the prize) which was created here will be taken up by governments of other countries so that women’s rights, the struggle against violence against women, might become a national campaign for all governments across the whole world because the image that comes from Marouan, my country Cameroon, is the same one we find across other parts of the world to different extents”, Doumara said.
Born in northern Cameroon in 1972, Doumara was married at 15 against her will but defied her in-laws to remain in education until the end of secondary school.
French President, Emmanuel Macron called for ‘‘moral re-awakening’‘ in society.
“Do we need to change the law again? No (we need to change) habits, silences, deep-rooted problems which at their worst lead to the killing of women. So in this country we’re continuing this campaign relentlessly and I’d like to tell all of you that there won’t be any more silence, any more special concessions, any more habits. Because what we need in this country as in others is the moral re-awakening which you (Doumara) personify”, Macron said
Since 1996, she has been supporting survivors of rape and forced marriages through an association to combat violence against women, in the town of Marouan.
More than 1,000 women have benefited from her support, according to the French presidency.