What was the defining moment that led you to this innovation?
Women in our society in Liberia have been regarded as properties and therefore they do not have the rights to anything; right to education, right to own property, right to own land, right to health, right to freedom of speech and expression. As the result, there is more illiteracy and poverty rate among the women than men. This project will increase the knowledge and understanding levels of these women and create legal and general awareness for their basic and legal rights to land, property and dignity in the society.
Few years ago, I sat and listened to my mother-in-law as she narrated her ordeal and frustrations to me after her husband died. She was blessed with seven children of whom my husband is the last born. After the death of her husband, Naomi was asked by other family members to leave for home immediately. She was told never again to step on the five large coffee farms that they have improved over the years. Additionally, she was told never to make farm on the land, but to return to her village. To make things hard for her, a family member issued writ against her to the district commissioner’s court. At the court, the ruling was, “Lady, you have no rights to the coffee farms, the land and the properties including the house and children. Only the younger child less than seven years of age will go with you; but he will be carried back once he is seven years.” In tears, she left this area where she had lived for more than thirty years and returned to her home village to begin a new life. What a sad denial of a woman’s rights to her children, land and property and home! This story, plus my own upbringing, and the gross discrimination against women and the denial of their rights to land, property and value that I have witnessed over the years compelled me and my organization to work hard to break this cycle of poverty predicated on denial of land, property, inheritance, education, medical, social and economic rights and dignity of women. The present political set up in the country with a female president is one of the best opportunities ever for us women in rural Liberia to seize and we feel that it is now time to increase, strengthen women knowledge and understanding on legal and right issues, engage traditions that disallow women land, their rights, and challenge policies that discriminate against women. This story is one in a pool of many unheard every day of denials and discrimination that women face. We have resolved to face and engage these traditions, laws, attitudes and actions that refuse women land, property, value and dignity so that from now onward women can enjoy their legal rights to land, property, equality and dignity.
Tell us about the social innovator—the person—behind this idea.
I Zaye Fanyean was born unto the union of Mr. and Mrs. Fanyean in rural Liberia. The early intervention of my sister at an urban area by carrying me to be with her helped delivered me from these multiple discrimination that girls and women face in the rural areas. I was fortunate to have completed my high school education and diploma at nursing school through the kind hospitality of some American missionaries.
I completed by BSc in Nursing in 2008; and in 2009, went for a certificate in graduate studies for Nursing Management and Administration at JICA in Tokyo, Japan.
I presently serve as the Executive Director of our organization, Give Them Hope, Inc.
Our desire as family and organization is to serve as the voice of the many vulnerable girls and women who face gross discrimination and denial of their basic rights to education, health, land, property, economic, status, and dignity. We are determined to break the cycle of poverty and begin a new paradigm where both men and women enjoy the same basic, equal and legal rights to land, property and dignity
How did you first hear about Changemakers?
Through another organization or company
If through another source, please provide the information.
We got to know about you through Funds for NGOS