BIO: JAHA DUKUREH: Women's and Girl's Rights Activist and Politician

• One of TIME’s “100 Most Influential People in the World.”

• In 2018 at the age of 28, Jaha was the youngest African ever to be nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.  

• Founder, Safe Hands For Girls

• UN Women’s first ever Goodwill Ambassador to Africa

• Founding member of The NewNow.

An activist and politician, Jaha is a leader in the international development and non-profit sector.

Confronting her past, her family, her culture, her religion, country and its leaders, Jaha became a lightning-rod for change and led the successful campaign to have FGM and child marriage banned in The Gambia.  After being subjected to the practice of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) at the age of one week and child marriage at 15 when she was sent to New York to marry a much older man, Jaha was adamant to use her voice and raise awareness in The Gambia and globally.  She has become the leading voice of a new generation of African women rising up to demand equality for women. 

Jaha has also taken her destiny by becoming a political leader in her country of birth and was selected to become the vice presidential candidate for People’s Democratic Organization for Socialism and Independence (PDOIS) in The Gambia's December 2021 election.

Jaha is the founder of Safe Hands for Girls, a survivor led organization, whose grassroots programs create awareness of FGM and other forms of violence against women through education, advocacy and youth-led campaigns. Its work led to FGM and child marriage being banned in The Gambia in 2015. There is now a bill before Gambia’s National Assembly to reverse the groundbreaking 2015 ban on female genital mutilation (FGM) that jeopardizes the rights of women and girls in the country. Jaha is now once again on the front lines of fighting for the rights and futures of girls and women in The Gambia as she works to prevent the bill from passing.  If the National Assembly adopts the Women’s (Amendment) Bill 2024 at its June session, Gambia would become the first country to overturn a FGM ban. 

Jaha leads by example to inspire women and girls to become leaders in creating a better future for their communities and countries. Her leadership, courage, and informed advocacy has been pivotal in engaging religious leaders in the coalition of stakeholders dedicated to ending FGM in Africa. Jaha is also the co-chair of Youth The Inter Party Committee of the Gambia, which consists of all political parties and their leaders. Her role as co-chair is to promote unity, collaboration, peace building and joint solutions to challenges facing the nation. Jaha is also focused on scaling an African led movement, The Big Sisters Movement, to end FGM and child marriage by 2030.

In February 2018, Jaha was appointed as the first Regional UN Women Ambassador for Africa. In this role, she supports UN Women's advocacy to end FGM and child marriage in Africa, with a focus on mobilizing youth. She holds a similar advising role at The World Bank.

Jaha is also dedicating herself to supporting a new generation of activists as one of the founding members of The NewNow, a group of global leaders who work together to ensure that the voices of rising young leaders are heard and that their agendas are implemented. As a group, The NewNow leaders build upon their experience by working together for change through collective action. Their goal is to achieve deep, sustainable, and transformative global impact. The NewNow was established and funded with support from Richard Branson and his foundation, Virgin Unite.

Jaha was appointed UN Women Ambassador for Africa in February 2018. In this role, Jaha supports UN Women’s advocacy to end FGM and child marriage in Africa, with a focus on mobilizing youth. She hold a similar advising role at The World Bank.

 Her work has been met by international acclaim, most notably being awarded the Eleanor Roosevelt Medal of Honor, as well as being recognized as among the Times 100 most influential people in the world. She was named African Youth of The Year and many other notable awards. At 31 years old, she is considered one of the rising leaders of the continent of Africa.

She is the subject of Jaha's Promise, a feature length documentary film by The Guardian and Accidental Pictures that filmed her work as shje returned to The Gambia to lead a successful campaign against the brutal practices that nearly destroyed her life. 

Jaha received the Georgia Southwestern State University Outstanding Alumni Visionary Award in March of 2021.  To honor her impact on the world and on the University, a classroom in the Business, History and Political Science Building was named for Jaha Dukureh in December 2021 of as part of the College of Business and Computing.  The classroom features new technology and a wall length mural made up of pictures paying homage to Jaha, her organization “Safe Hands for Girls”, and her activism which led to the banning of female genital mutilation in The Gambia.

About Jaha’s Speaking Engagements

Jaha leads by example to inspire women and girls to become leaders in creating a better future for their communities and countries.  Jaha speaks about her journey from being a survivor of FGM and child marriage to becoming a fierce advocate for the rights of some of the most marginalized and underserved women and girls in the world. She shares what she has learned about creating change, the power of collaboration, and that you don’t have to be perfect to be a leader. Talking about her own experiences and those she has witnessed in the field, Jaha also shares lessons from other survivors, their vulnerability and ability to affect change in their communities. Her talks help those attending to become more effective agents of change; personally, locally and globally.  Jaha’s talks are illustrated with clips from the documentary film Jaha’s Promise. Inquire about also scheduling a full screening.

Jaha Dukureh, Honoree at Equality Now's 2016 Make Equality Reality Gala

Jaha Dukureh, female genital mutilation (FGM) survivor activist, 'Time 100' honoree and founder of Safe Hands for Girls', introduced by Gloria Steinem

Jaha Dukureh: ABC News

Jaha Dukureh underwent female genital mutilation as a baby in the Gambia, and is actively campaigning to end the practice around the world.

Jaha Dukureh: Film Trailer for Documentary "Jaha's Promise"

A film about Jaha Dukureh's journey from being a victim of FGM & forced childhood marriage to being one of Time's 100 Most Influential People.

Jaha Dukureh at the World Youth Forum 11.04.2018

On this prestigious panel in Egypt, in front of many of the leaders of Africa, Jaha addresses Egypt's President Sisi on supporting rights for women.

Jaha Dukureh at Georgia Southwestern University

Speaking at the Griffonbell Lecture Series hosted by the University President

Jaha Dukureh in conversation with Richard Branson & Uzo Iweala at One Young World - OYW 2019.

Richard Branson in conversation with Jaha Dukureh and Uzo Iweala about fighting inequality and injustice, exploring how rising global leaders are cha

Jaha Dukureh's 2018 Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal acceptance speech.

The ELEANOR ROOSEVELT VAL-KILL MEDAL Honors Individuals whose far-reaching influence has made our world a better place.

"From the moment Jaha Dukureh began to speak our young women were riveted.  Her mission and her life has been dedicated to challenging a system of oppression for young women in Africa and her frankness, strength and message was a charge and a call to action that resonated with the audience. Jaha not only envisions a better world but provided concrete steps that people can take to support women and children . Her message was empowering for our next generation and for our staff. Jaha’s belief that one person can start a movement but with collective effort we can change the world left us feeling hopeful that we too could contribute to raising awareness and impact the practice of child marriage and female genital mutilation. It was an honor to spend time with her and we are deeply appreciative of her message!"

Michele B. Taylor, Dean of Student Leadership
St. Mary's Academy 

“I am facing a lot of ageism, and a lot of sexism,” she says. “But for me, the fact that I even dare to say that I want to be president in the Gambia is statement enough – it is what girls need right now. It’s an answer to everyone that has ever questioned our ability to lead not only in Africa, but across the world."  Read full article in The Guardian 11/04/2021

The New York Times: "A Fight as U.S. Girl Face Genital Cutting Abroad,"

"Jaha's Promise," FGM film premieres at Copenhagen film festival:

"End Female Genital Mutilation in the US - Commission a prevalence report on women impacted and girls at risk." The Petitioning of the President Obama:

Featured Video

Request Speaker Availability Share this speaker Visit Speaker Website