Thank You

Dear partners and supporters of Darfur Women Action Group,

I hope you are all safe from the aftermath of Sandy storm. Our heart and prayers are with those who are affected and those lost loved ones; we ask God to grant them strength and patience and to grant speedy recovery for those who lost their homes and their services. Safe travels to those of you who were unable to travel home because of the storm.

It gives me the pleasure to express my deep appreciation to all of you for taking the time to be with us over the last weekend. A special thanks to those of you who have traveled from as far as California, Vermont, New York , New Jersey, Texas, and Florida, as well as those who are in the DC who made sacrifices to be with us. Your presence meant a lot to us and to the cause of women. It has empowered us and has further contributed to the success of our first ever symposium on Women and Genocide and gave us more energy to continue to fight for our people’s rights.

I believe our effort for movement building to confront genocide is moving forward with more confidence because of your support and dedication, without which achieving the symposium would not have been possible.

As promised, the updates from the symposium will be up on our website soon, and we will also soon share with you our strategy and upcoming action.


Niemat Ahmadi

President, Darfur Women Action Group

The Badass Women of Darfur Written By Maria Bello

Niemat Ahmadi is a quiet badass. She is a native of North Darfur, founder and president of Darfur Women Action Group and the director of Global Partnerships for United to End Genocide and has been a friend and colleague for many years. She is soft-spoken but passionate when it comes to her country and the atrocities that are still being committed there. She has seen things and her family and friends have and are experiencing things that no human being should ever encounter.

This weekend I am joining her in Washington, D.C. for Darfur Women Action Group’s symposium on “Women and Genocide in the 21st Century,” it is taking place this month in D.C. to draw the attention of the advocates and policy makers to the plight of the women of Darfur who have long suffered and to take with us on our journey of women empowerment by developing practical strategies for women. The symposium will also be bringing Sudanese diaspora leaders from various regions of Sudan to set strategies of how to bring about change in Sudan that will sustainably end the crisis in Sudan.

What do you know about the crisis in Darfur today? Here is what I know and am horrified by:

First off, it’s far from over and women continue to bear the brunt of the suffering. Today, after almost 10 years, the situation for women in Darfur remains tragic. The widespread systematic use of rape and sexual violence against women and girls is now spreading beyond Darfur into other regions of Sudan, including the capital city of Khartoum. There is also an increase in violence against female civil society leaders in Sudan. These women are continuously abused after raising their concerns about the Sudanese’s repressive laws that restrict women’s freedoms and allow impunity for security agents to abuse women.

Despite the outcry and the attention built around the Darfur genocide movement, little has been done to affect the situation on the ground. I am really wondering why and I feel that the international community owe the people of Darfur an answer.

It’s worth noting that Omar Al-Bashir of Sudan has already been indicted as a genocidal criminal. In 2004, the United States government declared the crises in Darfur as genocide and in 2009 the International Criminal Court (ICC) has issued two arrest warrant against Al-Bashir for genocide, war crimes and crimes against humanity. I am still wondering what other confirmation the world community and its leaders needs before they can take serious action and stop the ongoing genocide and hold the perpetrators accountable.

As expressed by my friend Niemat:

Imagine, your mother who is over 70 years old and is sadly caught up under the threat of fire with nowhere to turn, you are constantly getting news about a beloved relative just shot dead or a best friend who has been brutally raped with total impunity or sisters whose children are left to die because they have no access to and cannot afford medical treatment, you may never be able to imagine that. For those of us lucky enough to escape the genocide, you cannot believe how much pain we carry with us daily, with little hope for the situation to change. It’s devastating and it is indeed far from over.

As Niemat points out:

In spite of the suffering, Darfuri women are emerging throughout the grassroots as potential leaders; they serve as healers and keepers of their families and acting as spokespersons for their people in articulating the demands of their community. Further, they demonstrate a unique resilience and outstanding capacity to lead the potential to sustain their society. However, they are rarely recognized for these tremendous contributions, despite the enormous challenges that they face.

I know you join me with the belief that women should not be treated as victims but as equal partners in resolving the crisis. Hence, civilian protection, response to women’s emergency needs, education and economic empowerment of women, along with facilitating women’s access to justice and peace-making forums are of particular importance in combating violence and in achieving a sustainable end to the atrocities in Darfur and Sudan at large.

There is nothing more powerful in fighting genocide than empowering the affected communities. At its core, empowering women is of particular importance to help the Darfuri and the Sudanese people at large to stand for themselves, work together to end the crisis and to bring democracy to their homeland. That is what the Darfur Women Action Group is all about and that is why I will do whatever I can to support it. By asking questions, listening and using my voice to speak up for women and I call up on you to join me. Only with our collective effort can we end violence, protect the vulnerable and empower men and women to make our world a peaceful and just place to live.

Please visit website to learn more, volunteer, or whatever it is you wish to participate in helping bring some peace to this situation. If you are in D.C, I invite you to sign up and join us at this event. [Darfur Women Symposium in D.C. Oct. 27th-28th.]

Message from the Chair of the Darfur Women Action Group

I am very honored and pleased to serve as the Chair of the Darfur Women Action Group.

Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn subtitled Half the Sky, their remarkable book “Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide”. The book, while presenting oppression of women and girls throughout the world, is focused on positive, pragmatic responses by women to the circumstances of oppression.

I have had a life-long aversion toward oppression and victimization. During my childhood in the 1940s, my family sponsored and housed cousins who had survived the Holocaust in Europe. Night after night for two years, I heard stories of the horrors of Auschwitz. My cousin, Rachel, was spared death because she was a nurse and could work in Dr. Mengele’s laboratory as he performed tortuous experiments on children. Her response to this was to smuggle children out of his compound under her clothing. Of course, many were re-rounded up, but many survived and thrived because of her.

I’m also convinced that the power of people lie in their stories. It is in Rachel’s story that I’m reminded of the human resiliency that I see inNicholas Kristof’s New York Times Op-Ed pieces on the Darfur genocide; in the documentary movies on the genocide in Darfur that have been produced over the years; from the Darfuri friend’s I’ve been blessed to make. And for this reason I feel the interconnectedness between myself and the people of Darfur because we share a common story.

Genocide is disgusting. Simple statement but within a complex context. Sadly, I believe that genocide is inevitable where there is a group that considers itself stronger than another group but feels somehow threatened by the perceived weaker group. The most effective response to this supposed threat is to get rid of the “weaker “group. BUT a species cannot survive where genocide is tolerated; a rule of law to protect life is required. So, in order for human beings to survive, we must fight genocide wherever it exists and we must fight impunity for the perpetrators and pursue justice for those whose rights have been denied.

Fighting genocide is often a political act. But it can also be fought by enhancing and strengthening social justice by changing the balance of power, so that the differential between the stronger group and the weaker group is diminished. In Darfur, as in so much of the developing world, women and girls are perceived to be the weaker group. Physically, this is often the case – but social mores and political laws often cause women to be the weaker group on an economic basis. Without economic opportunity, I strongly believe that we cannot have social justice. The concept of responding to the horrors of genocide by developing areas of opportunity for surviving AND THRIVING is quite thrilling to me.

And so, DWAG – and its commitment to developing opportunity and, thereby, empowering women as a positive response to genocide. This requires a multi-lateral approach with a collective effort from all of you who want to make a difference in other people’s life:

• Empowering women with skills to heal from the horrors of rape and torture.
• Empowering women with familial skills to enable them to nurture their families within a hostile environment.
• Empowering women with vocational skills to improve the economic status of themselves, their family and their community.
• Empowering women and girls with first-rate and quality education to develop skills of leadership within their community and, subsequently, internationally.

I encourage you to join us in this most exciting venture. To do so, please go to and sign up.

My deepest thanks to all for your support – especially to Niemat Ahmadi , the founder of DWAG who for her vision, commitment, talent and courage and her dedication to the rights of women.

Thank you.
Norrie Kurtz