Jaha Dukureh is a leader in the global movement to end female genital mutilation (FGM) and child marriage. He has managed to change the laws of his country and others on the African continent. Before turning 30, she was named the United Nations Goodwill Ambassador for Africa and nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Today, Jaha becomes the first winner of the L’Oréal Paris Women of Worth and has been named the brand’s global spokesperson. Empowering women to decide about their own lives, their incorporation takes a new path and direction in the L’Oréal Paris mission. She shows that believing in yourself and striving to achieve your personal and social goals empowers you.
Survivor of FGM and a child marriage. Born in The Gambia, Jaha underwent FGM, the cut on the outside of the female genitalia, when she was just over a week old. At age 15, she was forced to marry a man much older than her in the United States. At 17, he managed to get a divorce. He later earned a bachelor’s and master’s degree in nonprofit organization management from the University of Central Florida. Billed and hailed as “the woman who said no to FGM” Jaha has challenged belief systems that perpetuate female genital mutilation and child marriage by fighting and working against both barbaric customs, which she herself suffered as a child.
Woman of Worth. In 2014, at 24, Jaha founded “Safe Hands for Girls,” a non-profit organization to end FGM and child marriage that provides a safe space for survivors. In 2015, L’Oréal Paris recognized Jaha as a “Woman of Worth”, granting her organization funding to carry out her work and increase her impact. As of today, “Safe Hands for Girls” has prevented approximately a million girls and women from undergoing brilliant female mutilation, including her own sister, after Jaha convinced her father not to continue the practice. Safe Hands for Girls also campaigns to prevent 15 million marriages that currently involve girls.
Creating a global impact. Jaha’s dedication has successfully changed the laws. Days after meeting with government officials in his native Gambia, the then-president banned FGM. Her tireless fight has been widely recognized: In 2016 she was named among Time Magazine’s Top 100 Most Influential People. In 2018 she was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize and won the Eleanor Roosevelt Val-Kill Medal “in honor of the people whose powerful influence has made our world a better place.” She was also chosen as the United Nations Regional Ambassador for Africa, using the force of the platform to fight against FGM and child marriage globally. The 2017 documentary, Jaha’s Promise, shows the respectful sensitivity with which he managed to transform mentalities and how he managed to change the cultural norms and customs that had perpetuated these terrible and harmful traditions for generations.
“We are delighted to welcome Jaha to the L’Oréal Paris family as a spokesperson. Jaha’s strong activism has managed to change the lives of more than a million women and is demonstrated in awards such as the “Woman of Worth” award and being nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Her strength has encouraged many women to speak out about the right to their own destiny. She is a powerful important speaker for personal empowerment now promoted by L’Oréal Paris to raise awareness of all women ”(Delphine Viguier – Hovasse, Global President of L’Oréal Paris)
“Joining the L’Oréal Paris family means they also join my fight to empower women by defending their rights. Signing a contract with the number 1 brand in the beauty sector supports my beliefs and my fight. FGM does not define me, or any other woman, even if we have to live with its consequences. Representing L’Oréal Paris is a great loudspeaker for women and to mitigate the suffering they have been through. I couldn’t be more proud to share this message from L’Oréal Paris: “Believe in yourself, your message and attitude is important. Yes, you are worth it ”(Jaha Dukureh)
Following the momentum of her platform to fight for change and empower women, Jaha Dukureh will make her debut for L’Oréal Paris in 2020, starring in the Color Riche campaign.