President’s Statement

“Vision without action is merely daydreaming. Action without vision is only passing time. But vision with action can change the world.” 

These words by Nelson Mandela are at the heart of our Foundation. Acting and building the Gabon of tomorrow. A united, inclusive, fair Gabon. A Gabon that offers everyone the place they deserve in society. That was my vision when I created the Foundation in 2011. Since then, the road traveled has been sown with great victories and important lessons. 

In 2019, the driving force behind our actions has been, more than ever before, the struggle for women’s rights, women who are the pillars of our nations and thus play a vital role in the well-being of their family members and the way our communities function. And yet, significant inequalities - both legal and cultural - still too often persist in our society.

We have decided to act, and act fast, for our daughters, sisters and mothers, beginning with the right to health, a fundamental human right. The “Action against Cancer” programme continues to expand its social footprint, mobilizing more and more partners and normalising the early screening of women’s cancers, thanks in particular to the installation of our Pink Village at the heart of marathons and other races in Gabon.

Acting to protect women against all forms of physical and moral harm. This is the message we sent out loud and clear as we marched to end violence against women on National Women’s Day. Among the victims of violence are widows. Nine years after the United Nations officially established International Widows’ Day, spoliation of the surviving spouse is still a reality in our society. With our travelling talks caravan, we reached out to the population to inform and raise awareness about existing laws to protect the surviving spouse and orphans.

This commitment to women’s rights has also resulted in two substantial awards, introduced to encourage members of civil society who are important actors in this cause.

The first edition of the Agathe Okoumba d’Okwatsegue Award, named after a pioneer of the defence of women’s rights in our country, was bestowed to honour two associations - Cris de femme and the Observatoire des Droits de la Femme et de la Parité (ODEFPA - Women’s Rights and Parity Monitoring Centre) - for their contribution to the fight to end violence against women in Gabon.

In parallel, with the first edition of the “Coup 2 Coeur” contest, we discovered talented Gabonese filmmakers who use the power of cinema to raise awareness about the scourge that is violence against women.

In this year 2019, I was honoured, as President of the Foundation, to receive the National Human Rights Award. I would like to dedicate this award to my teams, but also to our partners and volunteers, to those men and women who, in an altruistic and humanitarian approach, devote their time and talent to the emergence of a fairer and better world for all.

To all of you, a big thank you! But let’s not forget: we still have a long way to go.

Sylvia Bongo Ondimba