Tue10212014

Spiritual Life

LAH resident speaks on Women of Courage

The world has rallied around Malala Yousufzai, the 14-year-old Pakistani activist shot by the Taliban last month in retaliation for promoting education for girls.

Malala is not alone. Around the globe, women of all ages risk death or imprisonment for standing up for human rights.

Los Altos Hills resident Merry Lee Eilers, a member of American Women for International Understanding (AWIU), is scheduled to share some of their stories in a presentation 7:30 p.m. Nov. 27 at Christ Episcopal Church, 1040 Border Road Los Altos.

Eilers, a resident of Pakistan for five years, is passionate about supporting female activists and their work.

Since 2007, the U.S. Secretary of State has sponsored the annual International Women of Courage awards for women who have demonstrated extraordinary courage and leadership in advancing justice within their countries. Through her work with AWIU, Eilers has met many of the award winners.

Eilers will discuss women like Wazhma Frogh of Afghanistan, who bravely faced the mullah who had just urged the male worshippers to kill her. Her crime: starting a literacy program for women. Challenging him to hear her out, she recited passages from the Koran that supported women’s equality. The mullah relented and became a supporter of the program.

Hadizatou Mani of Niger, born a slave, was sold at the age of 12.

“I was negotiated over like a goat,” she recalled.

When a law abolished slavery, she eventually gained her freedom and married another man – only to be sentenced to prison for bigamy. With support from antislavery nongovernmental organizations, Mani sued the government of Niger and won the historic suit, sending a message that antislavery laws must be enforced.

“There is so much about them that makes me feel humble,” Eilers said. “Though they are recognized for their courage, they are not arrogant, but full of heart.”

The church will serve light refreshments before the presentation at 7 p.m.

For more information, call 948-2151.

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