BOSTON — For more than 10 years Zimbabwean activist Jenni Williams has led street demonstrations to push President Robert Mugabe’s regime to reform its ways.
She has been arrested more than 40 times and has been beaten, imprisoned without food or medical supplies and threatened with execution.
But she comes back for more. And she has a sense of humour.
Williams founded Women of Zimbabwe Arise (Woza) which means “come forward” in the Ndebele language.
The group has thousands of Zimbabwean members who peacefully stand up for their rights, and are often beaten by police.
Her motto is “Tough love. The power of love can conquer the love of power.”
No wonder Williams (49) will be awarded Amnesty International’s United States 2012 Ginetta Sagan Award for women and children’s rights.
The award is for activists who persevere for the rights of women and children, often at great personal risk and sacrifice.
Williams and fellow Woza leader Magodonga Mahlangu every year have a Valentine’s Day march where they hand out roses to the police who arrest them and sometimes beat them with truncheons.
Under Zimbabwe’s strict laws, no public gathering of more than three people is permitted without prior permission by police.
They march and get arrested on Mothers’ Day too.
“I am so proud to honour this brave woman who fights every day for the dignity and rights of women and children in Zimbabwe,” said Suzanne Nossel, Amnesty International’s USA executive director.
This is not the first award for Williams and the women of Woza. In November 2009, they got the Robert F Kennedy human rights award.
The Amnesty award was established to honour Ginetta Sagan, a resistance fighter in World War II, who was arrested and tortured.
She was an early supporter of Amnesty and she died in 2000 at the age of 75.
Williams will receive a grant of $10 000 and will be speaking in the US as part of the award’s intent to shine a light on human rights abuses.
— Global Post