For International Women's Day, we wanted to highlight Pertulla Ezigha Ketcha, the founder of Leap Girl Africa. Pertulla received her Master’s in Political Science from the University of Yaoundé II, is a strategic lead of the Commonwealth Youth Gender and Equality Network (CYGEN) Campaign on reforming discriminatory laws in commonwealth countries, and is the TheirWorld Global Youth Ambassador. We first met Pertulla in 2018 in Cameroon. Her passion for empowering women through her organization is something that needs to be showcased to the world. Pertulla is doing incredibly important work in Cameroon. Read more about her below!
Just as a warning there is mention of sexual violence in the interview.
What are your hobbies?
When I have free time, I am reading over a cup of coffee, watching a movie, taking a walk, or chit-chatting with friends and family
Who inspires you?
Oprah Winfrey, because she is a strong woman who has leaped over her pain and transformed her sorrowful stories into an empowering story and platform. I see myself in her.
Who is Pertulla? What do you want people to know about you?
I am a gender and human rights activist in Cameroon with a background in political science. I am helping to reduce the gender inequality gap by improving the lives of women through mentoring, education and socioeconomic empowerment. I’m currently the founder and coordinator of Leap Girl Africa (LGA) which provides survivors/victims of sexual abuse a safe space to anonymously share their stories and to support each other. This allows survivors/victims a space to begin healing with the assistance of a psychologist. LGA also promotes women's and girl's economic empowerment and prevents sexual and gender-based violence in schools through advocacy and campaigns.
Pertulla exhibiting Leap Girl Africa at the Youth Village in Cameroon
Why did you start Leap Girl Africa?
Stemming from my survival (raped at the age of 8), and finding myself supporting friends who have been sexually abuse and harassed I realized I could do a lot by taking the initiative to act since institutions were not very responsive to these cases of abuse. As a way to propose solutions to poverty, gender, and unequal power distribution and discrimination I founded a women-led NGO called Leap Girl Africa. It has existed since 2016 and legally is recognized.
What is your favorite part of LGA?
My favorite part of Leap Girl Africa is our survivor support group. This is our safe space where we listen to survivors without judgment. We cry and comfort each other. In this space, we are able to provide proper referrals to survivors including psychosocial or paralegal support. Right now we are struggling to get funding to give these women and girls seed capital to help them start their lives over with a more secured livelihood to avoid the dependency that leads to vulnerability.
Tell me more about the mentoring program you run.
This is another program that I love in LGA. Through the mentoring program, we provide young girls the opportunity to spend 6 months with their mentors (I call them their future-self). They are able to learn from their successes, failures, ask questions and shape their career goals. It is an empowering space for the next generation of female leaders especially for those who will go on to break gender-stereotypical career beliefs.
Pertulla at a march to end gender-based violence
What do you see as the future of LGA?
I see LGA as a leading voice and actor in Cameroon for how institutions can support women and girls and create safe spaces for them in homes, schools, and communities, this will enable us to reach our full potentials. In the future, we hope to have a helpline to give space for girls and young women to ask questions about their sexual reproductive health rights, anonymously report abuse and receive proper referrals. Also, to build a safe house for these victims and survivors to have time away from the world and concentrate on overcoming their trauma through counseling sessions.
How can people support you?
People can support us by
- Donations in cash and kind
- Sponsoring our programs and projects.
- Donating office equipment
You can donate to Leap Girl Africa through this link or email Miranda at firstname.lastname@example.org to set up a donation. We're working on setting up a GoFundMe so be on the lookout in the next few weeks!