In anticipation of Valentine’s Day, I’d like to write a love letter to women. As an actress, I have the good fortune of a being able to play a complex, strong and flawed woman. As a writer, scripting narratives is my act of resistance, my way of bringing that unheard African female voice front and center and allowing it to manifest its astounding value. I have always had a passion for women and girls, a hope to see them function on the same playing field as men and have the same opportunities and appropriate protections. I want to be more than an actress and storyteller but an advocate for women, not only in underdeveloped countries but all over the world.
I was born on February 14th, 1978. My father named me Danai, in commemoration of my birth on the day of love and romance; Danai, in my parent’s native tongue, Shona, means to be in love or to love one another. I always embraced this day of teddy bears and excessive red roses as my day. But I have finally figured out a more purposeful meaning of Valentine’s day. This year, and every year to come, I am seeking to reclaim Valentine’s Day, to make it about loving our girls.
There are too many women and girls out there, caught in fundamental injustices with deep inner wounds. This Valentine’s Day, 62 million girls will still be denied the right to get an education, 14 million girls per year will continue to be married off as child brides without a choice, in Northern Nigeria, our girls will still not be brought back and more girls will continue to be abducted and sold in a sex slave market and gang raped in Syria. Girls and young women even in the wealthiest countries in the world will continue to struggle to step into their own authentic confidence. They still won’t have a seat at many tables of decision making and will remain so hyper-sexualized by the media they will turn into people pleasers and become beauty obsessive, neglecting the development of their true abilities, character and power. How is this still the world we inhabit?
Let’s bring about change with love. I want to reclaim Valentine’s Day as a day when we seek to validate our girls and women globally and lessen the gender gap inch by inch. It has to start with love – love being a verb, not a noun. Join me in making women and girls your Valentine, in making the world a better place for just one woman or girl on the globe. Every month, on the 14th, pledge with me to bring awareness to your network of the struggles, experiences or challenges of a girl or woman across the world.
Let’s do this. Let’s love our girls.
Check out the Love Our Girls website for more information