“I came to realize it’s important for women to talk, it’s important for women to voice their concerns and fears. It is important for women to alert everyone when they sense violence. And so for that reason, I became interested in talking with women who can’t talk for themselves.”
Meet Chi Yvonne Leina.
Leina is a Cameroonian journalist, women’s rights advocate and the World Pulse correspondent for Cameroon. Leina has worked as a news presenter and reporter for Equinoxe Television, a private TV channel in Cameroon. She is also one of her country’s most compelling advocates for women’s rights.
Leina is passionate about ending breast ironing, a practice which involves the pounding of a pubescent girl’s breasts using hard or heated objects to try to make them stop developing or disappear. In Cameroon, studies show that one in four girls undergo such torture. Ironically, it is mothers who typically do it to “protect” their daughters from rape—or to prevent early pregnancy that would tarnish the family name.
When she was very young, Leina refused to allow breast ironing to happen to her. Now she is fighting to ensure that in the future, it is forbidden to happen to any women. Leina is determined to increase the self-esteem and self-confidence of women. In order to do that, she says, we must teach women that breast ironing is a painful practice that serves no purpose except to demean women.
In 2007, Leina received an award from the Association of Midwives in Cameroon for her extensive reporting on mother and child health. She is also a recipient of the Women Have Wings Courage Award, 2012.
Leina is a born leader with a strong drive to make this world a better place for women. “It’s my dream that one day many women are going to be seen in the high places of the earth making solutions, changing the world,” says Leina. “That is my dream and that is what I’m proud about doing.”
Leina’s work inspires hope for the future of girls and women in Cameroon, and a world in which young girls can live full lives – free of fear and violence.
Breast ironing, a painful practice for Cameroon’s girls, the Washington Post, 7 Mar 2010.
Cameroon: Mama hates my sprouting breasts, World Pulse, 5 May 2011.
Women in Cameroon, Safe World for Women.