Cameroonian activist Aissa Doumara has been awarded the inaugural Simone Veil Prize, which celebrates women's rights activism, by French President Emmanuel Macron in Paris.
The 100,000 [euro] prize was created last year in memory of ex-minister Simone Veil, who died in 2017 and was known for helping to legalise abortion in the 1970s.
Doumara, born in northern Cameroon in 1972, was married at 15 against her will but defied her in-laws to remain in education until the end of secondary school.
She has been campaigning for equality ever since.
Since 1996, Doumara has been supporting survivors of rape and forced marriages through an association to combat violence against women, in the town of Maroua. More than 1,000 women have benefited from her support, according to the French Presidency.
"I really hope that this initiative [the prize] which was created here will be taken up by governments of other countries so that women's rights, [and] the struggle against violence against women, might become a national campaign for all governments across the whole world, because the image that comes from Maroua, in my country Cameroon, is the same one we find across other parts of the world to different extents," she said.
Macron echoed Doumara by calling for a "moral reawakening" in society.
"Do we need to change the law again? No ... [we need to change] habits, silences, deep-rooted problems which at their worst lead to the killing of women. So in this country we're continuing this campaign relentlessly and I'd like to tell all of you that there won't be any more silence, any more special concessions, any more habits. Because what we need in this country as in others is the moral re-awakening which you [Doumara] personify," he said.
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