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Women in maritime: 2015 is Africa’s year for change

September 1, 2015

By Timothy Walker originally posted on IssAfrica


On 26 August, Lieutenant Commander Zimasa Mabela took command of the SAS Umhloti, a South African Navy Mine Counter Measure Vessel. In doing so, she became the first woman to take charge of a South African naval ship.

During 2015, the need to advance women’s role in maritime activities has become a subject of unprecedented awareness and interest. And for good reason. The International Transport Workers’ Federation estimates that only 2% of the world’s maritime workforce is made up of women.

 It is time to change this statistic by enhancing opportunities for women to be educated and gain experience in maritime activities. Equally important is changing the culture in the maritime sector to reduce the prejudices women encounter on a daily basis. Fortunately, there is evidence that efforts to do so are yielding results, even though building experience among women in the sector is no easy task.

Shipping and seafaring, from the time people first put to sea, has become increasingly diverse in terms of race, class and nationality. Sailors work for a mix of individual owners and companies that reflect this intricate and globalised industry that the world economy depends on. However, the diversity of the motley crew of global seafarers has yet to take on a visible mixture of men and women – as many seafaring occupations remaining the preserve of men.

The long interaction of (mostly) men and the sea has also created significant cultural barriers to the participation of women in seafaring. This is, however, no excuse for the continued exclusion of women, or for failing to support the many women who have pushed past out-dated gender norms and made great strides in improving the participation of women in maritime.

The African Union (AU) is leading the way on the continent, as seen in the two events it hosted this year – one in Luanda, Angola in March on African Maritime Women: Towards Africa’s Blue Economy, and another in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in July. Moreover, the theme of the AU summit in January was Women Empowerment in Africa, as a step towards achieving the goals of the AU’s Agenda 2063. Agenda 2063 says that ‘Africa’s … ocean economy, which is three times the size of its landmass, shall be a major contributor to continental transformation and growth.’

AU Commission Chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma has also made a number of important statements calling for greater participation of women in maritime industries, especially in the development of Africa’s Blue Economy. If achieved, this will see increasing interest in African countries that are developing maritime industries. That could translate into economic benefit from maritime resources for Africa as well as opportunities in fields such as ship ownership, fishing, manufacturing and shipbuilding, and natural resource extraction.

Dlamini-Zuma has suggested that ‘Women have come together and … those who work in the industry … want to see how they can be entrepreneurs in the industry.’ This statement boosts long-standing goals to increase the participation of women in maritime, such as those expressed by the International Maritime Organisation, the UN’s maritime agency.

A looming problem will be how the role and contribution of women in maritime development is recognised and framed. If women are to be fully included in the maritime industry, discussions cannot be limited to participation in one or two areas alone such as environmental work, or entrepreneurship such as ship ownership.

Creating a community of experienced women in maritime occupations needs to take place at several levels and in various sectors of the industry. Having women in positions of authority is crucial, but that must not come at the expense of seafaring experience, education and training. This also applies to the safety and security sector such as navies, coastguards and maritime authorities.

In the industry, the view is that it’s easier to call for change on the economic or entrepreneurship side – and it is here that existing female participation is largely observed. However, women’s entry into other sectors, especially pertaining to security, must not be overlooked.

Addressing this gap will also improve the security of women at sea. A revealing case is that of Akhona Geveza, a 19-year-old South African cadet found drowned off Croatia in 2010. Local authorities controversially declared her death a suicide. Geveza had, the day before she died, reported to the captain that she was raped by one of the officers. The Croatian authorities’ finding has never been fully accepted, and it remains an unresolved topic of debate to this day.

Efforts to ensure safety and support for female seafarers have included the South African Maritime Safety Authority’s ‘Sisters of the Sea’ – an important initiative to enable the sharing of experience and support.

Such projects now require invigoration and expansion. Infrastructure changes that will ensure women’s physical security on board ships are also needed. This includes separate toilets, changing and sleeping facilities and access to personal hygiene products.

Another encouraging sign is the rise in numbers of women receiving education and training required for careers such as marine piloting, which entails steering ships into ports and harbours. But numbers alone only tell part of the story. Women who put to sea must gain multi-level and multi-sector experience, such as executive or engineering positions, rather than being limited to entry or low paid occupations.

For instance, only 15 of the 70 marine pilots in South Africa are female – but this is a good basis upon which to build. Elsewhere the numbers have yet to reach this level. Elizabeth Marami is Kenya’s first female marine pilot and while the AU lauded this accomplishment when marking the Day and Decade of Africa’s Seas and Oceans in Addis Ababa in July, she remains for now Kenya’s only woman in this profession.

Sustained attention and action at the level of the AU, Regional Economic Communities and national governments, in partnership with African and global maritime education institutions, is needed. The goal must be to transform the industry so that isolated stories of success coalesce into an inclusive and gender balanced maritime domain.

Ruwes, UNDP Launch Clean Energy Scheme for Rural Women

September 1, 2015

By Chinedum Uwaegbulam originally posted on NgrGuardianNews

RUWESChairman, Rural Women Energy Security (RUWES) Advisory Board and former Minster of Environment, Sir John Odey ; RUWES National Coordinator, Mrs. Bahijjahtu Abubakar, UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative, Dr. Daouda Toure and Director, Enterprises, Development & Promotions, Mr Luka Jonathan Mangset, representing Permanent Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Youth and Development during the maiden edition of RUWES Capacity Enhancement Workshop in Abuja, recently

FRESH building blocks were again laid recently in Abuja, unto Nigeria alternative energy industry, when operatives, the nation’s development partner – United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and officials from the Federal Ministry of Environment (FMENV) unveiled new strategies to assist rural women access clean energy technologies and upscale their livelihood opportunities.

 The scheme comes under the Rural Women Energy Security (RUWES), a project of the Renewable Energy Programme (REP), headed by Mrs. Bahijjahtu Abubakar, an engineer, which is tasked with evolving people centered responses to climate change mitigation.

To date, under RUWES, about two million women from 36 States and Abuja have been trained on wealth creation and using green energy alternatives.

The RUWES Initiative aims to eradicate energy poverty among rural women and ensure that women are more energy efficient as well as less dependent on fossil fuels for cooking, heating and lighting using green energy alternatives.

At the four – day maiden edition of RUWES Capacity Enhancement Workshop targeted at member organizations, internally displaced women and girls, Chairman, RUWES Advisory Board and former Minster of Environment, Sir John Odey, said the initiative aims to enlightening and providing rural women’s with access to clean energy solutions and empowering them to drive the demand for green energy.

The programme is a very important and laudable step in educating and providng clean, accessible energy solutions to peri-urban and rural people while developing sustainability towards a climate resilient and low carbon economy in the country.

However, this cannot be achieved in isolation; there is need for collective efforts by all stakeholders in the clean energy space to scale up these efforts,” he said. “Adequate sensitization programme by the media is necessary to address the initial skepticism that could arise from the introduction of these products, hence, educating women and the rural people regarding the health risks of people regarding the health risks of smoke inhalation and the gains of adopting cleaner energy technologies cannot be overemphasized.”

Odey enjoined the business community to use part of their funds earmarked for corporate social responsibility for projects to scale up access to these cleaner technology and provide funding to rural women under the RUWES initiative to start up businesses in the clean energy market space. “We all can play a part as policy makers by creating an enabling environment for transfer of technology or as investors through building infrastructure and providing funding to further develop the market.

As community leaders, let’s us all raise this awareness.” The UN Resident Coordinator/UNDP Resident Representative, Dr. Daouda Toure, who delivered the keynote address, said the RUWES initiative was created to promote access to clean energy technologies and develop market and entrepreneurship skills for women and girls to eradicate energy poverty and improve their livelihoods.

Toure disclosed that UNDP works in partnership with Federal government, development partners, UN agencies, civil society and local communities to help identify local solutions to meet national development challenges through range of interventions that combine’s the organisation’s expertise and comparative advantage in the areas of governance and peace building, inclusive growth and sustainable development.

According to him, RUWES is an important partner to further equip women and girls with new skills to assemble and market solar lamps and clean stoves, thereby creating a market value chain for the products in rural communities. “Evidence suggests that widespread deployment of clean cooking and solar lighting systems promoted under the RUWES initiative with energy and combustion efficiency and improvements over traditional dirty fuels sources could potentially help mitigate adverse effect on human health, reduce energy poverty, save time, income and environment,” he said.

Abubakar, who doubles as the RUWES National Coordinator, explained that the concept was to get the Nigerian women interested without government funds, and as a success story project that will attract independent funding. “It is an innovative initiative with a social responsibility, to ensure that every woman lives a pollution free, even her family and environment.” This is not supposed to be a profit-making venture; the women get it for almost free.

The RUWES derives from a need to save lives, save the earth and improve the economy. The RUWES is targeted towards improving the value chain of the under-served rural woman who are usually off grid, energy poor and has the highest incidence of health related issues from harmful energy practices,” she said.

RUWES Administrative Coordinator, Mrs. Halima Kolo Mohammed, explained that the workshop was staged to serve as an avenue to further strengthen the RUWES Network as a ‘Self-Help Forum’ where women and key stakeholders come together to discuss experiences, overcome challenges and grow.

The RUWES Initiative aims to eradicate energy poverty among rural women and ensure that women are more energy efficient and less dependent on fossil fuels for cooking, heating and lighting using green energy alternatives.

In the long term, the use of clean energy will improve health; drastically reduce deforestation and other negative environmental outcomes as a result of indiscriminate felling of trees for use as fuels,” Mohammed added.

Zambia: Sweden, Zambia Seek Solutions to Reproductive Challenges

August 31, 2015

By Passy Haachidzo originally posted on Times


Swedish and Zambian parliamentarians have pledged to join forces in order to come up with a permanent solution of combating challenges pertaining to Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR).

Zambian delegation leader, Brian Chituwo said the discussion between Zambian and Swedish legislators was based on exchanging notes and coming up with an indelible solution towards the SRHR problem that was on the rise.

Dr Chituwo said this during the parliamentary interaction between Zambian and Swedish lawmakers at Parliament buildings in Lusaka yesterday.

He said Zambia being a member of the international community could not be left out in such a development which other nations had benefited from.

“The London Summit of 2012 was in view of family planning and reproductive health rights on the increase of the contraceptive prevalence from 27 to 58 per cent, among others,” Dr Chituwo said.

Dr Chituwo said it was no longer a secret that family planning played a pivotal role in the issue of SRHR which left an impact on the economic strides of any nation either positively or negatively.

He, however, emphasised the need for members of Parliament to debate and see how they could kick out the 1972 Act which was in favour of abortion as it led to more harm than good to women’s’ health.

Swedish parliamentarian team Annika Lillemets said it was cardinal that the collaboration between the two nations continued as the countries had similar challenges in as far as SRHR was concerned.

Ms Lillemets said the interaction was not only for parliamentarians but with the community as well and they had indicated the need to tighten the fight.

“We understand Zambia is a huge country and most people live in rural areas, which means most of them do not have access to vast knowledge about sexual and health rights, hence the need to join forces as parliamentarians and see how we can deliver the message to all parts of the two countries,” Ms Lillemets said.


Kenya Hailed for Recognising Its Women Leaders

August 31, 2015

Originally posted on CapitalFm

JAPAN-WAWFirst Lady Margaret Kenyatta, who was among the panelists listed several deliberately pro-active interventions by the government that have made Kenya a fairly success story in the area of girl child education.

Tokyo — Kenya has received special attention at the just concluded World Assembly for women (WAW) conference in Japan for doing particularly well in regard to the girl child education and recognition of its women politicians.

Delegates who converged at a special panel on girls and education praised Kenya for promoting gender equity in education and also implementing a constitution that appreciates the potential and contribution of women politicians.

First Lady Margaret Kenyatta, who was among the panelists listed several deliberately pro-active interventions by the government that have made Kenya a fairly success story in the area of girl child education.

 But , Sri Lanka beat many other countries when former State Minister of Children Affairs from that country Ms Rosy Senanayake reported her country has a 93 per cent literacy level.

On political representation, parallels were drawn between the populous 168 million people West African nation of Nigeria which has fewer female political leaders compared to Kenya with her 40 million people.

A senior Government delegate from Nigeria said the number of female leaders in that country has been dropping while Kenyan women are pushing for more slots as provided in the new Constitution (2010).

The First Lady told the panelists that Kenya’s greatest pillar on girl-child education is the constitution which recognizes the importance of education as a basic right for all its children.

She said Kenya has for many years recognized that education and training , equitably between girls and boys is a key catalyst towards the realization of its past planning goals and especially vision 2030.

She said Kenya has nearly achieved equal enrolment at primary level except in Arid and Semi Arid areas (ASALS).

 The First Lady said all levels of education in Kenya witnessed tremendous growth between 2009 and 2014 and the trend continues to improve as more and more children access education.

Other interventions by the Government, said the First Lady include Free Primary Education and Free Day Secondary Education introduced in 2003 and 2008 respectively and whose overall objective is to increase access, equity, quality and relevance in basic education.

The implementation of the school health, nutrition and meals initiative in some disadvantaged schools is the other intervention that continues to benefit some 1.3 million pre-primary and primary school children in 64 ASAL districts and slums of Nairobi.

School bursaries, elimination of gender based violence in educational institutions, mobile schools, provision of sanitary towels for needy girls, the policy that encourages the re-entry of girls to school after early unwanted pregnancies are the other inventions by the Government that promote equity.

The delegates said half the world’s population is denied its basic fundamental right because it cannot access an education. Majority of these people are women.

On Friday, the WAW conference was told that a large army of 62 million women are illiterate, globally.

Solutions to address equity in education in countries lagging behind on the matter, said the delegates, lies on ensuring security of girls in school by providing them with dormitories and boarding facilities, providing them with sanitary facilities and the removal of socio-cultural beliefs that place premiums and more value on the boy child.

Priorities should also be placed on the training of more female teachers and changing mindsets and attitudes of some socio-cultural issues about the education of girls, said the delegates.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe opened the panel session and also closed the two-day WAW conference.


DJ Cuppy wants to inspire young women

August 29, 2015

By Stephen Kalimba originally posted on NewTimes


DJ Cuppy recently played in Kigali during her eight-country DJ Cuppy Takes Africa tour. She says that her gigs are never about “keeping people on the dance floor”, but to create an impact. During her time in Kigali last week, she visited and donated to FAWE Girls School. She did the same for other institutions like schools, orphanages and women centres in her 8 country tour that started on August 1, in Lagos, Nigeria.

The question that comes up all the time is how she has made it as a girl in a male dominated profession. It hasn’t come easily, she has always had to answer questions why she was doing something too difficult or why she wasn’t sticking to school. Her motivation stems from her zeal to break boundaries.

“It’s very difficult; I sometimes think we don’t get the support we need as young African women. We have to fight a little harder,” she says. She says she is lucky to have supportive parents but is aware there are a lot of parents who don’t support their children going in the music industry, she urges young women to go for their ideas no matter how crazy or ambitious.

“For any woman that wants to deejay, you have to make sure you are strong, you’re focused and you are good at balancing,” she says.

DJ Cuppy was inspired by growing up in a society and culture known for the spirit of risk taking, fearlessness and ambition, better called The Lagos Hustle.

“It would be fantastic to see that sort of approach from everyone else, I think when you take risks, when you try new things, you have amazing outcomes,” she says

With such ambition comes some personal sacrifices.

“It’s very difficult to have a relationship, I’m married to my music,” she says before adding that at 22, she is “still discovering herself”.

In spite of the music, Cuppy is determined to finish her education; she is pursuing her Masters of Arts in Music Business at New York City University.

“You shouldn’t allow your dreams to stop you from having a balanced life style”, she said.

‘No food, No water, No Justice-Girls From Lebanon Dirge

August 29, 2015

Originally posted on FrontPageAfrica


Monrovia – Some Liberians girls believe to have been trafficked to Lebanon and returned home recently through the intervention of the Government of Liberia, Thursday, August 27, 2015 visited the Capitol Building upon the invitation of Representative Bhofal Chambers (CDC – District#2 Maryland County) to explain to members of the legislature about their current plights.

In an interview with reporters, Representative Chambers criticized the slow pace in addressing the issues facing the girls and called for a concerted approach to deal with the situation. Representative Chambers said: “However it is not yet late they have come from Kakata to make their case known to this legislature and as legislator, it is my responsibility to listen to the plight of Liberians. It is a common knowledge that these girls were not swiftly been attended to by government through the executive branch.”

He claimed that as a result of a visit made to the girls, he was able to gather that an international group, International Organization for Migration (IOM), has undertaken the initiative to follow the case of the girls. “They said for days now they have been without electricity and food is finished and they needed some intervention,” Representative Chambers said. He promised that as a lawmaker, he will elevate the issues of the girls in the legislature to focus attention on the needs of the girls.

“It is a blessing for us that this government is headed by a woman. It is a blessing to think that a mother will be concerned about that which concerns her children. It is sad to say that her Excellency has placed the issues of these girls on the back burner,” he claimed. The Maryland lawmaker called on the country’s international partners to ensure that other girls who are still in other countries in similar situation be brought back to their homes. What we are asking her is for her to exercise her constitutional responsibilities.

The girls, while at the Capitol Building, also visited the office of Senator Geraldine Doe-Sheriff (CDC-Montserrado County) with similar message calling for their issues to be taken serious and justice be brought to them. The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection in June said, it is considering plan-B in dealing with the situation of the 14 Liberian girls who were brought home from Lebanon. Since the girls returned, the government has kept them in witness protection in an unknown location in Kakata preventing relatives and the public from interacting with them. According to the government, the action was taken to avoid endangering the prosecution of the case as the girls will be needed to testify in the court of Law.

In late 2014 the girls began complaining that their employers were subjecting them to inhumane treatment and have seized their travel documents to prevent them from leaving the country. Liberian officials, including the Minister of Labour and others from the Liberian national Police traveled to Lebanon to seek the release of the girls. Ten of the girls have accordingly being brought home, but they are yet to be seen in the public with the government of Liberia claiming that the girls are victims of abuse and need to be rehabilitated before being united with their families.

After the first batch were brought back to Liberia, Mr. Ezzat N. Eid, President, World Lebanese Cultural Union described the situation involving the girls as embarrassing and promised that he is working along with Lebanese officials to ensure the return of all Liberian girls in Lebanon. “This situation is damaging to the many good Lebanese in this country, and we all express grave concern with the Liberian government and want all these girls to be brought back home with dignity”, said Eid.’

Winning Women a Greater Say in Somaliland’s Policy-Making

August 28, 2015

By Katie Riordan originally posted on IpsNews

Hargeisa — Bar Seed is the only female member in Somaliland’s 82-person Parliament, but activists hope upcoming national elections may end her isolation.

Gender equality advocates in the self-declared nation are currently renewing a push for a quota for women in government that has been over a decade in the making.

“The public’s opinion is changing,” says Seed hopefully.

Somaliland, internationally recognised as a region of Somalia and not as an autonomous nation, nonetheless hosts its own elections and has its own president. It is often hailed as a burgeoning democracy that circumvented Somalia’s fate as a failed state. But noticeably absent from the decision-making process – to the detriment of the country’s development, activists argue – are women.

[Somaliland] is often hailed as a burgeoning democracy that circumvented Somalia’s fate as a failed state. But noticeably absent from the decision-making process are women

With only Seed in Parliament, no women in the House of Elders known as the Guurti, and two female ministers and two deputies, supporters argue that a political quota enshrined in law is necessary to correct this gender imbalance.

“Nobody is going to take a silver platter and present it to women. We aren’t being shy anymore, we are saying: you want my vote? Then earn it,” says Edna Adan, a former foreign minister in Somaliland and founder of the Edna Anan University Hospital, a facility dedicated to addressing gender issues such as female genital mutation (FGM).

Adan has witnessed the debate about women in government evolve over the years, playing out as a political game often filled with empty promises to appoint more women in positions of power. A measure to enact a political quota has twice failed to pass Somaliland’s legislature, once shot down by Parliament and once stymied by the Guurti.

But Adan believes conditions have ripened for women to make a final push for a quota as they have become more organised and strategic in their lobbying efforts.

While some accuse advocates of “settling” for their current demand of a reserved 10 percent of seats – meaning women would only run against women for eight spots in Parliament – Adan counters that setting the bar higher at the moment is unrealistic.

In addition to pushing for this 10 percent clause in an election law that Parliament is slated to review and debate in the coming months, advocates are also lobbying political parties to have voluntary quotas for their list of parliamentary candidates for seats outside those exclusively reserved for women.

A disputed extension decision made in May that postponed Somaliland’s elections for president, parliament and local councils until at least the end of 2016 and as late as spring 2017 drew the ire of the international community and much of civil society including organisations backing a women’s political quota. Critics say the extension calls into question Somaliland’s commitment to a democratic process.

But the extra time may prove to be a silver lining for quota lobbyists. It could give them leverage to force politicians to prove their adherence to building an inclusive government in order to appear favourable to their constituents and the international community by pushing for more women in government.

“Women have threatened the parties that if they don’t support us, then we will not support them,” says Seed, who is a member of the Waddani Party, one of Somaliland’s two current opposition parties.

However, she explains that parties often publicly support ideas and mechanisms that push for gender parity but have a poor track record of following through with them. In many ways they have not been obliged to because, historically, women have not voted for other women in meaningful numbers.

“So they know it’s a bit of any empty threat but some are frightened [they could lose female votes],” Seed adds.

Also standing in the way of women is Somaliland’s deeply entrenched tribal and clan system that overshadows politics. In order to win elections, individuals need the support of clan leaders who sway the vote of members of their tribe, explains Seed. But since men are viewed as the stronger candidate, women rarely received clan endorsement.

A woman’s position is also unique in that she often has claims to two clans, the one she is born into and the one that she marries into, though this rarely works to her advantage.

“If a woman goes on to become a minister, both clans would claim her, but if she asks for help, they both tell her to go to the other clan,” said Nura Jamal Hussein, a women’s advocate who is contemplating running for political office.

The Nagaad Network, a local NGO dedicated to the political, economic and social empowerment of women, has been the buttress of the push for a quota. Its current director, Nafisa Mohamed, says that convincing women – who, according to some estimates, are about 60 percent of the voting bloc – to vote for women will be crucial to defying the status quo.

Given the cultural and religious barriers that women contend with, that status quo will be incredibly difficult to change, she says. Mohamed counts small victories like a change in hard-line religious preaching that denounced women’s presence in politics. She says approaching spiritual leaders on an individual basis to garner their support has proved fruitful and that they are generally warming to the idea of women in government.

But the power of religion in shaping public opinion is still palpable.

Mohamed Ali has served in Parliament since it was last elected in 2005. He backs legislation for a quota for women in government. But asked if a woman could be president, he says it would be contrary to the teachings of the Quran, a view shared by many that IPS talked to.

While he hesitantly admits that he may one day change his views, he says others would accuse him of “not knowing one’s religion” if he advocated a woman for president.

Critics have brushed the quota off as an import from the West and an unnecessary measure that is pushing for change that a country may not be ready to undertake. Some also question if it will genuinely result in its desired effect that political empowerment for women will trickle down to other aspects of life.

Amina Farah Arshe, an entrepreneur, believes that if there was greater focus on economic empowerment for women, more political representation would naturally follow.

“I hate quotas. I want women to vote for themselves without it,” she says. “But the current situation will not allow for that so we still need it.”

Lobby group wants women MPs fund frozen

August 28, 2015

Originally posted on Capital


NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 27 – The Institute for Social Accountability (TISA) has petitioned the High court to declare the Affirmative Action Social Development Fund (AASDF) Act 2015 unconstitutional. TISA wants the court to bar the Treasury CS from releasing monies to any institution created under the Fund and set to benefit from it pending hearing and determination of the application for judicial review.

In the petition submitted by the institutes’ lawyer Lempaa Suyianka, TISA argues that the fund was targeted at complementing the Constituency Development Fund which was declared unconstitutional by the same court in February this year.

“The new regulation establishes institutions similar to the ones declared unconstitutional on February 20 2015 under the CDF Act. There are ulterior motives behind the new regulations,” said Suyianka.

He said the regulations were unconstitutional as they went against the principles of public finance, division and separation of powers adding that, “In order to safeguard public funds the court should consider that there is an illegal frame work in the new regulations.”

The lawyer told High Court Judge George Odunga that the funds which were allocated to the women Members of Parliament to enable them initiate projects in the areas they represented were meant to cover up for CDF.

” The object and purpose of the regulations is to complement the CDF Act by allowing the 47 women members of parliament to control funds designated for executive functions and which in character are to be administered in the manner that the CDF is administered” he asserted.

The lawyer is also seeking orders against the Affirmative Action Social Development Fund board and committee and wants the two barred from transacting any business until the matter is determined by the court.

“Anybody established by the new regulations is illegal as it is created without the authority of the law and in violation of the constitution,” he posed.

Suyianka further stated that if the application was not heard urgently, the 47 county women representatives would use up public money on unconstitutional principles contrary to the law since the pre-requisite structures have not been put in place.

In the 2014/15 financial year, the National Assembly allocated Sh2.03billion within the CDF kitty to women MPs to help them address gender issues including eradicating female genital mutilation so at to ensure they participate in meaningful development.

Following the allocations, the biggest winners are those with the highest number of constituencies like Nairobi Woman Representative Rachel Shebesh who will control Sh119 million from the 17 constituencies, Kakamega’s Rachel Ameso and Ann Nyokabi (Kiambu) with Sh84 million each while Lamu’s Shakila Abdalla and Tiya Galgalo (Isiolo) with only two counties will only get to control the least amount, that is Sh14 million each.

Namibia: Nedbank Backs Women Action for Development

August 26, 2015

Originally posted on AllAfrica 


Nedbank Namibia, in partnership with Old Mutual Namibia, continues to extend its support to Women Action for Development (WAD) to host their field days for 2015.

WAD has been primed to empower primarily rural women and men in the socio-economic and social upliftment fields for the past 21 years, with the aim of complementing government work in its efforts to reduce poverty and unemployment.

Nedbank’s partnership with WAD has been a mainstay of Nedbank’s corporate social investment programme for some time. Field day training has proven to be very popular, presenting key learning to community members, with exceptional attendance of decision-makers at regional and local authority level, and community leaders.

 In a recent cheque handover ceremony that took place in Rundu, Nedbank Rundu branch manager, Mox Shilongo, commented: “Over the past few years Nedbank has been supporting the activities of WAD and it’s our honour to continue our support of this noteworthy development programme, which has proven tangible positive impacts in the communities they reach. We believe that this sponsorship forms an integral part of the bank’s overall corporate social responsibility efforts and it will undoubtedly contribute significantly towards relieving a pressing need within the broader society.”

Shilongo further expressed trust that the partnership will further enhance WADs efforts of uniting people across the board to help fight poverty and contribute positively to the upliftment of women in disadvantaged communities.

WAD is a Namibian-based non-profit making entity. It is a self-help organisation, which follows a two-pronged programme, namely the socio-economic and socio-political empowerment of rural women and men. WAD’s training programmes are intended to enhance the unemployed’s chances of finding jobs, and to assist in starting their own businesses.

Tanzania: Feature-Smartphones Help Women Secure Land Rights

August 26, 2015

By Kizito Makoye originally posted on Trust

TZlandmapperJacqueline Nyantalima, a resident of Ilalasimba village, is one of a group of young people running a new land mapping process.

Ilalasimba — Yolanda Ngunda has every reason to smile now she holds a title deed recognising her as sole owner of a disputed plot of rugged farmland in Tanzania’s remote southern highlands.

For the past decade, the 51-year-old widow, who lives in Ilalasimba village in the rural district of Iringa, was embroiled in a family feud as her brothers-in-law tried to grab her land and kick her out of a brick house she built with her late husband who died after a short illness.

“I have been living in fear all those years because I did not have any document that supported my land rights claim. I have now won the battle,” she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, proudly displaying her certificate printed on pale-green paper.

Ngunda, who has four children, is among hundreds of Ilalasimba residents who have secured land titles thanks to a pilot project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

Ngunda said her brothers-in-law had even threatened to set her house on fire. “But I stood firm to defend my children’s property,” she said proudly.

Iringa is one of many areas in Tanzania where there are cases of property grabs involving widows, rights activists say.

The prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the region has made many widows susceptible to losing their property as family members who know little about the disease accuse them of killing their husbands to inherit property.

Tanzanian law grants women the same rights as men to access, own and control land, and allows them to participate in decision-making on land matters. But only 20 percent of women possess land in their own names, according to USAID.

Customary norms have made it hard for women to obtain land in their own right. Instead many access it through their spouses or male relatives, meaning they often end up losing it if those men die.

In an effort to help Tanzania’s authorities secure village land rights, USAID launched a project to map geographic and demographic data using mobile phone technology, with the aim of speeding up land rights registration.

The “Mobile Application to Secure Tenure (MAST)” project enables villagers to identify property boundaries and gather the information officials need to issue land ownership documents.


Launched in 2014, the $1 million project, implemented by the Cloudburst Group, a U.S.-based consulting firm, has simplified the process of documenting land rights while making it more transparent and effective, USAID officials said.

Land registration in Tanzania is a cumbersome process, riddled by corruption and mismanagement, which is why most people lack formal rights to their land, according to Transparency International’s 2013 Global Corruption Barometer.

Karol Boudreaux, a land tenure expert with the Cloudburst Group, said the MAST project is designed to be participatory so that it raises awareness among women about their right to own and inherit land, while equipping village leaders with skills to resolve disputes.

“We have recognised that these rights have not been well understood in some places,” Boudreaux told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, noting that widows in particular face barriers to owning and inheriting land.

The project trains a small group of young villagers to use a mobile application on Android-based smartphones to document land rights.

“We needed to work with people who are literate and comfortable using smartphones to map and document land parcels,” Boudreaux said.

To avoid conflicts, the tech-savvy mappers must ensure that land owners or their representatives and neighbours are present during the process. The information is then uploaded to an online database where officials can access and validate it to issue title deeds.

“I am very happy to … get the opportunity to learn how to resolve land-related conflicts,” said 23-year-old Ilalasimba resident Jacqueline Nyantalima. “This is a very important exercise since it helps women secure their land rights.”

According to USAID, the young people, who work jointly with village leaders, have registered land parcels and helped issue titles for 940 people. Plans are underway to expand the project to two other villages soon.


Women in Ilalasimba now have greater security for their property, as 30 percent of land has been registered in their names, USAID officials said. Another 40 percent has been registered jointly to men and women, and 30 percent to men alone.

“I was inferior, but I am now very confident after getting my title deed,” said Ngunda. “I know my children’s future is bright since nobody will ever dare take this land away.”

Deadly conflicts over land have raged for decades in Tanzania as farmers and livestock herders jostle to use water resources that are dwindling due to recurring drought and poor management.

Adam Nyaruhuma, coordinator of the land tenure support programme at Tanzania’s Ministry of Land, said mapping land rights with modern technology had the potential to diffuse land disputes while widening chances for rural communities to use their land productively.

“The advantage of this programme is that once the land is formalised, it opens up a lot of opportunities for villagers who might be able to use their title deeds as collateral to secure bank loans,” Nyaruhuma said.

(Reporting by Kizito Makoye; editing by Megan Rowling. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, women’s rights, trafficking, corruption and climate change.

South Africa: Minister Nkoana-Mashabane Honoured By the Nelson Mandela Library

August 25, 2015

PRESS RELEASE originally posted on TimesLive

Maite+Nkoana+MashabaneNkoana-Mashabane dedicated the award to the women who led the march to the Union Buildings in 1956 in protest against apartheid pass laws.

Pretoria, South Africa — The Nelson Mandela Library on Friday, 21 August 2015, honoured International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane with a National Women’s Award.

The Library, which is based at the Protea Glen Secondary School in Soweto, said Minister Nkoana-Mashabane was chosen for the Award in recognition of her dedication to the promotion of human rights, women’s empowerment and gender equality and as a leader and role model for young women.

Minister Nkoana-Mashabane dedicated the award to the women who led the march to the Union Buildings in 1956 in protest against apartheid pass laws. The Minister said those women who took part in the 1956 march made it possible for today’s generation to live in a free and democratic South Africa.

 The Minister said South Africa’s foreign policy is guided by a commitment to human rights, the promotion of peace and stability and the resolution of conflicts through peaceful means.

“Our vision is an African Continent which is prosperous, peaceful, democratic, non-racial, non-sexist and united, and which contributes to a world that is just and equitable,” said Minister Nkoana-Mashabane.

Tanzania: Tamwa pushes to curb alcohol abuse, reduce GBV

August 25, 2015

Originally posted on DailyNews

edasanga_300_264TAMWA Executive Director Edda Sanga

Tanzania Media Women’s Association (TAMWA) is on Monday expected to meet with local leaders, stakeholders and community groups from Saranga and Wazo Hill Ward to introduce a project aimed at combating excessive alcohol use that contribute to Gender-Based Violence (GBV).

The project being implemented in three wards of Kinondoni, Dar es Salaam at Makumbusho, Saranga and Wazo Hill, intends to set strategies ensuring that policies and laws support the efforts to combat alcoholism that contributes to GBV.

A statement issued by TAMWA Executive Director Edda Sanga,said the project has come at the right time when gender-based violence especially that perpetrated through excessive consumption of alcohol such as abandonment of women and children and rape are on the increase.

 “TAMWA has been receiving cases of violence through its Crisis Resolving Centre-CRC and realized the increase of acts of abandonment of women, whereas for the period of six months from June to December, 2014 received 34 cases which increased to 53 cases in the six months of January to June, 2015,” she said in the statement.

TAMWA believes that, through its interventions, men will take responsibilities to stop excessive alcohol consumption which contributes to GBV and ultimately improve the well-being of families and promote development in communities and the nation at large.


Zambia: First Lady Commends Edusport

August 24, 2015

By Sandra Mwila originally posted on Times


First Lady Esther Lungu has commended Edusport for developing a powerful Go Sisters programme that empowers girls through sport. The Go Sisters programme aims to empower girls by training them with skills and knowledge to pursue equality. Lungu said the programme is in line with Government’s vision of ensuring skill development for young women and girls in financial literacy and entrepreneurship.

 She said this in a speech read for her by Sport Minister Vincent Mwale’s wife, Constance, during the 14th Edusport Go Sisters annual tournament held at Libala High school under the theme ‘Financial Literacy a storm foundation for girls better future’.

Lungu expressed confidence that young people will participate and benefit from the socio-economic programmes in Zambia following the launch of the National Youth Policy by President Edgar Lungu.

“Let me take this opportunity to commend Edusport Foundation for developing a powerful Go Sisters programme that empowers girls through the platform of sport. With the just launched National Youth Policy, young people will participate and benefit from the Socio-economic programmes in Zambia,” she said.

She urged the girls to continue being agents of change by engaging themselves into productive economic activities to develop the culture of saving.

“It is at such gatherings that young women can interact and share information. You must not keep to yourself the knowledge and information that you will get from this platform.

“You should share with your peers when you go back home. As you know that females are good educators because when you educate a girl you educate the nation,” she said.

Meanwhile, Provincial Education Officer Ngosa Kotati said the Ministry of Education will support Edusport activities aimed at empowering young people. Kotati said he was happy that the girl child was being empowered with knowledge on the benefits of saving.

He said such programmes will help the girl child realise their full potential and became role models in society.

Edusport national coordinator Sharon Museke appealed to the Government to come up with a deliberate policy that will develop training opportunities and lessons in financial literacy.

Museke called on the various partners to design literacy material in local languages to cater for everyone.


Chipawo Girl Power for Bots Festival

August 24, 2015

By Swagga T originally posted on Herald


“Because I am a female, I am expected to aspire to get married. I am expected to make my choices always keeping in mind that marriage is the most important event. Marriage can be a source of joy and love and mutual support.”

“But why do we teach girls to aspire to marry and we don’t teach boys the same?

“We teach girls that they cannot be sexual beings in the way that boys are. If we have sons, we don’t mind knowing about our sons’ girlfriends, but our daughters’ boyfriends? God forbid.

 “But of course when the time is right we expect those girls to bring back the perfect man to be their husband,” wrote famous award winner Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.

US pop diva Beyonce used the lines in her song “Flawless” in a bid to continue promoting and empowering the girl child.

“We say to girls, you should aim to be successful, but not too successful, otherwise you will threaten the man.”

In line with this preparations are at advanced stage for the Chipawo Girl Power festival to be held in Gaborone, for a week.

The festival dubbed, “Chipawo Girl Power – Possibilities Festival”, will run from August 25 to September 1 2015 with local girls set to perform at CHIPABO Arts Festival.

Some of the countries taking part include Namibia, Swaziland, South Africa and Zambia.

The traveling group consists of 15 girls who have been selected from various CHIPAWO centres as a way of uplifting the participation of the girl child in the arts.

The girls will present a play entitled “Who is a Child?”.

 In an interview with CLS, Chipawo manager Chipo Basopo said preparations are at advanced stage and today they stage a farewell concert.

“Before the girls leave we have planned a show where everyone is welcome to see what they are going to perform.

“The farewell concert is being held at Mt Pleasant, Scout Hall our Chipawo Centre and it’s free of charge,” she said.

She said the play is based on giving opportunity to girls.

“The story is based on a group of girls who were billed to provide entertainment for delegates at a summit conference and took advantage of the leaders present to present a thought provoking theatre production.”

“The production brings out real life experiences that most girl children face in their day-to-day live. These challenges provoked the girls to ask, WHO Is a Child.

“This came as a result of the nature of abuses they face and the kind of treatment they get from their various societies which do not regard them as children through depriving them their basic rights such as education and forced early marriages,” she explained.

The team will perform on August 29 at Little Theatre in Botswana.

“Apart from the festival presentation, the girls will also have the opportunity to have an exchange workshop with girls from CHIPABO. Girl Power is a programme established in 2003 that enable girls affiliated to CHIPAWO get to meet and discuss various issues affecting them.

“Since then Girl Power has participated in numerous empowering programmes, including participatory theatre communication on gender and HIV/AIDS with young women in partnership with UNICEF, the National Aids Council and the European Union.

“Children Association of Performing Arts Botswana (CHIPABO) is a non-governmental organisation established in September 2012 which run the same programme as CHIPAWO Zimbabwe and is under CHIPAWO World,” she said.


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