Inspire to Aspire

You can scroll the shelf using and keys

Transforming the Rwandan Woman From Victim to Partner in Development

July 6, 2015

By Nasra Bishumba originally posted on AllAfrica 

rwandaAs was the case during the Liberation struggle, women today play a major role in the army. Here, an RDF female peacekeeper leads colleagues back home from a mission.

“There are no losers. When women advance, everyone benefits. The key principle, in addition to understanding gender equality as a human right, is to use the talents of all our people to the full potential, in politics, business and elsewhere. This is common sense if we want to advance and improve our societies.” President Paul Kagame.

When the first bullet went off at Kagitumba border in October 1990, the big plan was to break the shackles of being referred to as refugees for over 30 years and to build a country that would provide peace, stability and development for its entire population.

When the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi and the liberation war came to an end, the nation was in shambles. All Rwandans were shattered but women and children were the most affected. In some cases, the roles reversed and, all of a sudden, women were forced by circumstances, to head households.

As the road to recovery began, women were engaged in rebuilding the socio-economic fabric of the nation as equal partners and, 21 years later, Rwandan women have become a beacon of hope for countries where the advancement and respect for women rights are still distant.

Today, women make up 52 per cent of Rwanda’s population. One of the pillars of this government has been promoting gender equality and empowering women as a cornerstone of the country’s development strategy.

Patricie Uwase is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley with a Master of Science in Civil Engineering. She is currently organising a mentoring camp that will bring experienced women leaders in Rwanda together with 100 high school girls from all over Rwanda.

The women’s mentoring camp is conceived as an environment for connecting generations of women leaders in Rwanda.

Uwase is part of a new generation of Rwandan women who are using the fruits that they have reaped from liberation to impact other young Rwandans. Needless to say, the field of engineering, which she partook, was almost taboo for women in the pre-liberation Rwanda.

“I think the young Rwandan woman is lucky to be living in an era where anything is possible. With the right opportunities and exposure, we can achieve anything and that is the reason why I am passionate about what I am doing right now,” she says.

Uwase says that the Rwandan woman today cannot be compared to the one of 21 years ago.

“20 years ago, right after the Genocide, the whole country was devastated. Today, Rwandans, and women especially, are hopeful and can dream anything that they want,” she says.

Today, Rwanda is leading with the highest proportion of women parliamentarians, with 56.3 per cent between 2008 and 2013 and at 64 per cent from 2014.

This, observers say, is as a result of a deliberate policy to empower the Rwandan woman, anchored on the 2003 Constitution which requires women occupy at least 30 per cent of all decision-making organs anywhere in the country.

Rwandan women’s participation in national development has helped fast track the implementation of the 12 critical areas of Beijing Platform for Action, which was adopted in 1995, a milestone that has put Rwanda on the world record in the advancement of gender equality and women’s empowerment.

Irene Kakuze is a guard with one of the international security companies in Rwanda. Kakuze attributes her employment opportunity to gender equality.

“This job was always considered a man’s job, but when gender balance became something that people took seriously, we started seeing companies opening up to the idea of employing females too and that is how I ended up here,” she says.

Kakuze says that the liberation of the Rwandan woman is something obvious in many areas.

“Gone are the days when it was normal for a man to abuse his wife everyday. At least now, if the wife doesn’t speak out, the neighbours do. You really have to be brave to beat up a Rwandan woman today because she is now spoken for,” she says.

According to a report by the Ministry of Gender and Family Promotion, today, Rwandan women make up 50 per cent of community mediation and conflict resolution committees, commonly known as Abunzi.

From 2005 to May 2014 alone, up to 446 women police officers have served in United Nations and African Union peacekeeping missions. Including Sudan (Darfur, Khartoum), South Sudan, Haiti, Ivory Cost and Liberia, Mali and Central African Republic.

Child Marriages – MPs Want Parents Arrested

July 6, 2015

By Lloyd Gumbo  originally posted on TheHerald


Parents or guardians who accept lobola from men seeking to marry girls under 18 years of age could in future face prosecution, together with their children’s suitors, if a motion before Parliament is approved and incorporated in the statutes. In the debate on a motion which began on Thursday, legislators want the age of marriage for both males and females raised from 16 to 18 years.

 Senators across the political divide this week questioned Prosecutor-General Mr Johannes Tomana’s recent sentiments that children aged 12 years could get married if they were idle.

Midlands Senator Lilian Timveous (MDC-T) is steering the motion in the Upper House calling on Government to enact and enforce laws that raise the age of marriage to 18 for both girls and boys.

While the laws are meant to protect both sexes, it is girls who are the most affected by child marriages due to economic circumstances, culture, religion and abuse by male adults.

Sen Timveous called for urgent re-alignment of existing laws to the Constitution. “The Marriage Act Chapter 5.11 is unconstitutional because it allows marriage for people below the age of 18,” she said.

“Sections 20 and 22 of this Act say, “a girl between the age of 16 and 18 can marry with the consent of her mother or father”.

“The Customary Marriage Act, Chapter 5.07 is also unconstitutional on the basis that it does not provide for a minimum age of 18 years for marriage.”

Mashonaland Central Senator Monica Mavhunga (Zanu-PF) said under the envisaged dispensation, men who marry children under 18 years would be prosecuted. “If a person is engaged in child marriage, one should be given a deterrent punishment,” she said. “All those people who agree to these early child marriages should also be taken as accomplices and be sentenced as well because they are equally guilty.”

Chiefs representative in the Senate, Chief Musarurwa of Mashonaland East, trashed Mr Tomana’s sentiments, saying anyone who married a 12-year old girl was a rapist.

“As a mother, does it not affect you to accept that lobola?” he said. “That is witchcraft. You are bewitching your own child by carrying out such practices.”

MDC-T Senator for Matabeleland South, Sithembile Mlotshwa, supported the motion, saying there was need to protect girls.

“I think 18 years still is not enough for the girl to consent to marriage because marriage is a very serious affair where you need to have your act together, where you need to exactly know what you are supposed to do,” she said.

“I really believe Zimbabwe must take a leading role in Africa by showing that it is taboo that young girls are being married. Africa is the worst place when it comes to the child marriages.”

Senator Alice Chimbudzi of Zanu-PF (Mashonaland Central) added: “My question is, how beautiful is a 12-year old child and why should that child be betrothed to a man?”

Mr Tomana torched a storm when he reportedly said children should be allowed to choose marriage as an option if they were idle.

“If you look at it, we don’t have a framework, for example, where we can guarantee that all our girl children are usefully engaged before they actually get above 18 years, we don’t have that,” he said in a recorded interview with The Chronicle.

“We’ve nine-year-olds, 12-year-olds, 13-year-olds who’re actually not in school, who’re not doing anything for example. What are we saying to them? We say you can’t even do this (have sex), when the environment is not giving them alternative engagements? What are we talking about?

“But to simply say ‘no such and such conduct’ for any girl say below the age of 16, I think we’ve not asked ourselves what we’re saying about that girl who would rather prefer to lead their life in the direction of getting married.”Should they just sit there and wait until they get to about 21 doing nothing? Is that what you’re saying? You don’t have anything that they should be engaged in while they wait to become the age. What do you want them to do because in some cultures, for example, they value marriage more than anything else because when your girl child is married, you’ve achieved what any father or mother would want to expect in their girl child.”

Many Zimbabweans reacted angrily to Mr Tomana’s remarks and called for his resignation. First Lady Dr Grace Mugabe this week joined the debate, saying Mr Tomana’s comments were irresponsible.


Rwanda: Genocide Film – Rape Victims Get a Voice

July 4, 2015

Originally posted on DailyNation


These women bring out the voices of many others who couldn’t speak for themselves… I feel, I share and I live their pain,” President Paul Kagame said at the official world premiere of The Uncondemned at the Kigali Serena Hotel. Kagame was referring to the story of three Tutsi women who were victims of rape as a weapon of war during the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi. Their anguish is captured by journalists Nick Louvel and Michele Mitchell in a documentary film.

Mitchell and Louvel take the viewer on a gripping 81-minute trip from rural Taba in Huye district to a courtroom in Arusha, Tanzania, as they tell the story of the landmark trial that went down in history books when it ended in the first ever conviction for using rape as a war crime.

 The women testified in the trial of the former mayor of Taba, Jean-Paul Akayesu, that they saw Tutsi women dragged to the mayor’s office and raped. The trial was subsequently postponed and the former mayor’s indictment amended to include rape as a war crime and a form of genocide.


In 1998, the tribunal declared Akayesu guilty for his role in the rape of Tutsi women during the 1994 genocide and sentenced him to life imprisonment.

But it was not an easy journey. In the first years after the end of the genocide, rape victims remained silent.

In addition, the Gacaca courts that were set up by the government to try perpetrators of the genocide placed rape in the lowest category of crime, along with petty theft, which demotivated rape victims from seeking justice.

As a coping mechanism, genocide survivor Godelieve Mukasarasi mobilised some rape victims from her native Taba, and met every weekend to share their stories.

Under the leadership of Mukasarasi, the women later organised a protest march to Kigali, a move that forced the courts to reclassify rape as one of the most serious crimes committed during the 1994 genocide.

The decision by the Gacaca courts served as a beacon of hope for rape victims and, in October 1997, three of the victims — identified as witnesses JJ, NN, and OO — mustered the courage to testify at the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, which was set up by the United Nations to try the perpetrators of the 1994 genocide, in the Akayetsu trial.

The documentary tells the stories of these women from their rape ordeals to their journey to the ICTR.

UN Urges Country to End Child Marriages

July 4, 2015

Originally posted on AllAfrica


The United Nations has added its voice to ongoing calls to end child marriages in Zimbabwe, saying Child marriages are not only an affront to the dignity and well-being of individual girls, but they deprive nations of the social and economic benefits that derive from an educated and skilled female population.

UN resident coordinator in Zimbabwe, Bishow Parajuli, said: “I call upon all stakeholders to accelerate efforts to end this harmful practice. The notion that girls, some as young as 12 years, are fair game for marriage should no longer be condoned in this day and age.

 Child marriages are not only detrimental to the development and well being of these young girls; they also pose a threat to the very wellspring of this country. We must redouble our efforts to reverse this trend.”

Statistics from the 2014 Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey show that 24 percent of girls aged between 15 to 19 years are married or in a union. A recent analysis of the 2012 National Housing and Population Census by the Zimbabwe Statistics Agency shows that the majority of child marriages occur in rural areas, in districts like Chiredzi, Kariba Rural, Makonde, Mbire, Muzarabani, Sanyati, and Shamva, which have a proportion of above 35 percent.

But child marriages are not restricted to rural areas only. The analysis also shows that almost half of all teenagers in Epworth, an urban area, are married.

“On too many occasions, girls who are married have been rendered vulnerable to HIV infection and deprived of their rights to education and to health, particularly their right to look after their sexual and reproductive health,” Parajuli has observed.

The United Nations welcomes the Government’s commitment to aligning existing marriage laws with the constitution, which places the minimum age of founding a family at 18.

“We strongly urge the Government to speed up the process of aligning marriage laws. This will be a necessary and important step towards eliminating child marriages. It will also bring Zimbabwe’s laws in tandem with its commitments to United Nations resolution on Child, Early and Forced Marriage, the African Charter on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, and the 2015 African Union Common Position on Ending Child Marriage in Africa.”

Noting clear linkages between gender equality, gender based violence and economic growth, UN Women representative, Delphine Serumaga, said ensuring the protection of girls and women was a critical human right and economic issue that was directly linked to economic growth and poverty reduction.

“Ending child marriages is not a marginal social or women’s issue only. It has to concern all of us because of its negative impact on social and economic growth,” she said.

Child marriage is a complex and multifaceted challenge which is often driven by economic, social and cultural factors. Combating it requires accelerating successful practices that include supporting community leaders who are proactively coming up with community-driven solutions and addressing the structural causes of child marriage by challenging gender stereotypes and promoting gender equality and equal opportunities for girls and boys.

UN Population Fund representative in Zimbabwe, Cheikh Cisse, said: “These efforts should also be complemented by empowering girls with knowledge on sexual and reproductive health and with the resources to navigate difficult social situations, including coercive relationships.

Girls should be encouraged and supported to stay in school but for those who drop out, marriage should not be an option. They should be supported to gain access to skills development.”

UN Children’s Fund representative, Reza Hossaini, said a quality education that deepens knowledge, promotes a sense of self-worth and expands life skills opens the minds of young people to a world of mutual respect, learning and self-fulfillment.

“Lasting change can be achieved through the provision of quality education to young girls, along with adequate social and legal protection as well as other social services.”

Therefore, let’s work together to end child marriages and all forms of violence against girls. Through the Zimbabwe United Nations Development Assistance Framework, the United Nations remains committed to supporting the Government and people of Zimbabwe in their efforts to end child marriages.

The support from the United Nations includes, but is not limited to, alignment of marriage laws, strengthening the child protection system to track, account and safeguard children from early marriage, social mobilization of communities to address negative social norms, enhancing girls’ retention in schools and access to skills development, and supporting decisive leadership and increased political will at community and national levels.

Tanzania: Young and Emerging Women Leaders Roundtable 2015

July 3, 2015

By Upendo Bandeke



On Tuesday the 30th of June UONGOZI institute together with Women Fund Tanzania hosted its first ever roundtable event aimed at enabling women to share knowledge and experiences as well as insights on the prospects and impediments for young and emerging women leaders in Tanzania. Among the attendees were young business leaders  as well as established women across difference fields. The African Queens Project was also there to share in this experience.

Professor Joseph Semboja (CEO of UONGOZI institute) opened the event by acknowledging the need for women leaders in sustainable development and UONGOZI institute’s efforts to facilitate this through empowerment and education.  Mary Rusimbi (Women Fund Tanzania Executive director), facilitator of the event further highlighted this need.  “When women assume leadership roles, their reach extends far beyond the economy. Women in power tend to undertake issues within their communities that haven’t been addressed and empower other women to take ownership of their lives and pursue opportunities that were otherwise beyond their reach.”

The conference that took place at Serena had keynote speakers and a compelling panel discussion with influential women from different generations and sectors. Among the speakers and panelists were Hon. Angela Kairuki, Ambassador Mwanaida Maajar, Hon. Devotha Likokola, Ms. Irene Isaka, Ms. Ngasumu Kanyeke, Ms. Ussu Mallya and Hon. Judge Eusebia Munuo.

In her speech Hon. Angela Kairuki (Deputy Minister of Land, Housing and Human Settlement) spoke on the various barriers facing women leaders, and the tools needed to advance within Tanzania. “Women must believe in themselves and be pro-active in taking leadership roles. We should build and nurture each other’s growth and celebrate our fellow women in their achievements.” She spoke further on the role that other women have had in her life in mentoring her and the importance of being open minded and accepting of constructive criticism.

The women discussed the challenges they faced during their rise to leadership positions and the ways in which they overcame them. Ms. Irene Isaka urged women to exercise discipline and a sense of accountability.  She spoke on the need for women to perform exceptionally in order to gain respect within predominantly male driven industries.  Ms. Irene Isaka urged women to embrace being different and to help others by considering one of her favourite quotes “Do good to do well.”

The women identified key areas that need to be worked on such as the fact that Women have fewer networking events and the need for mentoring programmes. Education through training was also identified as a fundamental part of advancement.

The event is the first of many events to come targeted at young women looking to advance within Tanzania. The event provided support to young leaders in pursing their dreams and presenting them with the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of inspirational women.  Ms. Mary Rusimbi closed the event with the following words “We must dare to be different and constantly push the envelope by being confident and exercising discipline.”

South African Model Thando Hopa Revels in Her Albino Skin

July 3, 2015

Originally posted on DailyNation


Thando Hopa grew up in the shade, her porcelain skin protected by long sleeves and sunscreen until the day the South African decided to fight prejudice against albinos by becoming a model. Petite and born with an inherited depigmentation of her skin from head to toe that can lead to discrimination and even death, Hopa entered the fashion world without the usual vital statistics required of a catwalk model.

Ghostly, with no make-up bar vivid fuchsia on her lips and hair sculpted to a magnificent bleached height, she exploded onto the cover of the first Forbes Life Africa back in 2013.

 “It’s one of the most beautiful pictures I’ve had taken,” says Hopa, though it took years for her to grow comfortable with a bare face, her pale eyebrows almost invisible.

“I was much younger then. I could never go out without make-up… But as time goes on, your confidence just grows,” she says. “It took years for me to get to a point where I could walk around without make-up.”

Hopa is a lawyer operating in the heart of Johannesburg, not far from the offices where Nelson Mandela worked as an attorney in the 1950s.

“I had been approached to do modelling before, but I didn’t go for it because I never saw the benefits. I thought, ‘It’s such a shallow profession, why would I want to do that? I am a lawyer.'”

But after crossing paths with designer Gert-Johan Coetzee in downtown Johannesburg in 2012, she began thinking differently.


“Gert came to me and asked me if I would like to do a shoot and I said I would consider it,” recalls Hopa. “And then I spoke to my sister. And my sister said to me, ‘Don’t look at modelling as modelling. Look at it as an opportunity for you to actually change perception of albinism. Remember how you grew up. Remember how people really treated you.'”

 The third born in a family of four children — her youngest sibling was also born with albinism — Hopa grew up with seemingly little to complain about, doted on by a filmmaker mother and an engineer father who never missed a chance to tell her she was “the most beautiful little girl”.

But even in South Africa, where reports of albinos being murdered and their organs trafficked are extremely rare, she encountered prejudice and misunderstanding.

Strangers hugged her as a symbol of good luck, others spat to fight her bad luck. Teachers misread her poor eyesight a side effect of albinism as her being mentally challenged.

Hopa uses a magnifying glass to read, is not allowed to drive, and shuns stilettos. So her first jaunt down a catwalk was something of a miracle.

“The dress was gorgeous, black and green. I can tell you, I have never felt so expensive in my life. But I was actually so scared because in essence that was the first time I really walked in heels. I was even saying a little prayer when I was walking, ‘God, please don’t let me fall on this catwalk!’ I was absolutely frightened.”

For all it’s brought her now, there was a time when Hopa was distressed by the realisation that she was different, when as a self-conscious girl of 12, increasingly aware of boys and her changing body, she ran to her father in tears.

“I came crying, and I said, ‘Why am I not like other children? Everybody makes fun of me and I have to wear these stupid hats, and I always have to put on sun cream.’ And I was crying and crying.

“And you know, my father is a wonderful man, but he doesn’t really know how to deal very well with emotions. So he looked at me, and said, ‘My child, let me be honest with you: when you were born, I was also shocked!'”

It’s a memory she can laugh at now she’s 25 and confident.

“On that day, more than anything, I wondered if my life would be different, if people would have treated me differently. But I could never picture myself looking different even now.”

Nigeria: NGO Trains 568 Women on Child Spacing Methods in Zamfara

July 3, 2015

By Nan originally posted on TheGuardian


An NGO, Association of Reproductive and Family Health (ARFH), trained 568 women on different family planning methods in Birnin-Magaji Local Government Area of Zamfara, an officer said. The Association’s Project Officer in the state, Mr Bamidele Oluwaseun, made this known on Thursday at Birnin-Magaji during the Second Child Spacing Day.

Oluwaseun said the training was provided under the organisation’s Expanded Social Marketing Project in Nigeria (ESMPIN) project. He added that the women were mobilised across the local government through the use of Community Based Distribution Agents (CBDAs) with support from the state’s Ministry of Health.

The project officer said that part of the child spacing methods taught the women included Implanon, Jaddel, Inter Urinary Device (IUD), Depo and the use of condom. Other’methods, he added, included long acting methods such as counselling, injection, insertions, as well as oral pills.

The officer then called for more support from traditional and religious leaders in addressing the myths and misconceptions regarding child spacing and commended the efforts of the Zamfara Ministry of Health and the Emir of Birnin-Magaji for supporting the programme.

He expressed the hope that the overall goal of increasing access, knowledge to women and men of reproductive age would be achieved if government played its role and if partners increased their commitment and support.

The Emir of Birnin-Magaji, Alhaji Ahmad Dan’Ali, declared his commitment and support alongside his 10 district heads and promised to create an enabling environment for the success of the programme.

He also commended the state’s Ministry of Health and ARFH for deeming it fit to organise the training in his domain. He urged traditional and religious leaders to help in sensitising their community members on the need for child spacing, thereby reducing maternal and child mortality and morbidity.


Egypt: UN Women Take Anti-Sexual Harassment Campaigning to Cairo’s Tuktuk Drivers

July 2, 2015

By Omnia Talal Originally posted on AllAfrica


Tuktuk driver Mohamed Shaaban was contacted by a civil society organisation, offering him a chance to participate in a workshop for tuktuk drivers. Tuktuks are three-wheeler vehicles used for hire. At the time Shaaban did not know anything about UN Women or its global initiative, Safe Cities, launched as a solution to sexual harassment and sexual violence in public spaces.

Shaaban took part in the workshops that included 15 to 20 other drivers, where they learned to draw and express through art what women are subjected to. All drivers were selected from three underprivileged neighbourhoods in Cairo.

Training instructor John Milad said it was not easy to convince the drivers to partake in the workshops. But by the end of the training, most of them were convinced that girls and women have the right to a safe environment, free of violence and harassment.

Formerly, they believed that women who wore “obscene” clothes should be harassed.

The trainees were divided into groups that discussed violence against women and its different forms, coming up with a painting or written piece afterwards.

“I was not interested in the workshop at all. But later I benefited a lot and I learned a lot of things,” Shaaban said, during an event organised by UN Women.

He said art has made him think about the role that he can take to face negative trends in society. Shaaban has decided to convince other drivers to take part in workshops.

UN Women chose to work with tuktuk drivers based on reports suggesting that they commit harassment, which created an urgent need to solve the root cause of the problem.

Shaaban admitted that tuktuk drivers harass female passengers but he rejected the stereotype on tuktuk drivers, accusing them of being “thugs”. He asserted that the drivers are just trying to earn their living.

Milad said he realised that he delivered his message when the wife of one of the drivers sent him a message to thank him and a keffiyeh, a scarf which she made herself.

She said her husband now buys her flowers and gifts instead of beating and humiliating her.

In Egypt, the Safe Cities initiative was launched in November 2010, with several partners in the civil society, private sector, other UN agencies and the Egyptian government. It will run until 2018.

Gambia: Women With Disabilities Sensitized On Gender-Based Violence

July 2, 2015

By Fatou Jallow originally posted on AllAfrica


The Network against Gender-Based Violence (NGBV) with the support of Action Aid International The Gambia on Friday held a daylong sensitization of women with disabilities on violence against women. Held at GOVI Resource Centre, the forum brought together disabled women from all over The Gambia.

The national coordinator of the NGBV, Haddy Mboge, said looking at gender-based violence, consideration should be given to those who are more vulnerable, and statistics has proven that women and girls are more at risk.

 A further breakdown of that statistics revealed that women and girls with disabilities are more vulnerable. Mrs Mboge said the way society perceive disability is what made people with disabilities more vulnerable. “People with disability are capable to contribute to national development as disability is not inability. All that they need is recognition and support to be able to fulfill their dreams,” she said.
The daylong sensitization was held to create awareness among the participants about their rights and show them the necessary steps and procedures to follow when their rights are violated.

The director of the Gambia Federation of the Disabled, Ebrima Dibaseh, said such sensitizations are always welcomed opportunities for disabled people as they serve as platform for them to interact and share some of the hidden issues confronting them.

He added that the situation of people with disability is delicate because some issues affecting them are always set aside.This is particularly true of women with disabilities who are confronted with serious human right violations, especially sexual violence.

“This is because they are weak as women, coupled with their disability,” Mr Dibaseh said, adding that the training would go a long way in helping them to know their rights and be able to claim them.

Speaking on behalf of the director of Action Aid, Fanta Jatta-Sowe said just being born as a woman poses some form of threats, this coupled with being disabled poses even greater challenge.

The women rights specialist said gender-based violence has no border between women with disabilities and the economically poor, who also face a bigger burden of such violence.

Tanzania: Arusha To Host 3rd African Grantmakers Network Assembly July 1-3, 2015

July 1, 2015

PRESS RELEASE originally posted on AllAfrica


Activist and humanitarian Graça Machel, Nobel laureate, Leymah Gbowee and HRH Sylvia Nagginda of Buganda will be among keynote speakers and presenters at this year’s African Grantmakers Network (AGN) third General Assembly, which will take place in Arusha, Tanzania at the Arusha International Conference Centre, Arusha.

The meeting will be held from July 1-3, 2015 under the theme: “Philanthropy in Africa 2015 – People, Policy and Practice.” It will be hosted by the African Women’s Development Fund and the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS).

 The AGN conference will bring together philanthropists, grant-making bodies and other sectors for a three day meeting during which they will share experiences and good practice in contributions to philanthropy in Africa. Attendees will discuss the contribution made by the wide range of critical constituencies such as women, youth and other marginalized groups, and tackle crucial issues such as the impact of governance on philanthropy.

Theo Sowa, current Chair of AGN said ‘this is one of the platforms AGN has created for renewed and vibrant conversations about philanthropy in Africa, and the AGN board is delighted that at this Assembly at least three new publications on African philanthropy will be launched.’

A major highlight of the Assembly will be the African Philanthropy awards, a recognition given by AGN to individuals and organisations that have contributed to development and philanthropy on the continent.

Founded in 2009, the African Grantmakers Network (AGN) is a continent-wide network of African grant making organisations that facilitates networking, learning and good practice among established and emerging African philanthropic institutions. The AGN promotes the voices of African philanthropy on the continent and globally.

AGN’s first steering committee members were the African Womens’ Development Fund (AWDF), Kenya Community Development Foundation (KCDF) ,TrustAfrica (TA),the Southern Africa Trust (SAT), the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS), and Akiba Uhaki Foundation (AUF). The current board members include the Nelson Mandela Children’s Fund and Community Development Foundation Western Cape in South Africa.

Nigeria: Govt Plans Empowerment Scheme for Widows

July 1, 2015

By Segun Olaniyo originally posted on AllAfrica


Abuja — OVER 300 widows have been slated to benefit from the zonal empowerment scheme established last year by the Federal Government. The scheme, established in conjunction with MTN Foundation, is set up to provide tools of trade and training to the identified widows to enable them to sustain their businesses of choice.

Speaking on an occasion to mark the 2015 International Widows’ Day, which had ‘Widows’ Rights are the Widows’ Might’ as a theme in Abuja, the Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Women Affairs and Social Development, Dr. Ezekiel Oyemomi, said the Ministry is celebrating the 2015 International Widows day on 23rd June alongside the rest of the world to give special recognition to the situation of widows in line with the United Nations General Assembly Declaration resolution 65/189 mandating states to celebrate in acknowledging the suffering and injustice faced by widows.

His words: “On this note, the General Assembly declared 23rd June as International Widows’ Day, with effect from 2011, to be observed annually. The General Assembly called upon Member States, the United Nations system and other international and regional organizations, within their respective mandates to give special attention to the situation of widows and their children.

“They are an integral part of every society yet, little is known about them and the challenges they face, stressing that they are seldom captured in statistics, unnoticed by researchers, often neglected by laws and development strategies making their situation invisible.”

Oyemomi explained that the population of widows in Nigeria is steadily increasing following the death of their husbands, noting that such women have had to cater for themselves and their families alone sometimes without the appropriate knowledge and skills needed to take over the role that fate had bestowed on them following the trauma of loosing loved ones.

The situation in Nigeria has been aggravated by the recurrent spate of terror attacks purported by some violent groups like Boko Haram, Militants, Inter-Tribal crises in various parts of the country which has somewhat accelerated the population of widows in Nigeria.”

The Permanent Secretary stated that widows in some parts of the country still undergo dehumanizing treatment noting that widowhood practices in Nigeria are generally traumatic and this is a great challenge to integrating widows into national development processes.

He said these brutal widowhood practices by all purposes and intent are contrary to universal and religious injunctions and they are regrettably another aspect of discrimination against women in spite of the growing popularity of the legal principle that ‘women rights are human right’, stressing that with the passing of the Violence Against Persons (Prohibition) Act would address all oppressive, injurious and degrading widowhood practices.

Tanzania: Kagera ladies attend Berlin bonanza

June 30, 2015

By Meddy Mulisa originally posted on DailyNews


A CONTINGENT of six women footballers from Kagera region are in Berlin, Germany where they are taking part in a week-long international bonanza opening today through July 6.

Jambo Bukoba Manager Stephen Gonzaga told the ‘Daily News on Saturday’ the trip is organised and funded by ‘Discover Football’, who sent air tickets and booked accommodation.

“Jambo Bukoba are among participants who sent applications to “Discover Football” and are among few winners representing Tanzania in the international event,” he said.

Gonzaga named the footballers and districts they come from in brackets as Abela Ndyekobora (Karagwe), Alistidia Bijura (Kyerwa), Jane Mulokozi (Misenyi), Elizabeth John (Ngara), Grace Wamala (Bukoba Municipal) and Peace Silvand (Biharamulo). They are accompanied by coach William Magessa.

He said the women footballers, who are primary school teachers, will acquire skills on modern football techniques from experienced German women teams.

Cameroon: Female Parliamentarians’ Caucus Elects Bureau

June 30, 2015

By George Mbella originally posted on AllAfrica


Hon. Mebande Brigitte has been re-elected as Chair of the Executive Bureau of the Female Parliamentarians’ Caucus; an association that brings together all female parliamentarians. This was during an elective general assembly meeting that started on June 27, 2015 in Yaounde under the chairmanship of Vice Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Théophile Baoro, representing the Speaker of the National Assembly, Hon. Cavaye Yeguie Djibril. Other members of the Executive Bureau will be elected today, Monday June 29, 2015.

According to one of the association’s members, Hon. Ngala Esther, encouraging more women to join politics so that they can participate in decision making, will be a key feature of the new Executive’s plan of action. “We will be vocal against traditional practices that prevent women from taking part in important issues in society,” disclosed Hon. Ngala Esther. Such practices, she said, include female genital mutilation, obnoxious widowhood rites and early marriages.

 The meeting on Saturday also provided an opportunity for Hon. Mebande Brigitte and the female parliamentarians to showcase achievements since the association started activities in 2010 to promote women’s empowerment and respect of their rights. Through lobbying in political, social and cultural circles, the number of women has not only increased in parliament from 26 in 1998 to 56 during the 2013-2018 legislative mandate but has also increased in councils and government.


June 29, 2015

By Monica Melton originally posted on FrontPageAfrica


Speaking Friday before an audience of journalists and leaders of women’s groups at the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection, Scott averred that by reporting on such issues, the media can spark a national conversation and lead to advancement for Liberian women. However, if Liberia continues to ignore women’s concerns Scott warned, there could be negative consequences.

Issues largely affect women like rape, teen pregnancy, and prostitution dominated Friday’s discussions as did the plight of pregnant women during the Ebola crisis, the prevalence of sex for grades in the education system and cohabitation within society that leaves women at a disadvantage. Said Cllr. Scott: “The whole continent is advancing, and we are still at the level where our children do not know subject verb.”

The CRC chair cited that reform must come at a nationwide level and be implemented in such a way that people’s idea about female leadership must also change. Speaking with FrontPageAfrica later, Scott spoke on the possibility of affirmative action to get more women in leadership positions. “Because of culture,” she said, Liberian women have been brought up and conditioned to believe that they’re only supposed to support other people especially men. Scott went on to charge that it is women against other women in Liberia that are a part of the problem.

Said Cllr. Scott: “When there is a woman candidate; women tend to scrutinize that woman more than they would a male candidate.” Scott also spoke of a double-standard at play. ”They hold the women to higher standard.” The cultural expectation is far greater for the women in Liberia – from whether or not she is married, has a child out of wedlock, down to the way she dresses. These same standards aren’t given as much importance for a male candidate. However, Scott said women are not to blame and that it is the way they have been conditioned to think.

The proposition of affirmative action to impose that a set quota of women must be included in leadership roles has been met with opposition. There have been arguments that because President Sirleaf and Scott herself had been appointed to government roles that any woman has the opportunity to reach such positions. But Scott said that women do not think of themselves as leaders and they expect men to fill those roles.

“For a woman to be a leader you have to be extraordinary,” she said. “You will find women who are advocating for males, they themselves don’t realize that they have leadership ability.” Correcting this type of thinking will mean a lot of work but Scott believes that it is possible for women to realize their potential and power. And it starts with talking.

Cllr. Scott urged the media to keep the conversation alive as the legislators are considering, so that the lawmakers will know that the women of Liberia are serious about these considerations”. Other women on the panel included the President of the Liberia Women Media Action Committee Inc. (LIWOMAC) Estella Nelson. Nelson called for total inclusion in constitutional considerations.

“Woman cannot be at the end of the social ladder,” said Nelson. “Having a constitution that is reflective of the concerns of all Liberians whether man or woman, is very important,” Nelson stated. Nelson explained that while there have been criticisms that men dominate the political climate in Liberia and that women must be included in the reforms to the constitution. In order for women’s concerns to be addressed they must be a part of the decision-making process and have a larger presence in the government than they do now.

A call to action came from Maureen Sieh, the senior media specialist at International Research Exchanges Board (IREX), a non-profit organization that provides programs to strengthen independent media. According to Sieh, the future of the country as a whole depends on reforms regarding women. “Continue to raise these issues,” she said. “A society that does not value women will not advance.”


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,193 other followers