All posts tagged: Africa

Being a Woman and an Entrepreneur in Malawi

By Mayamiko Chiwaya, Student Driven Solutions graduate, age 16 Starting a business in Malawi is not an easy thing. Most people think that once you come up with a business idea you can implement it right away, which is not always true. To start a business requires hard work and dedication. In this edition, I will share with you the challenges women and girls encounter while striving to start small businesses in Malawi. According to my investigations, the first challenge that women and girls in Malawi often meet is lack of recognition. Women and girls are not recognized as people who can develop Malawi as a country through business. It’s for this reason that they often fail to start small businesses because they are not given the chance. For example, in most banks in Malawi, women are given smaller loans than men. Pamela Banda, age 18, a successful young lady operating a shop selling fashion items once experienced this challenge when getting a loan from the bank, but still managed to get a small loan from …

The Power of Knowledge in the Fight against HIV/AIDS

Correct information empowers people to make the best possible choices in all aspects of life. Conversely, incorrect or poorly communicated information can cause a degree of harm that can be worse than knowing nothing in the first place. It is time to stop focusing solely on access to education, and start working on improving the quality of education. Rightly so, education is often considered the ‘first defense’ to the HIV/AIDS pandemic. When people know how to prevent transmission and why preventing transmission is so important (ie. there is no cure for HIV), the majority of people will, to the best of their abilities, take action to protect themselves and their families. Knowledge gives people the power to prevent HIV transmission in the first place, thereby eliminating the need for medical interventions to mitigate the effects of the virus. The ‘knowledge is power’ principle has created a focus on simply getting children and youth enrolled in school as a key strategy to combat the spread of HIV. But is getting children and youth enrolled in school …

Gender Parity in Lesotho: 10 Years Later

Post Written By Stephanie Vizi In 2006, married women in the tiny mountain kingdom of Lesotho, gained equal legal standing to men under the Legal Capacity of Married Persons Act. Now, any woman can legally own land, receive inheritance, and make her own decisions. Prior to 2006, women in Lesotho were considered legal minors. In 2003, the Sexual Offences Act was enacted to combat sexual violence. The Act officially defined all forms of unwanted sexual penetration as rape, not just vaginal penetration as it was prior to this Act. This act also gives legal rights and validity to men who have been raped. In addition, it states that marriage or any other relationship is not a legitimate defence to sexual violence. 10 Years Later It’s been over 10 years since these laws were put into place to protect women from gender inequality and abuse. However, implementation has been slow, especially in rural, mountainous villages, which accounts for the majority of the Basotho population. According to Thato Letsela, Help Lesotho’s Officer for Leadership Centres, “In general …

Women’s Groups: Scaling Up to Save More Mothers’ and Babies Lives

Post Written By: Esther Sharma, Board Member for Women and Children First UK As an expectant mum, with an excited toddler eagerly awaiting the arrival of his new baby, I am more mindful than ever before of the fortunate position I am in, living in the UK with access to great healthcare and lots of support. However, as many of us are acutely aware, with the MDG’s well and truly behind us now, there is still a huge amount of work to be done to ensure that this is the experience of all women and their babies across the world. How many women have the choice about when to start having children, how many children to have and how far apart to space them? Or access to antenatal care and a skilled birth attendant to ensure a safe birth? And what about healthcare facilities for those requiring medical assistance? And vital support in the early days of motherhood? Since 2002, Women and Children First has been working in some of the poorest countries of the …

Celebrating Ordinary Women Doing Extraordinary Work in Africa

In the words of former American President Woodrow Wilson, “We are not here merely to make a living, but to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision and a finer spirit of hope and achievement.” Some ordinary people have taken it upon themselves to add value to their countries and empower communities, making them exceptionally extraordinary. On International Womens Day, I asked several of my friends, and fellow champions of women’s economic empowerment, at Empower Women to help me identify and celebrate such African women. These are strong, courageous women who have overcome many challenges to achieve their dreams. Their zeal to improve the welfare of women and alleviate poverty is what makes them outstanding. Here are inspiring stories of four incredible African women, as nominated by the champions. Faith Kasoni (Kenya)- Leading Anti-FGM Campaigns Teresa Abila from Kenya, nominated this courageous woman from Samburu, one of the counties in rural Kenya that FGM is still widely practiced. Teresa says that she admires Faith because she decided not to undergo the cut as an …

Boys in the GIRL4ce Movement

Written By: Sarah Otto, Help Lesotho Intern 2016 The International Women’s Day (IWD) campaign theme for 2016, #PledgeForParity, means that, “Everyone – men and women – can pledge to take a concrete step in achieving gender parity more quickly.” It is important to note that the IWD campaign highlights both men and women when they speak of taking the pledge, because gender equity will take the investment of both genders for it to become a reality. As an intern with the Canadian organization , Help Lesotho, in Lesotho, one of the first projects I experienced was the ‘GIRL4ce Movement (ie. Girl-force). The GIRL4ce Movement is doing its part in the fight for gender equity by engaging girls, boys, women and men on the issues of child, early and forced marriages (CEFM), girls’ rights, and sexual and gender-based violence. The GIRL4ce Movement empowers communities to address these issues by bringing awareness to the laws that affect CEFM so that community members can become advocates for themselves, and for girls and women. In Lesotho, CEFM is still a common practice and …

The Journey from Nursing to Maternal Health Innovation

This article was written by Lindsay Sanders, Communications and Design Fellow at Jacaranda Health, and originally posted on Jacaranda’s website.  There are few people in this world who dedicate their lives to serve others. Most of us bounce around from job to job, exploring new industries, discovering which professions we like and dislike. But not Jacaranda Health’s Chief Medical Officer, Faith Muigai. She knew from a young age that she was committed to one cause: empowering women and families to make positive health decisions. Faith mapped out her professional path to the medical field as a teenager in Kenya. She ambitiously uprooted to the United States when she was 17 years old, working as a nursing assistant to pay her way through college. She quickly rose to the ranks after receiving her Master’s Degree in Nursing and Administration, taking on management and leadership roles from leading organizations like John Hopkins University. After a long journey in the states, Faith headed back to her roots in East Africa to use her skills to help the women and families who need …

Why We Can’t Fully Empower Girls and Women Without Engaging Boys and Men

By Stephanie Vizi Gender equality is not only a women’s issue, it is a human rights issue that affects us all – women and girls, men and boys. Everyone benefits socially, politically and economically from gender equality. When women are empowered, the whole of humanity benefits. Gender equality liberates not only women but also men, from prescribed social roles and gender stereotypes. The Harsh Reality of Gender Inequity in Lesotho: Lesotho has the world’s 2nd highest rate of AIDS Women are more vulnerable to contracting HIV—in the 15-24 age bracket, 1/4 of men and HALF of young women have HIV or AIDS. Based on GDP, Lesotho’s poverty level ranks #149 out of 184 countries Women are disproportionately affected by poverty, leading to: lack of education … human trafficking … prostitution …  depression … hopelessness 61% of women in Lesotho have experienced some form of sexual violence Powerlessness and vulnerability lead to sexual violence and abuse Patriarchal values and norms create power imbalances and limit women’s rights Stereotyping of girls and women as ‘lesser’ leads to: …

Adolescent Reproductive Health Concerns in Sub-Saharan Africa

Young people make up the greatest proportion of the population in sub-Saharan Africa, with more than one-third of the population between the ages of 10 and 24. And sub-Saharan Africa is the only region of the world in which the number of young people continues to grow substantially. By 2025, the number of young people (aged 10 to 24) in this region is expected to increase to 436 million. Furthermore, the population is projected to further increase to 605 million by 2050. Adolescents in sub-Saharan Africa have particular reproductive health vulnerabilities such as high adolescent birth rate, gender inequality, early marriage, abduction, harmful traditional practices (such as female genital cutting), unwanted and closely spaced pregnancies, unsafe abortions, and STIs. These young people need access to sexual and reproductive health information and services so they can use contraception, prevent unintended pregnancy and decide if and when to have children. At the same time, these investments allow young people especially girls to take advantage of education and employment opportunities. Ultimately, if nations want to give young people …