On the second morning of the 54th Commission on the Status of Women, Gender Links and the African Woman and Child Feature Service —through the Gender and Media Diversity Centre— hosted a roundtable dialogue involving Marren Akatsa-Bukachi of the Eastern African Sub-regional Support Initiative for the Advancement of Women (EASSI), Francisco Cos-Montiel of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC), Revai Makanje of Hivos, Norah Matovu-Winyi of the African Women’s Development and Communication Network, and Jennifer Lewis of Gender Links as facilitator, with Mwendabai Yeta Mkhize and myself providing event support and reporting.
The discussion opened with comments on statistical analysis of proress toward the goal of achieving 50/50 parity. With a 7% improvement since Beijing, the discussion moved quickly toward the question of how to accelerate the rise of women in decision-making and leadership roles.
Continue reading “Gender Links Roundtable on Governance Calls for Resource-building”
Malaria is one of the 21st century’s great plagues. It is responsible for anywhere from 1 to 3 million deaths per year, most of them in sub-Saharan Africa. Efforts to eradicate the disease are mounting: in the year 2000, just 3% of children under 5, in sub-Saharan Africa, slept with mosquito nets; by 2008, that figure had risen to 56%. Aid groups now project that aggressive preventive measures can protect 100% of the population by the end of 2010 and reduce the number of deaths to near zero by 2015.
Doing so requires an aggressive and coordinated effort by governments across the region, in concert with world health experts, the UN’s WHO, aid organizations and local communities. Malaria, originally named “the bad air” because it was thought to be airborne, is actually a water and blood-borne disease, transmitted by a particular variety of mosquito. The scarcity of safe drinking water across much of the region leads to ill-advised practices like leaving whatever standing water one can find at hand for human consumption.
Continue reading “Malaria Kills Millions Every Year in Africa”
Life for women in Darfuri refugee camps in Sudan and neighboring Chad is extremely hard. Many have no access to any public authority that will investigate violence against women, and medical facilities are scarce to non-existent. While rape is rampant, and has allegedly been used as a “weapon of war” by the Khartoum backed militia engaged in a campaign of ethnic cleansing in Darfur, women are seldom able to find safety in seeking help from local authorities.
Uprooted from their homes, often relegated to ad-hoc communities where male elders are dispersed or involved in conflict, women victimized by corrupt camp guards or Sudanese police or militia risk serious physical attack or punishment for reporting rape. The Darfur refugee crisis has exacerbated the crisis levels of violence against women, and ongoing conflict and an apparent government cover-up campaign help to conceal the crimes.
Continue reading “Sexual Violence Against Darfuri Women Out of Control”
Pres. Barack Obama praised African community values and called Africans to transcend conflict and promote government from the ground up and peaceful transfers of power, democratic values and international cooperation, in his first presidential visit to subsaharan Africa. Addressing Ghana’s parliament in Accra, Obama outlined US policy toward Africa and said endemic conflict was holding back African development.
The US president said he had called for $63 billion in US spending for health initiatives across the continent, including money to fight malaria, polio, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS. Disease and conflict have devastated the population of Africa, reducing life-expectancy in many countries to under 40 years. Of the 27 nations with life-expectancy under 50 years, 26 of them are in Africa (Afghanistan is the other). Life-expectancy in Ghana is just under 60, a fact which underscores the positive quality-of-life gains that can emerge from peace and rule of law.
Continue reading “Obama Speech in Ghana Praises Good Governance, Calls for Community Outreach”
The government of Sudan, based in Khartoum, and under the rule of Pres. Omar Hassan al-Bashir, has expelled more than a dozen international aid organizations from the country, charging that their activities in Darfur helped agents for the International Criminal Court (ICC) develop their war crimes case against Bashir. Bashir has been indicted on charges of crimes against humanity and war crimes, and a fierce crack-down on dissent, press and international visitors, has been underway since.
One source, who wished to remain anonymous for reasons of personal safety, said there is increasing volume of calls and messages coming from aid workers in Darfur, saying they are afraid and the situation is deteriorating rapidly. While the government has pledged that local aid workers and UN agencies will fill the gap left by the departing NGOs, those expelled represent as much as half the aid, in the world’s largest humanitarian aid project.
Continue reading “Forcing Aid Groups Out of Darfur Puts Millions at Risk”