#013: Hope of a New Law

Jan 17 Issue of Empower46 below. To receive more like this straight to your inbox, join us here.


  • Hope of a New Law

A landmark bill out of Somaliland aims to declare rape a crime, punishable by up to 30 years in jail. Formerly, girls and women who were raped were often forced into marrying their rapists (so as not to bring "shame" upon their families). If the bill passes (it is yet to be approved by the House of Elders), all forms of sexual violence - including child marriage and trafficking - will be criminalized.

Now as Somaliland continues its quest for international legitimacy, the importance of women's rights is beginning to outweigh the familiarity of the status quo. Codification is a good start; effective enforcement, as we know, will be the true test.
Read for"Somaliland declared itself independent from Somalia in 1991 but it is not internationally recognized as a country. There is still no law against rape in Somalia"




  • Fifteen and Wed

Al-Jazeera's latest interactive focuses on child marriage - through beautiful photographs and a heartbreaking narrative. Telling the true stories of Nigerien child brides married off to older men, the interactive offers a view into life as a child bride, the perspective of parents who either believe their hands are tied or are stuck in their ways, and the centrality of abject poverty to this issue.  
Click for"On the way home [from school], everyone was looking at me. They called out to me 'the young bride, the young bride.' That's how I found out I was going to be married off."




  • A Very Bored River God

According to the River god in the Ofin River in Ghana, schoolgirls must no longer cross the river while on their periods. It seems that the River god has always felt this way, but the traditional leaders are only just now enforcing this rule. Furthermore, the River god has also insisted that girls no longer cross the river on Tuesdays - why the arbitrary choice?

You might say god only knows...
Read for"Di gods dey violate these girls demma right to education, dey den kind tins too dey affect demma performance for school."



  • Understanding Small-Scale Irrigation

This month in Agrilinks, Sophie Thies asks the question: "Can Irrigation Both Empower and Exclude Women?" In this piece, she breaks down how small scale irrigation can be gendered in its distribution and adoption. Although it is relatively easy to make new technologies more accessible to women farmers, it can often be challenging to ensure equitable utilization as their husbands or fathers are more likely to call the shots in the usage of the tools and women are more likely to be left out of the value chains. 
Read for"Even as men in the community began to use motor pumps and drip irrigation, many of the women we spoke to were still using labor-intensive manual irrigation, including the use of buckets, bowls and their hands to distribute water." 




  • An Unsavory Exit

Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, outgoing President of Liberia, has been ousted by her political party, Unity Party. She was voted out of the party for allegedly failing to support Vice President, Joseph Boakai, in his presidential bid and for sabotaging and undermining "the existence of the party". 
Read for“[She] has been accused by party leaders of meddling in last year's presidential elections in which its candidate suffered a bruising defeat."



Nneoma Nwankwo