#027: State of Emergency

  • State of Emergency   

Feb 20 Empower46 newsletter - as shared on @empower46 Instagram account

Feb 20 Empower46 newsletter - as shared on @empower46 Instagram account

President Bio of Sierra Leone has declared rape and sexual violence a national emergency. He also directed that all government hospitals must provide free treatment to victims of sexual assault and ordered that sexual penetration of minors is henceforth punishable by life imprisonment.

President Bio's directives are highly laudable, particularly in a country where reports of sexual violence have nearly doubled year-on-year to over 8,500 cases last year (a third of which involved a minor). However, effective execution is the most important -and always more difficult- step. Although the President announced that a national emergency hotline will be set up and requested that the Chief Judge creating a special division for courts to efficiently hear cases concerning sexual violence, there is no clarity on how these will be funded or maintained. Additionally, while the executive order allows the President to make unilateral legal changes, law associations are calling on him to make constitutional amendments to ensure these changes outlast his presidency. 

Read for:“The president has spoken. When he said this is the way we are going, there is nobody in this country that can reverse that. Not possible."


  • Curvy Attractions

Uganda's Minister of Tourism, Godfrey Kiwanda, announced plans to list "curvy and sexy women" to official literature on Uganda's tourist attractions and has officially organized the "Miss Curvy" pageant (to be held in June) as part of Uganda's tourism plan to further grow the sector.

Although this has mostly sparked outrage, proponents defend it as a "promotion of the beauty in diversity" and argue that it is no different from other common beauty pageants. This, of course, ignores the fact that women (unlike perhaps safaris and waterfalls) do not exist as any form of a tourist attraction. Uganda's Minister of Ethics & Integrity has strongly condemned the pageant, noting that it will only serve to demean women and that "it must not hold".

Read for:  "In a country where women are grabbed by men while walking on the streets, they have legalized it by making them tourist attractions. It is not fair. They are objectifying us and reducing women to nothing."


  • The Mourchidas of Morocco 

Across mosques in Morocco,Mourchida(s) - women highly educated in Islamic law- are leading the charge in promoting and defending women's rights in line with the Quran. 

The Mourchidat program was created by King Mohammed VIto counter extremism at a time when terrorist attacks were rising in Morocco, a country which prides itself on moderate Islam. The goal was to train spiritual guides who would promote a peaceful and tolerant interpretation of the national faith and its inception coincided with the rise of women's rights in the country. Written by Lisa Abend for Elle UK, this intriguing article highlights the role of Mourchidas in society, the academic rigor required to join the program, and the women they care for on a daily basis.

Read for:  "'What I like is to help women be free.'"


  • Botswana's Democratic Party Feud 

It looks like Botswana's General elections, slated for October 2019, are getting spicy -andDr Pelonomi Venson-Moitoi(sometimes referred to as Mma V) is playing big.

A quick rundown: Bostwana has a solid reputation as a politically stable country, however, recent feuds between the current President Masisi and his predecessor, Ian Khama are beginning to prove worrisome. Additionally, Dr Venson-Moitoi announced her intention to run for party president of the Botswana Democratic Party. After this announcement, she was swiftly dismissed from President Masisi's cabinet and he accused her of being a pawn of former President Khama, i.e. only running for the party presidency as a form of distraction. Mr Khama, on his part, has denied all allegations of plotting against President Masisi and emphasized that running for the party presidency is Mma V's democratic right.

The absolute drama!

Read for:  "'She has been sent by someone to stand against me. She is not the real contender for the presidency. She should stand aside and let me face the real contender."

You Should Know


Business Roll Call

Maria Ramos (South Africa) will be stepping down from her role as CEO of Absa Group Limited, South Africa's third largest bank
Arunma Oteh (Nigeria) has been appointed to the Board of Directors of Ecobank Transnational Incorporated, the parent company of Ecobank Group
Khady Dior (Senegal), former head of Citigroup Côte d'Ivoire has moved to Kosmos Energy as Director General & Vice President

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Nneoma Nwankwo