#026: What To Expect When You're Expecting

Good morning,

I am freshly back from beautiful Senegal, where a wave of change is gently flowing. With women's rights platforms like Doyna and Nopiwouma taking centre stage, the voices against gender-based violence and sexual assault are getting louder and louder. I visited Le Musée de la Femme Henriette Bathily to view the powerful exhibition, "T'etais habillée comment?" (meaning: 'What were you wearing?'). The exhibition displays clothing that victims of rape had on when they were attacked, proving yet again that what the victim was wearing plays no meaningful part in the discourse around rape.

I am really enthralled by some of the amazing women contributing to changing the narrative in Senegal; much more to come on them in Empower46 Feb/March Glance Series. Watch this space.

More below,


  • What To Expect When You're Expecting   

For many pregnant women in Kenya, ensuring healthy births of their babies entails paying bribes to doctors and nurses for priority treatment in public hospitals. Due to the long queues in public hospitals and highly overworked yet underpaid staff, expectant mothers often experience prolonged labor, poor care, and in the worst cases, still-births.

It is noteworthy that in 2013, Kenya established free maternity services in government-run services; however public goodwill is nothing without infrastructure. In 2017, Kenya's maternal mortality rate was 400 in every 100,000 births. The Kenyan government is seeking to improve maternity services by better investing in hospital staff and shutting down hospitals found negligent or corrupt.

Read for:  “'Yes we have received reports of women paying money when they are not supposed to just to give life...We have as a result canceled the licenses of some doctors, about 46 of them.'"



  • Unmarried Women In Nigeria Face Difficulty Renting

A compelling and rather upsetting article from Stears Business dives into the difficulty unmarried Nigerian women often face in the property market. For many landlords (who quite literally tend to be men), the capacity of a single woman to afford rent and live on her own implies that she is likely a sex worker or "a woman of easy virtue".

When a woman puts in an application to rent and live alone, she is often asked for male presence (e.g. father or husband) even when she shows proof of ability to pay the deposit and rent with her own funds. 

This is one of the seemingly small but egregious ways that patriarchy deeply affects even those who are privileged enough to sometimes feel less impacted by it. As an unmarried Nigerian woman who (joyously) lives alone - albeit in the West - this one really struck a nerve. 

Read for:  "'This rent issue is a reflection of how Nigerian society views single women, a remnant of the idea that a woman has to be married or under her parents to be seen as decent'".


South African Institute of International Affairs: Women and The Energy Chain 
Human Rights Watch: Giving Girls A Future 
Overseas Development InstituteGender and the Gig Economy: Critical Steps for Evidence-Based Policy

  • Kill 'Em With Laughter 

Nasra Yusuf is hilarious.

As the only well-known female Somali comedian in Kenya, Nasra uses jokes to contribute in changing the (growing) negative perception of Somali immigrants in Kenya, particularly given the recent spate of terrorist attacks by Al-Shabab. Using jokes to confront the stereotypes against Somalis, she is determined to demystify Somali culture, prove that gender is no challenge in comedy, and simply make people laugh.

Click below for some of her material; the crowd went wild!

 Click for:  "'People have a negative mentality towards Somalis. There is an assumption that Somalis are dangerous...and it's true. We can be dangerous."



  • A Pearl for Netflix 

 Quantico actress and South African darling, Pearl Thusi, is set to star in Netflix's upcoming show, Queen Sono, which will be the provider's first African original series. 

Set to launch this year, the show will be centered on a secret agent who solves crimes while dealing with issues in her own personal life. By ordering and streaming original African content (like Genevieve Nnaji's Lionheart which launched on Netflix in 2018), Netflix is ensuring its behemoth brand enters and secures a solid place in the African market.

 Read for:  "'It is going to change the game for every artist on this continent...We've worked so hard for this'"


Nneoma Nwankwo