Last week, the Nigerian police rescued 19 pregnant women and 4 children from "baby factories" in the country's economic capital, Lagos, where the women were held with the purpose of birthing children for sale.
After months of a bloody revolution, which saw the ousting of despot Omar Al-Bashir, Sudan's new dawn might finally be on the horizon. With the signing of the power-sharing deal by both the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the Forces of Freedom and Change (a coalition which represents civilian groups), Sudan is finally back on track to the restoration of a democratically-elected government.
In a classic case of 'quis custodiet ipsos custodes', the Public Protector of South Africa, Busisiwe Mkhwebane, has been accused of lying under oath and acting in bad faith during an investigation of a bank bailout. After the Supreme Court of South Africa ruled that Ms Mkhwebane lied under oath, the nation's Public Servants Association openly declared her 'hypocritical' and demanded that her office be investigated.
In a spectacular gaffe in the official policy note regarding trafficking of women from Nigeria, the UK Home Officenoted that victims of sex trafficking could return to Nigeria “wealthy from prostitution” and “held in high regard”. The comments were met with outrage from human rights advocates, MPs, and the public alike – rightly concerned that the remarks oversimplify the complexity of human trafficking and could be used as rationale to refuse asylum to victims of trafficking.
...because if you are in Tanzania, the government is coming for it. Last week during a budget speechto parliament, Tanzanian Finance Minister, Philip Mpango, announced a 25% tax on imported wigs and extensions and a 10% levy on those made locally, in a bid to promote government revenue.
On May 25, South Africa's sixth democratically-elected President, Cyril Ramaphosa, was sworn into office. In a history-making move, President Ramaphosa subsequently appointed South Africa's first-ever gender balanced cabinet.
April 7 2019 marked 25 years since the start of the Rwandan genocide against the Tutsis, which heartbreakingly lasted from April 7 - July 15 1994. Kwibuka25 (Kwibuka means "To Remember" in Kinyarwanda) commemorates and honors the victims of the genocide and resolves that such an atrocity will never happen again.
Undoubtedly, all of Sudan is tired of President Omar Al-Bashir's tyrannical and corrupt administration - but as is said, women are almost always the most tired of all. And today, Sudanese women are sick and tired of being sick and tired.
Last week, popular South African singer, Babes Wodumo was speaking to fans on Instagram Live when she was suddenly physically attacked by her boyfriend, Mampintsha, who is also a South African musician. Instagram Live allows users to stream videos in real time to their followers, so Babes’ fans watched her harrowing assault as it happened.
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.
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.
Rwanda and South Sudanhave recently imposed official country-wide bans on skin bleaching products. Beyond the damaging social impact of making users appear whiter, skin bleach contains mercury and hydroquinone - dangerous chemicals which have been linked to kidney failure and cancer.
A stunning article in the New York Times reveals women's willingness and ability to exert more control over their lives and marriages, demonstrated by higher rates of divorce in the more conservative parts of West Africa. Unlike previous generations, younger women in Niger and Northern Nigeria who were often married off earlier in life are taking back their lives by seeking divorces in sidewalk Islamic courts.
In a classic case of having nothing better to do, the Egyptian government is prosecuting actress Rania Youssef for wearing a see-through dress at a film festival in Cairo. The dress in question is considered 'obscene' as its embroidered material reveals the entirety of her legs.
In Narok County (southwest Kenya), schoolgirls will be subject to pregnancy and female genital mutilation (FGM) tests once the school term resumes in January. Despite the outlawing of FGM, Narok still has the highest rates of the awful practice in Kenya. George Natembeya, the Narok County Commissioner, intends for the FGM tests to be used to crack down on the practice, promising to arrest and prosecute the parents of girls who have been found to be cut.
In 2008, a young American woman, Katie Meyler started a charity named “More Than Me” intended to help ‘street’ girls in Liberia gain education. She partnered with a Liberian man, Macintosh Johnson, to recruit young girls to the school from Monrovia’s infamous West Point neighborhood and to essentially serve as the “man on the ground” in liaising with locals. This is a horrendous story of the darkest side of aid and one that reveals just how easy and unchecked it often is to harm the most vulnerable among us.
Netflix has acquired world-wide rights to Lionheart, comedy-drama movie directed by Nigerian actress and superstar, Genevieve Nnaji. Lionheart debuted at 2018 Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF) earlier this month, and is the first Netflix original movie out of Nollywood.
When Boko Haram sends young girls out on suicide missions, they ensure that these girls are beautifully made up: henna adorning their hands and feet, make up applied to their faces and hair often straightened – before bombs are attached to their waists.
In a community where women are discouraged from playing football (soccer) due to conservative beliefs, these women formed their own club leagues and six women’s teams compete against each other and are a source of camaraderie and fortitude for one another.
After leading Mauritius for almost 3 years, President Ameenah Gurib-Fakim is embroiled in an expenses scandal and has expressed through lawyers that she will step down. President Ameenah is the only current female Head of State in Africa and Mauritius' first female president - so this is quite the blow.
Last week, Boko Haram abducted schoolgirls from their boarding school at the Government Girls Science and Technical School in Dapchi (Yobe State, Northeastern Nigeria). In this painful deja vu, reminiscent of the 2014 attack in Chibok which spurred the international #BringBackOurGirls movement, it is clear that the Nigerian government is yet to defeat Boko Haram.
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).
Last week (Oct 11) saw the 2017 International Day of the Girl Child, which aims to celebrate girls, raise awareness about issues uniquely facing girls, and to inspire us all to create a world where every girl (no matter where she's from) has agency and equal opportunity.
This past week, I have been thinking a lot about appreciating when progress has been made versus acknowledging that the strides taken are still not good enough. While not within Empower46's scope of covering news on women in Africa, Saudi Arabia's lift on its ban on female drivers is significant enough to be noted here.