Category Archives: Capacity Building

Change MustBe Accelerated to End Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in One Generation

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Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) involves the partial or total removal of the female genitalia. It is an extreme and violent form of discrimination and violates the rights of women and girls to equality, bodily integrity and dignity.
As we mark the International Day of Zero Tolerance to FGM, we are at a critical window of opportunity – a ‘tipping point’ where momentum is growing and change can be accelerated. FGM is now prohibited to varying degrees in 20 out of 29 of the countries in Africa and the Middle East where it is most prevalent, although full implementation of the law continues to be a challenge.

Over the last 12 months, the campaign against FGM has received renewed support from different actors committed to ending the practice. According to UNICEF, Kenya has led the way with falls in prevalence from middle-aged women to adolescent girls from 49% to 15%, albeit with an increase in the percentage of FGM performed by health personnel.
2014also saw a significant increase in theprosecution of FGM cases globally and verdicts in a few countries.In Kenya,efforts are in full gear to enforce the Children’s Act as well as the Prohibition of FGM Act. The creation of anFGM and Early Marriage Prosecutorial Unit inthe Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the establishment of the Anti-FGM Board has resulted in an increase in the number of cases being reported to the police.
Meanwhile, Tarime in Tanzania witnessedthe first FGM prosecution in a community that has been reluctant to change. The UK has also had its first ever case of FGM since the passage of its anti-FGM law in 1985. In Egypt in 2014, the Attorney General filed that country’s first case of FGM since a law was passed banning FGM in 2008. 13-year-old Soheir al-Batea died after a doctor performed FGM on her at the behest of her father. On January 26, the doctor was sentenced to two years in jail for manslaughter and three months for performing FGM. Soheir’s father received a three month suspended sentence. The doctor’s clinic was also closed for one year. This first ever FGM trial in Egypt is hugely important in a country which has the highest number of affected women and girls in the world. In a country where more than 75% of FGM cases are performed by medical practitioners, it is also extremely significant that a medical professional was sentenced.
The narrative on FGM found new platforms too. Key players in sparking media interest were two campaigns – The Girl Generation: Together to End FGM and The Guardian’s Global Media Campaign to End FGM. The Guardian’s campaign recognizes the critical role of the media in ending FGM and seeks to provide incentives to keep the issue on top of the media agenda. An international reporting award, named after the late Efua Dorkenoo,will be granted annually to an African reporterwho has demonstrated innovation and commitment in covering FGM.

However, many challenges remain too in addressing FGM around the world. Many countries with high rates of FGM still do not have laws banning FGM.Without laws, women and girls have no way to seek redress and states send the message that they condone the practice. Those that have laws in place are yet to fully enforce them.
In Kenya, Equality Now has been monitoring three cases of girls who died following complications related to the practice in Kajiado, Oloitoktok and Pokot. Two of the girls were pregnant and forced to undergo FGM to hasten their passage into womanhood after delivery. The possibility that there could have been more cases that were not reported cannot be ruled out either.

The theme of this Year’s Zero Tolerance Day – the involvement and mobilization of health personnel to end FGM could not be more apt. It is urgently required. The fact that health personnel sometimes fail in their duty of care and perform FGM,undermines decades of hard work and is a violation of medical ethical obligations to protect health and “do no harm.”
Resistance to FGM laws has also hampered efforts to eliminate this human rights violation.For example, in June 2014, a section of Maasai women in Kenya took to the streets demanding that the government permit them to practice their supposed ‘tradition’. In December 2014, in Kuria and Narok Counties, local chiefs and activists who had set out to save girls from undergoing the practice were attacked. In Tanzania, girls who had escaped FGM and sought refuge in a rescue centre were forced to undergo the practice when they returned to their families.
If we are to truly end FGM in one generation, a joined-up comprehensive approach works best. This includes prevention, protection, provision of services, partnerships and prosecutions where required. States must live up to their international obligations and protect women and girls, as well as provide support services for girls at risk or women who have undergone FGM.

Members of the medical profession should take a leading role in eliminating the practice by refusing to perform FGM, educating communities about the harmful consequences of FGM and providing care where needed.


Mary Wandia

FGM Program Manager

Equality Now
mwandia@equalitynow.org: Cell: +254 733 860036

UNCCD short writting-contest 2015

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Theme: Land nurturing people nurturing life

The UNCCD is pleased to announce its first Short Writing Contest. The theme is ‘Land nurturing people nurturing life
  • How would you express your relationship with land in a poem?
  • ​What does land mean to you?
  • Do you know any proverb about land in your country? Is it still relevant in your today’s life?
We welcome all literary expressions and styles, from a very short Haiku-style to a short story of up to 500 words. Entries must be written in English.
There are two categories:
(1) University Students and General Public
(2) Children and Youth in High-School and Below.
The winner of the first category will receive US$500, the second US$300.
Please note that all shortlisted entries will be checked for plagiarism. Plagiarized works will be disqualified from the competition.
Deadline for receiving the application is 15 May 2015.
Please fill in the form which is available on this page, and send it either by:
E-mail: Library@unccd.int
Fax: +49 228 815 2898
Postal mail: UNCCD Library, UN Campus, PO Box 260129, 53153 Bonn, Germany
The winner will be announced on the UNCCD website on 17 June 2015, the World Day to Combat Desertification.

Implement #MaputoProtocol NOW!

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The Protocol to the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa (better known as the Maputo Protocol) is one of the world’s most comprehensive women’s human rights instruments, with progressive provisions aimed at addressing the current realities of girls and women across the African continent including addressing harmful traditional practices, economic empowerment, ending violence against women and food security. The theme of the AU Summit this year; “Year of Women’s Empowerment and Development towards Africa’s Agenda 2063” provides a unique opportunity to accelerate commitments towards the Maputo Protocol.
The Maputo Protocol currently has 36 ratifications.

“Realization of #TheAfricaWeWant through #Agenda2063 starts with implementation of the #MaputoProtocol. Implement Now! http://thndr.it/183gcJe”
Support SOAWR in sharing this message here;
https://www.thunderclap.it/projects/21509-implement-maputoprotocol-now?locale=en

Faiza on SOAWR & the #MaputoProtocol

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Faiza

As SOAWR, the Solidarity for African Women’s Rights Coalition celebrates 10 years of its existence and its efforts to continuously breathe life into
the Maputo Protocol, one of the most progressive instruments on women’s rights globally, we caught up with one of the founders; Faiza Mohamed, Nairobi Director of Equality Now, where the Secretariat of the SOAWR Coalition lies.

1.  Why SOAWR? Why was it necessary at that point and has it lived up to its objectives?

The collective organizing and lobbying of African women to ensure adoption of a stronger Protocol inspired us that we should continue to make it a reality for women and that it will not be reduced to being powerless and on paper only. So, SOAWR was born in Sept 2004 to advocate for ratification and speedy entry into force of the Protocol so it becomes binding on state parties, to popularized throughout the continent and to push for its implementation. This means we wanted state parties to take actions to ensure the rights provided therein are enjoyed by women.It is work in progress but I believe we have covered great ground. Protocol is widely known in the majority of countries in African Union, 36 countries are state parties and we know more are going to join this list soon, in several countries lawyers are now using the Protocol in court to get justice for women whose rights were violated, Several countries have also adopted multisectoral approach to ensure all sectors of government are working together in fulfilling their obligations under the Protocol, and so on…

2. 10 years down the line, what have been some of the milestones? Your personal favorite moments?

When on 25th October 2005 Togo (the 15th member state to do so) deposited its instrument of ratification and paved the way for its entry into force on 25th November 2005.
When we issued score cards and the Delegation of Senegal made a statement at the summit claiming they should be given a green card as they ratified the Protocol. The African Union was not aware since Senegal had not deposited. Amazingly as the delegation promised the President brought their instrument of ratification to that summit (Jan 2005). This further influenced more countries to deposit their instruments of ratification which is why by October 2005 we had the required 15 ratifications for the Protocol to enter into force.

3. Moving forward, what do you envision, for the coalition and the realization of the Protocol?

The coalition has really done a lot and we should all be proud of our achievements to-date. However, we can’t rest until we reach a point where women are enjoying their rights to the fullest. The continent is big but with our collective energy we can move mountains. The coalition’s vision is still relevant and we have a lot of lessons to build on and a great deal of opportunities to take advantage of. This is the year of African women’s empowerment. That itself is a wonderful opportunity!

 

FREE ONLINE GENDER AND GOVERNANCE COURSE

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free web-based course by Gender Hub provides participants with a general grounding in the current concepts of governance from a gender perspective, and offers some examples and resources for applying these within key governance institutions, with a focus on governments, and in particular Nigeria.

The course has been designed for a broad range of people, including: gender focal points within ministries, departments and agencies (MDAs), gender leads in Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs), and those working in new and traditional media roles. However, anyone interested in understanding the challenges relating to gender and governance, such as non-gender specialist policy advisers, academics and students would also benefit.

Although the course is intended to be most useful for people in Nigeria, it could be valuable for people from any region. The course is short, self-paced, and facilitated, and completion is marked by a certificate award issued jointly by BRIDGE, the Institute of Development Studies (IDS), UK, and Gender Hub.

Application deadline: Jan 29th

Course runs: Feb 2nd to Mar 2nd

Cost: Free

Requirements: Access to computer, the internet, an email address, and a modern browser (e.g. Firefox, Chrome, etc)

Link to registration page, and further details: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/gender-sensitive-governance-what-does-it-look-like-and-how-can-we-work-towards-it-registration-14907917984

Brazil: Dilma Rousseff re-elected President

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source: The News

Leftist incumbent Dilma Rousseff was re-elected president of Brazil on Sunday, the country’s Supreme Electoral Tribunal said, after a down-to-the-wire race against center-right challenger Aecio Neves.

Rousseff, the first woman president of the world’s seventh-largest economy, took 51.64 percent of the vote to 48.36 percent for business favorite Aecio Neves, election officials said with more than 99 percent of ballots counted.

After a vitriolic campaign that largely split the country between the poor north and wealthier south, Rousseff crucially picked up enough middle-class votes in the industrialized southeast to cement a fourth straight win for her Workers’ Party (PT).

The 66-year-old, a former leftist guerrilla who was jailed and tortured for fighting the 1964-1985 dictatorship, called for unity. And she promised dialogue to give Brazil the changes she said that she knows voters want.

“This president is open to dialogue. This is the top priority of my second term,” she told supporters in the capital Brasilia, clad in white beside two-term predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva.

After four years of sluggish economic growth culminating in recession this year, she admitted her own report card had to improve and vowed to combat corruption.

“I want to be a much better president than I have been to date,” she said, issuing “a call for peace and unity” after a bitter campaign of low blows and mutual recriminations.

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#Raising Awareness to Reduce the Burden of Mental Health Issues on Youth

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By Bethseba Akoyo

The United Nation’s International Youth Day is celebrated on August 12th every year to acknowledge the efforts of the youth in society and foster an understanding of issues affecting the youth. This year’s theme of the International Youth Day is “Youth and Mental Health” under the motto “Mental Health Awareness”. The United Nations describes youth as individuals between the ages of 15 to 24; this description is different from some nations who view the youth as those aged between 15 years to 29 or 35 years. Regardless of the definition, youth are individuals who are in an age of transition between childhood to adulthood. During this transition, there are many significant decisions they have to make since they are faced with dilemmas that will shape their future. This age thus calls for a state of mental health and support which allows the youth to make better decisions about their wellness and that of the world at large. Mental health is a subject that gravely affects the youth as youth with mental health conditions experience a lot of discrimination. Currently, 20% of the world’s youth have a mental condition. Severe mental illnesses often begin before the age of 24 and they are characterized by psychiatric disorders which render the youth unable to make important decisions about their lives. Most of them even fall prey to suicide, which is ranked the third cause of death among youths in the globe. The common mental disorders that affect our youth are anxiety disorders, attention deficit, behavior disorders, eating disorders, schizophrenia and substance abuse. These disorders may however vary depending on the environment of an individual. The disorders are overarching affecting their general health, performance in school and work and their social lives.

There is need to protect the youth from mental disorders by giving them access to effective and modern mental health services that will not only give them the capability to better their present lives but also empower them to take charge of the future and use their ideas and talents to contribute to the development of the global society. Youth with mental health conditions should be empowered so that they can feel secure in society. The youth are our tomorrow’s leaders, activists, feminists and innovators. Investing in their mental health implies that we are investing in the future and securing a better life for future generations. We should foster mental health among youth with mental health problems through supporting their ideas and providing a platform through which they can express these ideas without intimidation. The youth also require access to comprehensive education that educates them how to solve problems facing them such as hunger and poverty, conflict and unemployment. As we observe this year’s Youth International Day, let us also keep in mind that youth with mental health conditions form a significant part of society; respecting and advocating for their rights forms a strong background from which they can rise up and take part in the development of society.

We cannot always build the future for our youth, but we can build our youth for the future – Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Bethseba Akoyo is an Intern at the African Women’s Development and Communication Network (FEMNET). You can connect with her on twitter @bethbelle and email bethakoyo@gmail.com