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Merck Foundation partners with Burundi First Lady to build healthcare capacity, empower girls in education and break the infertility stigma
October 22, 2020 | 0 Comments
Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation & President, Merck More Than a Mother during her meeting with H.E. Madam ANGELINE NDAYISHIMIYE, The First Lady of Burundi and Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother
Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation & President, Merck More Than a Mother during her meeting with H.E. Madam ANGELINE NDAYISHIMIYE, The First Lady of Burundi and Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother

The First Lady of Burundi was also appointed as the Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother during the meeting.

Merck Foundation , the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany partnered with The First Lady of Burundi, H.E. Madam ANGELINE NDAYISHIMIYE, during a high-level meeting held between Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and Burundi First Lady. During the meeting, Merck Foundation underscored their long-term commitment to continue their efforts to build healthcare capacity, empower girls in education and break the infertility stigma in Burundi. The First Lady of Burundi was also appointed as the Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother during the meeting.

H.E. Madam ANGELINE NDAYISHIMIYE, The First Lady of Burundi and Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother expressed, “I am very happy to partner with Merck Foundation and excited to capitalize on their valuable programs in our country. These programs will create a very significant impact on our people’s advancement, as health is very critical to our social and economic development. As the Ambassador of Merck More than a Mother, I will work closely with Merck Foundation to sensitize our communities to better understand infertility and empower women through access to education, information, health and change of mindset and also empower our girls through education”.

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and President, Merck More Than a Mother emphasized, “I am very proud of our partnership with Burundi First Lady and welcome her as the Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother and new member of Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative-MFFLI . We have discussed our long-term collaboration and partnership with her Foundation and Ministry of Health & Ministry of Education to build healthcare capacity in Burundi, by providing training to doctors in the fields of Cancer, Fertility, and Diabetes care. With the outbreak of the global pandemic, building healthcare capacity is more significant than ever, and through our long-term partnership we are looking forward to creating a strong medical army in Burundi.

The Burundi First Lady had also attended Merck Foundation’s first Merck Foundation First Ladies Initiative (MFFLI) VC Summit held last month, which was attended by a total of 13 African First Ladies and introduced her development programs in Burundi”.

Merck Foundation has conducted their capacity building programs in Burundi for the past three years through their partnership with Burundi government and Former First Lady of Burundi, H.E. MADAM DENISE NKURUNZIZA 

Merck Foundation has provided specialty training to more than 31 doctors from Burundi and will continue doing so for the next 10 years plan.

Merck Foundation made history by providing training to the first oncologist and fertility specialists and embryologists in Burundi.

So far 10 doctors have completed the fertility and embryology training, and together with Burundi First Lady, more doctors will be trained to improve access to quality and equitable fertility care in the country.

Merck Foundation has also trained the first Oncologist in Burundi and will continue enrolling doctors for oncology fellowship program as a contribution to improve cancer care in the country.

Moreover, Merck Foundation has provided Diabetes care training to twenty doctors and is going to train more doctors, one from each province. After completion of the training, these doctors should be able to establish a diabetes clinic in his/her Health Centre or Hospital with the aim to help prevent and manage the disease in their respective communities.  

“We will continue our new important Program “Educating Linda”, in partnership with the First Lady of Burundi together with the Ministry of Education. Under this program, we have sponsored 20 girls in 2019 and will sponsor the education of 20 best performing girls in their secondary schools this year and fir the next 10 years. We strongly believe that Education is one of the most critical areas of women empowerment”, added Dr. Rasha Kelej, One of 100 Most Influential Africans (2019, 2020).

Merck Foundation also announced a winner from Burundi for their “Stay at Home” Media Recognition Awards from French speaking African Countries.

About ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ campaign:
“Merck More Than a Mother” is a strong movement that aims to empower infertile women through access to information, education and change of mind-sets. This powerful campaign supports governments in defining policies to enhance access to regulated, safe, effective and equitable fertility care solutions. It defines interventions to break the stigma around infertile women and raises awareness about infertility prevention, management and male infertility. In partnership with African First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Information, Education & Gender, academia, policymakers, International fertility societies, media and art, the initiative also provides training for fertility specialists and embryologists to build and advance fertility care capacity in Africa and developing countries.

With “Merck More Than a Mother”, we have initiated a cultural shift to de-stigmatize infertility at all levels: By improving awareness, training local experts in the fields of fertility care and media, building advocacy in cooperation with African First Ladies and women leaders and by supporting childless women in starting their own small businesses. It’s all about giving every woman the respect and the help she deserves to live a fulfilling life, with or without a child.

The Ambassadors of “Merck More Than a Mother” are:
H.E. NEO JANE MASISI, The First Lady of Botswana
H.E. FATOUMATTA BAH-BARROW, The First Lady of The Gambia
H.E. MONICA GEINGOS, The First Lady of Namibia
H.E. ANGELINE NDAYISHIMIYE,

The First Lady of Burundi
H.E. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of Ghana
H.E AÏSSATA ISSOUFOU MAHAMADOU, The First Lady of Niger
H.E. BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central African Republic
H.E. CONDÉ DJENE, The First Lady of Guinea Conakry
H.E. AISHA BUHARI, The First Lady of Nigeria
H.E. HINDA DEBY ITNO, The First Lady of Chad
H.E. CLAR WEAH, The First Lady of Liberia
H.E FATIMA MAADA BIO, The First Lady of Sierra Leone
H.E. ANTOINETTE SASSOU-NGUESSO, The First Lady of Congo Brazzaville
H.E. MONICA CHAKWERA, The First Lady of Malawi
H.E. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of Zambia
H.E. DENISE NYAKERU TSHISEKEDI, THE First Lady of Democratic Republic of Congo
H.E. ISAURA FERRÃO NYUSI, The First Lady of Mozambique
H.E. AUXILLIA MNANGAGWA, The First Lady of Zimbabwe
 
Merck Foundation launched new innovative initiatives to sensitize local communities about infertility prevention, male infertility with the aim to break the stigma of infertility and empowering infertile women as part of Merck More than a Mother COMMUNITY AWARENESS CAMPAIGN, such as;
‘Merck More than a Mother’ Media Recognition Awards and Health Media Training
‘Merck More than a Mother’ Fashion Awards
‘Merck More than a Mother’ Film Awards
Local songs with local artists to address the cultural perception of infertility and how to change it
Children storybook, localized for each country
About Merck Foundation:
The Merck Foundation , established in 2017, is the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany, aims to improve the health and wellbeing of people and advance their lives through science and technology. Our efforts are primarily focused on improving access to quality & equitable healthcare solutions in underserved communities, building healthcare and scientific research capacity and empowering people in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) with a special focus on women and youth. All Merck Foundation press releases are distributed by e-mail at the same time they become available on the Merck Foundation

*SOURCE Merck Foundation
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Report: Violence against women costs Lesotho economy $113 million annually
September 30, 2020 | 0 Comments

Commonwealth report has revealed violence against women and girls costs Lesotho more than $113 million (about 1.9 billion Lesotho loti) a year.

The report estimates the total cost, including loss of income and expenses associated with medical, legal and police support, equates to around 5.5 per cent of Lesotho’s gross domestic product (GDP). The cost of $113 million means each Lesotho citizen loses at least $50 every year to violence against women and girls.

The cost of $113 million means each Lesotho citizen loses at least $50 every year to violence against women and girls.

The bulk – $45 million – is attributed to legal protection, healthcare, social services and learning loss. This is more than twice the amount – $21 million – Lesotho spent on health, education and energy in the last fiscal year.

The report sets out policy recommendations for the health, education, legal and private sectors to better meet the needs of victims, which include: 

  • Updating the forms used for collecting data on violence against women and girls;
  • Using digital services to collect and share the data with stakeholders;
  • Training staff responsible for recording, analysing and sharing data;
  • Developing a broad approach involving all sectors to prevent the abuse; and
  • Making strategic shifts to allocate resources to carry out these recommendations.

Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland said: “This report proves once again that ending violence against woman and girls is not only the right thing to do but it is also the smart thing to do and beneficial to us all.

“Tackling this issue will prevent immense pain and suffering for individuals and communities and will also end the damage this violence does to our economies and prosperity.

“As the first report of its kind to focus on Lesotho in this way, our intention is that it should provide the basis for designing more clearly focussed national policies and programmes, and help ensure that adequate resources are allocated for priorities such as training service providers.

“The findings put a price tag on the endemic scourge of gender-based violence, and demonstrate that the consequences of ignoring the problem are far higher than the cost of taking preventative and remedial action.

“By providing the baseline for a series of periodic costing studies and practical intervention, we hope the report will help pave the way towards significant progress on eliminating violence against women and girls, thereby saving many lives.”

The loss of income for women who experience violence due to missed days of work and lost productivity comes to $22 million annually. Income losses result in less spending which triggers a negative impact on commodity demand and supply of goods and services.

Lesotho’s Minister of Gender and Youth, Sport and Recreation Mahali Phamotse said: “Violence against women and girls is a problem in Lesotho which affects national development.

“The report will help Lesotho come up with appropriate strategies that will help eradicate violence against women and girls as we are now aware of its causes and economic implications.

“The report calls for immediate action through which my ministry will embark on a project to ensure the protection of women and girls.”

In Lesotho, about one in three women experience sexual or physical violence in their lifetime, similar to the global prevalence rate. 

The Commonwealth worked with Lesotho’s Ministry of Gender and Youth, Sport and Recreation to conduct the study and produce this report.

This is the second country report completed by the Commonwealth. The first was produced for Seychelles in 2018.

Read: The Economic Cost of Violence Against Women and Girls: A Study of Lesotho

*Commonwealth

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Centurion Law Group’s Oneyka Cindy Ojogbo receives African Legal Awards’ Private Practice Rising Star award
September 24, 2020 | 0 Comments
Oneyka Cindy Ojogbo
Oneyka Cindy Ojogbo
Presented by Legal Week, the annual ceremony aims to celebrate Africa’s legal talent and recognize the legal community’s achievements each year.

South Africa, September 24, 2020/ — Centurion Law Group (Centurion) was also nominated in the categories International Law Firm of the Year and In-House Rising Star; Centurion attorneys have previously received awards and been nominated by the African Legal Awards.

Last week Centurion Law Groups (Centurion) Senior Attorney and Business Lead, Oneyka Ojogbo was named the Private Practice Rising Star by the African Legal Awards (ALA) 2020.

Presented by Legal Week, the annual ceremony aims to celebrate Africa’s legal talent and recognize the legal community’s achievements each year through presenting categories such as International Law Firm of the Year, African Law Firm of the Year, General Counsel of the Year and Legal Department of the Year.

“I am honored to be recognized in this category with the other nominees who are by all account heavy hitters. I am grateful for a firm that really allows one discover themselves and grow and for the most supportive team ever; they make all things possible. I can only hope to continue the good work that has brought us this far,” said Ojogbo.

“We are delighted once again to have one of our attorneys be recognized by the ALA, with a prestigious recognition” said NJ Ayuk, CEO of Centurion Law Group. “ While I am not surprised, this is yet another testament to the work Oneyka and her team does on a daily basis, we are extremely proud of Oneyka and I can’t wait to see where she will be in five years,” he added.

Oneyka Ojogbo is a Senior Associate Attorney at Centurion’s Equatorial Guinea, Nigeria and South Africa offices with significant experience in banking, energy, infrastructure and projects financing. She holds an LL.M. from the Columbia Law School and an LL.B. From the University of Ibadan.

View the full list of awards at The African Legal Award here 
About Centurion:
Headquartered in Johannesburg with offices in Equatorial Guinea, Ghana, Cameroon and Mauritius, Centurion is an all-African law firm transforming the way law is done on the continent.

Our internationally trained lawyers (the UK and the US) are renowned for advising governments, foreign investors, local companies, other law firms and the private sector, and are able to draft and negotiate deals in English, Spanish, French and German.

Our team has unrivaled oil and gas expertise across Africa – advising on a number of first-of-a-kind deals in our core jurisdictions and with our affiliate firms in South Sudan, Uganda, Chad, Congo-Brazzaville, Angola, Nigeria, Zambia, Gabon and Senegal.

Ask us about services: info@centurionlg.com
*SOURCE Centurion
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Cameroonian granted humanitarian release from US Immigration after revealing her fallopian tube was forcibly removed in ICE custody
September 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Amos Fofung

Pauline Binam, 30, has been in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody since 2017. Courtesy of the Binam family
Pauline Binam, 30, has been in U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement custody since 2017. Courtesy of the Binam family

Pauline Binam, a Cameroonian lady was almost deported last week by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, ICE if not for the intervention of members of US Congress.

Pauline who has been in the US since when she was 2 years old was on the tarmac when members of Congress say they intervened. Pan African Vision has gathered that she was granted humanitarian release.

“It felt like ICE was trying to rush through her deportation,” said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, a Democrat from Washington state. “I can’t say that for certain, but all of this is extremely troubling.”

Binam, now 30, says she was involuntarily sterilized while held at the privately owned Irwin County Detention Center in Georgia, has been granted humanitarian releaseafter intervention by congress.

Attorney Vân Huynh says Binam’s fallopian tube was removed without her knowledge by the same doctor who is accused of performing forced hysterectomies on several other prisoners, and who is reportedly not a board-certified OB-GYN. Last week, Binam’s deportation was halted at the last minute after pressure from immigration rights advocates and members of Congress.

 

Members of Congress are demanding an investigation into allegations from immigrant women who say they were subjected to medical procedures without their consent while detained at an ICE facility in Georgia. Some women say they underwent hysterectomies or other surgeries that left them sterile.

Jayapal, a member of the House Judiciary Committee, wants Binam in the U.S. so that she can tell her story to investigators. More than 170 U.S. lawmakers have signed a letter calling for an investigation by the Homeland Security inspector general and want investigators to report back on the status of the investigation by next Friday.

According to NPR, ICE denies any link between her allegations and her scheduled deportation saying she was pulled off the plane because of a paperwork snafu with the Cameroonian government — not because of congressional intervention.

In a statement, ICE says that all female detainees receive routine gynecological care and that “a medical procedure like a hysterectomy would never be performed” without informed consent.

Binam’s lawyer, Vân Huynh, says her client sought treatment for an irregular menstrual cycle and thought she was getting a routine procedure known as dilation and curettage to remove tissue from her uterus last year.

“When she woke up from the surgery, the doctor informed her that they had to remove one of her fallopian tubes,” says Huynh, with the non-profit Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, which also helped prepare the whistleblower complaint.

“Of course, Pauline was very upset and sort of appalled that this had happened without her consent,” Huynh says.

The long-term medical implications are not clear, but that the procedure could prevent Binam from conceiving a child, Huynh says.

“Detention itself takes so much away from a person’s life,” Huynh says. “And then for her to have gone through this experience while she was in immigration detention just robs her of so much more than her time.”

Huynh says Binam complained to the staff at the detention center, but those complaints went nowhere. Binam is one of a growing number of over 17 immigrant women complaining about care they received while they were held at the privately-operated Irwin County Detention Center in Ocilla, Georgia.

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Gambia:Banjul Mayoress Shortlisted to Contest for Presidency of Mayors of Africa Capital Cities
September 22, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Banjuk Mayor Rohey Lowe-Saidykhan
Banjul Mayor Rohey Lowe-Saidykhan

The Mayor of Banjul, Rohey Lowe-Saidykhan has been shortlisted to contest the presidency of mayors of 54 Africa capital cities. 

She will contest the prestigious position against three others, Muhamed Sidiq of Rabat Morocco, Madam El Wardani of Dakar, Senegal and Juliana Kaduya of Lilongwe, Malawi. The election will be held in three week’s time.

A preamble announcing the nominations said the nomination of the Banjul mayor by ULCD to contest the presidency is based on the trend of development that has been delivered to the citizens of Banjul barely two years after her election as the first female mayor in Gambia’s history.

The person elected to the presidency of the African Capital Cities Sustainability Forum (ACCSF) will, apart from being the main promoter of the ACCSF to institutions such as AU and during summit or conference if elected, will be in charge of the strategic direction and development.

He/she will also represent entire 54 African capital cities mayors and governors of ACCSF.

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Cameroon:Women Groups Call for six month ceasefire in conflict-ridden Anglophone Regions
September 21, 2020 | 0 Comments

In honour of the International Day of Peace, September 21, five women’s organizations in Cameroon have joined their voices to call for a ceasefire in the conflict-ridden Anglophone regions. Below is the statement.

A CEASEFIRE CALL FROM WOMEN

In early 2020, the United Nations characterized the situation in the English-speaking regions of Cameroon as a complex humanitarian emergency with 2.3 million people in need. This is a dramatic increase from 2019’s 160,000 persons in need of humanitarian assistance. Although estimates of persons killed as of 2019 by the UN stood at 3000 people, this number has since risen, and could today even be doubled or tripled. UNHCR estimates over 600,000 people have been internally displaced, and a further 60-70,000 refugees are seeking asylum in neighboring Nigeria. UNICEF estimates that more than 855,000 children are out of school due to the conflict. The situation since has been worsened by the COVID-19 pandemic; an escalation of violent clashes; and continued human rights violations as well as the perpetration of many dehumanizing acts on the civilian population. As such:

-Alarmed by significant human rights abuses committed by both security forces and separatist armed groups in Cameroon—including summary or arbitrary killings, forced disappearances, torture, arbitrary detention, repression of fundamental rights, and violence against women and children, as cited in the Department of State 2019 Country Report on Human Rights Practices for Cameroon;

-Recognising the loss of thousands of human lives, massive destruction of properties, and displacement of persons occasioned by the conflict;

-Considering the damage to livelihoods, disruption of peace and security to the entire Cameroonian nation and most especially within the North West and South West Regions (former British Southern Cameroons), the loss of human dignity, and:

• Four years of no schooling,

• Increased child and maternal mortality,

 • Absence of primary health care,

 • Increased food shortages and other basic necessities;

-Determined to encourage and engage parties to the conflict to arrive at a peaceful and lasting settlement through negotiations;

-Convinced that as women, we bear the brunt of this violent conflict irrespective of our historical background, cultural, linguistic and political affiliation;

-Focusing on the provisions of the United Nations Security Council Resolution UNSCR 1325 on Women, Peace and Security, and basing our call on the AU’s decade of ceasefire in Africa: Silencing the Guns in Africa 2020 as well as the UN Secretary General’s global call for a ceasefire and United Nations Security Council Resolution UNSCR 2532 on cessation of hostilities in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic;

We provide a thoughtful suggestion for stakeholders to engage in a ceasefire and eventual peace negotiations.

We, the women, urge parties to the conflict to:

Ø Respect human life and dignity and protect the population to stop the alarming death toll.

-Cease all hostilities by all armed actors immediately. We expect all parties to announce a cessation of hostilities within the next 30 days.

Ø Sign a written ceasefire agreement by November 2020, with each party clearly stating its commitment to making the process a success.

Ø Agree to a pilot ceasefire for six months, during which the parties improve their technical and security policies, with the contribution of civil society representatives. This agreement whose terms are borne out of a mutual respect for each faction must be binding on all parties with a local/international monitoring committee, composed of at least 50% women peacebuilders and religious women groups, put in place for follow up.

Ø Work toward a peace agreement and negotiation that is inclusive and sincere where all stakeholders, and not only those with political interest, are involved. A gender-balanced, inclusive commission should be set up to make the peace negotiation gender-responsive. Each faction should make provision for female participation of at least 50%, while civil society and other interest groups should also ensure gender balance for effective representation.

Ø Cooperate with all the humanitarian agencies in their efforts to provide relief and assistance to the ailing population.

Ø Form a think tank with members of the government of Cameroon and separatists armed factions as well as civil society to serve as a monitoring taskforce, aligned with other local/international bodies, to ensure all parties respect the ceasefire. Local women peacebuilders and women leaders should be prioritized.

We call on the Government of Cameroon to:

• Contribute to confidence-building among the parties to the conflict by releasing all arrested in relation to the armed conflict;

• Agree to a 6-month ceasefire to allow for political space to discuss these points with separatist groups and representatives of Anglophone civil society;

• Speed up an inclusive and sincere peace negotiation to address the root causes of the conflict with all factions for the sake of the ailing population within the conflict-affected areas.

We call on separatists armed groups to:

§ Agree to a 6-month ceasefire to allow for political space to discuss these points with the Government of Cameroon and representatives of Anglophone civil society;

§ Engage in sincere talks to identify measures that will return peace to our land.

This call is put out by women in the affected regions and beyond who—as mothers, aunties, sisters, and daughters—ache for a peaceful resolution to this deadly, violent, and traumatic conflict. It is piloted by the following organizations:

  1. South West North West Women Taskforce SNWOT
  2. Southern Cameroons European Women SCEW

3. Christian Women Fellowship CWF (PCC)

 4. Cameroon Baptist Convention Women’s Department CBCWD

5. United Methodist Women Association in Cameroon UMWAC

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Gambia’s Stylish Female Singer Releases Lovers Music Video
September 19, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Stylish golden Sarah Joy, Gambian female singer has slammed music fans with amazing love music video called ‘Du Teey’ featuring the rap star of Bakoteh (BK) Tam-50.

‘Du teey’ harmonics translate from wollof language meaning ‘the love is not today’, capturing the overall sense of footage gave prolong novel story of relationship between two lovers that shared strong love for each other but could not settle together as couple.

It takes courage to love, but pain through love is the purifying fire which those who love generously know.

Speaking to Sarah Joy in an exclusive the singer said she was inspired by people who complained and regret spending lot of time that will later be term as a waste. She said some relationships, some people spend decades together only to realised that they are not meant for each other. At some point they felt is a waste of time, energy and investment. Many instances you see your younger ones settling down which make the whole issue dramatic.

She said that kind of long waiting relationships frustrate both parties involved because is hard to continue life without the person you pictured yourself with, but however sometimes all they need is little motivation and incentives which will either make them stay or leave yet there is a point when you have to give ultimatum to act on.

“Basically the song is to encouraging them to give alternative to the person either to leave or get it official (marriage).”

The song is recorded, mixed and mastered by leading production house in the Gambia, Stylzz Records.  Produced by KAINAWA Beats and shapely video shoot by Ultimate Media.

Already the video geared 4, 081 views on YouTube and still counting the streams. 
Sarah Joy is not only known for her beautiful melody singing but also a TV and radio mogulist who has won the hearts of many follower. She often used her platforms to champion Joy house entertainment/promotion, identified as music advocacy group established with the primary objective of empowering female musicians in the music business.

In same exclusive she added that very soon her team (Joy House Entertainment/ promotion) will embark on the famous Girl Power project which entail a bundle of things but the basic idea aimed at creating opportunity and using music to empower the women.

Below is the link of the music video Du Teey

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EAST AFRICA SHOWS OFF JOURNALISM PROWRESS AS SIXTH BBC WORLD NEWS KOMLA DUMOR AWARD IS AWARDED TO KENYAN
September 1, 2020 | 0 Comments
BBC Komla winner 2020
BBC Komla winner 2020

Today, the BBC announced that Kenyan TV presenter, Victoria Rubadiri, has been awarded the BBC World News Komla Dumor Award. She is the sixth winner of the award, following in the footsteps of Solomon Serwanjja, Waihiga Mwaura, Amina Yuguda, Didi Akinyelure and Nancy Kacungira. Victoria is the fourth East African, and second Kenyan, to win the award.

Victoria is a features reporter and news anchor with Citizen TV in Kenya where she hosts the channel’s prime-time news. A well-rounded, multifaceted journalist in East Africa, she has interviewed some of the leading names in politics and current affairs, including UN Deputy Secretary General, Amina Mohamed and former Liberian President, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Victoria will begin her three month placement at the BBC by attending a training course with the BBC Academy before joining BBC News teams – across TV, radio and online – which will provide her with the opportunity to gain skills and experience across BBC News platforms.

Following the training and placements in Nairobi, Victoria will work alongside a top BBC producer, to report on a story for a global audience. The story will then be broadcast on BBC platforms, which reaches audiences of 426 million across the world each week.

Victoria said, “Komla was a well-rounded journalist whose style, though authoritative, was also compassionate, empathetic and uplifting. His ability to give the facts comprehensively, and yet still be attuned to his audience, was something I admired and a skill I seek to emulate. The media industry in Africa is growing, with a plethora of content providers and changing consumption trends, and the complexities of reaching audiences in a meaningful way has also evolved. I am excited at the prospect of learning new skills at the BBC to be able to connect with audiences locally, regionally and internationally, no matter on which platform the story is being told.”

Victoria impressed judges with her eloquence and passion for telling African stories on both traditional media platforms and social media. Her passion for connecting with audiences on a myriad of platforms had led to over half a million followers on her social media accounts, and she continues to pursue this engagement on social media. Through her storytelling, Victoria has brought people’s extraordinary experiences to life, a key journalistic trait that resonates with the BBC’s global audiences.

Jamie Angus, Director of BBC World Service Group, said, “We’re delighted to have Victoria on board to bring her insights and passion to the BBC. There’s never been a more significant time for our global audiences to hear grassroots stories from Africa, and it’s really important that we tell these stories with integrity and authenticity. Komla had the incredible ability to give stories from the continent global resonance, and also deliver it with familiarity and understanding. We’re looking forward to seeing Victoria embody that by bringing her perspectives to life.”

The award was set up in honour of presenter Komla Dumor, who died in January 2014, and aims to continue Komla’s legacy by celebrating African journalism and finding exceptional talent. The judging panel included Sam Taylor, Head of Live and Breaking News at the BBC; Miriam Quansah, Assistant Digital Editor at BBC Africa; and award-winning Nigerian journalist, Idris Akinbajo of the Premium Times.

Victoria will be interviewed on Focus on Africa on Tuesday 1st September at 1730 GMT, BBC World News (DStv 400).

For more information go to bbc.com/komladumor

*BBC

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Covid-19 Pandemic Reversing Humanitarian Gains of African Women and Children
August 26, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Nevson Mpofu  

Director of Gender Commission  Zimbabwe and Fiona Magaya of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union
Director of Gender Commission Zimbabwe and Fiona Magaya of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union

The Global up-surge of Covid-19 leaves sad stories told on the side of women and children now facing the social and economic injustices. These according to ZIMCODD [ Zimbabwe Coalition On Debt And Development ] Report posted to Media leaves gaps currently created beyond repair by covid-19 if stronger Global solutions at country levels are not put practically in place.

The Report plunges on issues of good governance, transparency and accountability exercise to be raised on the sidelines of equitable gender 6mainstreaming, equity and equality. Gender justice woven by equality and equity in women during this pathetic era empathy women and children at most for their survival in alleviation of poverty and vulnerability.

However, despite the concerted effort put across by women and children organizations, much that flows carried on by covid-19 effects erodes on women and children’s rights more imp actively. These are on the edges of poverty and vulnerability. Earlier on during the 21 days of lockdown, bevy of women like Virginia Muwanigwa , Director of Gender Commission  Zimbabwe and Fiona Magaya of the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Union among others on the fore-front reiterated  on the increase of gender based violence  , gender- in-justice and lack of equality exposed to affect  women ..

‘’During this time of covid-19, women remain impacted by gender-based violence which has been exacerbated by the pandemic world-wide. The erosion of family income exposes women to violence. This comes with divorces, separations. Poverty is likely to increase, vulnerability affecting women and children if immediate action is not taken.’’

Fiona Magaya adds that women have at most become discriminated, this widening the gap of gender inequality in families already hard hit by poverty. We have to take collective action to fight these in-equalities at family and community levels. Reducing inequalities is vital and critical as we move on towards the inside of this pandemic.

These in-equalities have increased in many African countries. Women are facing all forms of abuses ranging from physical, economic, social and intense domestic violence. Cases have grown in number in countries like South Africa, Botswana, Namibia and a few I have to confirm with. A number of women have as well moved out of marriage, go away with children whom they care for without maintenance or any support in terms of food.

In-equalities are driven by culture, tradition and African customs.  There are other issues of concern like Patriarchy , meliorism and male domination. This has prevailed for long in Africa, especially South of the Sahara in countries with strong African customs like Nigeria, Ghana, Malawi, Tanzania, Kenya, Namibia, Lesotho, Swathini and South Africa. In-Equalities increase as well fueled by modernism, industrialization and Globalization.

‘’Because of inequalities there rises wide gaps of discrimination in women. Poverty increase opens way for violence in marital relations. This leads to further gender in-justice which results in women and children marginalization. We stand by women at this hour in time using several International protocols like the Convention on the elimination of all forms of discrimination against women [CEDAW] , laws and policies at regional and national levels .’’

Sally Dura of Zimbabwe Women Coalition
Sally Dura of Zimbabwe Women Coalition

The report from ZIMCODD further states that women are on the frontlines of Health provision. This means they take care of family members, children and themselves. . Vulnerability comes with the role they take to provide health services. As they strive to bring sanity at homes and in communities, family incomes are eroded, creating chances of gender-based violence, gender injustice, inequity and in equality due to low levels or not at all of the flow of gender mainstreaming. Taking a voice high pitched up in response, a nurse by profession at Parirenyatwa Group of Hospitals Clara Nyoni said women provide the most health services.  she hits up the subject,

‘’Women are on the frontline in terms of health service provision to populations. It is therefore imperative to hold Public Health and Population Health accountable above all Community Health at community, family and national levels. Therefore, Primary Health Care is vital now. There is no doubt women do all the work right like now.   Most of our patients are women vulnerable due to covid-19. There is less doubt to say.’’ she poses.

World Health Organization reports that from 8 June 2020 187,875 cases of corona had been documented in 54 countries of the African Region.  This means strong commitments in Health budgets at Global, regional and country levels.

A Child Rights Activist and Expert in Children humanitarian well-fare, Father Reverend Nyanhete has ideas that Governments working with Civil Society, Non-Governmental Organizations, churches and Chiefs must take time to look at issues of our past culture and tradition. He says if covid-19 is left alone to affect children, then the Convention on Children’s Rights is then not respected because past practices will turn evil to humanity.

‘’remember children have been victims of our African values, culture, customs and tradition. As long we forget these in this era we hurt and shoot ourselves in the foot. We need to push Governments to re-look at the customs and see to it that we are not being found un-aware by issues that have long time back reversed gains.’’

‘’Cultural and customary marriages have done the worst on the girl child. Girls used to be married to older man under betrothment, a custom that undermines the right of the girl child further with education. Girls are now given house hold chores at home since they have nothing to do. They are not in school. Most of their time is being at home.  They are chances of them taken for a ride by men, sexually abused, economically strained they turn to prostitution under these hard times ‘’

Speaking on the same line of though, Sally Dura of Zimbabwe Women Coalition said women are facing gender-based violence that was no-more in African countries but now it is almost back because of the pandemic we have. She added that unless countries in Africa take holistic measures as fast there are thorny new emerging issues.

‘’Gender-Based -Violence has increased during covid-19 meaning to say, women are being sexually, economically and physically abused at the expense of children whom they take care of. What do you think happens? There are huge implications, divorce, separations, child poverty increase, vulnerability, increase in theft, deviant behavior and emerging health issues related to food-insecurity comes with malnutrition’’.

‘’There are growing cases of early marriages as well with the girl-child a past occurrence that we start to experience in the shadow of the disease.  Women are turned into more growing poverty. This is true that children are affected as well. ‘’

With the voice for children more at cost of the gained now reversed gains, Pascal Masocha another Child-Rights activist notes with deep sorrow on the increase in Child Labour and prodigy on many farms in Zimbabwe. The Increase is almost rising to 30% a figure which tells more to be done.

‘’The increase of child-labour has increased almost 30% high since the end of last year, worse now with covi-19 issues making children lose on education. Families are unable to cope up with food security, a scenario that throws children into child-labour ‘’

‘’Organizations are not in full swing at work fearing for their lives because corona stigma and discrimination is growing as well. It means then there are some children somewhere under child-lab our, prodigy, where-by they carry heavy loads at the expense of their weight, energy and bodies ‘’

A Health Expert in Nutrition working with ZICOSUNA [ Zimbabwe Civil Society Organizations Scaling Up Nutrition Alliance] Kudakwashe Zombe recommends Governments to increase budgets in Health provision at this point in time. Besides, Infrastructural development helps countries prevent covid-19. He advises countries to follow up on the World Organization guidelines so as to meet Global standards. He concludes by making a point on the Abuja Declaration

‘’The Abuja Declaration recommends countries to make effort to come up with 15% amount of budget so as to fight this pandemic. It means then countries need to increase their budgets in covid-19, increase nutrition levels of finance flows so as well to curb malnutrition. This is enshrined in Article 16 of the African Charter on Human and People’s Rights’’

‘’In order to reduce in-equalities during this time Investments in Health reduces challenges faced by women and children. During this Health crisis nutrition levels decrease. This is a bite of poverty and vulnerability on women and children. Gender injustice follows with impacts on women themselves’’.

A Legislator Dubangani Mpofu standing for Zvishabane- Runde Constituency says there is need to lift people out of poverty by addressing social -economic opportunities at community to national level. He adds that there must be full representation in political spheres by all women without fear and favor, with transparency and accountability.

‘’There must be social and economic opportunities created for women so as to curb gender injustices, inequality and marginalization of women and children. Increase in health budgets makes countries address as well challenges faced by women.’’, he said

Above all, a number of Politicians and Members of Parliament asked to comment advises the Government working with the Anti-Corruption Commission to curb corruption, illicit finance flows and capital flight. Curbing corruption puts women and children on the safe side during these hard times of covid- 19, experts, academicians, policy makers and implementers note.

*Nevson Mpofu a renowned multi-awarded winning journalist is as well a development studies lecturer at Chartered Institute for purchasing and supply at midlands state university campus in Harare . he is advancing in sustainable development ..

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Cameroon’s Anglophone Crisis: Killing of Women and Girls going Unabated
August 17, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Women from the North West Region of Cameroon gathered on 7 September 2018 to call for an end to the conflict that has resulted in many being killed and thousands displaced
Women from the North West Region of Cameroon gathered on 7 September 2018 to call for an end to the conflict that has resulted in many being killed and thousands displaced

Cameroon, unlike some other countries in Central Africa, was not a war-torn state. Cameroonians lived in relative peace in the Anglophone regions until four years ago (2016). There was no need to flee to the bush; major attacks on civilians in the Anglophone regions were not commonplace before the separatists took up arms.

Families have abandoned their homes, seeking shelter in nearby bushland or safer parts of the country. In some cases, women have been abandoned by their husbands who have joined the secessionist forces. As a result, approximately 68 per cent of Cameroon’s internally displaced persons are said to be women.

Civil society organizations across the English-speaking regions have been calling for the protection of women and girls as the crisis rages on. The South West/North West Women’s task force on several outings has been calling for the respect of international norms by both parties to the conflict. The women in the South West have planned an outing this August 18, 2020, to protest against the ongoing killings.

Children working in their houses have been killed. Recently, some children who were picking snails (Nyama Ngoro) behind their house were killed. The other was shot in the hand, and the other who ran was caught and is now at the army camp.

“We the women them go for D.O office and tok say backside house wey pikin di pick nyama ngoro dey go come killam,” a distressed mother said in Pidgin English. “Woman pikin na Amba? Small woman pikin them killam. Di one so pass we. Dey di leave those that are Amba but di kill innocent pikin them wey nova even reach 13 or 14 years.”

Women and children represent about 80 per cent of the approximately 10,000 refugees registered so far in eastern Nigeria’s Cross River state. Thousands more are among the population of unregistered Cameroonians in neighbouring states.

Some of these are boys and girls who fled to Nigeria alone. Unaccompanied and separated children are particularly affected by difficult access to food and the lack of subsistence opportunities.

UNHCR staff have received numerous reports that children have to work or beg to survive or to help their families. Many children are unable to attend school, as they lack both the time and funds for education. Although schooling in Nigeria is free, there are still some basic costs, such as those for school materials.

As a result of the crisis, women giving birth in the bushes are now a common issue, unable to go to school, struggling to take care of family – women in Cameroon’s Anglophone regions are suffering as the crisis continues, unabated, as women scramble to protect their families and survive during difficult times.

“Everything is changing, and it is affecting women seriously because they have never experienced this kind of situation – every day you learn a new strategy to deal with it. Women have given birth in the bushes, there’s gang rape, and women have been tortured,” one aid worker says.

In recent times, there has been an uptick in violence against women, perpetrated by Cameroon’s security forces and the armed separatist forces. The most recent case is the killing of a 35-year-old lady in Muyuka by separatist fighters.

There have also been several rapes reported, with many more going underreported. In one of the most high profile cases in 2018, Arthur Mbida, a government soldier, stood trial for allergy raping a 17-year-old lactating mother at a military checkpoint in Bamenda, North West Region, Equal Times reported.

The escalating conflict began back in October 2016, when English-speaking lawyers in Cameroon opposed the appointment of French-speaking judges to their courts. A few other frustrated groups, amongst them teachers, later joined in peaceful protests against decades of under-investment and other government policies which they said discriminate against the country’s English-speaking regions. The protests grew and the government responded with force. The peaceful protest has now turned into a full-blown conflict as separatist fighters look to create a state for themselves. 

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Covidhero: Zimbabwean Lady Feeds Thousands Of Hungry Children
August 13, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Prince Kurupati

Samantha has provided food to people in thousands during the lockdown in Zimbabwe.Photo credit Jekesai Njikizana,AFP,Getty Images
Samantha has provided food to people in thousands during the lockdown in Zimbabwe.Photo credit Jekesai Njikizana,AFP,Getty Images

Heroes often emerge during tumultuous times. In Zimbabwe, the COVID-19 pandemic has seen one heroine emerging. Her name Samantha Nyasha Muzoroki. With the little that she has, Samantha has been feeding thousands of families mostly children every day since Zimbabwe put in place a national lockdown in the early months of 2020.

In her own words, Samantha says, “Feeding thousands of families in my hometown, Chitungwiza, on the outskirts of Harare, has become my life since the start of the lockdown in Zimbabwe. Seeing smiles on the faces of women and girls is fulfilling.”

Samantha says her relief kitchen initiative really started modestly. With the sole aim of giving children a good start to their day, she decided to serve free porridge to the vulnerable in her community. As soon as she started, more and more children began to visit her home each morning for a scoop of her nutritious porridge. In no time, adults also started trickling in. Assessing the situation that most of these people were in, Samantha quickly decided to serve two meals each day, breakfast and supper. For breakfast, she continued serving porridge (and occasionally bread when porridge runs out) and for supper she serves sadza (Zimbabwe’s staple food).

As the national lockdown continues dragging for long, the numbers of people who are dependent on her meals continue increasing. In the early days, hundreds were served but now, Samantha’s kitchen now serves close to 3000 each day.

At the very first, Samantha says she “started with a 2kg packet of rice and 500g of beans.” As the numbers of those in need of a meal increased by each day and as her savings were dwindling, she had to barter her jeans and sneakers with food supplies.” Her compassion however has since encouraged the corporate world and some individuals to chip in and help her with food supplies.

Bread Company Lobels has chipped in on occasions donating bread. Other companies that have made donations include EzuluFoods, Chicken Hut, N. Richards Group, Clean City, Quick Fresh, Health Factor Zimbabwe and Fresh in a Box.

Other individuals have also been inspired by Samantha and they have since launched their own relief kitchens’ in their respective communities. In Victoria Falls, some officers in the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare, local municipality officers, members from the business community and other individuals have joined hands to launch the Victoria Falls Children’s Feeding Scheme. The Scheme has one aim which is to provide every child with a hot, nutritious meal 5 days a week.

The diplomatic community has also been inspired by the work being done by Samantha. The Chamber of Chinese Enterprises in Zimbabwe made a donation of hand sanitizers and pairs of gloves.

For all those who have chipped in, in helping her with the relief kitchen, Samantha said she is thankful. “I am thankful for the community of Chitungwiza and the world wide community.”

In the early days, Samantha did encounter some challenges as she was shut down by the local council authorities for operating an illegal relief kitchen. However, the differences were ironed out and her relief kitchen is now registered as Kuchengetana Trust. In an interview with a local publication VUKR, Samantha said that she will take her initiative beyond the lockdown when lifted, “Definitely, we are now registered as a trust ‘Kuchengetana Trust’. There is no way I could ever turn back on what we have built in the last couple of months. I have dreams so pronounced I am eager to deliver. I plan to make self sustenance the order of the day. I get goose bumps when I think about it. Social development projects and facilitation of them are my main objectives.”

Children queue for food outside the kitchen of Murozoki in Zimbabwe.Photo CNN
Children queue for food outside the kitchen of Murozoki in Zimbabwe.Photo CNN

With regards to self sustenance, Samantha says she “envision a future where a woman is self-sufficient. I have been talking with some of the women about ideas to help start income generating projects.” She does acknowledge that this is something which requires a lot of resources especially financial resources but is hopeful the desired resources will come.

Samantha is helped by willing volunteers in her relief kitchen. Some prominent individuals including renowned Urban Grooves musician Rockford Josphats aka Roki have helped her serve meals to the thousands who visit her relief kitchen on each day of the week. Some who visit her kitchen in need of a meal often are moved by her work and they end up staying to volunteer. One such person is Anastencia Hove. After visiting the relief kitchen for a meal, Anastencia Hove says she “was moved by her (Samantha) love. It is rare to find people who think about others. So I said as a token of my appreciation for her support, I should volunteer. This lockdown has not spared us at all, so people are suffering. The number of people I see here shows that many are hungry.”

Samantha is an immigration lawyer by profession and a business lady.

*Culled from August Issue of PAV Magazine

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Rolake Akinkugbe-Filani Joins the African Energy Chamber’s Advisory Board
August 13, 2020 | 0 Comments
Rolake Akinkugbe-Filani
Rolake Akinkugbe-Filani
Rolake will be advising and supporting the African Energy Chamber within its Investment and Energy Transition Committees.

 Leading and prominent African energy expert and finance executive Rolake Akinkugbe-Filani has joined the African Energy Chamber’s Advisory Board for 2020 and 2021. Rolake will be advising and supporting the African Energy Chamber within its Investment and Energy Transition Committees.

Currently Managing Director of EnergyInc Advisors and Senior Africa Advisor for the IFU Danish Investment Fund, Rolake brings years of experience providing financial and strategic advisory services to the public and private sector in oil and gas and power. She has built a track record of helping to finance, invest in and successfully scale businesses across Africa’s energy sector.

“Rolake has critical experience in the financing and scaling up of gas and renewable energy companies, which is just what our continent needs at the moment,” declared Nj Ayuk, Executive Chairman at the African Energy Chamber. “Rolake represents the next generation of African business women who is playing the most critical role in shaping the future of our industry.”

Rolake also sits on the global advisory board of Canadian Private Equity firm, Stonechair Capital advising on its #EnergyAfrica Fund for Sub-Sahara Africa. She was previously the head of energy and natural resources for FBN Capital and FBNQuest Merchant Bank, Nigeria’s oldest financial services group, where she helped energy, and oil and gas companies raise debt and equity capital. From 2017-19 she was also a member of the private sector economic advisory group in the Office of the Vice President of Nigeria, working closely with the Chief Economic Adviser to the President on a range of national development policy issues.

For her significant contribution to Africa’s growth story, Rolake was recognized in the United Nations’ MIPAD Top 100 (Most Influential People of African Descent) Under 40, in the Business & Entrepreneurship Class of 2018, and was listed in the 2017, 2018 and 2019 Choiseul Institute’s (France) top 200 Under-40 Young Economic Leaders in Africa.

Rolake has a BSc and MSc degree from the London School of Economics (LSE), and a global executive MBA from TRIUM.

*African Energy Chamber
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