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Merck Foundation together with 18 African First Ladies respond to the Coronavirus pandemic in four main areas
June 9, 2020 | 0 Comments
Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation with H.E. DJÈNÈ CONDÉ, The First Lady of Guinea; H.E. FATIMA MAADA BIO; The First Lady of Sierra Leone; H.E. Prof. GERTRUDE MUTHARIKA, The First Lady of Malawi; H.E. FATOUMATTA BAH-BARROW, The First Lady of The Gambia; H.E. DENISE NKURUNZIZA, The First Lady of Burundi; H.E. AÏSSATA ISSOUFOU MAHAMADOU, The First Lady of Niger; H.E. BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central African Republic; H.E. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of Ghana; H.E. CLAR MARIE WEAH, The First Lady of Liberia; H.E. ANTOINETTE SASSOU-NGUESSO, The First Lady of Congo Brazzaville; H.E. MONICA GEINGOS, The First Lady of Namibia; H.E. AUXILLIA MNANGAGWA, The First Lady of Zimbabwe; H.E. NEO JANE MASISI, The First Lady of Botswana; H.E. Dr. ISAURA FERRÃO NYUSI, The First Lady of Mozambique and Former First Lady of Mauritania

Merck Foundation has partnered with the African First Ladies to support livelihood of thousands of women and families of casual and daily workers

Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com), the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany has raced to respond to the Coronavirus pandemic in partnership with 18 African First Ladies, Ministries of Health, Information and Education focusing on four main areas:  
Community Support: Merck Foundation partners with African First Ladies to support livelihood of thousands of women and casual workers affected by Coronavirus lockdown.
Healthcare Capacity Building: Merck Foundation started Coronavirus healthcare capacity building by providing online one-year diplomas and two-year master’s degree in Respiratory Medicines and Acute Medicines for African Doctors
Community Awareness through media Awards: Merck Foundation announced, ‘Stay at Home’ Media Recognition Awards in Africa, Middle East, Asia & Latin America to raise awareness about Coronavirus.
Community awareness for Children and Youth: Merck Foundation launched an inspiring storybook ‘Making the Right Choice’ in partnership with African First Ladies to sensitize children and youth about Coronavirus
Merck Foundation has partnered with the African First Ladies of Liberia, Ghana, DR Congo, Zimbabwe, Niger, Sierra Leone, Malawi and Burkina Faso to support livelihood of thousands of women and families of casual and daily workers who are most affected by the Coronavirus (COVID -19) lockdown. The relief contribution was also undertaken in Egypt with the aim to support 500 families.

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation explained, “Lockdown imposed in most countries has hit the daily workers and women the most, making it very difficult for them to survive. Therefore, Merck Foundation decided to partner with the African First Ladies to support up to 1000 women and casual workers families in each country, with the aim to save their livelihood as part of “Separated but Connected” Merck Foundation Initiative”.

Speaking of women being impacted by the lockdown, Dr. Rasha Kelej explained, “I am sad to know that the pandemic has led to a horrifying increase in violence against women. The confinement at home with an abusive partner has resulted in not only physical violence but also emotional violence against women which can have disastrous consequences for their health and well-being. Therefore, we decided to focus on supporting women in our coronavirus community intervention and strongly continue empowering infertile and childless women as part of our signature campaign ‘Merck More than a Mother’. We know they now need our support more than ever.”

“We strongly believe that building professional healthcare capacity is the right strategy to improve access to quality and equitable healthcare specially during this vicious pandemic.” Dr. Kelej added.

Therefore, Merck Foundation will strongly continue their current capacity advancement programs and will specially focus on building Coronavirus healthcare capacity through providing African and Asian medical postgraduates with one-year online diploma and two-year online Master degree in both of Respiratory Medicines and Acute Medicines at one of the UK Universities. This program is in partnership with African First Ladies, Ministers of Health and Academia across the two continents.

As part of their strategy of responding to coronavirus lockdown, Merck Foundation scaled up to more African and Asian medical postgraduates to provide online medical specialization scholarships.

During this lockdown, Merck Foundation will focus more on these online scholarships which will be for one-year diploma and two year master degree in several specialties such as: Diabetes, Cardiovascular Preventive Medicines, Endocrinology and Sexual and Reproductive Medicines.

To apply for these scholarships, please email us on: submit@merck-foundation.com

Merck Foundation has also launched ‘Stay at Home’ Media Recognition Awards in partnership with African First Ladies of African First Ladies of Ghana, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi, Namibia, Niger, Guinea Conakry, Burundi, Central African Republic (C.A.R.), Chad, Zimbabwe, Zambia, The Gambia, Liberia and Congo Brazzaville, Angola, Mali, Mozambique for English, French, Portuguese and Arabic Speaking African countries. The awards have been also announced for Middle Eastern, Asian countries and in Spanish for Latin American Countries. The theme of the awards is ‘Raising Awareness on how to Stay Safe and Keep Physically and Mentally Healthy during Coronavirus Lockdown with the aim to separate facts from myths and misconceptions’ to apply for these awards email: submit@merck-foundation.com

Dr. Rasha Kelej emphasized, “We strongly believe that media plays a critical role in raising awareness about sensitive and pressing issues such as Coronavirus. I am looking forward to receive the creative and informative work of our winners so that they become Merck Foundation health champions in their countries.”

Merck Foundation has also launched an inspiring storybook called ‘Making the Right Choice’ in partnership with 18 African First Ladies. The story aims to raise awareness about coronavirus prevention amongst children and youth as it provides facts about the pandemic and how to stay safe and healthy during the outbreak. It also promotes honesty, hard-work and the ability to make the right choices even during the most challenging times. The story released in three languages: English, French and Portuguese. To read the storybook please click on below links:

English: https://bit.ly/2AVELf6
French: https://bit.ly/3h3WEsF
Portuguese: https://bit.ly/3f5A9S7

About Merck Oncology Fellowship and Master Degree Program:
A part of Merck Cancer Access, the program focuses on building professional cancer care capacity with the aim to increase the limited number of Oncologists in Africa. Oncology Fellowship Program of one year, one and half years, two years in India, Malaysia, Kenya and Master Degree in Medical Oncology for three years in Egypt in partnership with African Ministries of Health, Local Governments and Academia.

Launched in 2016, over 80 candidates from more than 26 African countries have been enrolled in the Merck Oncology Fellowship Program. The program will continue to build cancer care capability in African countries such as Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, CAR, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, DRC, Ethiopia, Gabon, The Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Liberia, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia & Zimbabwe.

About Merck Fertility & Embryology Training Program:
Merck Fertility & Embryology Training Program was launched in 2016 as part of Merck More Than a Mother. Under this program, Merck Foundation has been providing hands-on practical training to candidates from Africa and Asia, in partnership with the Indonesian Reproductive Science Institute (IRSI), Indonesia; International Institute for Training and Research in Reproductive Health (IIRRH), India; Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), India and Indira IVF Hospitals, India.

Through this program, Merck Foundation is making history in many African and Asian countries where they never had fertility specialists or specialized fertility clinics before ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ intervention, to train the first fertility specialists such as; in Sierra Leone, Liberia, The Gambia, Niger, Chad, Guinea, Ethiopia, Myanmar and Uganda. So far, Merck Foundation has provided for more than 180+ candidates, clinical and practical training for fertility specialists and embryologists in more than 35 countries across Africa and Asia such as: Bangladesh, Benin, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Chad, CAR, Cote D’IVOIRE, DRC, Congo Brazzaville, Ethiopia, Ghana, Guinea, Kenya, Malaysia, Liberia, Mali, Myanmar, Namibia, Nepal, Nigeria, Niger, Philippines, Russia, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Sri Lanka, The Gambia, Togo, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia & Zimbabwe.

About Merck Diabetes Blue Points Project:
Merck Diabetes Blue Points Project in partnership with African First Ladies, Ministries of Health and Academia to help improve access to equitable and quality diabetes care nationwide in African countries. Candidates from different provinces, countries or districts of the respective countries are provided with one-year Online Postgraduate Diabetes Diploma in English for English Speaking countries, or an Online Mastercourse on Clinical Management of Diabetes in French and Portuguese for 3 months duration, for French and Portuguese speaking countries respectively, ensuring geographical coverage of the whole country to help improve the landscape of diabetes care in Africa.

About Merck Foundation:
The Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com), 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 Website.  Please visit www.Merck-Foundation.com to read more. To know more, reach out to our social media: Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com); Facebook , Twitter , Instagram , YouTube (bit.ly/2E05GVg) and Flicker 

About Merck:
Merck (www.MerckGroup.com) is a leading science and technology company in healthcare, life science and performance materials. Almost 52,000 employees work to further develop technologies that improve and enhance life – from biopharmaceutical therapies to treat cancer or multiple sclerosis, cutting-edge systems for scientific research and production, to liquid crystals for smartphones and LCD televisions.

Founded in 1668, Merck is the world’s oldest pharmaceutical and chemical company. The founding family remains the majority owner of the publicly listed corporate group. Merck holds the global rights to the Merck name and brand. The only exceptions are the United States and Canada, where the company operates as EMD Serono, MilliporeSigma.
*SOURCE Merck Foundation
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African Network of Germany Frowns at Anti-Black Racism
June 7, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Dr Sylvie Nantcha, President of TANG and her executive members at Black Lives Matter protest

The African Network of Germany (TANG) has strongly condemn Anti-Black racism and urged federal government to act quickly to eradicate the menance.

TANG is currently carrying out a campaign against anti-Black racism on social media. The organisation explains in this press statement why Germany must act decisively now against discrimination against people of African descent in the country

Following the death of the African-American George Floyd after a brutal police operation in Minneapolis on 25 May, the world currently focuses its attention on racism in the United States. But there is also racism against Black people in Germany.

This is indicated by the action #beiunsauch, a campaign on social media initiated by The African Network of Germany e.V. (TANG) in collaboration with the Turkish Community of Germany (Türkische Gemeinde Deutschland or TGD), Each One Teach One (EOTO eV), the Federation of Immigrant Associations (Bundesarbeitsgemeinschaft der Immigrantenverbände or BAGIV), the educational initiative German Dream, the Kurdish community of Germany and more than 120 other migrant organisations.

Together they call on the federal government to focus on racism against Black people and to finally fight it decisively.

Dr Sylvie Nantcha, President of TANG calls on the federal government to fight racism against people of African descent in Germany decisively. One hundred personalities in the Black community have already posted their statements on #beiunsauch.

“For example, the federal government does not mention racism against Black people in Germany in its recent 22-page report on the work of the Cabinet Committee against Right-Wing Extremism and Racism,” criticises Sylvie Nantcha, President of TANG.

Dr Sylvie Nantcha, President of TANG

When the “UN Decade for People of African Descent” was mentioned in the same paper, the term “People of African Descent” was simply omitted.

“More than 1 million people of African descent live in Germany. As a visible minority, Black people are particularly exposed to racism. They experience racial profiling, they find it difficult to find a place to live and work, are disadvantaged in schools and ignored by political decision makers,” says Dr Nantcha, describing the everyday  experiences of racism in Germany.

The representative study “Second European Union Minorities and Discrimination Survey” by the European Union Agency for Fundamental Rights of 2017 shows that 14 percent of Black people in Germany have experienced racial profiling in the previous five years.

“Black people also experience multiple discrimination in Germany. This issue must finally be taken seriously. We must continue to fight Martin Luther King’s fight until his dream becomes a reality worldwide! I have a dream!”

One hundred personalities of the Black community have already posted their statements on #beiunsauch.

“Anti-Black racism must also be named and fought in Germany,” writes Aminata Touré, vice president of the state parliament of Schleswig-Holstein, for example.

Numerous migrant associations support the campaign. “We can’t just look at the United States when it comes to racism. Racist police violence towards people of colour, especially Black people of colour, and racial profiling are also part of the everyday life of Black people in Germany,” says Göcay Gökay Sofuoglu, President of the Turkish Community of Germany (TGD).

“Anyone who ‘only’ criticizes racism against Blacks in other countries but remains silent about racism against Blacks here is lying. Racism against Blacks within immigrant communities must also be relentlessly named and fought by us,” says Ali Ertan Toprak, President of the Federation of Immigrant Associations (BAGIV).

Under the hashtag #auchbeiuns, the associations and groups call on their members to describe their racist experiences in Germany on social media. This call was viewed by more than 48,000 people in one day.

About TANG:
With more than 800 member associations and individual members, TANG is the largest federal network of African associations in Germany. TANG informs, advises, strengthens and networks African associations so that they can develop their full potential for shaping the future of our society.

The focus of TANG’s work is to help shape German integration and Africa policy through participation in expert forums and discussion platforms such as the Forum against Racism or the review of the National Action Plan for Integration. TANG also carries out numerous projects with the support of the federal ministries.

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Côte d’Ivoire :Report on the fight Against Child Labor rejected
June 3, 2020 | 0 Comments
First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire Dominique Ouattara

The First Lady of Côte d’Ivoire Dominique Ouattara has dismissed the eligibility of the findings from the draft report by NORC on progress in the country’s fight against child labor terming the report as “illegible and misleading”  

The 2018-2019 survey carried out by NORC is pending publication come June 29, 2020 and it is about child labor in Cocoa plantations in Côte d’Ivoire and Ghana.

The report soughts to draw conclusions from the previous surveys carried out on the prevalence of child labor in both countries.

Looking at the previous surveys carried out by the university of Tulane in 20008-2009 and in 2013-2014, the NORC cited there was a huge progress over the years.

The draft of the report noted that there was “a sharp drop in the number of hours children from households involved in cocoa growing used to spend in cocoa plantations while the number of those attending school significantly increased,”


Report dismissed

Much as NORC may be getting ready to publish its report in June, the National committee in charge of fighting Child Labor (CNS) in French acronym has expressed its concerns about the report’s eligibility and relevance.   

The committee chaired by the first lady Dominique Ouattara cited some shortcomings, gaps and methods in previous findings by the 2013-2014 Tulane surveys that NORC referred to.  

Such gaps are in relation with the sampling methods and data collections periods, the first lady’s team noted.

Others, the First Lady’s team said are the comparison of data from the previous Tulane university and those from NORC’s survey which the committee termed as a “misleading comparison’

“Several workshops were held over the past months in Abidjan and in Washington , DC and we raised concerns and USDOL as regards to shortcomings of 2018-2019 survey methodologies,” reads a statement from CNS.

“Much as errors were acknowledged, NORC remained reluctant to make any corrections,” it added.

As a result, the First Lady who also doubles as CNS President has stressed that her country would not approve the findings from the 2018-2019 survey.

“Côte d’Ivoire cannot approve the current version of 2018-2019 survey as it has some flaws,” the Frst Lady Dominique Ouattara said.

Côte d’Ivoire it is worth noting  has made significant progress in fighting child labor spearheaded by CNS as witnessed in the Child Labor Report Book 2018.

The country also ranks among top 12 countries that have put in more efforts to fight child labor worldwide, according to the report by the United States of America on Child Labor.

The American report says that “Côte d’Ivoire got the highest ranks and emerged among the top 12 countries out of 134 countries that were assessed, adding that the African country has held such position for the last successive years.”

The United States’ Trade and Development Act of 2000 states that all countries across the world should demonstrate their commitment to remove any form of child labor if they are to be eligible as beneficiaries of various services.

Côte d’Ivoire is the world’s leading producer of cocoa and it has passed the target of producing two million tonnes in 2019.  

The price of Cocoa stands at 825 CFA per kilogram, and the country has committed itself to intensify productivity in a sustainable way geared towards meeting the growing demand while maintaining its global perfomance.

*Ivory Coast Embassy,Washington,DC

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Cameroon: Fako Heart Celebrates 1st Anniversary with “Zero Mortality”
June 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

The Centre that went operational on June 1, 2019, is to start an Erectile Dysfunction clinic and Weight-loss Clinic

By Boris Esono Nwenfor

Mrs Irene Naloua Kemah, Owner and CEO of Fako Hear Centre, located in Buea, South West Region of Cameroon
Mrs Irene Naloua Kemah, Owner and CEO of Fako Heart Centre, located in Buea, South West Region of Cameroon

Fako Heart, a centre of excellence for stroke prevention, has marked its first anniversary with “zero mortality” recorded at the centre. During the celebration, June 2, 2020, patients consulted at the Centre for free. This free consultation is expected to run until June 30, 2020.

The Fako Heart Centre located in Buea, the chief town of the South West Region of Cameroon is as purpose-built Cardiac Hospital and it specializes in Heart and Lung diseases.

Since its launch in June of 2019, Fako Heart Centre has had 1,366 clinic-based consultations (808 females, 558 males) and 804 outreach consultations (391 females, and 413 male). A total of 2,170 persons were consulted with 319 patients admitted by Fako Heart Centre during the past 12 months with no deaths recorded (zero mortality). The predominant conditions are high blood pressure (Hypertension) Diabetes, and Heart Failure.

Sophisticated machines used by the Centre to conduct Stress Tests

The majority of persons who consulted came from the South West (1,010) and the North West Regions (270). Some of the patients came in from distant places including the South Region (Ebolowa), Extreme North (Mayo Tsanaga), Adamawa (Ngaoundere), Nigeria (Imo State) and the Central African Republic (Bangui).

“Heart failure is a long term disease. One thing we have to know with a cardiac patient is that when it set in we can only slow it down; you cannot reset the person like where the heart was before. The heart failure comes with age and there are very few children who are born with effect. The other heart illness is something we acquire as we age and our lifestyle too,” Mrs Irene Naloua Kemah, Owner/CEO of Fako Heart Centre told reporters.

 “Once it (heart issues) reaches 10% the only thing that can save you is a heart transplant which is practically impossible here with so many people even in Europe travelling, some are on the waiting list for even 10 years. And when you are on the waiting list they look at the age and how you can contribute to the society for them to give you a heart.”

“We are hoping to get to that stage where people will take their health seriously. We do not want people to neglect their health. Everyone thinks that they always have Malaria and Typhoid which is not always the case… Consultation at Fako Heart involves a mandatory Kidney function test,” She added.

The CEO has called on everyone to look after their body as if it is not properly taken care of, it might degenerate to something else. She said: “When you have a fever or anything you have to go to the hospital and do not assume that it might be malaria or just going to the pharmacy to get some medications. I had one of my staff who was complaining that madam my son is always sick and I ask have you had any blood works on him. No, he came here and the child was Aememic. When you are anaemic you are weak and cannot do certain things. We gave the son some medication, and two weeks ago the staff said the child is like a newborn baby.”

The Only Centre with a Tilt Table Test

Fako Heart Centre is the only Centre in Cameroon that offers a tilt table test. “This is a test designed to establish the diagnosis in patients presenting with collapse after blood works, ECG and echocardiogram are unremarkable,” Dr Perry Kemah, UK-based Consultant Cardiologist said in an earlier interview.

“The tilt table test helps to establish vasovagal causes of collapse… Fako Heart is the only Cardiac Centre right now in the region delivering acute cardiac care. That is at the point of entry we assess you and prior to discharge, you undergo a cardiac rehabilitation programme that gives the patient fitness to go back to community life.”

“…As we celebrate our first anniversary, we are offering heart screening with a view of identifying healthy people in the community with potential risk factors of cardiovascular diseases,” Dr Perry Kemah added. 

He went further that: “Fako Heart has a track record so far with zero mortality in 12 months. This is based on good medical practice and that involves working within our capacity and communicating clearly with our patients about the critical situations patients find themselves in…”

Background

Fako Heart Centre Buea is a purpose-built specialist Cardiac Hospital and a Centre of Excellence for Stroke Prevention. It specializes in Lung and Heart diseases. Its key mission is to reduce the burden of Heart Disease and Stroke on a national scale. The alarming number of patients with cardiovascular conditions consulted so far attests to the fact that cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) are a severe problem across Cameroon.

A nutritionist advising a patient during the one year anniversary of Fako Heart Centre
A nutritionist advising a patient during the one year anniversary of Fako Heart Centre

The vision bearers of Fako Heart are Mrs Irene Naloua Kemah, Owner/CEO, and Dr Fred Perry Kemah, UK-based consultant cardiologist. 

The Centre offers the following services: Electrocardiogram (ECG), Holter 24hr ECG Monitor, Exercise Tolerance Test, Stress Test, Tilt Table Test, Echo Stress Test, Six Minute Walking Test, and much more.

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Kenyan Senator clinches Deputy Speaker seat unopposed
June 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Samuel Ouma

Uasin Gishu Senator Margaret Kamar

Uasin Gishu Senator Margaret Kamar on Tuesday was sworn in as the Deputy Speaker in the Senate.

Prof. Kamar secured the seat unopposed after his competitors bowed out of the race.

“Accordingly, I hereby declare Senator Prof Margaret Kamar as the duly elected deputy speaker of the Senate,” Ken Lusaka, Speaker of the Senate said.

Five candidates had been cleared to contest for the seat. They were Isaac Mwaura (nominated – Jubilee), Judith Pareno (nominated – ODM), Steward Madzayo (Kilifi – ODM) and Charles Kibiru (Kirinyaga – Independent).

Judith Pareno was the last candidate to pull out of the race few hours before the elections began. The vote was slated for Tuesday at 2pm (local time).

“Following consultations with the leadership of my party, Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), I hereby give notice of my withdrawal as candidate for election as Deputy Speaker of the Senate. Thank you,” reads the statement addressed to the speaker.

“Everybody has withdrawn so we are leaving it to her so that we don’t seem to be scrambling over the position. We are a handshake team and we don’t want to fight,” she added.

Pareno’s move came hours after Isaac Mwaura had announced withdrawal of his candidature following the decision by his party to endorse Kamar for the seat. Kirinyaga Senator Charles Kibiru who was perceived as the front runner was the first contestant to bow out of the race on Monday.

“When party does so, we have no option but to support, we will toe the party line,” Mwaura said.

On his part, Senator Madzayo said he threw in the towel following a wide consultation with his supporters and party officials.

“My decision is premised majorly on the need to continue supporting the political coherence currently being advanced by H.E Raila Amollo Odinga and H.E President Uhuru Kenyatta. I also believe my decision to no longer run for the post of Senate Deputy Speaker, will advance gender equity; a spirit I passionately subscribe to,” he said.

The seat fell vacant after the holder Prof. Kithure Kindiki was impeached in May, 2020, over allegations of insubordination. Tharaka Nithi Senator was among the Jubilee leaders who boycotted Senate Parliamentary Group meeting held in the State House on May 11. The meeting was chaired by President Uhuru Kenyatta.

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The African Energy Chamber welcomes the appointment of Taelo Mojapelo as new CEO of BP Southern Africa
June 1, 2020 | 0 Comments
Taelo Mojapelo, BP Southern Africa’s New CEO
Mojapelo succeeds Priscillah Mabelane who was notably the first woman in South Africa’s oil history to head up a multinational company

he African Energy Chamber welcomes the new appointment of BP Southern Africa’s new CEO, Taelo Mojapelo.

Mojapelo succeeds Priscillah Mabelane who was notably the first woman in South Africa’s oil history to head up a multinational company. 

The appointment is an encouraging step towards promoting the inclusion of women in leadership positions in the oil sector, a move strongly supported by the Chamber which is a signatory of  Equal by 30, a commitment by public and private sector organizations to work towards equal pay, leadership and opportunities for women in the sector by 2030. 

“The appointment of Taelo Mojapelo is a motivating move by BP Southern Africa,” said NJ Ayuk, Executive Chairman of the African Energy Chamber. “At the Chamber, we have been extremely vocal about the increased participation of women in the oil and gas sector, particularly in leadership positions. We applaud BP for its continued commitment to supporting this move and we look forward to seeing other oil companies follow suit.”

Prior to being elected as the new CEO of BP Southern Africa, Mojapelo was the head of optimization and supply at the company and previously held several leadership roles in multinational companies including, Mondelez International, Kellog’s and DHL.

About the African Energy Chamber:
The African Energy Chamber (AEC)  is a leading chamber of successful networks, transactions and partnerships at the helm of Africa’s growing energy industries. The AEC actively promotes the interests of the African continent, its companies and its people.

Partners and members of the African Energy Chamber have the power to shape Africa’s energy future by promoting growth, fostering collaboration, shaping policy, and providing leadership and guidance in the fast-growing energy sector.

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Covid-19 & Smart Food Markets for the Future
June 1, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Betty Kibaara*

Betty Kibaara is the Director, Food Initiative, The Rockefeller Foundation
Betty Kibaara is the Director, Food Initiative, The Rockefeller Foundation

Nothing excites me more than visiting an open-air market and sampling some succulent, juicy pineapple, or a yellow-ripe sweet banana amidst small chit-chat with the friendly women vendors. These pleasantries are no longer the norm. With all of us wearing masks, I can hardly recognize my vendors and they cannot make out their customers. I don’t taste the fruits until they are washed in soapy water.

The COVID-19 pandemic has revealed that while open markets are a key component of a sustainable food system, they aren’t built for a crisis like this one. Urban food markets in Africa often lack adequate infrastructure, resulting in over-crowded spaces and massive amounts of food waste. Vendors have little or no control over the hygiene practices of their suppliers and customers, making food safety protocols difficult to follow.

The Government of Kenya, through the Ministry of Agriculture, has provided guidelines to help secure the food supply during this challenging time. While this is a good short-term measure, we need to be thinking about the long-term changes that will make our markets more resilient for the future. African countries can develop prototypes for “smart” markets fit to our context, designed to ensure health and safety, and equipped to meet our food needs now and into the future.  The big question however is, what could an African Smart Market look like?

Firstly, the vast roofs of markets are a perfect place to install solar panels, enabling markets to run on sustainable energy. The power generated could also serve surrounding consumers and businesses.

Secondly, modern African markets provide the perfect opportunity for water harvesting infrastructure. The roofs of the markets could collect water during rains and would help keep the market well-sanitized and supply customers and vendors with clean drinking water.

Good water supply goes well with sanitation facilities. Water, sanitation and hygiene facilities are critical to limiting infection spread and protecting health. Clean facilities, maintained by private sector partners, could offer services such as sorting bays and improve hygiene by sanitizing surfaces for vendors.

Additionally, Kenya generates 8 million tons of waste annually and nearly 40 per cent of it comes from urban areas. Market waste can be sorted and converted to bio-degradable products to generate power. Organic waste could be used to produce alternative proteins for animal feed  such as black soldier fly production.

It is also worth noting that markets can be designed with basic food processing infrastructure to convert fruits into fresh juices. This could contribute to reducing food waste.  

Food wastage reduction cannot be efficient without a dedicated cold storage infrastructure. Without adequate storage in markets, fruits and vegetables spoil quickly under the hot sun. Cold storage solutions such as ColdHubs, would reduce post-harvest losses.  Through the YieldWise Initiative, and in partnership with TechnoServe, The Rockefeller Foundation has already invested in reducing post-harvest losses among smallholder mango farmers in Kenya. With investments in cold storage solutions, the smart market would provide an additional opportunity at the point of sale to reduce post-harvest loss.

To safeguard human health, food safety and traceability must be a priority throughout the food system. While subsistence production, informal distribution channels, and traditional community markets make it difficult to implement large-scale food safety interventions, smart markets could promote a shift in consumer attitudes by designating a section where traders only sell certified and traceable produce. This could be a big step toward creating consumer demand for food safety and traceability and lay the groundwork for future reform.

Therefore, a carefully considered market design is the final piece of the puzzle. For example, traders in the sunniest and windiest spots often cover their stalls in dirty sacks, introducing unnecessary risk of contamination. Markets could be optimized to have clear entries and exits and take into account the direction of the sun and wind, minimizing the need for extra work and unsanitary makeshift solutions.

As we think about designing the markets of the future, we should also explore business models to help markets become self-sustaining.

We must take COVID-19 as an opportunity to think creatively and help our markets evolve to be more hygienic, more sustainable and more resilient to future shocks and disruptions. By doing this, we can help protect our local vendors’ livelihoods and ensure that millions of Africans have secure access healthy, nutritious food.

*Betty Kibaara is the Director, Food Initiative, The Rockefeller Foundation

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Gambia 2021 Elections: Female Candidate Unveils Interest in Top Job
May 29, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Bakary Ceesay

Marie Sock wants to run as an independent in the next elections

Marie Sock, a developmental expert and business mogul has revealed her interest of been Gambia’s next president come 2021 presidential elections.

Gambia goes to presidential elections in 2021, more political parties and independent candidates are emerging.

Sock told Fatu Network that ‘I’m here to reunited Gambia’ as she on Thursday called on all Gambians to back to her to become the country’s next president.

Sock said: “I feel there are too many political parties right now and it’s catastrophic. So I want to get out of that. This is why I said, ‘no I am not gonna form another political party to be part of, I gonna stand independently’.”

The businesswoman is calling on all Gambians including political parties to endorse her in her grand plan.

She said: “Standing independently doesn’t mean I don’t wanna work with anyone. That’s why I’m standing independent. Of course, it will be great if Gambians can come together regardless of any political party that you are affiliated with, to endorse my candidacy because what I want to do is to bring everybody together as Gambians.

“I’m looking actually for all the parties to endorse me. I cannot predict the future, I can only come out and say I’m standing on my own. For now I can only say I am aspiring candidate and talk to all the people to support me and come onboard as one.

“I’m here to reunite Gambia. If we talk about we want Gambia to be one, I think this is the platform to do so. We put our political affiliations aside, we put our religion aside, we put our tribe aside.”


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Menstrual Hygiene Day: Taboos and traditions a hindrance to menstrual hygiene management in Ghana.
May 28, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ahedor Jessica

Ethnic groups in Ghana, like many other African countries, have diverse opinions and thoughts about menstruation. While the natural phenomenon is seen as unclean in some clans’ others also believe that menstrual blood can be used to invoke supernatural forces or bad omen.

In a typical traditional home in Ghana, women and adolescent girls have to leave their homes to sleep in relative house during their menses.  Girls raised in Muslim homes have to stay away from attending the five daily prayers while menstruating. Some Christian sects’ bar women from entering their chapels when they are menstruating.

United Nations Children’s Fund, UNIEF 2016 research on menstrual hygiene management in Ghana, stated that traditions and taboos surrounding menstruation have proven to be one of the major challenges the sector players are fraught with. Especially in homes where traditional religions are based on animist beliefs and tribal Gods, girls are not allowed to cook for the family when they are menstruating. In extreme cases, menstruating females are even forbidden from touching household wares such as buckets, cutlery or plates and bowls.

This situation does not differ from what Faith Adzorke who lives with the parents at Amaoaman, in the Ga West Municipality of Greater Accra Region has to endure every month.  The 20-year-old couldn’t explain why she has to always move to her maternal side whenever she is about to start her menses. “Ever since I started menstruating at age 11, I have been shuffling between my grand mum’s place and that of my parent’s. My father believes I am unclean when it is ‘that time of the month’. I have to move to my maternal home and only return after my menses”. 

Traditionalist, Osofo Yaw believes there is a spiritual connotation to mensuration and can even been traced to the bible. To him the phenomenon has the potency of neutralizing any form of charm meant to serve as a protection for an individual or a household. Sometimes, materials used in ensuring menstrual hygiene once soaked with blood if not properly disposed of can be use as charms against the women and for ritual purposes, he explained.

But a consultant, physician specialist Koma Jehu-Appiah asserts there is the need to distinguish between culture, religion and natural phenomenon that are a part of womanhood. He believes some people gets intoxicated with culture and religion as a result, it impairs education regarding issues that affects human health. “Menstruation is physiological feature that distinguishes women from men”. Cultural and religious restrictions remained the norm of African most societies contributing to the myth around the subject matter but the only way to breakthrough is education; he added.

Ellen Gyekye, the Head of school Health and Education program (SHEP) at the Ghana Education Service called for continuous support for capacity development of SHEP structures at the school level by promoting and collaborating effectively to imbibe in the younger generation menstrual hygiene habits. She added that community sensitization is key to the success of eliminating stereotypes about the natural happening.

Touching on UNICEF’s recommendation report on menstrual hygiene management (MHM) to the government, she maintained MHM be made part of the everyday conversation between teachers and adolescent girls. She is optimistic the new curriculum will rob- in the various policy recommendations made by the sector players on equitable school health policies that favor MHM.

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Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) Awards 2020 call for nominations announced
May 26, 2020 | 0 Comments
L-R Genet Kebede - AWIEF Creative Industry Award winner 2019, Arunma Oteh - former VP & Treasurer, World Bank and Abby Ikomi, AWIEF Creative Industry Award Finalist 2019
L-R Genet Kebede – AWIEF Creative Industry Award winner 2019, Arunma Oteh – former VP & Treasurer, World Bank and Abby Ikomi, AWIEF Creative Industry Award Finalist 2019
AWIEF Awards are Africa’s top honours for female founders and entrepreneurs designed to recognise and celebrate their contribution to the growth of Africa’s economy

The Africa Women Innovation and Entrepreneurship Forum (AWIEF) (www.AWIEForum.org) is pleased to announce the call for nominations for AWIEF Awards 2020.

This year marks the fourth edition of the highly-anticipated AWIEF Awards which serves as the premier platform to highlight achievements in women entrepreneurship across Africa. AWIEF Awards are Africa’s top honours for female founders and entrepreneurs designed to recognise and celebrate their contribution to the growth of Africa’s economy.

This year a new award category, the Energy Entrepreneur Award, has been created to recognise excellence in the power, oil & gas, and renewable energy sector.

According to Irene Ochem, AWIEF founder and chief executive officer, “AWIEF Awards is a recognition of excellence in female entrepreneurship across Africa and we have seen an exponential growth in both the quality and number of nominations over the three previous editions. We have an obligation, now more than ever, to recognise and showcase those women founders and entrepreneurs who are building solutions and driving change in the African economy.”

Past AWIEF Awards winners have included: Stella Okolie (Nigeria), Wendy Luhabe (South Africa), Jennifer Riria (Kenya), Soraya da Piedade (Angola); Temie Giwa-Tubosun (Nigeria); Caroline Pomeyie (Ghana).

Nominations can be submitted for the following eight (8) categories. Nominees can either be nominated by a third party or be self-nominated.

Young Entrepreneur Award
Tech Entrepreneur Award
Agri Entrepreneur Award

Creative Industry Award
Energy Entrepreneur Award

Social Entrepreneur Award
Empowerment Award
Lifetime Achievement Award

To submit nominations for the AWIEF Awards, please follow this link: https://bit.ly/2ZAO6TA

Nominations close on Tuesday, 30th June 2020 at 23:59 GMT.

Last year, the APO Group African Women in Media Award was launched to recognise the support of female journalists for African women’s entrepreneurship. The call for entries for the 2020 edition of this prestigious award given each year by APO Group during the AWIEF Awards will be announced by APO Group at a later date.
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Nigeria:ABCHealth Announces New CEO
May 17, 2020 | 0 Comments
Mories Atoki
The African Business Coalition for Health is a not-for-profit advocacy driven organization founded by the Aliko Dangote Foundation and the Global Business Coalition for Health

The African Business Coalition for Health (ABCHealth) today announced the appointment of Mories Atoki as Chief Executive Officer following the unanimous agreement of its Board of Directors.

Mories brings to our Coalition years of experience as senior manager with PricewaterhouseCoopers where she pioneered and led the firm’s Sustainability & Climate Change practice. With an extensive track record in the field of development and as a recognized sustainability expert, she is a member of the Advisory Board of Partners for Review (P4R), a United Nations supported initiative to standardise sustainable development reporting. Mories is also an alumnus of Harvard Business School (HBS) as well as the London School of Business & Finance.

Aigboje Aig-Imoukhuede, Chairman of ABCHealth and Co Chairman of Global Business Coalition for Health (GBCHealth), said “Mories’ appointment comes at a critical moment for ABCHealth.  We have just finalized a rigorous strategic planning process aimed at transforming Africa’s Health landscape. Our theory of change now needs to be implemented and Mories has a mandate to successfully drive its implementation”.

Zouera Youssoufou, CEO of Aliko Dangote Foundation (ADF) and Board member of ABCHealth commented that “Mories has a strong track record for execution, she has good communications skills and great leadership capabilities. Her understanding of Africa’s health landscape provides a balanced perspective in our organisation’s mandate of transforming the continent’s health landscape.’

“I am honored and excited to lead ABCHealth” Mories Atoki said. “I believe that my appointment as the CEO of ABCHealth has come at a time when Africa clearly needs a strong convener of all stakeholders in Africa’s public and private sectors to facilitate deep partnerships and collaboration all with one end in sight – improving the continent’s health outcomes.”

The African Business Coalition for Health is a not-for-profit advocacy driven organization founded by the Aliko Dangote Foundation and the Global Business Coalition for Health as an African-led coalition of business leaders and companies to improve the health and wellbeing of the African population.

ABC Health was launched in February 2019 on the margins of the 32nd African Union Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia during the Africa Business; Health Forum convened in partnership with UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) to mobilise leaders from governments and businesses towards improving Africa’s health outcomes.

ABCHealth is registered in Nigeria, with plans to expand to additional business hubs in Africa over the next three to five years. The vision is to create a unified African business community acting as a force for good, transforming workplace and community health through impactful health programs, and shaping policy outcomes regionally and globally.
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Board Members Appointed for the New Global Independent ‘Oversight Board’ for Facebook and Instagram Content
May 7, 2020 | 0 Comments
Julie Owono,from Cameroon is a Digital rights advocate who serves as the Executive Director of Internet Sans Frontières, a Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, a Non-Resident Fellow at the Digital Civil Society Lab at Stanford.
Board Includes Three Members From Africa and Will Make Binding and Transparent Decisions on Content

Today, Julie Owono, a digital rights advocate and Executive Director of Internet Sans Frontières from Cameroon, Maina Kiai, a human rights activist and Director of Human Rights Watch’s Global Alliances and Partnerships program from Kenya, and Afia Asantewaa Asare-Kyei, a human rights lawyer and Program Manager at the Open Society Initiative for West Africa from Senegal, Ghana and South Africa were appointed as Board Members to the newly created Oversight Board. The Oversight Board will review certain content decisions by Facebook and Instagram and make binding decisions based on respect for freedom of expression and human rights.

The Oversight Board will tackle increasingly complex and contentious debates about what types of content should and should not be permitted on Facebook and Instagram and who should decide. The Board will prioritize cases that potentially impact many users, are of critical importance to public discourse, or raise questions about Facebook’s policies. Decisions made by the Board must be implemented by Facebook, as long as they do not violate the law. Oversight Board Members are independent from the company, funded by an independent trust and cannot be removed by Facebook based on their decisions.

“Preserving the free flow of information is a major issue in our contemporary societies,” said Julie Owono. “I come from Cameroon, I grew up in Russia, studied in France, I am currently in the USA, this journey has reinforced my conviction that without freedom, without the right to express oneself, to receive or impart information, there can’t be true and profound progress. It is an honor for me to serve this cause, within the Oversight Board.”

“We have been talking for a long time about creating some kind of independent governance structure for making big companies more accountable on some of the most important decisions they make,” said Maina Kiai. State regulation is important, and I think we need to make progress there too, but I think the Board is an exciting experiment and I’m excited to be part of it,” Kiai added.

“The very act of creating this Board shows Facebook has taken the criticism leveled against it seriously and I hope my membership can help address some of these criticisms,” said Afia Asantewaa Asare-Kyei. I am particularly focused on the Board’s role in improving transparency and accountability, and creating an appeal process where people can bring their content issues. I feel strongly that the Board needs to be truly representative, not just in terms of geography, but age, subject matter and breadth of issues covered as well,” added Asare-Kyei.

Owono, Kiai and Asare-Kyei will work in collaboration with 17 other Members who speak over 27 languages and have diverse professional, cultural, political, and religious backgrounds and viewpoints. Over time the Board will grow to around 40 Members. While no one can claim to represent everyone, Members are confident that the global composition will underpin, strengthen and guide decision-making.

The Board was designed with transparency in mind
All decisions will be made public, and Facebook must respond publicly to them. All Board decisions will be published on its website, while protecting the identity and privacy of those involved. Additionally, the Board will issue a public annual report on its work to evaluate how the Board is fulfilling its purpose and whether Members believe Facebook is living up to its commitments.

Members are independent from Facebook
Members contract directly with the Oversight Board, are not Facebook employees and cannot be removed by Facebook. Members will serve for a maximum of three 3-year terms and case panels will be confidential and assigned at random; no Member can choose the panel they sit on, and all opinions will be anonymous. The Board’s financial independence is also guaranteed by the establishment of a $130 million trust fund that is completely independent of Facebook, which will fund its operations and cannot be revoked.

The Oversight Board is focused on addressing some of the most significant content moderation decisions on Facebook and Instagram that are referred by both users and Facebook
The Oversight Board will begin hearing cases in the coming months. Initially, users will be able to appeal to the Board in cases where Facebook has removed their content. Over the following months, the Board will also be able to review appeals from users who want Facebook to remove content, including advertising. The Board will not be able to make decisions on all of the many thousands of appeals from users that it anticipates receiving, but it will prioritise cases that potentially impact many users, are of critical importance to public discourse or that raise questions about Facebook’s policies.

Afia Asantewaa Asare-Kyei, Senegal, Ghana and South Africa
Program Manager at the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, where she focuses on human rights, women’s rights, criminal justice, access to information and media freedom issues, and previously worked at Save the Children and the U.S. Agency for International Development.

Afia Asantewaa Asare-Kyei is a human rights lawyer and development professional with extensive experience in strategy development, program design, grant management, research and stakeholder engagement in Southern, Western and Central Africa. Of Ghanaian and South African citizenship, she has a varied background in supporting and developing transformational social programs and advocacy strategies through the provision of technical advice and input into policy and programming of civil society organizations on issues like access to information, freedom of expression, human rights and substantive justice, especially as they relate to the inclusion, equality of opportunity and empowerment of vulnerable and under-represented groups such as women, children, persons with disabilities and LGBTIQs. Asare-Kyei has also worked for a number of international development and philanthropic organizations in different capacities in Africa. She is passionate about Africa, its development and has a working knowledge of African regional mechanisms and institutions. She is a graduate of the Centre for Human Rights, Faculty of Law, University of Pretoria, South Africa. Her research interests include women, children and disability rights, critical race feminism and socioeconomic rights of the poor.

Julie Owono, Cameroon
Digital rights advocate who serves as the Executive Director of Internet Sans Frontières, a Fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard, a Non-Resident Fellow at the Digital Civil Society Lab at Stanford.

Julie Owono is an expert in digital rights and an advocate for Business and Human Rights principles in the technology industry. She is Executive Director of Internet Without Borders, an organization which defends digital rights and access to the internet. She is also a fellow at the Berkman Klein Center for Internet and Society at Harvard University, a Digital Civil Society Fellow at Stanford University, a member of UNESCO’s Ad Hoc Expert Group (AHEG) for the Recommendation on the Ethics of Artificial Intelligence and a Member of the Expert Committee on Digital Inclusion of the World Benchmarking Alliance.

Maina Kiai, Kenya
Director of Human Rights Watch’s Global Alliances and Partnerships Program, a former UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Freedom of Peaceful Assembly and of Association, and the former head of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights and the Kenya Human Rights Commission.

Maina Kiai is the Director of the Global Alliances and Partnerships at Human Rights Watch. Previously, he was the United Nations Special Rapporteur for Freedom of Assembly and Association and a founding co-director at InformAction, a Kenyan human rights NGO that advanced human rights through documentary film and community-based debate and mobilizing. He also served as the founding executive chair of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, an independent state body, and as the founding executive director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission, Kenya’s leading human rights NGO. Throughout his career, Kiai has served in leadership roles in prominent national and international human rights organizations, received many fellowships and published widely. He has been a columnist with Nation Media Group and the Standard Group. He is the recipient of the George Kirkland Human Rights Award from AFL-CIO, the Freedom Award from Freedom House, the Leo Navas Award from UN Foundation of USA and the Public Servant Award from the Gay and Lesbians Coalition of Kenya, among other honors.
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Sən Rise
May 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Renée Dugué-Strother*

Renée & René Dugué, Mother, Son, and Father, Terence “Sporty T” Vine, deceased. c. 2010-18

Giver of light

Sən Rise

Giver of life

Sən Rise

The source we need 

Sən Rise

To feed our seed

Sən Rise

Illuminator of the soul

Sən Rise

Without you here the world is cold

Sən Rise

To the world magnificent

Sən Rise

To the world, you are a gift

Sən Rise

All life needs you

Sən Rise

You are the truth

Sən Rise

Without you Sən this world would not be

There would be nothing to see

Everyday open your eyes

Everyday Sən rise

Twenty-two orbits ago today

You sent you to shine the way

The light, the match, you were the spark

The flame, the fire, light in the dark

Sən rise, Sən shine, Sən dance, Sən sing

Sən lead, Sən follow, Sən take, Sən bring

Sən laugh, Sən cry, Sən love, Sən feel

Sən beam, Sən grown, Sən burn, Sən heal

Twenty-two times you’ve circled you

On your journey for the truth

Stay the course and you will see

You possess the light you seek

~Renée Dugué-Strother

Author: Mrs. Renée Dugué-Strother is a Healer, Artist, Writer, Humanitarian, Co-Founder, and Executive Director of Reborn And Rising, a nonprofit based in Houston, TX, USA.

She shared with PAV that her son inspired this piece, and it was included in a letter written to him while in Buea, Cameroon on her organization’s first mission trip. She revealed that her son, also named René, is currently incarcerated in Houston, Texas, USA and that her departure date from Africa was strategically chosen to at least be in the same city as she and her family wished him a Happy Birthday on February 6, and celebrated Our Creator’s grace and mercy in allowing him to see another year, even if behind bars. 

Mrs. Renée reminded PAV of the mission and vision of Reborn And Rising, born out of the pain experienced when her son’s father was murdered. He was only ten years old, and they have struggled desperately to move forward without his Dad. While there were organizations that offered grief counseling throughout the grieving period, there were none that had any programs in place to address the combination of issues Lil René faced, with regard to the loss of a parent due to homicide, specifically providing the unique psychological needs of a “Black” boy in America growing up without his father and extended programs in place to ensure developed and sustained healing. Reborn And Rising acknowledges all of these as absolutely critical to treat the acute trauma experienced and to foster a sustained recovery. This one of a kind nonprofit offers a holistic approach to healing and recovery through mentorship by people who look like the youth we support and will work with them to establish a meaningful connection and share how they survived what these children are struggling to grasp, let alone having to overcome. Crucial to Reborn And Rising’s program is providing psychological treatment by professionals experienced in African psychology methodology as developed by Dr. Wade Nobles and support by a “Village” who embrace traditional African wisdom traditions.

“We know too well that nothing can erase the pain of losing a parent this way or any other. Our desire is to empower youth to find strength in their shared experiences and rise above the pain to choose life.”

~Renée Dugué-Strother

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Sierra Leone : SWSG ,Beauties with Brains partnership donates sanitary pads to girls in Kroo Bay Community
April 28, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma

Strong Women Strong Girls Sierra Leone (SWSG-SL) , in collaboration with Beauties with Brains Organisation,  has on Saturday 25th April embarked on a sensitization and donation of sanitary pads to young girls in the Kroo Bay community in Freetown.

 The donated items include  60pads, perfume, shaving sticks and pants and pads disposal bags was distributed to young girls between the age of 10 and 19yrs.

Speaking during the engagement and donation ceremony, Mariatu Kabba Co-Founder and Executive Director of SWSG-SL said her organisation together with Beauty with brain decided to embark on the sensitization and distribution of sanitary pads around the Kroo Bay community was to reach out to girls , to teach them about the effect of early sex and the negative effect of teenage pregnancy stating that   as it is Coronavirus time girls are at   home and that  they are vulnerable to sexual and gender-based violence thus the need to reach out to them.

“we have to give them some talk on how they can prevent themselves on teenage pregnancy as well as help them by giving out to them sanitary pads because these are some of the small things that men used to lure them and do bad things against them,’’ she said.

She added that during the sensitization , they didn’t only talk to the young girls but also to their care givers , as to their roles in making sure  that their girl child was  safe from COVID-19 and teenage pregnancy.

“This is  very timely , under normal circumstances,  girl child goes through a lot , the resources aren’t really available for them . Girl child usually finds it difficult to purchase or buy sanitary pads and instead resorts to using old piece of clothes which is not hygienic for them which they can contract diseases from, ’’Mariatu explained.

Kabba went to on to say , even under normal circumstances , they are liable to sexual and gender-based violence(SGBV) thus stating that not to talk of the present health situation, compounded with the economic and social stress it will be difficult for them to cope hence  the need for the sensitization and to give out  to them what they can afford.

The SWSG founder further said as a youth-female led organization in the country their aim is  strengthening the socioeconomic status of women and girls and providing them with the knowledge and skills needed to be successful in life through mentorship, skills training and awareness raising campaigns.

“This would aid them to contribute meaningfully to social change and build a sustainable and healthy society,’’ the SWSG founder lamented.

On her part , Janet Hawa Koroma , Managing Director of Beauties With Brains Organisation said her organisation has been working in slum communities and in the streets with their monthly  girls on period campaign,  a campaign they have been doing in slum communities for adolescent girls  in the country adding they were partnering with SWSG to do the sanitary pads donations in the Kroo Bay Community.

She encouraged the young girls to take care of themselves especially during their menstrual cycle and to take care of their menstrual pads and to dispose them off to an appropriate place safely.

One of the beneficiaries,   Kadiatu Bundu , said the sanitary pads were good to protect them as women during their menstrual cycle, thus expressing  appreciation to SWSG and Beauty for their timely donation and sensitization on teenage pregnancy during this Covid-19 period.

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Covid- 19 : A Clarion Call On Child Protection From First Lady Dominique Ouattara in Cote d’Ivoire
April 23, 2020 | 0 Comments
First Lady  Dominique OUATTARA,  is President of The National Committee for Monitoring Actions against Trafficking, Exploitation and Child Labour
First Lady Dominique OUATTARA, is President of The National Committee for Monitoring Actions against Trafficking, Exploitation and Child Labour

Like many countries around the world, Côte d’Ivoire is affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

To face up to this unprecedented health crisis, the President of the Republic and the Government have taken rigorous measures, including the temporary closure of primary, secondary schools and universities, in order to halt the spread of the virus and to protect our children from potential contamination and preserve their health.

Unfortunately, we have noticed that some parents are taking advantage of this situation to engage children into hazardous activities and all forms of labour and exploitation.

I would therefore like to call on parents: child labour is prohibited and punishable by law. No one has the right to engage a child into any activity that endangers him/ her or affects his/ her health, growth, safety and morals.

The current cocoa middle haversting season and the temporary closure of schools must not be used as an excuse for violating children’s rights.

The National Committee for Monitoring Actions against Trafficking, Exploitation and Child Labour reaffirms its firm commitment to further its efforts to eliminate child labour in our country.

Together, let us protect our children, they are our future.

Mrs. Dominique OUATTARA, First Lady, President of The National Committee for Monitoring Actions against Trafficking, Exploitation and Child Labour (CNS)

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Merck foundation together with First Lady of Mozambique announce ‘Stay at Home’ Media Recognition Awards
April 10, 2020 | 0 Comments
Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation with H.E. Dr. ISAURA FERRÃO NYUSI, First Lady of Mozambique
Merck Foundation marks World Health Day together with Mozambique First Lady to raise awareness on Coronavirus

MAPUTO, Mozambique, April 9, 2020/ — Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com), the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany together with First Lady of Mozambique, H.E. Dr. ISAURA FERRÃO NYUSI, announced the call for applications for their ‘Stay at Home” Media Recognition Awards in Mozambique. The theme of the awards is ‘Raising Awareness on how to Stay Safe and keep Physically and Mentally Healthy during Coronavirus Lockdown’.

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation explains, “This is how we mark World Health Day. The ‘Stay at Home’ Media Recognition Award will encourage media to sensitize our communities. Raising awareness about corona virus in our communities will contribute to supporting health workers who are at the forefront of COVID-19 response – providing high quality, respectful treatment and care, it will also enhance their great efforts in leading community dialogue to address fears and questions. Our hearts and thoughts are with them”.

“This unsettling period due to the coronavirus scare is difficult for everyone – both physically and mentally. While most countries are under complete lockdown or restricted movement, people do not know how to handle this situation. Social Distancing is our Social Responsibility and the only way to kill Coronavirus, however, it will take a lot of courage and discipline to practice it. Taking good care of your mental and physical health is important during this period. Therefore, we decided to initiate these awards in order to reward the journalists who are raising awareness in most effective and creative way on how to keep safe and keep physically & mentally healthy during this phase”, added Dr. Rasha Kelej.

The awards are open to all the journalists from Print, Online, Radio and Multimedia Platforms from Mozambique and other Portuguese speaking countries along with English speaking, French speaking and Arabic speaking African countries. The most creative and influential media work aiming to raise awareness and sensitizing communities about this alarming topic at a regular basis will be eligible to win these awards.

Merck Foundation will extend the awards to include Middle Eastern, Latin American and Asian Countries in the next few days to involve all media across the global South. 

“Since most of the people are confined to their homes, they are spending a lot of time reading and listening to news through different platforms. Media professionals, it is your time to help the people to take care good care of their mental & physical health during these disturbing times, through your creative, informational and motivational work. You can guide them to adjust to their new and different routine & rhythm of life”, emphasized Dr. Rasha Kelej.

Details of the Merck Foundation “Stay at Home” Media Recognition Awards

Who can Apply:

Journalists from Print, Online, Radio and Multimedia Platforms from Mozambique and other Portuguese speaking; English speaking; French speaking and Arabic speaking African countries

Last date of submission:

Entries can be submitted till 30th June 2020

How to apply?

Entries can be submitted via Email to info@merck-foundation.com
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African Development Bank appoints Mrs. Nafissatou N’diaye Diouf Acting Director for Communications and External Relations
April 6, 2020 | 0 Comments
I look to Nafissatou to steer the Department at this critical moment as the Bank responds to the rapidly changing situation of COVID-19 and to continue the excellent work done to date in the Department, says AFDB President Akinwumi Adesina

Nafissatou, a Senegalese national, is currently a Division Manager in the Communications and External Relations Department of the African Development Bank Group

ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, April 6, 2020/ — The African Development Bank Group (www.AfDB.org) is pleased to announce the appointment of Mrs. Nafissatou N’diaye DIOUF as the Acting Director for Communications and External Relations Department (PCER), effective 1 April 2020.

Nafissatou, a Senegalese national, is currently a Division Manager in the Communications and External Relations Department of the African Development Bank Group. A dedicated and results driven communications professional, Nafissatou brings over twenty (20) years of experience to the role, with a comprehensive background in corporate communications, public relations, journalism, digital and media Development.

Since her appointment as Division Manager in 2018, Nafissatou has fostered agile communication strategies, consistently reflecting cohesion with the Bank’s vision. She has built and led a world-class team of editors, writers, digital and media specialists, resulting in exponential increase in coverage and awareness around the Bank’s strategic objectives and projects.

Prior, Nafissatou had served as a communications consultant with the Bank’s Private Sector and Infrastructure Complex and Trade Department from 2016 to 2018, during which she engaged with Regional Integration and Trade Department Senior Management, streamlining communication and public relations strategies across a variety of platforms.

Before joining the Bank, Nafissatou, the founder and Managing Director of 54 Communications company, in Dakar, Senegal from 2011 to 2017 provided leadership for the cross-functional development and delivery of compelling public relations, branding, communication and event management strategies for a broad spectrum of public and private entities.

Nafissatou also worked as Public Relations Director for Francophone Africa ZK AdvertisingJohannesburg, South Africa during which she demonstrated a keen aptitude for cross-cultural leadership, managing teams of public relations professionals, account managers and country representatives across seven African countries, including Gabon, Niger, Chad, Madagascar, Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Republic of Congo. With a creative and collaborative approach to project management within challenging markets, Nafissatou excels in strategic storytelling, content development, capacity building and mentoring.

Prior to her transition into corporate communication, Nafissatou worked as a journalist with the Associated Press (AP), covering international conflicts and crises west and central Africa including Liberia, Côte d’Ivoire, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Niger, Mauritania, and the Central African Republic. Many of her breaking news stories were featured in global newspapers such as the Washington Post, USA Today, The Boston Globe and the LA Times. Nafissatou also worked as an Open-Source Officer for the Foreign Broadcast Information Service (FBIS), a division of the Central Intelligence Agency’s Directorate of Science and Technology.

A native French speaker, Nafissatou holds a Master of Arts degree in Interpreting and Translation from Salford University in the United Kingdom (UK), a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Applied Language Studies from Thames Valley University and a Diploma in Journalism and Newswriting from the London School of Journalism.

Commenting on the appointment, Dr. Akinwumi Adesina, President of the African Development Bank said: “Nafissatou is a respected professional in the Communications and External Relations industry. I look to Nafissatou to steer the Department at this critical moment as the Bank responds to the rapidly changing situation of COVID-19 and to continue the excellent work done to date in the Department”.

*AFDB

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Merck Foundation joins hands with First Ladies of Africa to raise awareness about Coronavirus and how to stay safe and healthy
April 6, 2020 | 0 Comments

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation with H.E. CONDÉ DJENE, The First Lady of Guinea Conakry; H.E FATIMA MAADA, The First Lady of Sierra Leone; H.E. PROFESSOR GERTRUDE MUTHARIKA, The First Lady of Malawi; H.E. FATOUMATTA BAH-BARROW, The First Lady of The Gambia; H.E DENISE NKURUNZIZA, The First Lady of Burundi; H.E AÏSSATA ISSOUFOU MAHAMADO, The First Lady of Niger; H.E. BRIGITTE TOUADERA, The First Lady of Central African Republic; H.E. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of Ghana; H.E. CLAR WEAH, The First Lady of Republic of Liberia; H.E. ANTOINETTE SASSOU-NGUESSO, The First Lady of Congo Brazzaville; H.E. MONICA GEINGOS, The First Lady of Namibia; H.E. AUXILLIA MNANGAGW, The First Lady of Zimbabwe; H.E. NEO JANE MASISI, The First Lady of Botswana; H.E. DR. ISAURA FERRÃO NYUSI, The First Lady of Mozambique and Former First Lady of Mauritania
Merck Foundation announces special awards during Coronavirus (COVID-19) lockdown and movement restriction, “Stay at Home” Media Recognition Awards for African Countries to encourage media to be creative and effective in raising awareness and sensitizing Communities on how to stay safe and keep physically and mentally healthy during Coronavirus lockdown

ACCRA, Ghana, April 6, 2020/ — Merck Foundation (www.Merck-Foundation.com), the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany together with African First Ladies of Ghana, Nigeria, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Malawi, Namibia, Niger, Guinea Conakry, Burundi, Central African Republic (C.A.R.), Chad, Zimbabwe, Zambia, The Gambia, Liberia and Congo Brazzaville, announced the call for applications for their ‘Stay at Home” Media Recognition Awards for African countries. The theme of the awards is ‘Raising Awareness on how to Stay Safe and keep Physically and Mentally Healthy during Coronavirus Lockdown’.

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation explains, “This unsettling period due to the coronavirus scare is difficult for everyone – both physically and mentally. While most countries are under complete lockdown or restricted movement, people do not know how to handle this situation. Social Distancing is our Social Responsibility and the only way to kill Coronavirus, however, it will take a lot of courage and discipline to practice it. Taking good care of your mental and physical health is important during this period. So, we decided to initiate these awards in order to reward the journalists who are raising awareness in most effective and creative way on how to keep safe and keep physically & mentally healthy during this phase”.

All the journalists from Print, Online, Radio and Multimedia Platforms from English speaking, French speaking, Arabic speaking and Portuguese speaking African countries are invited to send their entries for the awards. The most creative and influential media work aiming to raise awareness and sensitizing communities about this alarming topic at a regular basis will be eligible to win these awards.

“We have created four categories for Africa; English, French, Portuguese and Arabic speaking countries”, Dr Kelej added.

Merck Foundation will extend the awards to include Middle Eastern, Latin American and Asian Countries in the next few days to involve all media across the global South. 

“Since most of the people are confined to their homes, they are spending a lot of time reading and listening to news through different platforms. Media professionals, it is your time to help the people to take care good care of their mental & physical health during these disturbing times, through your creative, informational and motivational work. You can guide them to adjust to their new and different routine & rhythm of life”, emphasized Dr. Rasha Kelej.

Details of the Merck Foundation “Stay at Home” Media Recognition Awards

Who can Apply:

Journalists from Print, Online, Radio and Multimedia Platforms from English speaking, French speaking, Arabic speaking and Portuguese speaking African countries

Last date of submission:

Entries can be submitted till 30th June 2020

How to apply?

Entries can be submitted via Email to info@merck-foundation.com along with your details (including Name, Gender, Country, Media house, Email address & Mobile Number) and entry as an attachment

Categories and Prize Money:
Category
TV USD 500
Radio USD 500
Print USD 500
Online USD 500
Prize Money USD 500

*Merck Foundation


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African Development Bank Group approves Gender Equality Trust Fund and Risk-Sharing Mechanism to improve women’s economic empowerment in Africa
April 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

The Board of Directors of the African Development Bank Group have approved a new Gender Equality Trust Fund (GETF) aimed at pushing forward gender equality and women’s empowerment across the continent.

Funded by donors, the GETF will support the delivery and scale-up of the Bank’s Affirmative Finance Action for Women in Africa (AFAWA) programme and promote gender transformative lending and non-lending operations. It is the first thematic fund on gender in the Bank Group’s history. The Fund will be established for an initial period of 10 years.

AFAWA is the Bank’s flagship pan-African initiative which aims to bridge the $42 billion financing gap facing women in Africa. Through AFAWA, the Bank is spearheading a major push to unlock women’s entrepreneurial capacity and economic participation for maximum development impact.

Also on Tuesday 31 March, the Board of Directors of the Bank approved a Risk-Sharing Mechanism – an innovative financial instrument to de-risk women-empowered businesses, enhance their profile with banks and support them to grow and thrive as entrepreneurs.

Anchor investors in the GETF are the governments of France, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

“It’s a great day for us as a Bank. It is a great day for the continent and the women of Africa as this facility provides innovative ways to tackle the access to finance challenges for African women business owners,” said African Development Bank President Akinwumi Adesina.

The Africa Guarantee Fund (AGF) has been chosen as the first implementing partner to facilitate access to finance for women-owned small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). AGF is a pan-African entity that provides financial institutions with guarantees and other financial products to support SMEs in Africa. AGF has a network spread out over 42 African countries and 150-plus financial institutions, which AFAWA will leverage. This first transaction is expected to unlock up to $2 billion in credit for women-empowered businesses across the continent.

Vanessa Moungar, Bank Director, Gender, Women and Civil Society, described the approval as “the largest effort ever to bridge the gap in access to finance for women in Africa’s history” and said the Fund’s resources and the Risk-Sharing Mechanism would prioritize women’s economic empowerment and high-impact women’s initiatives.

Moungar said the partnership with AGF is a starting point for mobilizing other financial institutions and increasing access to finance for women entrepreneurs on the continent.Apart from the G7 donors and the Netherlands, other countries are showing strong interest in contributing to the initiative, including Rwanda and Sweden. The Bank Group will continue to mobilize resources in order to unlock $5 billion worth of financing for women-empowered businesses in Africa. AFAWA is also an implementing partner of the Women Entrepreneurship Finance (We-Fi) Initiative.

*AFDB

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Take five: “We need to have a common vision and ideology to advocate for the rights of all women and girls with one voice”
March 31, 2020 | 0 Comments
UN Women Representative in Tanzania Hodan Addou shakes hands with youth advocate Gertrude Mligo. Photo: UN Women/Tsitsi Matope

Getrude Mligo, 23, was born two years after the adoption of the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. As a high school student in Songea region of Tanzania, the gender inequalities she saw in her community, especially child marriages that forced girls out of school, prompted her to look back to the 1995 blueprint and begin asking questions. In 2020, Mligo participated in a UN Women mentorship programme as part of UN Women’s Generation Equality campaign, in partnership with Plan International, which paired her with UN Women Representative in Tanzania, Hodan Addou. In this interview, Mligo shares what it means to be a champion for Generation Equality.

DAR ES SALAAM, Tanzania, March 31, 2020,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/-

What first inspired you to study the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and become an advocate for women and girls? 

I was looking for an instrument I could use to challenge what I saw happening to fellow girls.

It is wrong to marry off a child, so I wondered why it was happening in the first place. I wanted to find out if the world was doing anything about it. There are a lot of efforts underway, and the Government of Tanzania has shown commitment to the Beijing Platform for Action and the empowerment of women and girls.

What can be done to prevent early and child marriage?

One powerful solution would be the insistence on girls’ education, [and keeping them in school] until they complete their tertiary education. For that to happen, all social norms that push back girls’ education should be removed, and that means interventions should target the parents, guardians, schools, communities and leaders to change attitudes.

There are great benefits that come from educating girls. I have educated sisters, and they are a pillar of support in my family. When you educate a girl, you educate a nation! The benefits are far-reaching and incomparable to the bride price paid when girls are married in most African countries.

How can mentorship by women in leadership benefit young women and girls?

Mentorship should be a key part of the Generation Equality campaign, because we, as women,need each other for significant progress to be made in gender equality. We are looking at us as women, all age groups, from both rural and urban areas, and saying: “How can we get it right, [and] get there?”

I think one area where we are falling short is valuing the wealth of knowledge and wisdom that the Beijing Platform for Action pioneers have acquired over the years. We can tap into this and combine it with what the young generation bring to the table, to strengthen the movement.

While mentorship provides an effective type of knowledge transfer, we need ‘a hybrid’ set of strategies that reflect intergenerational ideas.

The Generation Equality campaign essentially presents such opportunities to discuss how we can rally together and ensure we leave no one behind.

How did mentorship by UN Women Representative in Tanzania Hodan Addou inspire you?

Receiving mentorship from Ms. Addou was a turning point in my life, in terms of how I now appreciate the value of women’s leadership. It came at a time when I needed it most, after my university graduation. I got the chance to ask questions and learnt a lot from her leadership and management style.

I learned more about the rights of women and girls and how to lead and work with others, and the importance of listening. I was also able to use the skills I gained. I attended high-level meetings with the Representative, including one at the old Parliament in Dar es Salaam.

The fact that I had a real experience made me realize the importance of mentorship by a woman who has been there and has seen it all.But I also came to understand that, despite being so important for young women to learn from the giants, such opportunities are rare.

What’s your advice for all women?

As women, we need to have a common vision and ideology to advocate for the rights of all women and girls with one voice. It does not matter who you are, where you are, or the language you speak, as long as you are a woman, the message should be the same – equal opportunities for gender parity!

The issues affecting women and girls in the remote areas of Mara region are also issues for women in the urban areas. We all need each another and should own the strategies and drive the change wherever we are. Interventions should not always be about funded programmes but can also be about individuals championing women’s rights.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of the UN Women.

Source : African Media Agency (AMA)

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Merck Foundation meets the President of Namibia to underscore their long-term partnership with the First Lady of Namibia to break infertility stigma
March 20, 2020 | 0 Comments

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation & President, Merck More Than a Mother with H:E President Hage Geingob and  H.E. MONICA GEINGOS, The First Lady of Namibia & Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother
Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation & President, Merck More Than a Mother with H:E President Hage Geingob and H.E. MONICA GEINGOS, The First Lady of Namibia & Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother

Merck Foundation launched their programs in partnership with Namibia’s First Lady together with Ministry of Health & Social Service and Ministry of Education

Merck Foundation to train doctors in the fields Cancer, Diabetes and Fertility Care to build healthcare capacity in the country

Merck Foundation to train media to break the stigma of infertility in partnership with The First Lady of Namibia

Windhoek, Namibia: Merck Foundation, the philanthropic arm of Merck KGaA Germany underscored their commitment to break infertility stigma and build healthcare capacity in Namibia during their high-level meeting held at the State House between The Head of State of Namibia, H.E. HAGE GEINGOB, The F irst Lady of Namibia, H.E MONICA GEINGOS and Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation. The objective of the meeting was to explain and discuss the programs of Merck Foundation, which were launched in partnership with Namibia First Lady and Ministry of Health & Social Service and Ministry of Education.

H.E. HAGE GEINGOB, the President of Namibia emphasized “Namibia needs t he programs of Merck Foundation break Infertility Stigma and train media t o sensit ize communities about health and sensitive issues. Moreover, the training programs for specialized doctors are very critical for our people and their social and economic well- being. I wholeheartedly support Merck Foundation in our country, to enable the success of all their programs.”

Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation & President, Merck More Than a Mother with H.E. MONICA GEINGOS, The First Lady of Namibia & Ambassador of Merck More Than a Mother during the launch event

The First lady of Namibia and Ambassador of Merck More than a Mother, H.E. Mrs. MONICA GEINGOS emphasized the importance of this campaign to break the silence of the Namibian women who suffered from the stigma of infert ilit y . Also emphasized the critical role her office is going to play to be the voice of these women to empower them through advocacy, access to information and change of mindset.

“I am very happy and proud of partnership with the First Lady of Namibia and Ambassador of Merck More than a Mother. This partnership will help us to break the stigma of infertility and empower childless women through access to information, health and change of mindset. It will also help us to train specialized doctors in t he fields of Diabetes, Oncology and Fertility care which will contribute significantly towards social and economic development in Namibia. We are committed to lead Africa to a better future through changing the landscape of healthcare in the continent”, emphasized Dr. Rasha Kelej.

Merck Foundation also plans to introduce other unique initiatives in t he c ountry t o create the desired culture shift with regard to breaking the stigma around infertility.

“Few initiatives include announcing the ‘Merck More than a Mother’ Media Recognition Award and Health Media Training for the first time in the country in partnership with The First Lady of Namibia together with Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education. Also, launching an inspiring children storybook of Paulus and Limbikani to strengthen family values of love and respect since young ages which will reflect on eliminating the stigma of infertility and result ed domest ic violence in the future. Also, involving Fashion industry to deliver the message of breaking the stigma of infertile women to the community in day to day life which will be achieved by out ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ Fashion Awards for Namibia and rest of Africa. We will also be launching our special project ‘Education Linda’, which helps young girls who are unprivileged but brilliant to continue their education.”, added Dr. Rasha Kelej.

About Merck Oncology Fellowship Program

The Merck Oncology Fellowship Program, a key initiative of Merck Cancer Access Program, focuses on building additional capacity through medical education and training.

The lack of financial means is not the only challenge in Africa and developing countries, but a scarcity of trained health care personnel capable to tackle the prevention, early diagnosis and management of cancer at all levels of the health care systems is even a bigger challenge.

Merck Oncology Fellowship Program focuses on building professional cancer care capacity with the aim to increase the limited number of oncologists in Africa and Developing countries. The program provides One-year fellowship program at Tata Memorial Centre – India, One and hal f – years Oncology Fellowship programs at University of Malaya – Malaysia, Two years Oncology Fellowship Program at University of Nairobi – Kenya and Two years Master degree in Medical Oncology at Cairo University – Egypt, in partnership with African Ministries of Health, Local Governments and Academia.

Launched in 2016, Merck Foundation has trained more than 80 Oncology Care Specialists from 26 countries which are: Botswana, Burundi, Cameroon, CAR, Chad, Congo Brazzaville, DRC , Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Ghana, Guinee, Kenya, Liberia, Malawi, Mauritius, Namibia, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

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 and effective fertility care. 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 on 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 BAHBARROW, The First Lady of The Gambia H.E. MONICA GEINGOS, The First Lady of Namibia H.E DENISE NKURUNZIZA, The First Lady of Burundi H.E. REBECCA AKUFO-ADDO, The First Lady of Ghana H.E AÏSSATA ISSOUFOU MAHAMADO, 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. C LAR WEAH, The First Lady of Liberia H.E FATIMA MAADA, The First Lady of Sierra Leone H.E. ANTOINETTE SASSOUNGUESSO, The First Lady of Congo Brazzaville H.E. PROFESSOR GERTRUDE MUTHARIKA, The First Lady of Malawi H.E. ESTHER LUNGU, The First Lady of Zambia H.E. SYLVIA BONGO ONDIMBA, 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 is making history in many African countries where they never had fertility specialists or specialized fertility clinics before ‘Merck More Than a Mother’ intervention, to train the first fertility specialists such as; in Sierra Leone, Liberia, The Gambia, Niger, Chad, Guinea, Ethiopia and Uganda.

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

*Source Merck Foundation

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As pandemic rages, women and girls face intensified risks
March 20, 2020 | 0 Comments

NEW YORK, USA, le 20 Mars 2020,-/African Media Agency (AMA)/- As the COVID-19 pandemic rages around the world, governments are taking unprecedented measures to limit the spread of the virus, ramping up health system responses and announcing movement restrictions affecting millions. But amid these efforts, policymakers must not lose sight of the vulnerabilities of women and girls, which have been exacerbated by the crisis, says a UNFPA guidance note released today.

COVID-19, the coronavirus disease that has rapidly spread around the world since it was discovered late last year, appears most deadly among elderly populations and people with pre-existing medical conditions. Accurate and complete sex-disaggregated data are still needed to understand whether and how women and men experience infection, complication and death risks differently.

Yet even now, it is clear that women and girls face a variety of risk factors that must urgently be addressed.

“Disease outbreaks affect women and men differently,” says the new UNFPA guidance document, which covers how gender is playing a role in the unfolding pandemic. “Pandemics make existing gender inequalities for women and girls worse, and can impact how they receive treatment and care.”

Women on the front lines

Women may face heightened risk of exposure to COVID-19 due to their disproportional representation among health-care and social service personnel. Around the world, around 70 per cent of health and social service workers are women. Many are midwives, nurses or community health workers, roles that place them on the front lines of any disease outbreak.

Risks to women and girls also increase if health systems divert resources from sexual and reproductive health care to respond to the epidemic, and if supply lines begin to creak under the strain of the pandemic.

Sexual and reproductive health services and commodities are often overlooked in times of crisis, yet women continue to require family planning, menstrual health supplies and maternal health care. Already, countries have seen health systems forced to allocate staff and resources towards critical care services and away from other areas of care.

It is a particularly worrying time for women who are pregnant and in need of routine health services. Infection control measures must be taken to protect women in antenatal, neonatal and maternal health units, the guidance note says.

Pregnant women also need access to reliable information and quality care.

“To date, there is no evidence that pregnant women are at higher risk of severe illness from COVID-19 or present with different symptoms,” said  UNFPA Executive Director Dr. Natalia Kanem. “It is important to ensure that all pregnant women with a suspected, probable or confirmed COVID-19 infection continue to have access to the full range of quality health care. Pregnant women with respiratory illnesses must be treated with the utmost priority due to increased risk of adverse outcomes.”

Risk of violence, affected livelihoods

The pandemic has also given rise to threats that extend beyond the risk of infection.  Evidence from previous disease outbreaks reveals that women and girls face particular vulnerabilities.

In the 2015-2016 Zika outbreak, women faced significant barriers to health care due to lack of autonomy over their own sexual and reproductive health, inadequate access to health services, and insufficient financial resources. During the 2014-2016 West African Ebola outbreak, women were more likely to be infected due to their predominant roles as caretakers and health workers.

Today, the coronavirus pandemic could exact a significant toll on women’s livelihoods, as school closures increase the burden of domestic care that typically falls to women, and as travel restrictions affect service industries and informal labour dominated by female workers.

Epidemics and their attendant stresses can also increase the risk of domestic abuse and other forms of gender-based violence. The economic effects of the Ebola outbreak, for instance, led to exacerbated sexual exploitation risks for women and children. Today, as families face heightened tensions, financial uncertainties and other pressures, women and girls face intensified vulnerabilities.

UNFPA urges policymakers to include women’s perspectives in pandemic planning and decision-making. Health systems are also urged to be prepared to provide essential support to survivors of gender-based violence.

“All these survivors need to access protection and health services even in the midst of community quarantines,” said Aimee Santos, a UNFPA gender expert working in the Philippines, where the organization is working with Government health services on the pandemic response.

Working together

All of these vulnerabilities are exacerbated in humanitarian settings. “For the nearly 48 million women and girls, including 4 million pregnant women, identified by UNFPA as in need of humanitarian assistance and protection in 2020, the dangers that COVID-19 outbreaks pose will be magnified,” the guide says. It calls for humanitarian action plans to account for the need to respond to the pandemic.

In addition to advocating for gender-sensitive responses, UNFPA has been providing material support to affected health systems.

In China, UNFPA has distributed sanitary napkins and adult diapers for vulnerable populations, including at-risk elderly persons, as well as personal protective equipment for health workers. In Iran, UNFPA has acquired supplies such as masks, disinfectants and gloves for health workers.

In the Philippines, UNFPA recently provided personal protective equipment – including coveralls, long-sleeve gowns, face shields, eye goggles, aprons, head covers, and shoe covers – to frontline health workers. These supplies supplement an earlier distribution of hand-held thermometers and surgical masks.

“It is imperative that we support [the Department of Health] and all the heroes of this country today – all the people working in the health sector, especially the front-liners risking their health and safety to respond to this emergency. They need to be protected from infection,” said Dr. Joseph Michael Singh, a UNFPA health expert in the Philippines.

Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of UNFPA.

Source : African Media Agency (AMA)

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Kenya : Traders Warned Against Hike in Commodity prices
March 17, 2020 | 0 Comments
Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) Chief Executive Phyllis Wakiaga

By Samuel Ouma

Kenyan traders have been warned against hiking prices of products over coronavirus pandemic.

The statement was issued by the Kenya Association of Manufacturers (KAM) chief executive Phyllis Wakiaga urging their members to stick to contractual obligation and avoid increasing prices.

“KAM advocates that the rule of law prevails during this time and that all producers and distributors continue to uphold existing contractual obligations, especially with regard to price controls for the sake of consumers,” said Wakiaga.

On its side, the Competition Authority of Kenya (CAK) notified manufacturers and retailers that they will attract a penalty of up to the 10 per cent of their turnover if they attempt to raise the their prices or hoard with an intention of increasing prices.

Few hours after Kenyan government confirmed the first case of covid-19 on Friday last week; Kenyans thronged shopping centres like supermarkets to purchase sanitizers and household commodities in panic buy mode.

Upon visiting a handful of supermarkets based in Nairobi, we discovered that there were shortages of sanitizers and basic commodities like maize flour, rice and sugar. Most shelves were empty and there were long queues of customers waiting to be served.

Dan Githua, Chief Executive Officer of Tuskys Supermarket, one of the famous supermarkets in the country had assured the customers of adequate stock.

“As a responsible corporate citizen, we wish to assure the public that the panic is unnecessary. We have engaged with our suppliers and received firm commitments that we shall continue receiving necessary supplies at the standard prices,” he said.

Githua also disclosed the adoption of a limited purchase policy which will see every customer buying three packets of a hand sanitizer, antiseptic and bleach liquid. The move was aimed at locking out opportunists who were buying the products in bulk and sell them at a very high price to desperate Kenyans.

“A few bold and entrepreneurial customers have been taking advantage of the prevailing Covid-19 panic to buy particular items in bulk and resell at inflated prices,” Githua said.

On Sunday, March 15, Health Cabinet Secretary Mutahi Kagwe confirmed the other two cases of the deadly virus forcing the government to shut down all learning institutions until further notice to avert further spread. The two who tested positive had travelled in the same plane with the first patient.

The first woman to test positive had arrived in Kenya from USA via London on March 5 and the virus detected 8 days later.

President Uhuru Kenyatta also announced that all foreigners have been banned from entering the country and those who entered the country in the last two weeks have been directed to self-quarantine.

“As a result of this we are going to implement the following measures: Only Kenyan citizens and foreigners with valid resident permits will be allowed to come into the country provided they proceed on self-quarantine or in a government quarantine facility,” President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Kenya had also cancelled flights to and from the affected countries. Non-essential travels have also been halted.

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VLISCO GHANA ANNOUNCES SECOND EDITION OF ITS WOMEN’S MENTORING PROGRAM
March 17, 2020 | 0 Comments

  • Announcement made during Vlisco Women’s Month as part of the pan-African campaign theme ‘All women, all united’
  • Second year of mentoring program continues to empower Ghana’s most inspiring future female leaders
  • Over 150 young women attend a show-stopping event with mentoring sessions led by special guests and a panel discussion featuring all five past Vlisco ambassadors, designed to inspire attendees to achieve their professional goals
Mr. Stephen Badu, Vlisco Marketing Director

Ghana, 16th March 2020: Today, Dutch wax print specialist Vlisco announced the second edition of its Women’s Mentoring Program, designed to empower and support the brightest female talent across Ghana. To coincide with celebrations around International Women’s Day and Vlisco Women’s Month, Vlisco hosted an exclusive event at the World Trade Centre, Accra, inviting more than 150 young women and special guests to hear about the inspiring stories and experiences of experts and past Vlisco Ambassadors.

Vlisco has long been a brand that not only creates beautiful fabrics but also one that inspires and champions the role of women in our society. This led to the launch of the Vlisco Women’s Mentoring Program in 2019 with the aim of impacting the lives of young Ghanaian women by providing guidance on developing key skills in a variety of relevant areas. Following the success of the inaugural mentoring program, the ambition to create long-lasting impact with the women they seek to inspire, celebrating Ghanaian women and engaging future talent, remains.

Vlisco Marketing Director Mr. Stephen Badu elaborated on the mission to impact the lives of young Ghanaian women “2019 was a very exciting year as we launched the first Women’s Mentoring Program, and we had immense success and feedback from both the Ambassadors and their respective mentees. Our aim with the second edition is to extend this opportunity to more young women in Ghana who can be supported through the journey of achieving their goals via insights from women who have walked the path before them.”

During the first half of the event, the invited young women enjoyed two specialist mentoring sessions from Dzigbordi Dosoo, renowned businesswoman and co-creator of skincare brand Kanshi and Freda Obeng- Ampofo, founder of KAEME BodyCare. To provide an interactive learning experience, sessions covered key topics including gender balance and nurturing business relationships followed by a question and answer session with the young women in attendance.

Afterwards, special guests including customers and vendors of Vlisco joined the second half of the program which was hosted by notable MC, TV presenter and classical singer, Kokui Selormey.  The program entailed an engaging panel session featuring the former Vlisco ambassadors and 2019 mentees, sharing their positive experiences from the first program.

In true Vlisco fashion, three Ghanaian fashion designers showcased their latest collections interspersed with entertainment from musician Ekow Saxx, comedian Jacinta Asi Ocansey and band Afro Maestro. 

The program concluded with the announcement of five new mentees selected to participate in the 2020 edition of the Vlisco Women’s Mentoring Program. Each former Ambassador has been assigned one mentee as part of the year-long mentorship program, creating a forum where they can actively engage with and have a positive impact on the younger generation who aspire to follow in their footsteps.

Current ambassador Edith Uyovbukerhi noted, “It has been an incredible honour to have the opportunity to share my life and journey with my mentee, but it’s been a bigger privilege to be a part of her life and to impart into it. I have learnt from her and it has been a refreshing experience to watch her bloom so beautifully. I look forward to continuing this great experience with my new mentee.”

Mr. Badu concluded by citing examples of some of the work Ambassadors have engaged in such as Legacy Girls, an all-girls Senior High School Co-Founded by Mrs. Ellen Hagan (Vlisco Ambassador, 2013), The Young Educators Foundation & Spelling Bee by Eugenia Tachie-Menson (Vlisco Ambassador, 2014), The Girl’s Education Initiative of Ghana by Elizabeth Patterson (Vlisco Ambassador, 2015), Tech Needs Girls by Regina Honu (Vlisco Ambassador, 2016) and LittleBigSouls, charity for premature babies Co-Founded by Edith Uyovbukerhi (Vlisco Ambassador, current).

Also, during Women’s month 2020 Vlisco celebrates the power and unity of sisterhood. With the campaign motto ‘All women, all united’, Vlisco honours its ambassadors who work hard to motivate and empower other women. This motto is also included as a strong and bright embellishment in two exclusive Wax Hollandais and Super-Wax designs. The new campaign features four inspiring women and their powerful work to improve women’s lives in Togo, Benin, Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ivory Coast. These women walk the extra mile to motivate and embolden other women to build a healthier, joyous and prosperous society.

Vlisco proudly presents these amazing women in a campaign that will be presented in Togo, Benin, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ghana and Ivory Coast, and to a global audience online. The campaign features billboards, TV commercials, video portraits and events dedicated to women who are making a difference.

The Women’s Month ‘All women, all united’ Vlisco Wax prints will be available exclusively at Vlisco stores.

Vlisco has been a Dutch printer of wax fabrics since 1846. Because of African women traders, the fabrics, originally intended for the Indonesian market, became part of African culture. They not only bought and sold the fabric, they also advised on colour and design. Moreover, they created names for the different prints and told stories about their meaning.

African women then bought the fabrics to turn into garments that expressed their identity. The market for Vlisco prints in Africa is an example of mass-customisation and individual self-expression. This is not fast fashion but sustainable made-to-measure.

Vlisco still has its home in Helmond, the Netherlands. The design team is international and chosen for their individual and varied style. The imaginative designs come from the designers themselves, but the interpretation and expression are purely African.


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#BLACKGIRLMAGIC CAMEROON
March 10, 2020 | 0 Comments

Renée M. Dugué-Strother*

Ruth Arreyngang Abunaw Besong (IPW) and Renée Dugué-Strother (R&R)
Buea, Cameroon 1/20

In true #BLACKGIRLMAGIC Fashion she walks life’s tight rope…

Masterfully balancing her journey’s responsibilities…

Magically maintaining her integrity, her esteem, her compassion, her mental acuity, and her spiritual awareness.

Resilient and resourceful, she relies on her ancestors and angels to fuel her rocket ship spirit guided by her Creator into her destiny’s galaxy.

She wondrously weaves all of these elements…

Faithfully embroidering each panel with threads of poise, grace, dignity, and class…

Each stitch embedded with vibranium-like endurance.

In true #BLACKGIRLMAGIC Fashion she wears her cape.

A garment fit for royalty, crafted with quality far superior to the finest fabrics this plane can create.

No runway in Paris produces this.

No fashion show in New York knows how.

No place in India inks silks of this caliber.

This regal drape…

This coveted covering…

Is embellished with the blood, sweat and tears of this planet’s Motherland.

Her Motherland.

Her Mother’s land.

And so she stands.

In front of her life’s proverbial mirror preparing for the day.

Seeing that she is completely dressed, equipped and covered.

No additional accessories needed.

The only befitting enhancement to her birth right suit and her natural beauty is her brilliant smile.

She puts it on.

And in true #BLACKGIRLMAGIC Fashion she sets out to share her radiant gifts with everyone she encounters.

*~Renée M. Dugué-Strother

#BLACKGIRLMAGIC CAMEROON was inspired by my host and Cameroonian partner, who warmly welcomed me into her home and her family in Buea.  She is a(n)… Woman of God, Faithful Wife, Nurturing Mother, Loving Daughter, Amazing Sister, Loyal Friend, Courageous Humanitarian, Relentless Scholar. This LADY is intelligent, sensitive, powerful, ambitious, kind, and strong beyond my comprehension! She is the epitome of perseverance and humility personified. I’m so inspired by this CEO Boss Lady with a heart as rich as Africa!

Because of you…

I WILL #Walk4Water

Mrs. Renée M. Dugué-Strother is a Healer, Artist, Writer, Humanitarian, and Co-founder, and Executive Director of Reborn And Rising, a nonprofit based in Houston, TX, USA. This organization  provides support to minority male child homicide survivors beyond the grieving period. Through music, art, education, entrepreneurial ventures, travel, and humanitarian efforts, with the support of dedicated mentors, our RISERS are encouraged to discover their passions and explore the tangible possibilities of making their dreams come true. Reborn And Rising’s desire is to empower youth to find strength in their experiences and rise above the pain to choose life after loss.

Reborn And Rising will continue to implement their Water Station Restoration Project 4 times annually. A long term partnership with Investing In People Worldwide (Buea) and Solid Fort Construction (Douala) has been established, and plans for the 3 remaining public tap rehabilitations this year are already underway. Reborn And Rising is committed to continuing to support the efforts of IPW, as Ruth Besong works tirelessly in ensure women and children’s rights are respected. Additional plans are also in progress, as Mrs. Renée has identified the boys and men of Cameroon are critically in need of assistance. Reborn And Rising will return in 2021 specifically to support them.

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Commonwealth gathering urges countries to make this ‘the decade of gender equality’
March 8, 2020 | 0 Comments

A Commonwealth gathering has called for an end to gender inequality by 2030 so every girl can have the same opportunities as boys.

Ahead of International Women’s Day, Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland joined a gathering of leaders, celebrities, academics and activists in London to discuss ways to accelerate the progress.

Despite decades of activism and reforms, only six countries in the world give women and men equal rights to work in their law books – an increase from none about 10 years ago.

The Secretary-General said: “Our Commonwealth Charter speaks of gender equality and women’s empowerment as being essential components of human development and basic human rights.

“Advancing women’s rights, the education of girls and their participation in the workforce are critical prerequisites for effective and sustainable development.

“For instance, on average, for every £1 invested in a business, those with all-male boards show a loss of two per cent, while those with two or more women yield a return of six per cent.

“But many countries need help to make it happen. So today, we are consulting on a toolkit that will support country-level efforts with training programmes and campaigns to accelerate gender equality.”

She declared this March as Commonwealth Gender Equality Month to “sharpen the focus on the need to accelerate the rate at which action is taken by our member nations to achieve gender equality”.

Delegates watched a new film that follows Livia Firth, co-founder of Eco-Age, to Botswana. In the film, she listens to women who have improved their living standards by working in Botswana’s diamond industry.

Over 80 cents of each dollar from Botswana’s diamonds go to funding measures to reduce poverty, empower women, deliver quality education and provide free health care.

Livia said: “In Botswana, I have seen a picture of what can happen when businesses operate in partnership with the government and civil society, and where long-term investments are made in collaboration with local communities to ensure that the benefits are truly shared with those on the ground.”

An expert panel discussed how diamonds have contributed to the sustainable development of Botswana uplifting communities and protecting the environment.

Panellists included The First lady of Botswana Neo Masisi, Patricia Scotland, Livia Firth, Baroness Lola Young, and three women featured in the film: Pat Dambe, Naseem Lahri and Kgalalelo Mokgweetsi.

Neo Masisi said: “Botswana’s economy transformed from one of the poorest countries in the world to a middle-income country in Africa where the discovery of diamonds has played a pivotal role in creating sustainable growth and development in Batswana’s livelihoods.

“Botswana has managed where many others have failed to translate the potential resources below ground into enduring value above ground.”

The panel presented a list of progressive practices, which had helped close the gender gap in the Botswanan workforce. These include engaging women in the development sector, investing equally in women and men and getting women into male-dominated industries.

The Secretary-General launched a toolkit, developed in partnership with the NO MORE Foundation, that will help implement the sustainable development goal five for gender equality.

The toolkit aims to provide guidance on devising culturally sensitive training programmes, bystanders intervention initiatives and motivational campaigns to bring about positive change more swiftly, including challenging gender-based violence.

International Women’s Day is a global event that celebrates women achievers in every field while calling for gender equality.

*Commonwealth

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Reflections… My First Trip To The Motherland
March 4, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Renée Dugué-Strother *

Pilanesberg, North West Province, South Africa September 2017 Photo Credit: Renée Dugué-Strother

The Anticipation…
Eyes wide
Heart open
Wings spread
Feet landed

At First Sight…
Soul weighted
Stomach pained
Tears flowed
Fists clenched

Settling In…
Being welcomed
Hands held
Energy soothed
Spirit imbued

Parting Gift…
Mind opened
Ears pierced
Back strengthened
Soul stirred

Each one, reach one, teach one
So much work, to be done

*Mrs. Renée M. Dugué-Strother is a Healer, Artist, Writer, Humanitarian, Co-founder, and Executive Director of Reborn And Rising, a nonprofit based in Houston, TX, USA. This organization provides support to minority male child homicide survivors beyond the grieving period. Through music, art, education, entrepreneurial ventures, travel, and humanitarian efforts, with the support of dedicated mentors, our RISERS are encouraged to discover their passions and explore the tangible possibilities of making their dreams come true. Reborn And Rising’s desire is to empower youth to find strength in their experiences and rise above the pain to choose life after loss.

Reborn And Rising will continue to implement their Water Station Restoration Project 4 times annually. A long term partnership with Investing In People Worldwide (Buea) and Solid Fort Construction (Douala) has been established, and plans for the 3 remaining public tap rehabilitations this year are already underway. Reborn And Rising is committed to continuing to support the efforts of IPW, as Ruth Besong works tirelessly in ensure women and children’s rights are respected. Additional plans are also in progress, as Mrs. Renée has identified the boys and men of Cameroon are critically in need of assistance. Reborn And Rising will return in 2021 specifically to support them.

Renée’s spirit is as free as her mind is determined. The consummate seeker of light and insight; she encourages all to seek the pathological origins of their behavior. She provides support in identifying, accepting and ultimately appreciating every aspect of existence, as completely necessary to fulfill our divine purpose. She is laser focused when achieving an objective, yet never forgets to laugh and love along the way.

A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, she has resided in Houston, Texas since Hurricane Katrina devastated her hometown in 2005. She loves spending quality time with family and friends, as they enjoy what she considers life’s must-haves…lots of love, beaucoup laughs, tasty treats, and scrumptious sweets…while music that moves your soul plays on repeat.

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National Gallery of Zimbabwe Director Sibanda retires
March 3, 2020 | 0 Comments

By Wallace Mawire

Doreen Sibanda

The Board of Trustees of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe has announced the retirement of Mrs. Doreen Sibanda from the position of Executive Director effective from  30 January 2020.

Mrs Sibanda was appointed as Executive Director of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in 2004 and has served in that capacity over the last 16 years.

Mrs Sibanda is a qualified Educator, having attained a Certificate of Education: Art and Design the University of Birmingham, School of Education followed by a Bachelor of Education Degree (With Merit) University of Zimbabwe, 1979 and then a Master of Education: Qualifying Course University of Zimbabwe, 1980.

Mrs Sibanda initially joined the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in 1981, establishing the Education and Public Programmes Department of the organization and served as the Education Officer until 1988. She curated at Pavilion of Zimbabwe at the Venice Biennale, curated multiple exhibitions throughout her service in the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, as well as serving as Commissioner of all five Pavilions of Zimbabwe at la Biennale di Venezia since 2011.

As from 1996 to 2001, she founded and directed her private gallery, Mutupo, while working on a large number of projects in that stead. She has served as a Lecturer at the National Gallery of Zimbabwe’s BAT Studios, Harare Polytechnic and the University of Zimbabwe. Mrs Sibanda served as an Art Consultant to the National Gallery of Zimbabwe, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and HiVOS.
Mrs Sibanda has been appointed to numerous Professional Boards including the ZAVACAD, which she founded; Crafts Council of Zimbabwe, Women Filmmakers of Zimbabwe/ International Images Film Festival, National Handicraft Centre, National Merchant of Zimbabwe, ZARNET, Great Zimbabwe University Council, Women’s University in Africa, Zimpapers and POTRAZ.

  “On behalf of the Board of Trustees, Senior Management and Staff, I would like to thank Mrs Sibanda for the hard work and the immense contribution she has made to the Visual Art sector as well as steering the National Gallery of Zimbabwe through the most tumultuous of situations. Her fervent pursuit of the delivery of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe’s mandate to promote and preserve Zimbabwean Art has become a benchmark in this Century, and her legacy shall continue to inspire all stakeholders in the Industry.We wish her the best in her future endeavours,” said Chinovava Chikukwa of the National Gallery of Zimbabwe.

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Lawyers on Demand: Changing the Way Legal Work is Done in Africa by Playing the “Scale Game”
February 14, 2020 | 0 Comments

African legal clients are demanding a practice model that is swift, cost-effective and transparent

By Glenda Irvine-Smith*

Glenda Irvine-Smith
Glenda Irvine-Smith

According to the Director of Business Development & International Relations at Centurion Law Group (https://CenturionLG.com/), and Key Coordinator of the firm’s unique Centurion Plus model, Glenda Irvine-Smith the demand for “agile” local lawyers has risen significantly on the African continent. This is why Centurion has developed its Centurion Plus platform to respond to this need.

Despite numerous global and regional challenges, investment in Africa is predicted to grow in 2020; with African M&A values in 2019 valued at around $13 billion in total, there is a lot to play for on the continent.

To take advantage of this positive investment climate, investors must form close working relationships with the best legal counsel, as well as due diligence experts and local advisors on the ground in Africa, who have specialist knowledge and understanding of the particular commercial challenges within their investment locations.

Investors in Africa must also consider geo-political and economic uncertainty on the continent as well as a plethora of country and region-specific governance, compliance and regulatory challenges when investing in the region.

In order to close deals on the continent, investors need access to the right information and data. The success of a transaction depends on having real knowledge instead of relying on market perception.

Furthermore, investors can never assume one country is the same as any other in Africa. Even if they are geographical neighbours, each country is vastly different to the next. The legal systems in many countries are also changing rapidly, stemming from a desire to encourage foreign investment, but also out of a need to protect the rights and resources of a country and its people.

This is why in Africa, the demand for “agile” local lawyers has risen significantly: African legal clients are demanding a practice model that is swift, cost-effective and transparent. With a cost model that is scaled to the client’s needs and a service model that is tailored to the job. Clients are also looking for non-traditional, outside of the box thinking which can seize opportunities in a way that a one-size-fits-all traditional legal approach cannot.

Centurion Law Group has developed its Centurion Plus platform to respond to this need. The firm believes in providing flexible solutions to clients that address mounting workloads and budgetary constraints. Centurion Plus is a platform which provides on-demand-lawyers that can work with clients on site or remotely, on various flexible models such as secondments, special projects, rotational work or flexible support. Clients also get the benefit of expertise at a far more competitive rate that reflects the significantly lower overhead costs of this model.

Not only does this alternative to orthodox law firms, work for clients; it works for lawyers too. It is certainly a growing trend that instead of working at a law firm, working extremely long hours, and having a portion of your earnings going into the owners’ pockets, you can become a freelance lawyer, working on demand.

So many companies have adopted this design thinking model for the delivery of its legal services – by telling lawyers what, when and how they need their work completed.; This has led to the successful implementation of on-demand-services, dramatically reducing lawyers’ time on transactions, while improving the insight, judgement and predictability of outcomes.  Furthermore, “buyers” of legal services are increasingly driven to purchase legal services online, decoupled from traditional institutions, to access quality and convenience without the high costs.

While the concept is not new, this hasn’t been done in the unchartered waters of Africa yet. The challenge for African firms operating platforms like Centurion Plus will revolve around the mindset shift of becoming more process-driven, technology-enabled and delivering quality legal services.

* Glenda Irvine-Smith is the Director of Business Development & International Relations at Centurion Law Group. She is the Key Coordinator of Centurion Plus, where she leverages her network and database of leading African law firms and lawyers to assist large companies with their need to upscale quickly or take on new projects, making use of flexible lawyers and advisors. Glenda has had vast experience in navigating clients accessing Africa through a variety of different models.

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Africa’s female fund managers to receive major boost through launch of a multi-million dollar fund
February 11, 2020 | 0 Comments
UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, and African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, witness the signing of a partnership agreement between UNECA and Standard Bank Group represented by UNECA Executive Secretary Dr Vera Songwe and Sola David-Borha, the bank's Chief Executive for African Regions.
UN Secretary-General, Antonio Guterres, and African Union Commission Chairperson Moussa Faki Mahamat, witness the signing of a partnership agreement between UNECA and Standard Bank Group represented by UNECA Executive Secretary Dr Vera Songwe and Sola David-Borha, the bank’s Chief Executive for African Regions.

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, February 10th, 2020,-/African Media Agency (AMA) /-  African leaders are putting women front and center of efforts to drive the continent’s economic growth through a game-changing fund that invests in women fund managers and also provides technical assistance.

The launch of the African Women Leadership Fund (AWLF) will provide capital to both first time and experienced fund managers in support of UN Sustainable Development Goals 5 (Gender Equality) and 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), and African Union Agenda 2063.

The ground-breaking partnership, formally signed at the weekend in Addis Ababa between the United Nations Economic Commission of Africa (ECA) and Standard Bank Group, will be transformational in breaking down structural barriers to inclusive investing in Africa.

Over $20 million was raised for the fund on Saturday that has a current goal of $100 million. President Paul Kagame of Rwanda was instrumental in leading the way, pledging $500,000. Senegal’s President Macky Sall also committed $500,000. South African President Cyril Ramaphosa pledged to contribute to the fund. The private sector participants pledged the rest.

High level presidents former presidents, PM Norway and AU chair with Vera and Sola after the signing

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada pledged $10 million to the African Union to boost gender parity. Norway Prime Minister Erna Solberg pledged $8 million to AU initiatives. A portion of these resources will be earmarked for the women’s initiative.

 

Among the world leaders who witnessed the official launch of this innovative impact investment fund were UN Secretary-General, Antonio Gutteres, African Union Commission Chairperson, Moussa Faki Mahamat, Ethiopian President Sahle-Work Zewde. Former Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was also in attendance, as were a number of former African female heads of state.

“We are turning the tables and making women the decision-makers of investable money in Africa. We want women to be on the supply side of money, not only on the demand side,” said Dr. Vera Songwe, UN Under Secretary General and Executive Secretary of ECA. A key goal of the fund is to empower women financial leaders who will drive economic growth, job creation, and create prosperity. 

In Africa women-owned funds and businesses struggle due largely to lack of successful fundraising, insufficient exposure to systems and procedures, and lack of track records, among others. They also contend with gender-based social expectation, resistance to women in leadership roles and lack of a support network. The fund will empower Africa’s women by giving them access to financial resources and investment management expertise.

Sola David-Borha, Chief Executive of Africa Regions at Standard Bank Group, says the fund aligns with the Bank’s purpose to drive Africa’s growth and “presents an opportunity for Standard Bank to leverage our footprint and expertise on the continent, and the relevant experience of our asset management arms, Melville Douglas and STANLIB Multi-Managers, to build Africa’s economies. Africa is our home, we drive her growth”.

Women fund managers will receive a deployment of capital, and subsequently invest in majority female-owned businesses. Even though the fund is sector agnostic, priority sectors will be education, manufacturing, healthcare, clean energy and agriculture. Additionally, technical assistance for fund managers and entrepreneurs will be offered through the initiative. This ranges from building capacity, direct mentoring to leveraging technology in health and education. 

Vera Songwe and UN SG Gutteres
Vera Songwe and UN SG Gutteres

Songwe emphasized “The goal here is to give women-led financial investment activities a huge injection of jet fuel to bear out the proven positive correlation between gender balance, higher financial returns and developmental impact.”

In his remarks, Secretary-General Gutteres said, “power is not usually given, it must be taken.”

* Distributed by African Media Agency (AMA) on behalf of United Nations Economic Commission of Africa (ECA)



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