• Countries Pledge to Fight Violence Against Women. [] Twenty-two African countries have recommitted themselves to ending violence against women and children as part of a United Nations-backed 16-day-long campaign against the scourge. Some 170 participants at a colloquium in Benoni, South Africa, pledged to take up the challenge issued by UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) Country Representative Macharia Kamau "to work together to build partnerships, establish a common vision and take common action" to end violence against women and children in their respective countries.

  • Over 3,000 Cases of Violence Against Women Recorded. [] At least 3,125 complaints of violence against women were lodged with the seven Luanda's counseling centers of the ruling MPLA party women wing (OMA), from January to October 2006. Isilda Neves, a lecturer to the event, said violence against women has brought negative consequences as prostitution, sexual transmitted diseases, post-traumatic stress, depression, anxiety, including death. To respond to these problems, Isilda Neves mentioned the need for integration of the cases of sexual and domestic violence, through concerned networks, among other methods that protect women.

  • CPLP Parliamentary Women Meet in Luanda. [] The network of Portuguese Speaking Parliamentary Women Forum hold in Luanda, the ordinary conference in order to review the activities and renewal of the organization’s presidency. The two-day meeting, taking place in the National Assembly (Parliament) headquarters will be opened by the Angolan Assembly speaker, Roberto de Almeida. The participants will visit the National Institute of combat against AIDS. The afternoon session is expected to debate on the approval of the proposal of organization’s statute.

  • The Face of Genocide. [The New York Times] Halima, 20, belongs to the Dajo tribe, one of the black African tribes being slaughtered by Sudanese-sponsored Arab militias called the janjaweed. The attacks began three years ago. This March, Darfur’s slaughter crossed the border and reached Halima’s hometown in Chad. The janjaweed killed many men and seized 10 women and girls, including Halima and her little sister, Sadia. Halima says that the janjaweed, many of them wearing Sudanese military uniforms, mocked the women with racial epithets against blacks, beat them with sticks, and gang-raped them all. Halima, who was then four months pregnant, says she was raped by three men and saw two rape Sadia – who was just 10 years old.

  • Violence Against Women: Justice for the Unacknowledged Casualties of War. [International Herald Tribune] Fifteen- year-old Z. sat with her back to me, too ashamed and embarrassed to face me, as she told her story. She and three other girls had been collecting firewood outside their village in western Darfur when they were attacked by armed men belonging to the government-supported militia. She was gang-raped and became pregnant. Recently married, she is terrified that she will be abandoned by her husband and ostracized by her community when they find out. Z. is just one of many thousands of women and girls who have been raped and sexually abused in the embattled Darfur region of Sudan. And Darfur is by no means unique. Hundreds of thousands of women have suffered the same fate in conflicts around the world. From Congo to Colombia, from Sierra Leone to the Solomon Islands, rape and sexual violence have become weapons of modern warfare. Throughout history, women's bodies have been considered the legitimate booty of victorious armies. Custom, culture and religion built an image of women as bearing the "honor" of their communities, so that destroying a woman's physical integrity became a means by which to terrorize, demean and "defeat" entire populations, as well as to punish, intimidate and humiliate women.


  • Women Reject Genital Cutting (FGM). [afrol News, Norway] A recent survey reveals that a large majority of Ethiopian women believe that the harmful practice of female genital mutilation (FGM) should be discontinued. Data also shows they are getting it their way. While 80% of Ethiopia's women were circumcised in 2000, by now only 38% cut their daughters. A country-wide study conducted in Ethiopia last year by the Central Statistical Agency of Ethiopia and the US survey companies ORC Macro and Measure DHS has now been released. The 433-page report - an updated national Demographic and Health Survey (DHS) - gives special weight to women's reproductive health, therefore also including data on harmful practices such as FGM. The survey reveals a rapid turnaround in Ethiopia regarding society attitudes towards harmful practices, and a strong victory for the many gender organizations fighting FGM in the country.

  • Norway Assists Efforts to Combat FGM, Allocates 68 Million. [] Norway is scaling up efforts to combat Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) and will, over the next five years, spend approximately 68 million Birr on projects that can help eradicate the harmful practice in Ethiopia, the Royal Norwegian embassy said on Tuesday. The statement said the Royal embassy will support projects in Amhara, Oromiya, Afar, and the SPNNRS. As part of the international Action plan against FGM, the Minister of Children and Equality, H.E.M. Karita Bekkemellem, is visiting Ethiopia this week in order to learn more about the harmful practice, the statement said. The Minister will also launch the campaign "My Body, My Choice," at a concert organized by Royal Norwegian Embassy and Save the Children Norway on Friday this week.
  • Ghana Making Progress With Fight Against FGM. [] Aminata had long reached puberty, but was not menstruating. So out of frustration, her parents took her to the hospital to find out what was wrong. To her parents surprise, Aminata has been menstruating but the blood has been retained within her reproductive tract as a result of the mutilation of her genitals when she was young as part of the culture of her people. The World Health Organization in 1997 defined female genital mutilation (FGM) as all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs whether for cultural or other non-therapeutic reasons. According to the Executive Director of Rural Help Integrated, a non-for profit advocacy organization based in Bolgatanga in the Upper East Region, Dr. Kwasi Odoi-Agyarko, this story is just one of the many side effects of the practice which was prevalent in northern Ghana. However, he said Ghana has achieved a lot of successes in the fight against the Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), especially in the northern part of the country.

  • Why We Need More Female Politicians. [The Statesman Online, Ghana] The United Nations Children's Fund annual State of the World's Children report focuses this year on the experiences of women around the globe as a window to the experiences of today’s (and tomorrow’s children). The report showed how the empowerment of women is essential to creating an environment in which children, too, can thrive. Women in Ghana enjoy far more freedom within a family setting than women in most other African households. More Ghanaian women say they have an influence over the household budget; more women feel in control of their own or their children’s health; more women here say they consult with their husbands on visits to see family and friends - rather than the decisions simply being made for them. The apparent correlation between female decision-makers and superior health and education standards might be true – in Ghana, our children are slightly healthier, better nourished than those in other parts of the continent; more girls in particular are enrolled in schools.

  • Samburu Rape Saga Unfinished. [OhmyNews International, South Korea] The British government's announcement to the effect that it will not prosecute its soldiers who allegedly raped the Maasai and Samburu women over the years has dashed the hopes of the alleged victims, who were hoping for a hefty compensation. Adam Wood, British High Commissioner to Kenya says that investigations by the Royal Military Police did not yield sufficient evidence to sustain a criminal prosecution in U.K. courts. The saga revolves around the Samburu and Maasai women--pastoral communities living in Eastern and Rift Valley provinces of Kenya. The women have been demanding compensation from the British government since 2003 over alleged rapes perpetrated several years back by British soldiers, during their training in Kenya. They were allegedly raped in the bushes while fetching firewood or looking after cattle.

  • Female Condom Market Share at Only 3%. [Malawi's Daily Times, Malawi] The total market share of female condoms remain at only 3% despite high demand in high HIV prevalence settings like Malawi, a United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) representative said. Esperance Fundira, of UNFPA asked delegates at a regional meeting organized by the Ministry of Health and UNFPA in Blantyre to change the way condom programming works in their countries. Delegates from USA, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Malawi are attending the two-day meeting that is designed to address the gaps in coordination, supply, distribution and access to female condoms.


  • Jean Pitches Rights of Women in Africa. [Calgary Sun, Canada] There were some uncomfortable grumbles and glances in Mali's parliament yesterday when Michaelle Jean urged the African country to extend unprecedented rights to its women.  The handful of elected females beamed and cheered on Canada's Governor General. Some of their male colleagues joined in the applause, while droves of others remained silent, exchanged stares or chattered among themselves for a moment. The event was billed as only the second-ever speech by a foreign head of state to Mali's national assembly -- the first one being Nelson Mandela.

  • 'Watershed' Congress for Swapo Women. [] The Swapo Women's Council says its upcoming congress will be a watershed one that will determine how the other wings in the party conduct themselves in the run-up to next year's party congress. The Central Committee meeting of the Swapo Women's Council met to finalize the agenda for the congress that will take place during the weekend of December 8 in Rundu. The Secretary of the Women's Council, Eunice Iipinge, said the congress would centre on unity in the party. “As mothers, we must set a good example," she said.

  • Women - How Ready Are They for Governance? [] A crucial issue at play in the forthcoming election is the need to consciously revisit gender equality to see how far women in politics have fared and to take a look at barriers facing credible female political contestants in the next elections. Since the inception of the democratic governance in Nigeria, the political landscape has consistently favored a particular gender. Worried by this ugly cycle, the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs in close partnership with the United Nations Development Fund For Women (UNIFEM) and the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) organized a 3-day stakeholders conference, which drew participants from a cross section of society.

  • Women Sacrificed to Sex Trade. [Reuters] Thousands of women in southern Nigeria's Benin City -- a run-down port of crumbling buildings and potholed streets where power cuts are frequent and jobs scarce -- are encouraged by their desperate families to sell their bodies abroad. Trafficking women for prostitution became a problem in Benin City in the mid-1980s when free-market economic reforms led to massive job losses and impoverished many Nigerians.

  • Women Hold Rally for Odili. [The Tide, Nigeria] Nigerian women, the auspices of Odili Women Solidarity Movement (OWSM) Thursday held a solidarity rally for the Rivers State Governor and Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) Presidential hopeful, Dr. Peter Odili in Port Harcourt. In her solidarity message at the rally, the Rivers State Coordinator of OWSM, Chief (Mrs.) Eunice Igwe said that Nigerian women agreed that Dr. Peter Odili should be given the chance to rule Nigeria come 2007. The OWSM Coordinator disclosed that Nigerian women have been crying out for detribalized Nigerian like Dr. Peter Odili who she said will show love, friendliness and kindness to all and sundry.

  • Ex-Female Commissioner Eyes Senate. [The Tide, Nigeria] Mrs. Joy Ezeilo, former Commissioner for Women Affairs and Social Development in Enugu State, has declared her intention to contest the Enugu West senatorial seat. Ezeilo, who is a member of PDP, submitted her expression of intent form to the state chairman of the party, Chief Onyioha Nwanjoku. Addressing her supporters at the Enugu International Trade Fair temporary site, she said that if elected, she would work toward the sustenance of current reforms by the state and federal governments.

  • Police Investigate Assault on Female Aspirant. [This Day, Nigeria] Kogi police command has commenced investigation into the alleged manhandling of a female PDP aspirant, Miss Harirat Yakubu, by one Honorable Attai Aidoko at Ankpa. The aspirant had petitioned President Olusegun Obasanjo and INEC over alleged assault by the federal lawmaker. In the petition, she alleged that Honorable Attai Aidoko “led thugs to prevent me from participating in the state House of Assembly congress of our party, PDP.” She said the assault on her was a negation of the affirmation by Obasanjo, INEC and the Federal Ministry of Women Affairs, that females should be carried along in the on-going democratization process.

South Africa
  • Government Empowers Women in the Agriculture Sector. [] The Gauteng government has committed to ensuring women's economic empowerment through the Women's Agriculture and Rural Development (WARD) initiative and the Micro-Agricultural Finance Institution of South Africa (MAFISA). Agriculture MEC Khabisi Mosunkutu said these programs would ensure that more women benefit from the country's land reform policies. "We want to ensure that the mass-based women's economic empowerment in the agricultural sector becomes a reality," he said.

  • South Africans Don Stilettos in Support of Abused Women. [Reuters South Africa] About 1,000 women and a few men teetered in stilettos through a Johannesburg suburb on Saturday in a demonstration symbolizing the pain suffered by battered women and children in South Africa. The 3 km (1.8 miles) "Sisters with Blisters" walk in high-heeled shoes was to draw attention to the plight of victims of rampant levels of violence partly blamed on macho attitudes, poverty and a violent society. There were some 55,000 case of rape reported to South African police last year and many more victims are said not to notify authorities.

  • Women Fight to Bury their Husband. [Independent Online, South Africa] A tug-of-love between a Langa woman and a Southern Cape woman is playing itself out in the Cape High Court over who has the right to bury the body of a man who had a close relationship with both women. Sindiswa Victoria Dubayo obtained an interim order against Nomaziyoni No-Welcome Dyonase and her son Zoli Dyonase last week, interdicting and restraining them from burying the body of Gemiyakhe Elford Dyonase. Dubayo was the common-law wife of the dead man. Dyonase is his ex-wife and Zoli is his son. The Dyonases divorced last September. Gemiyakhe Dyonase's body is being kept by undertakers in Crossroads pending the court action.

  • The Hype of Women's Empowerment. [Mail & Guardian Online, South Africa] The anti-apartheid struggle attempted to create a country free of all oppressions based on race, class, gender, sexual orientation, religion, language, geographical location and (dis)ability. This is the country of the Constitution. Yet the legacy of apartheid continues to be felt by the black poor, who are written out of capital, most victimized and predominantly women. For the more affluent, gender, race and class still exert control either in the backlash against affirmative action or the pressure to participate in a culture of rampant materialism and consumerism.

  • Women Facing Mental-Health Problems in Darfur. [Reuters AlertNet, UK] A significant number of displaced women in South Darfur, western Sudan, suffer from depression and experience suicidal thoughts because of largely unaddressed mental-health problems, according to a study by the International Medical Corps (IMC). Solomon Kebede, IMC country director in Darfur, told IRIN the study was conducted in the field two years ago, but the situation had since deteriorated further. "We are looking for funds to update [the study] because the situation is now worse than it was at that time," he added. The study of 1,283 women found that one-third met the criteria for major depressive disorder and double that number reported symptoms of depression. One in every 20 respondents reported suicidal thoughts and two% said they had attempted suicide. Both statistics represent rates much higher than global norms, the study noted.

  • Women Need to Stop Being Evil, Vindictive. [The Swazi Observer] “Women can be mean, evil, vindictive and quite petty.” This observation was made by Savannah Maziya, Group Chief Executive Officer of Bunengi Holdings, during a gala dinner hosted by 2006 Business Woman of the Year Award (BWYA) winner Sylvia Mthethwa. The event, held at the Royal Swazi Sun Convention Centre, was facilitated by REDI and Nedbank Swaziland and aimed at establishing a fund to finance Junior Achievement clubs whose main focus would target girl-children between ages 16 and 24 years. All proceeds from events undertaken by the BWYA winner during the course of her reign would be directed towards capacity building initiatives aimed at encouraging young women to embark on viable business ventures, as well as prepare local girl-children to flourish as innovators in the economy, develop entrepreneurial skills and confidence.
  • Biologist Aims to Become First Female head of a Political Party. [AKI, Italy] Maya Jribi says it is her "desire for freedom and the hope for a better future" that inspire her in the bid to become the first woman to lead a Tunisian political party. The 46-year-old biologist is currently the only candidate running for the top job in the leftist opposition Progressive Democratic Party (PDP). The leadership contest will culminate on 22 December when party members will elect a successor to veteran leader Ahmad Najib al-Shabbi who is stepping down after 23 years at the helm. "The time has come for Tunisian women to step out of the shadows," Jribi said in an interview with Adnkronos International (AKI). She describes herself as a "carrier of new ideas and new perspectives", and is adamant that the party, which currently has no representatives in parliament, is in need of some fresh blood that only an increase of young members, and women in particular, can provide. Whilst praising al-Shabbi by describing his departure as "the democratic ability to stand aside and let others take over one's responsibilities", Jribi says the party' inability to elevate women into senior positions reflects Tunisian society as a whole.
  • 'Women Need Education to Fight This Epidemic'. [Belfast Telegraph, UK] Once, Uganda was heralded for stemming the rise in its HIV infections. Now, the UN's latest figures show, this is no longer true. The response of the Ugandan government has shifted from pragmatic to moralistic and, as UNAids showed last week, HIV prevalence in women has grown by 2% and in rural hot spots by 25%.

  • Women Warn On Negative Adverts. [] A cross-section of women entrepreneurs have resolved to stop consuming products that are advertised in a manner that undermines the integrity of a woman. They include women entrepreneurs with disabilities, women living with HIV/Aids and those without disabilities. The resolution was reached at a workshop held in Kampala on December 6 to review the way radio portrays women entrepreneurs in Uganda, identify opportunities for enhancing positive portrayal and how to maximize radio as a platform for women entrepreneurship development. If the boycott succeeds, it is likely to create an unprecedented exchange between women activists and advertisers.

  • Seven Districts Fight Female Circumcision. [] The Government is to sensitize the public on female genital circumcision in seven districts. The gender ministry said the exercise would provide psychosocial support and help families affected by the practice. Cornelius Magara, the principal women development officer, confirmed that the Government addressed communities and local councils working on enactment of by-laws, ordinances and laws to prohibit female circumcision. Addressing a workshop on sexual and gender-based violence at Hotel Africana, Kampala, Magara said the government was implementing a five-year project funded by UNFPA to cover Kapchorwa, Gulu, Lira, Arua, Mukono, Busia, Kanungu, Tororo, Hoima and Kiboga districts.

  • Women Activists Allege Brutality By Police. [Voice of America] Police in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe, lodged charges against 30 members of the activist group Women of Zimbabwe Arise and its men’s counterpart who were placed under arrest during a protest in the country's second city. The activists are charged with “interfering with peace or quiet of the public” under the country's Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act, legal sources said. They could face fines or imprisonment for up to six months under the terms of the law. A lawyer representing the activists, Perpetua Dube, said she had managed to secure the release of six WOZA members, all of them women with babies. But Dube said 34 others remained in custody. The activists were arrested during a peaceful demonstration to launch the "people's charter" the group had drafted. WOZA spokeswoman Annie Sibanda said the group will continue trying to hand it to authorities including parliamentarians despite their alleged rough handling by police when they tried to distribute the charter. WOZA said a group about 40 activists were taken to a drill hall in Bulawayo Central Police Station where they said they were beaten and harassed by police before they were finally released. Sibanda said about 25 activists were seeking medical care.