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  • RSS BBC News – Africa

    • French troops free Mali aid workers April 17, 2014
      French troops in Mali free five aid workers who were kidnapped in the north of the country by suspected Islamist militants in February.
    • Parents seek Nigeria kidnap girls April 17, 2014
      The parents of some of the girls abducted from their school in north-east Nigeria head into the forests in a dangerous search for their daughters.
    • Pistorius forensic tests challenged April 17, 2014
      The tests carried out by a forensic expert for Oscar Pistorius' murder trial are rigorously challenged by the state prosecutor in South Africa.
    • Algeria votes on Bouteflika's future April 17, 2014
      Algerians are voting in elections in which incumbent President Abdelaziz Bouteflika, who suffered a stroke last year, is seeking a fourth term.
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      A Senegalese court rules that Karim Wade, the ex-president's son, should stand trial on corruption charges over his wealth, an official says.
    • Guinea-Bissau run-off to pick leader April 17, 2014
      Officials in Guinea-Bissau say a run-off vote will be held next month after no candidate won an outright victory in Sunday's presidential election.
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      Communities in sub-Saharan Africa are being "hurt" by high fees charged by money transfer operators, charity Comic Relief says.
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      The UN Security Council hears a proposal to create a medal for bravery in UN peacekeeping, to be named after a Senegalese soldier who saved lives during the Rwandan genocide.
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      The Belgian director of Africa's oldest national park - Virunga in the Democratic Republic of Congo - is shot and wounded in an ambush.
    • 'Last' Chadian soldier leaves CAR April 16, 2014
      Chad has withdrawn all its peacekeepers from the Central African Republic, an official confirms, after accusations they sided with Muslim rebels.
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      Rebel forces in South Sudan say they have recaptured the oil hub of Bentiu and want oil companies to halt operations.
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      A London Marathon runner from Sierra Leone is missing after she disappeared and failed to catch a flight home.
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      Singer Ester Rada talks about growing up as an Ethiopian Jew in Israel and falling in love with her musical heritage.
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      Security forces in Borno State in Nigeria are searching for dozens of teenage girls abducted by suspected members of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
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      Libyan author Mansour Bushnaf says Libya does not have much of reading culture because under Col Muammar Gaddafi, people were afraid of books.
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      A powerful bomb blast has ripped through a crowded bus station on the outskirts of Nigeria's capital, Abuja, killing at least 71 people.
    • VIDEO: Cleaning up Cairo's waste system April 14, 2014
      The Egyptian government is turning to its traditional rubbish collectors - the Zabaleen - to revolutionise Cario's waste disposal industry.
    • VIDEO: Pistorius trial day 23 - in 60 secs April 16, 2014
      The girlfriend of Oscar Pistorius was shot in quick succession as she fell down, a forensics expert has told the South African athlete's murder trial.
    • VIDEO: Pistorius trial day 21 - in 60 secs April 14, 2014
      The prosecutor at the Oscar Pistorius murder trial suggests the South African athlete is using his emotions "as an escape".
    • VIDEO: Pistorius trial shown prosthetic leg April 17, 2014
      The prosthetic leg belonging to Oscar Pistorius has been shown to the court during his murder trial. He denies murder, claiming he mistook Reeva Steenkamp for a burglar.
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    • Deal struck to calm Ukraine crisis April 17, 2014
      Russia, Ukraine, the US and the European Union say all sides have agreed to steps to "de-escalate" the crisis in eastern Ukraine at talks in Geneva.
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      Bad weather, murky water and strong currents are hampering the search for more than 270 people missing after a South Korean ferry sank.
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      The Nobel prize-winning Colombian author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, author of One Hundred Years of Solitude, dies in Mexico aged 87, his family says.
    • Labour hires Obama poll guru Axelrod April 17, 2014
      David Axelrod, the strategist who masterminded Barack Obama's presidential victories, will be a key adviser on Ed Miliband's 2015 general election campaign, the Labour Party says.
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      Hundreds of Channel Tunnel rail passengers face major delays after several technical problems led to the cancellation of services.
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      Calls for more action over pay and pensions are expected this weekend when the two biggest teachers' unions meet for their annual conferences.
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      Scientists at Cardiff University say they have made a significant breakthrough in the treatment of the most common form of leukaemia.
    • Bullied children still suffer at 50 April 17, 2014
      Children can experience the negative effects of bullying on their physical and mental health more than 40 years later, says a study from King's College London.
    • Chelsea Clinton announces pregnancy April 17, 2014
      The daughter of former US President Bill Clinton and former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announces she is pregnant with her first child.
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      A man is charged after police seize firearms and ammunition from an address in east London.
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      Some female MPs have stopped attending Prime Minister's Questions because it is so "bad", says Speaker John Bercow.
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      A planet that is close in size to the Earth and that could hold water on its surface has been identified by the Kepler telescope.
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      The Kelpies, a massive new art installation overlooking the M9 near Falkirk, are lit up as part of a pyrotechnic launch event.
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      England batsman Jonathan Trott is to take a break from cricket because of a recurrence of his anxiety issues.
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      Larry Magid, technology analyst for CNET, discusses the fall in Google's shares.
  • RSS Reuters: Politics

  • RSS CNN.com – Africa

    • Luxury shoes made in Ghana April 15, 2014
      Fred Deegbe was standing outside a shop window five years ago, marveling at the shiny pair of wing-tip Oxfords he'd just bought, when he started wondering whether such beautiful designer shoes could ever be produced in his country, Ghana.
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      At 23, many people around the world are still at university -- at that age, Gossy Ukanwoke had already started one.
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      "It was like taking a big leap of faith."
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      African Voices meets James Ebo Whyte a passionate storyteller with a series of successful plays to his credit.
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      When gunmen stormed into Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall, Abbas Gullet was one of the first emergency responders on the scene. As head of Kenya's Red Cross, he was in charge of coordinating services for people in need.
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      She started her business with just £100, lugging her beauty bag from door to door, but some 25 years later Grace Amey-Obeng has built a multi-million dollar cosmetics empire that's helping change the perception of beauty for many.
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      It's almost impossible for a photographer to find fresh visual perspectives these days. Brooklyn-based Zack Seckler had to travel to a different continent and strap into an ultra-light aircraft to find one. His Botswana series presents the country from between 50 and 500 feet, providing a unique and captivating view of the savannah.
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      After five days of intense cross-examination, has Olympian Oscar Pistorius helped or harmed his defense that he did not intentionally kill his girlfriend, model Reeva Steenkam?
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      The Center for African Family Studies in Nairobi has teamed up with Kenyan artist Michael Soi to create eye-catching condom wrappers to promote safe sex and raise awareness about HIV/AIDS among young people.
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      He's known as the "bull dog" in South Africa's legal circles, and just two days in to Gerrie Nel's merciless cross-examination of Oscar Pistorius, it's easy to see why.
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      Over the last 20 years, the narrative on the African continent has shifted from Afro-pessimism to Afro-optimism. The truth lies somewhere in between. Now is the time for Afro-realism: for sound policies based on honest data, aimed at delivering results.
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      A South African designer is making sure that when Xhosa boys come of age, they're dressed to the nines.
    • Egypt's sex pest epidemic? April 9, 2014
      A university student cowers in a pharmacy as a mob outside threatens her with sexual violence. A law student is groped by her classmates, the dean cites her "inappropriate attire." Frightening allegations but advocates say this is an everyday reality for women in Cairo.
    • Day that changed Kenya forever April 9, 2014
      When gunmen stormed into Nairobi's Westgate shopping mall, Abbas Gullet was one of the first emergency responders on the scene. As head of Kenya's Red Cross, he was in charge of coordinating services for people in need.
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Women find strength in numbers

Posted by African Press International on January 10, 2013

MBABANE,  - Swazi women are organizing to promote their rights and welfare, convinced that discriminatory laws are at odds with the essential roles they play in their families and in their country’s economy.“We are taking a page from the past to achieve the recognition Swazi women deserve as the ones who keep this society going. It is a scandal how the authorities refuse to take women seriously when we are holding the country together,” said Cynthia Simelane, an activist who works with female garment workers at the Matsapha Industrial Site, outside the city of Manzini.

The Swaziland Coalition of Concerned Civil Organisations has noted that the Swazi government has signed various international accords pledging to end gender discrimination, but it has never enacted legislation to put those pledges into action.

In 2005, King Mswati III, a strict traditionalist with 13 wives, signed a new constitution granting men and women equal rights. However, discriminatory laws – such as one that prevents women from taking out bank loans – remain in place. Another such law, forbidding women from owning property, remains on the books despite having been ruled unconstitutional.

Caretakers

In the past year, the Swaziland Single Mothers Association (SWAMASO), which aims to improve the lives of single mothers and reduce high teen pregnancy rates, doubled its membership.

“In Swaziland today, a majority of children live with one or no parent, mostly because of AIDS but also because Swazi men have many girlfriends,” said Thabsile Ndwandwe, a SWAMASO member. “A majority of Swazi children are raised by single mothers or by their grandmothers if the mother is no longer alive. Where are the programmes to assist these mothers? Where is even the government acknowledgement of this reality?”

“It is a scandal how the authorities refuse to take women seriously when we are holding the country together”

Instead, the government announced last week that elderly Swazis, including grandmothers, will not receive their pension stipend this quarter due to “limited resources”. Swaziland’s financial crisis has not eased since the last time the government suspended pension payments in 2011. The amount of the stipend is only US$73 per three-month period, but the majority of elderly live in chronic poverty and the suspension of the pensions will hinder their ability to purchase food and medicines and care for their grandchildren.

SWAMASO’s attempts to lobby the government to give more assistance to single mothers have not yet paid off, but the organization is making a difference in other ways. Its network of community groups plays an important role in educating girls about avoiding pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. A quarter of Swaziland’s population is HIV-positive, the highest rate in the world.

Tradition of organizing

Activist Simelane pointed out that Swazi women have a long tradition of organizing according to their age groups, from the young maidens who assemble to collect building material for the Queen Mother ahead of the annual reed dance to the grandmothers who supervise community improvement projects.

Other women’s groups include the Swazi Women for Positive Living, established in 2003 by HIV-positive women to assist other women living with the virus, and the Swaziland Action Group Against Abuse, formed by women to influence policy on the country’s high rates of domestic and gender-based violence.

Last month saw the establishment of a new group – the Swaziland Young Women’s Network – which announced its launch with a march through the streets of the capital, Mbabane, to protest the prevalence of sexual harassment. The police blocked the march on the grounds that some of the women were wearing miniskirts.

A week later, the Royal Swaziland Police Force spokeswoman Wendy Hleta invoked a 19th century public indecency law as a basis for arresting women wearing miniskirts or tank tops. Hleta added that women who wore revealing clothing were responsible for provoking rape.

Her comments drew a flood of unfavourable reports in the international media, prompting a government spokesperson to deny that a mini-skirt ban was in place. Gender rights activists considered this a partial victory.

“The government’s first response to women seeking our rights was to block us and threaten us with arrest, and to control us by telling us what to wear. That is their instinct, and it is going to be hard to overcome, but we are determined not only for our own sake but for the sake of the country,” said Simelane.

Policymaking

Ntombi Dube, a health worker in Manzini, argued that the only way for Swaziland to reverse economic and social decay was for women to assume a greater role in policymaking.

“This is what Swazi women have been doing in our ‘regiments’ for generations… Men have got to stop seeing our call for the end of discrimination against women as an attempt to usurp their authority,” she said.

The new constitution stipulates that a third of members of parliament should be women, but the actual proportion is about a quarter – and parliament’s role is limited to raising and debating issues, as legislation can only be drafted by cabinet.

The women’s advocacy groups insist they are not asking Swazi women to choose between traditional Swazi life and Western concepts of femininity, arguing that this is a false choice.

“There is no traditional life to live any more. It is sad that the old multi-generational homestead where women held respected roles is a thing of the past,” said Dube. “We can’t go back to that, and we have to adapt as African women who are proud of a culture that respects women. That respect got lost somewhere.”

Simelane agreed: “All these laws that make Swazi women second-class human beings, they were not part of traditional Swazi life because we did not live under Western laws. Swazi women want to return to the way it was when we were equal.”

jh/ks/rz source http://www.irinnews.org



 

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