Religion and Culture - Africa

Africa’s Two Female Presidents Join Forces for Women

The only two female heads of state in Africa, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf and Malawian President Joyce Banda, have just committed to using their positions to improve the lives of women across the continent.

Morocco Still Divided Over Marriage of Minors

The widespread practice of marrying minors continues to be one of the most incendiary legal and political issues in Morocco today, causing open confrontations between hard-line Islamists and moderates throughout the country.

Increasing numbers of Malian women are being raped by Tuareg rebels and armed groups that have swept across the north of Mali since January. Credit: William Lloyd-George/IPS

Armed Groups in Northern Mali Raping Women

Increasing numbers of Malian women are being raped by Tuareg rebels and armed groups that have swept across the north of Mali since the beginning of year, expelling all government troops from the region.

Malawi’s Army Commander General Henry Odillo hands over the presidential sword to President Joyce Banda at her swearing in ceremony. Credit: Claire Ngozo/IPS

“A New Dawn Rises over Malawi”

It would be too simplistic to think that Malawi’s problems have ended with the death of President Bingu wa Mutharika. But it is an opportunity for newly appointed President Joyce Banda, who is also leader of the opposition People’s Party, to step up and offer a new and more responsive style of leadership.

No man, except for those raised here as children, lives in Umoja village in Kenya.  Credit: Hannah Rubenstein/IPS

Where Men Now Fear to Tread

No man, except for those raised here as children, lives in Umoja village in Kenya; one has not for two decades. It is a village only of and for women, women who have been abused, raped, and forced from their homes.

Mauritania – Small Steps Towards Ending Female Genital Mutilation

A multi-pronged strategy to end female genital mutilation in Mauritania is making gradual progress, though campaigners acknowledge much remains to be done in a country where more than two-thirds of girls suffer excision.

FGM is a taboo and complicated topic in Liberia and it is dangerous for women to speak out about it.  Credit: Travis Lupick/IPS

Liberia’s Government Finding a Way to End FGM

"There were three people. One person was holding me down; one person was holding my hand; and the other person was doing the job. They lay me down, and…" Fatu said of the female genital mutilation she underwent as an eight- year-old in Liberia.

A health worker explains the sexual transmission of infections at the family planning clinic in Yopougon.  Credit: Kristin Palitza/IPS

Men Still Make the Decisions on Reproductive Rights in Côte d’Ivoire

"I would like to use contraception, but my husband is against it," says Bintou Moussa*. The 32-year-old mother has just given birth to her sixth child at the Abobo General Hospital in Cote d’Ivoire’s commercial capital Abidjan.


CULTURE-ARAB SPRING: A Revolution Through the Lens

The Arab world is talking about a revolution; not just out on the streets but in films, in newspapers, in songs – using any means necessary to document events, expose the horrors of war and explore the struggles and possibilities that lie ahead as the Arab Spring feels the wintry chill of post-revolutionary democratic challenges.

The Barotse Flood Plain, about 190 kilometres long and 70 km wide, floods during the peak rainy season that starts in late January. Credit:Lewis Mwanangombe/IPS

ZAMBIA: No Longer “Waiting for the Mangoes to Ripen”

Eight years ago when Mary Sitali’s husband divorced her, by sending a traditional letter to her parents saying that he no longer wanted her and they could "marry her to any man of your choice - be he a tall or a short man, the choice being entirely yours," she returned to her village in rural Zambia with their two children and no way of supporting them.

Somali Women Say “Consider Us for the Country’s Leadership”

As Somalia’s transitional government and various stakeholders meet Wednesday to discuss the inclusion of the country’s clans in the new government, women politicians have called for a greater role in the leadership of this East African nation.

ZAMBIA: Chinese Underage Sex Scandal Sparks Emotive Debate

Zhang Daliu, 46, a carpenter from China never imagined himself in the dreadful confines of a stinking and overcrowded Zambian jail where conditions are so terrible that they lead to gastronomic disorders and skin diseases within days of confinement.

UGANDA: Rural Women’s Banks Ease Tough Times

For most Ugandan women, obtaining a commercial loan to start a business has been very difficult. Many do not have the required collateral of land title deeds and many cannot afford the interest rates charged by commercial banks.

MALAWI: Street Vendors Lose Customers after Stripping Women Naked

A campaign to stop people buying merchandise from street vendors is gaining momentum in Malawi’s main cities of Lilongwe, Blantyre and Mzuzu after the small-scale traders went on a rampage undressing women and girls wearing trousers, leggings, shorts and mini-skirts.

SOUTH SUDAN: Still Counting the Dead in Inter-Ethnic Conflict

In the ward of a partially destroyed clinic, Mangiro (who did not give his last name) sat on a bed next to his wounded nine-year-old daughter, Ngathin. The little girl is fortunate, she survived the recent inter-ethnic clashes in Pibor county that killed her mother and sisters.

A pregnant woman in Kenya's North Eastern Province with one of her children. Overpopulation in the area contributes to poor maternal health.  Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

KENYA: A Shelter for Safe Delivery

The Garissa Maternal Shelter in North Eastern Province, Kenya is the only such facility in an area with the country’s highest maternal mortality rate. At 1,000 deaths per 100,000 live births, it is almost double the country’s average.

Malawi

MALAWI: Women’s Education the Path to the Presidency

On an elegant veranda adorned with a red carpet, Malawi's Vice President Joyce Banda recalls how her childhood friend Chrissie Mtokoma was always top of their class and how she struggled to beat her. But now decades later Banda is a likely contender for the country's presidency in 2014, while Mtokoma lives in poverty.

Saving the Forests with Indigenous Knowledge

For the Laibon community, a sub-tribe of Kenya's Maasai ethnic group, the 33,000-hectare Loita Forest in the country's Rift Valley Province is more than just a forest. It is a shrine.

DR CONGO: Election Promises of Peace and Security

The 11 candidates contesting presidential elections in the Democratic Republic of Congo all pledge to improve peace and security in the country - promises received with varying degrees of scepticism by Congolese voters.

The Somali national women

SOMALIA: Death Threats Fail to Stop Women’s Basketball

When Al-Shabaab militants called the Somali national women's basketball team captain, Suweys Ali Jama, and told her she had two options: to be killed or to stop playing basketball, she decided that neither was really an option at all.

New arrivals at Dadaab wait for a medical check up. Credit: Isaiah Esipisu/IPS

SOMALIA: Rape – The Hidden Side of the Famine Crisis

When Aisha Diis* and her five children fled their home in Somalia seeking aid from the famine devastating the region, she could not have known the dangers of the journey, or even fathom that she would be raped along the way.

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