Week 13: Women’s Issues Parts A&B


According to the Women and Their Environments article assigned for this week, “a recent World Bank study (2002) found that gender equality is essential for countries’ economies…sustainable development is not possible without equity,” (11). If that’s the reality, why is gender equality such a looming issue for most of the world? Box 8 of that article points out that only seven developed countries have achieved high levels of gender equality according to MDG 3 indicators. Argentina, Costa Rica and South Africa are the highest, yet those countries have gender-related issues. For example, in Argentina, human sex-trafficking is a tremendous issue. If sex slavery is an issue in a country that is supposed to have one of the highest levels of gender equality, that is a giant red flag that the world must pay more attention to.

In 1945, the United Nations Charter reaffirmed the equal rights of women and men in its preamble (20). Fast forward to 2003, and the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development makes gender equality a cross-cutting issue in all forthcoming work up until 2015 (24). It’s 2014, and we know that equality has not been met. What more is it going to take? How much longer are women going to have to wait until we are equal to men?

Key points to equality include access to work, knowledge systems and education and access to and control over resources and their benefits. “Status, power and culture determine whether a person can realize her or his capabilities,” (25). Those rights are limited, or restricted, in too many places in the world.

The Women’s Rights article we read says that “a major global women’s rights treaty was ratified by the majority of the world’s nations a few decades ago.” It lists several bullet points of successes made for gender equality due to the treaty.

A few examples include:

  • Morocco gave women greater equality and protection of their human rights within marriage and divorce by passing a new family code in 2004
  • India has accepted legal obligations to eliminate discrimination against women and outlawed sexual harassment in the workplace
  • In Cameroon, the Convention is applied in local courts and groundbreaking decisions on gender equality are being made by the country’s high courts
  • Mexico passed a law in 2007 toughening its laws on violence against women

Despite of this, the article’s section about lack of progress made for gender inequality is noticeably longer than the success section.

“As Amnesty International also points out, “Governments are not living up to their promises under the Women’s Convention to protect women from discrimination and violence such as rape and female genital mutilation.” There are many governments who have also not ratified the Convention, including the U.S. Many countries that have ratified it do so with many reservations.”

Issues vary from place to place for women. I think rather than the U.N. having to implement policies, each country should have to look at their own data and issues, create laws protecting women accordingly, and pass those onto the U.N. for approval to the U.N. can see that those specific laws are implemented. “Women’s rights” is too big of an umbrella, containing so many issues, to not be further specified.

The video starts out by saying “a women has the same value as a man.” In Chad, it is one of the most difficult places in the world to be a woman due to lack of rights. Africare is helping women in Chad to create various economic initiatives geared toward women. Africare gave the women flour mills and helped them start a restaurant for economic independence. This has helped women in Chad become entrepreneurs. Extra income allows them to invest into their families, or even buying goats to buy and sell and have more food for their families. One woman discusses that she has been able to take in 5 orphans be cause of her extra income.

Women, Work and the Economy talks about benefits that can be achieved by societies where women have realized full economic viability. For example, it talks about how the equal-employment of women would allow companies to make use of the available talent pool and raise productivity of female-owned companies.

Africare also established literacy centers for women, open to any woman who wants to learn how to read and write. Education gives women more power. This can also help them develop their full economic potential. Literacy rates, as a whole, are still lower for women than men, especially in South Asia and East/North Africa.

*All sources used for this post were mentioned, and from readings on Blackboard*


Empowering young women #GirlPower


Young girls empowerment is an initiative of vital social importance and strategies are being implemented by government agencies…


And by the girls themselves…

While these established and well-intended organizations are doing good work, I’m going to focus on an organization ran by young girls… since isn’t that the goal? Not to shelter these young girls from the world but to open them up to it and all of its opportunities.

Girls for a Change maintains the true model of #GirlPower in my opinion. Girl to girl, they are uplifting each other. The organization focuses on low-income areas nationally but can be found internationally in El Salvador, India, Nicaragua, Rwanda, Uganda and Mexico. Specifically, I’m going to focus on Rwanda.

Source: Girls for a Change

Source: Girls for a Change

Source: Girls for a Change

Source: Girls for a Change

In Rwanda, the Girls for a Change has worked with the Akilah Institute since 2010 when it opened its doors up to 50 future leaders, all 18-25-year old women.

At the institute, the women discuss the issues in their communities and then develop projects as solutions the problems they want to change. The website noted four projects the women are currently working on.

  1. Creative and innovative development to raise employment

  2. Child malnutrition solved through educational programming

  3. Limiting alcoholism and drugs

  4. Limited the transfer of HIV & AIDs due to prostitution

Comments: I think these types of organizations produce the most impact. The goal is being completed everyday that Girls for a Change runs. Their work is their own solution. I love that. They are impact every single worker and providing a more reasonable approach to dealing with a serious issue: women discrimination and mistreatment.

In class we talked about culture norms and how another culture could impose their values of non-female circumcision

In class we talked about culture norms and how another culture could impose their values of non-female circumcision on those who believe in it for historic, religious or other reasons. This isn’t that and is one of the reasons I really appreciate it. There are girls from the same community sharing their thoughts, experiences and ideas with other women.

Another reason I like these grassroots missions because they seem more genuinely involved. It seems that with aid or large programming, sometimes real impact gets lost in a series of tricks like gaining big name endorsements, political favors and business tricks. I am not saying they aren’t effective or even that these grassroots campaigns don’t go for the big names (see the Youtube video about) but I think they have a much different effect. Big organizations spread themselves out so much, everyone that needs help tends to get a watered down or altered version of what they actually needed.

For the second part, I am focusing on child rape, HIV/AIDS and sexual violence against women, child trafficking, and coercive behaviors. I remember when the above video went viral of women making a movement in the Red Light District to raise awareness. I think it says something that the organization that put this video on Youtube labeled it as, “Girls going wild in red light district” because they knew that what was going to get the attention an anti-human trafficking video deserved. I created a list of 5 holistic approaches that could be implemented:

1. Education

2. Entrepreneurism and Jobs

3. Health Care

4. Limiting Corruption

5. Read 20 Ways You Can Help Fight Human Trafficking

and research other ways you can help because every day counts.

These were broad and intentionally so. It is difficult to create holistic approaches that are specific because the violence on women is so widespread and so varied, to refer to the whole we must think of the many different approaches within education, within creating job opportunities and really to help create whatever small changes are in our capacity right now.


Source: Buppey

Source: Buppey

Source: Buppey

Source: Buppey

Yes, the young girls have not been returned to their home. No, they are not lost. Many believe these girls to be located yet nothing has been done to secure their release. They are being held by Boko Haram, a terrorist group currently targeting many towns in northeastern Nigeria, including Chibok where the girls were taken.

The #BringBackOurGirls may have lost its 5 minutes of fame but the fight continues. However, in a recent article by the New York Daily News, the captors have said they sold the girls to their militants for $12 and shipped them in small groups to Chad and Cameroon.

The National Women Commission is reported to be boycotting the upcoming elections because of their government’s lack of attention to this problem and focus on upcoming elections.






Week 12: Girl Power in Nigeria


I was surprised to read about the social injustices, including barbaric acts, that women face in SSA still. Here in the US, we still have not reached gender equality, but SSA remains very far behind us in their progress of empowerment for women.

A big issue that we read about was female “circumcision” in Africa. Female Genital Mutilation is not only an act of torture-like pain proportions, it can permanently damage women’s health through scarring, inability to bear children, infection and disease.

In addition, rape and sex-trafficking for both females and children are issues in existence in SSA. It makes me sick to think that humans can do these horrendous acts to other humans. SSA needs trailblazers to bind together and make these issues not only not accepted by society, but totally eliminated. Women make up half of the population, so by educating them and making them realize they have the power to stand up to this issues is vital.



Others realize the power that education could bring to women, and will go to extreme measures to make sure it doesn’t happen. On April 15 in southern Nigeria, dozens of heavily-armed terrorists part of a Muslim group called Boko Haram (which translates to “western education is a sin”) opened fire on the dormitory of a boarding school for girls. The girls, between the ages of 15 and 18 and a mix of Christians and Muslims, had been asleep in the dormitory, and then were herded out by the terrorists, a massive act of human-trafficking. While 50 girls escaped, 276 of them vanished to an unknown place and remain missing. Sickeningly, the Nigerian government has done nothing to find these girls.

The attack in Nigeria is part of a global backlash against girls’ education by extremists. The Pakistani Taliban shot Malala Yousafzai in the head at age 15 because she advocated for girls’ education. Extremists threw acid in the faces of girls walking to school in Afghanistan. And in Nigeria, militants destroyed 50 schools last year alone.

Nigeria has an organization in place whose entire focus is to protect gender, health and human rights for not only Nigeria, but all of SSA, called Women’s Consortium of Nigeria. This is a non-political and non-profit association, “committed to the enhancement of the status of women and related feminist goals and ideals” which is committed in helping women obtain peace and equality. The WOCON was started in 1995 by someone who is surely rendered as a cheetah, Bisi Olateru-Olagbegi, because she was concerned about women’s rights in Nigeria and the gender persecution and the violations of their human rights that they face.



The organization uses Pro Bono services, which offer free legal services for victims of gender abuse. The organization is a member of the Transition Monitoring Group, a coalition of NGOs in Nigeria that focus on elections in order to achieve sustainable Democracy in the country.

Steps are being taken elsewhere, too. In the video we watched for this week, it talked about how a Dutch organization caught 20,000 men trying to have sex with what they thought to be a 10-year-old girl on the internet, which was actually a computer program. The names of those individuals were given to the police to investigate.


Kristof, Nicholas. “‘Bring Back Our Girls’.” The New York Times. The New York Times, 03 May 2014. Web. 09 Nov. 2014. <http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/04/opinion/sunday/kristof-bring-back-our-girls.html?_r=0&gt;.

“Gender Rights.” Welcome. N.p., n.d. Web. 09 Nov. 2014. <http://www.womenconsortiumofnigeria.org/node/13&gt;.

Week 9: Sachs on Aid


Chapter 15

Sachs talks about five different reasons why the level of required money and donations needed to help the poor is relatively modest.

The numbers of extreme poor have declined to a relatively small proportion of the world’s population
The goal is to end extreme poverty, not to end all poverty, and still less to equalize world incomes or to close the gap between the rich and the poor
Success in ending the poverty trap will be much easier than it appears
The rich world today is so vastly rich
Our tools are more powerful than ever

All of this sounds positive, right? Think about how far technology has come in the past decade. Ten years ago I was texting on my push-button flip phone and now I can post a photo to Instagram, Google where a restaurant is located, and receive step-by-step navigation instructions all on one device. In this blog post, I talk about how technology is helping increase neonatal health care in Ghana. Sachs also says how rich the rich world is. On page 289, he says that more responsibility should be assigned “to the richest of the rich, not the average taxpayers, but taxpayers with incomes at the very top of the charts. The rich can manage to pay for a significant proportion of what needs to be done, either through a modest increase in taxation or burst of large-scale philanthropy commensurate with their vast wealth”.

Although Sachs talks about taxing the rich and using that money to help end extreme poverty, he does not think that direct cash transfers are the way to go. He believes that investments in infrastructure and human capital empower “the poor to be more productive on their own account, and putting the poor countries on a path of self-sustaining growth” (page 291). This Ted Talk by Andrew Mwenda supports Sachs’ claim that aid should just not be given but investments should be mad instead.

On page 291, Sachs talks about a six-step approach that has been used by the WHO and has been proven extremely useful.

1. Identify the package of basic needs
2. Identify, for each country, the current unmet needs of the population
3. Calculate the costs of meeting the unmet needs through investment, taking into account future population growths
4. Calculate the part of the investments that can be financed by the country itself
5. Calculate the Millennium Development Goals Financing Gap that must be covered by donors
6. Asses the size of the donor contributions relative to donor income

 Chapter 16

Sachs talks about the myth that if we continue to give money to Africa then extreme poverty on that continent will be eradicated. The truth of the matter is that that money would go right down the drain, at least says Sachs on page 309. He says that because African education levels are so low that money and programs implemented in Africa, while they might work in other countries, would fail in Africa. I think this goes back to his point in Chapter 15 that money should not just be given but invested in order to fully help Africa succeed.

Sources: Ted Talk, Sachs

Week 11: Women in the Workforce


This blog prompt reminded me of a tweet I read a couple weeks ago that said:

Average publishing CEO salary, male: $288,500. Female: $46,000. Yes, you read that correctly. No, it’s not missing a digit.

Sure, that’s one job in one industry, but virtually every other job reflects the same glass-ceiling. It’s crazy to think that in 2014, equal pay is still an issue, especially prominent in yesterday’s elections, that needs to be addressed, even though the Equal Pay Act was enacted in 1963. In addition, the U.S. is one of the only one of the powerful, developed Western nations to not have paid maternity leave.



In Nigeria, women also face discrimination in the workforce. As of 2007, 66% of Nigerians were in the country’s labor force. Of the entire labor force, only about a third, 38.7%, of that consisted of women. Compare this the the labor force here in the U.S., which consists of 47% women. In Nigeria, women have higher rates of illiteracy than men. Only 6.9% of Nigerian House of Representative members are female, and only 8.3% of the Senate members are female. Sexual harassment in the workplace is a big issue.

Women in Nigeria, recently, had had some gains:

The Coalition of the Campaign acknowledges the adoption of several laws and policies aimed at improving respect for women’s rights, including:

  • The passage of the Gender and Equal Opportunities Law 2007 by the states of Anambra and Imo, providing for affirmative action measures to redress under-representation of women in appointive and elective positions and prohibiting discrimination in areas such as education and employment.
  • The adoption of laws protecting the rights of widows in several states: Enugu (2001), Oyo (2002), Ekiti (2002), Anambra (2004), and Edo (2004). However, implementation of these laws remains inadequate.

In Gayle Lemmon’s Ted Talk, she talks about women entrepreneurs from around the world before and after conflict.She said microfinance is a powerful tool, but we need to aim bigger than micro hopes and micro ambitions for women. She said how usually, only small loans are given to women looking for money to start up a business. How is this the case when women are so important to the economy? On a positive note, Lemmon said by 2018, 5 million jobs will be created by businesses owned by women. Women are called “the emerging market of the emerging market.” $500 billion has gone into this market. Increase economic competitiveness draws the gender gap closer together. For empowering women, that is extremely important.


Onyejeli, Ngozi. Nigeria Workforce Profile. 2010

“Africa for Women’s Rights: Nigeria.” – Wikigender.org. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Nov. 2014. <http://www.wikigender.org/index.php/Africa_for_Women%27s_Rights:_Nigeria&gt;.

“Women’s Bureau (WB) – Quick Facts on Women in the Labor Force in 2010.” Women’s Bureau (WB) – Quick Facts on Women in the Labor Force in 2010. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Nov. 2014. <http://www.dol.gov/wb/factsheets/Qf-laborforce-10.htm&gt;.

Week 10: To Give Aid or Not To Give Aid? That is the Question


How does aid relate to me?

A little bit about me: I am planning on going into the health care field after graduation. I want to be a physician assistant and work with patients and help the sick get better and help them become healthy. I know that by simply living in America and working in a hospital in the United States, the resources that will be available to me are extremely different than the resources in other countries across the world. That is why when I hear about aid going to countries in Africa, one of my first questions is how that aid will help increase the health of that particular country.

When I first visited the Grameen Foundation website, I was immediately drawn to their work in Ghana. According to their website, the Grameen Foundation “has been working with the Ghana Health Service since 2008 to improve the maternal and neonatal care in rural communities through the Mobile Technology for Community Health (MOTECH) initiative”.  MOTECH was designed with the purpose of providing increased neonatal care in Ghana and especially in rural areas.

Under MOTECH Ghana, two mobile applications were developed to improve access to maternal health education. The Mobile Midwife Application enables pregnant women, new mothers and their families to receive SMS and/or voice messages that provide time-specific information about their pregnancies and childcare each week. Community nurses use the Nurses Application to collect patient data and upload records to a centralized database, enabling them to track the care of their patients and identify those who are due for care.

Another Sub-Sahara African location where the Grameen Foundation was working that interested me was Nigeria. Like Ghana, a lot of the focus was on increasing health outcomes. Part of a group of organizations that make up Africa Health Markets for Equity (AHME), the Grameen Foundation works with other organizations such as The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to “improve health outcomes through the provision of quality private sector health care targeted at the poor in Nigeria, Kenya and Ghana”.  According to the website,

The African Health Markets for Equity (AHME) initiative is a five-year, multi-country program co-funded by The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). The program is designed to increase the coverage of quality care within private provider systems and to address priority health issues that most affect the poor. The program will operate in Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria and will focus on a broad range of health issues, including reproductive health, infectious diseases and nutrition.

In Ghana, it is clear that mobile technology is imperative in reaching the desired goals of increasing neonatal health and care. In Nigeria, although not directly mentioned, I assume that technology will also be very important and be used for keeping track of medical records and organizing the private health care systems.

In the TED Talk by Andrew Mwenda, he argues that Africa (and the aid it receives) is not covered accurately by the media. He says, “Africa has 53 nations. We have civil wars only in six countries, which means that the media are covering only six countries”.  It seems to me that a majority of the time I hear or read about Africa in the news, it is always something negative which does not accurately represent what is actually happening across the Atlantic Ocean. Mwenda says that because Westerners have such a skewed view of what is going on in Africa because of the media, we are asking ourselves “What should we do with it? We should give food to the hungry. We should deliver medicines to those who are ill. We should send peacekeeping troops to serve those who are facing a civil war” and we have caused Africa to lose self-initiative.

In his presentation, Mwenda says,

But what is the international aid community doing with Africa today? They are throwing large sums of money for primary health, for primary education, for food relief. The entire continent has been turned intoa place of despair, in need of charity. Ladies and gentlemen, can any one of you tell me a neighbor, a friend, a relative that you know, who became rich by receiving charity? By holding the begging bowl and receiving alms? Does any one of you in the audience have that person? Does any one of you know a country that developed because of the generosity and kindness of another? Well, since I’m not seeing the hand, it appears that what I’m stating is true.

After hearing him argue this point, aid in Africa has never seemed so unproductive. Of course, we all dream that one day we will win millions of dollars from winning the lottery but in reality, that will likely never happen just like how if we continue to provide aid to Africa the way we have been in the past Africa will never be able to grow on its own economically or democratically.

Sources: Grameen Foundation, Grameen Ghana, MOTECH, AHME, Mwenda TED Talk

Week 11: Empowering Women Through Economic Development


MicroLoans and Women

MicroLoans and Women: that is what I Googled before I started this blog post. Numerous websites were listed that linked me to a website where I could donate $25 to help save and change a woman’s life. The first link I clicked on sent me to a website that provided business start-up loans to women living in rural East Africa. There is a video highlighting the Women’s Microfinance Initiative, or WMI, that shows women in an outdoor class learning about how to start a business from the money they are borrowing and how to support a growing business.

The website talks about its goal of providing loans to impoverished women and then addresses why women should receive these loans, saying:

WMI is tackling global poverty and the disenfranchisement of impoverished, rural women. Launched in 2008 in rural Buyobo, Uganda, WMI has provided over 15,000 microloans to chronically poor women in Uganda, Tanzania and Kenya, many supporting AIDS orphans. Borrowers start small businesses and use their profits to pay for school fees, food and healthcare. Communities benefit as borrowers hire helpers and advocate for local improvements.

Empowering women living in desperate poverty in rural East Africa promotes in-country development from the bottom up. Women become involved in grass roots movements and advocate for far-reaching social and economic changes in their own country. The borrowers’ priorities for the use of their profits are: better nutrition, healthcare and paying school fees for their children. WMI provides outreach in all of these areas by empowering women with options to provide better care for their families.


After learning about this particular project, I decided to learn more about the organization who is providing all of these loans. Women’s Microfinance Initiative works with three countries in East Africa: Tanzania, Uganda, and Kenya. According to the website, features of the loans include:

-Loan amounts of $50 – $150 (increase to $250 after 18 months
-No collateral required
-Distribution through existing village-level organization
-Term of 6 months
-Interest rate of 10% flat for the loan term
-No late fees
-Successful borrowers are eligible for follow up loans
-Loan groups of 20 borrowers
-Weekly Support Group meetings
-Training, technical assistance, follow-up support
-Local Coordinators visit borrowers on a regular basis
-Regular reports provided to WMI
-After 24 months, borrowers transition to a bank loan or become self-financing

All of this seems good, right? Well Hugh Sinclair, author of Confessions of a Microfinance Heretic: How Microlending Lost Its Way and Betrayed the Poor, isn’t so sure. Sinclair spoke with the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in 2012 about his book and why microfinance does not always work.

Confessions of a Microfinance Heretic: How Microlending Lost Its Way and Betrayed the Poor

Sinclair talks about “mission drift” or “the idea that microfinance has forgotten its mission to serve the poor and really exists to make a profit for the officials running the programs” and how people borrow money from one bank at a high interest rate and then end up having to borrow from a second bank to pay off the first which leads to serious debt and vicious cycle. This is obviously the most prominent problem with microfinance. Although a lot of theoretical  good can come from donations, most of the time the people who are doing the donating do not actually know where their money is going, where it ends up, or if it actually leads to a profitable business.

(A link to Sinclair’s interview can be found here).

The country I have been focused on most this semester in Liberia so I wanted to know how much money they had received through microfinance loans. According to MixMarket.org, Liberia has received $14.2 million in microfinance loans since 2009. I had no idea if that was an astronomical amount or was less than average compared to other African countries so I looked up a few more countries for a comparison. From the same website I found that Uganda has received $607.2 million, Tanzania has received $1.1 billion, and Kenya has received $3.1 billion (note that these are the three countries supported by WMI). The $14.2 million that Liberia receives seems like nothing compared to these numbers. Are these other figures so big because there are more people who are receiving loans or are the people who have received loans in the past taking out other loans to pay off their first loans?

Sources: MixMarket, WMI, Sinclair Interview