First Female Head of State in Southern Africa
Joyce Banda has been a strong advocate for women and girls, particularly those in rural communities, throughout her political career. She was even recognized by Forbes Magazine last year when she was named Africa’s third most powerful female politician. Now, as she takes over as Malawi’s president, she is the first female head of state in southern Africa. One of her top priorities has been to get more girls in Malawi in school, a pledge she made years ago after using the proceeds from her garment manufacturing business and bakery to send underprivileged girls to school. Banda takes over the role following the death of the country’s former president Bingu wa Mutharika. Read it here.
Genocide Survivor Has Faith and Hope for Rwanda
This week marks the 18th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. Now, years later, the country’s people want to show the world how they’re moving on and thriving thanks to “the girl effect,” the idea that investing in young women early in their lives will pay off later in curbing poverty, disease, and despair. One success story is 23-year-old Didacienne “Dida” Nibagwire, a young actress who has been in a variety of films and television shows in Rwanda. Dida is a survivor of the genocide and although most of her family was killed in the conflict, she attributes her resilience to an obligation she feels to do something good for her country. Read the rest of Dida’s inspiring story here.
Violence Against Women in Mexico Grows
The war on drugs in Mexico has had serious consequences for women. Not only has violence against women greatly increased since the escalation of the drug cartels, but homicides in Juarez have dramatically gone up in recent years with 306 women killed in 2009, compared to just 23 in 2006. Jody Williams, Nobel Peace Prize winner in 1997, says that, “The government’s efforts to improve ‘security’ in the region have directly resulted in insecurity for civilian populations, and most especially, for women.” Read more here.
Saudi Princess Wishes to Overhaul the Country’s Education System
Women’s rights have traditionally been very limited in Saudi Arabia, but Princess Basma Bint Saud Bin Abdulaziz recently spoke out about what she’d like to see change for women in the country. One change she mentions is the country’s constitution, which she says needs to put men and women on equal footing by protecting every citizen’s human rights regardless of sex or status. In regard to the country’s education system, Princess Basma believes the way in which children are taught about women should change, specifically the way women are regarded as inferior beings, whose role is limited to raising her family. To read more about her views on social services, divorce, and women’s requirement to have a Mahrem, or male chaperone when they travel, go here.