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Source: UN News
As swelling numbers of people flee English-speaking areas of Cameroon for Nigeria, the United Nations on Friday expressed concern over the precarious situation of women and children, which make now up about 80 per cent of the approximately 10,000 registered refugees in eastern Nigeria’s Cross River state.

Source: IPS News
I had already heard many disturbing stories of violence by the time I interviewed Mercy Maina, whose name I have changed to protect her privacy.  Even so, what Mercy told me was truly disturbing. She said she was raped during the post-election violence in August alongside her sister by two men wearing uniforms and helmets, and carrying guns and walkie-talkies.

Source: allAfrica

Partners and families allegedly drugged women and in some cases even physically restrained them as doctors performed the procedure.

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation

A major insurance scheme launched on Thursday aims to help up to 4 million poor people in Africa and Asia rebuild their lives after climate disasters, its backers said.

Source: UNFPA

ATHENS, Greece/UNITED NATIONS, New York – Over two years ago, Greece became the centre of a refugee and migration crisis, with hundreds of thousands of people streaming into the country, many of them risking death to escape war, persecution and deprivation. In 2016 alone, some 173,000 people arrived in Greece, overwhelming local communities and resources.

Many of these arrivals were women and girls with serious reproductive health needs, including maternal health services and clinical manage of rape.

UNFPA launched an emergency response, deploying humanitarian workers and mobile clinics to provide essential reproductive health care.

“At the start of any crisis, it is critical to ensure that women, girls and other vulnerable groups have access to sexual and reproductive health care, including the prevention and treatment of sexual violence, prevention of HIV and sexually transmitted infections, and comprehensive obstetrics care,” said Felicia Jones, a UNFPA sexual and reproductive health coordinator.

Over 1,000 consultations were provided in the last months of 2016 alone.

Now, UNFPA is handing over operations to the Government of Greece.

The crisis is far from over; some 48,000 refugees and migrants are estimated to be in Greece today. But intensive partnerships and training efforts have strengthened local actors’ abilities to provide these life-saving services, benefitting both refugees and host communities.

Enormous vulnerabilities

Refugee and migrant women face enormous vulnerabilities. Uprooted from their homes, separated from their support networks, they often travel along dangerous routes. They have little privacy, sometimes sleeping in the open.

Gender-based violence is commonplace, but rarely reported.

Between July 2016 and June 2017, 350 refugees or migrants reported experiencing gender-based violence, including sexual assault, forced marriage, physical assault, psychological abuse, denial of services, trafficking and rape – but the actual number of cases is likely to be significantly higher.

Sexual violence survivors require a package of clinical care, including treatment of wounds, emergency contraceptives, post-exposure prophylaxis to prevent HIV transmission, as well as access to psychosocial and legal support.

But before the onset of the crisis, Greece did not have protocols for the clinical management of rape that were in line with international standards. 

UNFPA began training medical practitioners, social workers, psychologists, camp managers and others on providing psychological first aid, case management, clinical management of rape, and the provision of sensitive and confidential services for survivors.

Police, lawyers and others were also reached with trainings about the sensitive handling of sexual and gender-based violence.

“The training is practical and tailored to suit the situation in Greece,” said a participant in a case management training in Ionnina, Greece.

Urgent reproductive health needs

The need for maternal health care and other reproductive health services was also staggering.

In a typical refugee or migrant population, 4 per cent of women will be pregnant – meaning thousands of women were in need of care.

At the onset of the crisis, UNFPA supported the deployment of two mobile reproductive clinics, which provided prenatal and post-partum services, as well as other reproductive health care such as family planning. And UNFPA provided medical commodities to outreach workers from the Hellenic Centre for Disease Control.

But to ensure services are sustainable, UNFPA began tailoring trainings – on sexual and reproductive health, adolescent sexual reproductive health, and life skills education – to local needs.

“Being trained in sexual and reproductive health provides me the knowledge to support and better advise the beneficiaries of my programme,” said the participant of one training.

Moving forward

Since 2015, UNFPA has trained 1,350 people in Greece and 200 from the wider region. Many of those trained are now serving as trainers.

These efforts are “important for the refugees and even for the Greek people,” said one health expert, noting that services will improve for local communities, as well.

UNFPA’s efforts were conducted in close collaboration with the Government of Greece, including the General Secretariat for Gender Equality. Until late 2016, support was also received from the United States Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration and the Government of Norway.

On 14 December, UNFPA handed over reproductive health operations to the Government of Greece in a ceremony held in Athens.

“The first step has been done. Trained staff and protocols exist now in Greece,” said a medical coordinator who participated in one of the training exercises, adding that it is now up to local actors to keep up the momentum. “If these protocols will remain only a theory, without being implemented in the field, then all these trainings and trained staff will be useless.”

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation

"We need to stop relying on food distribution and aid money, and create more sustainable, life-long solutions"

Source: TheConversation

The African Union has taken several initiatives to demonstrate its commitment to eliminating injustices against women in Africa. The most recent has been a meeting ahead of the African Union (AU) summit scheduled for later this year to highlight the continent’s commitment to gender equality.

Source: UK Government
The Women, Peace and Security agenda and promoting global gender equality internationally is a key priority for the Government. It is in the UK’s national interest; empowering women and girls through the Government’s work improves peace and stability, economic growth and poverty reduction. Read more...

Source: UNFPA
In a simple white tent in the Lóvua refugee settlement in Angola, women and girls who fled the brutal conflict in Kasai, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, can find safe haven and support.

Source: ISS
Africa has the highest prevalence of communicable diseases in the world – both in terms of mortality (death) and morbidity (illness). This phenomenon has consequences for the health of both women and men, and increased gender mainstreaming in health programmes can help tailor solutions.

Source: allAfrica

Women are the largest economic opportunity. The most convincing business case for women comes from Silverstein and Sayre (2009), who show that women are a bigger economic opportunity than India and China combined. In 2009, women globally earned $13 trillion which is double the combined gross domestic products (GDP) of China and India ($5,6 trillion). This female income was estimated to be $18 trillion by 2014.

Many institutions now recognise that women's growing affluence and influence cannot be ignored and have identified women as the next big market opportunity as they explore different ways of capturing and capitalising on this "market segment" to take advantage of the demographics.

Women control majority of consumer spending

Not only do women earn more than India and China combined, but women also globally control at least 64% of the consumer spending (Silverstein & Sayre, 2009). Having women on boards will give corporations the competitive advantage to create products and services that will better meet their customers' needs. In some countries, women drive over 70% of household spending decisions but have many unmet needs from financial education and advice to providing products they require at key inflexion points in their lives: caused by divorce, death of a spouse, marriage, first home purchase, birth of a first child, college commencement, first job etc (Accenture, 2006). Therefore, the opportunity to win market share and create new markets are abundant. Moreover, given these demographic trends, corporate leadership should reflect the diversity of the customer base.

Women creating their own wealth and setting up in business

According to Barclays (global) research (2013), women are creating their own wealth through earnings, savings and income from setting up business thus given rise to kitchen table tycoons. Trends suggest an increase in self-employment where women are setting up both lifestyle and fast growth companies.

Women are living longer

Demographics suggest women are living longer than men and one impact of this is that they become beneficiaries of a double inheritance from both father and husband where the cultures and laws permit. Again, the financial advisory role is important to serve the unmet needs of this demographic and provide an opportunity to service this growing segment. Women often set up and manage businesses that are survival led and necessity driven, which tend to be for the long term.

Women improve corporate performance

Women are shown to have positive effects that improve corporate performance. Catalyst (2007) compared Fortune 500 companies on the representation of women on their boards and their corporate performance. They found that when comparing the worst and best quartile of female representation, this had significant effects on the corporate performance. Return on equity increased by 53%, profit margin by 42%, and return on invested capital by 66%. They also found that a minimum of three women on the board gave the best results. McKinsey (2007) confirms this relationship. They find that companies with the highest gender diversity teams, as compared to the industry average, see a much higher return on equity (10%), a higher operating result (48%), and a stronger stock price growth (70%). In addition, having at least one woman on the board decreases bankruptcy by a full 20% (Wilson & Atlantar, 2009). Interestingly, companies with more women on their boards see better corporate governance and ethical behaviour (Franke, 1997).

Women strengthen the economy and increase next generations' welfare

Investing in women leaders has great effects on a country's GDP and the welfare of next generations. Booz & Co (2012) calculated the possible increase on GDP through the entrance of new female participants to the economy. For India, South Africa, and the United Kingdom, these increases would be 27%, 10% and 5% (stats specific to Zimbabwe were not available at time of going to press). Moreover, women re-invest a far greater amount of their earnings on their children's education and health than men do, whereas men spend greater amounts on entertainment (Goldman Sachs, 2009). Thus, helping women earn their own income has a direct effect on the next generations and offers resilience.

Women are increasingly well-educated

In many countries, over 50% of graduates are women, and Zimbabwe is one such.

Sourced from: Gita Patel, Sophie Buiting -- The Commonwealth Secretariat, Social Transformation Programmes Division.

l Maggie Mzumara is a media, communication & leadership strategist. She is founder of the Success in Stilettos, a platform dedicated to the development of women leadership. She is also founder and publisher of the Harare South Western News -- a community newspaper founded to empower and lend a voice to under-represented communities in high and medium-density suburbs in Harare. She can be reached on email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. Twitter @magsmzumara

Source: Women's Media Center
In 2015, Francine Mirondo* nearly lost her life when her neighbors in Rwigembe village, northwest Tanzania, accused her of practicing witchcraft.

Source: IPS News
Women, separated from their husbands by the conflict, end up being the sole breadwinners for their families, while also carrying out other necessary tasks, such as, fetching water and firewood, preparing food and raising children.

Source: UNFPA

LOVUA, Angola – In a simple white tent in the Lóvua refugee settlement in Angola, women and girls who fled the brutal conflict in Kasai, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, can find safe haven and support.

Source: UNFPA

HABA TSEKA, Lesotho – “Before, I never used a condom, and I would force myself violently onto girls and young women,” said Kabelo*, 22, in rural Lesotho. A herder in Haba Tseka, he grew up in an area where violence is considered a normal, masculine trait.

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation

In western Uganda's Kyangwali refugee settlement, Tamari Mutesi teaches tailoring to young women who do not go to school.

Source: IrinNews

Two consecutive years of failed rains have left 3.4 million Kenyans in need of food aid and 480,000 children requiring treatment for acute malnutrition. It’s the worst humanitarian crisis the country has faced since a major drought scorched the Horn of African region in 2011, and an emergency likely to persist well into 2018.

Source: AllAfrica

Male-headed households continue to own more land and wealth than female-headed households in developing countries, but the picture may be reversing in cities, researchers have found.

Source: UNFPA

NAIKARRA, Kenya – “I woke up one morning, and my father told me that we were poor and needed money,” said Faith, describing the moment she learned she was engaged. She was 11 years old at the time.

Source: UNFPA

KIGALI, Rwanda – Rwanda’s health system has seen great improvements in recent years, yet one area of health care remains underserved, particularly for young people: sexual and reproductive health.

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