Source: Amnesty International

Thousands of South Sudanese women and girls, and some men, who have been raped in ethnically-charged sexual attacks in the ongoing conflict are battling mental distress and stigma with nowhere to turn for help, Amnesty International revealed in a new report out today.


Abdia Gole, 33, is a recent graduate of Business Management from one of the leading universities in Kenya, and a candidate for the upcoming County Assembly elections for Gorbo Ward, Marsabit County, in Northern Kenya. “I am going door to door, campaigning to urge women and youth to vote for me. Our time is now or never,” says Gole. 

Waiting for her turn to see the nurse, Juliet Chasamuka, 34, looked weary. “I woke up early today, prepared my children for school, cleaned the house and fetched water, all before going for my check-up,” she said.

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation 
Animated chatter spills out from a corner of tech giant Google's Nairobi offices as five Kenyan schoolgirls discuss their upcoming trip to California where they hope to win $15,000 for I-cut, an app to end Female Genital Mutilation (FGM).

Twenty girls are dressed in freshly pressed Girl Guide uniforms, swaying from side to side in unison, singing a mournful tune. “South Sudan is crying. South Sudan is weeping,” they sing. Crowds of children are nestled under a big white tent, some perched on white plastic chairs, others peering from behind metal poles. Around the square, dozens of curious neighbors have clustered to watch the performances.

Shantel sits in a bar lit by TV screens. Wet bottles of Tusker beer line the shelves, low cushioned chairs crowd the floor. A client waits for her in a back room. Shantel’s parents died when she was 15, leaving her and her sister Magdari alone. “My parents died with HIV so I didn’t have anywhere to go. It’s when I started sex work,” she says.


Kenyans will vote for their new government on August 8, amid fears that violence will flare up around polling day, as it has in the past. But across the country, women candidates are already facing harassment, intimidation and abuse, both in person and online.

Under a tarpaulin tent pitched in the world’s largest refugee settlement, a pair of newborn twins is cause for celebration. “They will grow fat,” midwife Christine Ajidiru says, gushing over the mother, Maria Gire, who is breastfeeding one of her new baby girls.

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation 

Nearly 1,000 women struggling to put food on their tables in Boko Haram-hit northeast Nigeria have received goats as emergency assistance, the United Nations said on Thursday. The region is threatened with famine after the militants' eight-year insurgency to create an Islamic state, which has killed more than 20,000 people and forced some 2.7 million people to flee their homes.

Source: NewsDeeply

Two decades of research compiled by the Council on Foreign Relations demonstrates that including more women in labor markets will strengthen the global economy.

Source: NewsDeeply

Tourism to Africa is set to jump to 134 million visitors by 2030. But the majority of high-earning jobs in the industry are held by men, a new report from the U.N.’s trade and development body has found.

Source: NewsDeeply

When she was appointed to head the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Cyprus, Maj. Gen. Kristin Lund became the United Nation’s first female force commander. In a conversation with Women & Girls, she recounts how she shattered the glass ceiling.

Source: NewsDeeply

For Esenam Amuzu’s peers in Ghana, teen pregnancy, gender-based violence and risky sexual behavior are often the norm. On World Population Day, she explains how sex education and access to contraception can turn girls’ lives around.

Source: NewsDeeply

Kenya’s parliament has missed a mandated deadline to enact a law that requires all elected bodies have at least one-third representation of women. With the parliament adjourned ahead of August 8 elections, activists aren’t giving up the fight for affirmative action.

Source: NewsDeeply

For the past year, herders and farmers have regularly clashed and spilled blood in Nigeria’s north-central Kaduna state. Their wives, many of whom work side by side in the local markets, are trying to bring an end to this spiral of violence.

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation

Women fleeing conflict or uprooted by disaster are desperate not to become pregnant when their lives are already at risk.

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation

More than 5 million people do not have enough to eat in the northeastern Borno, Adamawa and Yobe states, including 50,000 living in famine-like conditions.

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation
After giving birth at the age of 13, whenever Amina Mba wanted to attend prayers in her local mosque, sheer terror would stop her from crossing the threshold. "I would go and hide behind the mosque in order to pray," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, as she lay under a flowery cover in a ward of the Catholic Hospital Complex of Batouri in eastern Cameroon.

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation 
Margret has decided that South Sudan is not a place to raise children, but she is changing this for future generations. That's why – 10 years ago – the mother of two joined the country's 400 to 500 deminers, digging up remnants of past and present wars – bombs, unexploded ordnances and landmines.

She's one of a growing number of women to take up the risky business, most of them mothers wanting to provide safety for their families.

"It's my way of contributing and making this country better," she said. "I sent my children to Uganda, but I want them to come back one day. It's a sacrifice for me, but a gain for those returning when the war is over." Landmines have a long history in South Sudan, the world's youngest nation that won independence from Sudan in 2011 after a long and violent liberation struggle. After just two years, a political squabble escalated into renewed civil war in late 2013, fracturing the new nation along ethnic lines.

More than four million mines and explosive devices have been found and destroyed in South Sudan over the last decade, says the United Nations Mine Action Service (UNMAS). While some accidents are recorded, UNMAS believes that at least 90 percent go unreported.


Margret currently works around Kolye village, a 30 minute drive on unpaved bumpy roads from the South Sudanese capital Juba in a lush setting of green fields and mango trees.

The area saw heavy fighting between the Sudanese army and southern rebels during Sudan's long civil war which ended in 2005, paving the way for the South's independence.

Deadly anti-personnel fragmentation mines were laid by Khartoum's forces to protect their barracks.

More than a decade later, they are still killing civilians.

"Soldiers placing mines think carefully about how humans behave, where they go and what they do. That is why mines are found alongside roads, in market places or by water points," said Jan Møller Hansen of DanChurchAid's demining project, the organisation that also employs Margret.

While mines are easy to place, they are hard to remove. After an eight-week training course, Margret has dug out hundreds of them throughout her career and – on a good day – she can cover up to 30 square metres (320 square feet).

"We can use the safe land to build roads, hospitals and schools and that's what excites me the most," she smiled.

According to UNMAS's demining chief, Tim Lardner, it will take at least another 10 years to clear up the whole country that is roughly the size of France.

South Sudan signed the Mine Ban Treaty less than six months after independence in 2011, deeming anti-personnel mines illegal and their removal mandatory.

Renewed war has complicated efforts to remove mines from previous conflicts, while rebel forces, without providing evidence, have accused the government of laying new explosives in violation of the treaty, a charge it denies.


Margret works together with her friend Angaika, a mother of four and deminer since 2006. They start at eight in the morning, with a driver taking the 10-person team out to the field. Their operation area is well equipped with a briefing tent, several medics and an ambulance. But the nearest hospital is 15 km (9 miles) along dire roads, while the threat of ambush or looting by armed groups makes the work even more dangerous.

"Each day we communicate through high frequency radios and satellite phones to find out if conditions are safe. We don't want to become victims of violence," said Margret, who did not give her full name.

Finding explosives is hands-on work and, dripping sweat in their thick uniforms, teams clear the area inch by inch with metal detectors, scissors and garden tools to cut down grass and dig out explosive devices.

"My heart still beats faster when my detector beeps. I know that I could be very close to a mine, but I know my work and am not afraid," said Angaika. "I think about my children in those moments. My work is for them and their future families. That's what makes me strong."

Once the mine is dug up – it can take up to 30 minutes – a controlled explosion is usually carried out on site.


Newly discovered minefields are still registered monthly in South Sudan.

"Local communities often inform us about devices they have seen," DCA's Møller Hansen said. "They recognise them from the awareness training they receive."

Koyle, a once lively community, is now deserted due to the menace of landmines. Farmers have left their green and fertile fields, leaving silence except for birdsong.

After 10 weeks, Margret and Angaika's team is on its final stretch before a week's break. They started in mid-May and have since cleared almost the whole field of about an acre.

Ahead of them are red posts and danger signs - marking out their next project. 

Source: Thomson Reuters Foundation 
It's nearly midday at the bustling Tegeta bus terminal in Tanzania's biggest city and Olivia Mbiku is busy preparing ugali - a popular maize meal - beef stew and vegetables for her customers. "I wake up early, light up the fire and rush to the market to buy meat, cooking oil, tomatoes and everything I need for the day," said the 25-year-old mother of two.

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