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Africa

A Bright Future for Northern Nigerian Schoolgirls?

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by Modupe Macaulay 

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Photo: UN News Centre UNICEF/NYHQ2014-0710/Eseibo

The 15th of April 2014 marked a turning point in Nigerian politics with the kidnapping of over 200 schoolgirls in Chibok, northern Nigeria. The world awakened to the plight of young girls in developing nations pursuing education in societies blighted by terrorism and patriarchal belief systems. However, amidst the turmoil of unspeakable violence can local girls see any hope for the future? 

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Education of Young Girls During war: A Look at the Global Situation

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Reprinted from GIMUN Chronicles

By Ghada Ben Saïd

Translated by Amy Reid

Photo: flickr.com/World Bank Photo Collection
Photo: flickr.com/World Bank Photo Collection

In the event of a crisis, it is children who are the first to suffer the effects of the political and economic instability of a country. In a country in conflict, schools are very often damaged or even destroyed, something which encourages parents to refuse to send their children to school. School buildings are also used as temporary residences or for military means. The authorities are so preoccupied with war that the education of these children is often pushed into the background. Many flee from zones of conflict, but for those who do not migrate, life becomes all the more difficult.  This is the case for example, in Syria. Since the beginning of the war, the rate of schooling in the country has dropped drastically.  Syria, despite having a rate of schooling of 95% in 2006, today has the second lowest rate of schooling in the world. Young girls are the first to bear the brunt of this.  Since the beginning of the war, the number of forced marriages amongst young Syrian girls has doubled.  Of the 101 million out-of-school children in the world today, the majority are girls, excluded from the education system and deprived of their basic right to education.

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The Role of Women in the Pacification Process – Interview with Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court

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By Alice d’Eramo

Translated by Amy Wilcock

Mrs. Fatou Bensouda, Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court Source : FIFDH, crédits photo : Miguel Bueno

On 8 March 2015, International Women’s Day, the International Film Festival and Forum on Human Rights (FIFDH) organised a discussion in Geneva, on the role on women in the peace process.

The film Pray the Devil back to Hell, by Gini Reticker and Abigail E. Disney was shown during the event. The documentary tells the story of thousands of Liberian women who decided to join forces in spite of their religious differences in order to restore peace to their country. Indeed, between 1989 and 2003, civil war ravaged Liberia and Sierra Leone, causing more than 400,000 deaths. Traumatised and exhausted, these women together denounced the sordid daily life of conflict, including drugged child soldiers, sexual torture, packed and raided refugee camps, greed and the exploitation of natural resources. With their peaceful protests, they succeeded in putting pressure on political leaders to reach a peace agreement. They then pushed for the country’s disarmament and were involved in the democratic elections where the first female African president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, was elected.

Finally, in 2012, Charles Taylor, former President of Liberia and rebel leader, was sentenced to 50 years in prison by the Special Court for Sierra Leone, for crimes against humanity and war crimes.

These events illustrate the tremendous power of peacekeeping intervention that women can have, as much on a local as on a global level. Therefore, better integrating women into the peacekeeping process is absolutely essential.

Protest women
Peaceful protest of Liberian women in Monrovia in July 2003, during the civil war -A shot from the documentary “Pray the Devil back to Hell”. Photo credits: Pewee Flomoku

Keeping the Liberian case in mind, outstanding figures were invited to discuss  the issue of the participation of women in the peacekeeping process, including; Fatou Bensouda, Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court; Alejandra Ancheita, Human Rights Activist, Mexican lawyer and 2014 Martin Ennals Award Laureate; and Bineta Diop, founder and President of Femmes Africa Solidarité (FAS), and Special Envoy to the Chairperson of the African Union Commission for Women, Peace and Security. The discussion was moderated by RTS journalist, Laurence Difelix.

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‘Crops’ or ‘Carats’? Gold mining and cocoa production in Ghana

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By Stephen Yeboah, Research Fellow, Africa Progress Panel

For the past two decades, gold mining and agriculture have contributed consistently to economic growth and development in Ghana. In 2013, gold mining contributed US$3,673 million in exports. Agriculture employed about 60 per cent of the active labour force and cocoa, the leading cash crop, contributed an estimated US$1,731 million in exports in 2013 (Government of Ghana 2013). While farming is the traditional source of livelihood, artisanal and small-scale mining (ASM) has emerged in communities endowed with natural resources as a lucrative activity due to its remarkable income-generating potential.

Mining and agriculture may co-exist and interact to generate economic and social benefits, but at the same time they compete for land, water resources and labour. On the one hand, land is seized for mining that otherwise could be used for farming; labour is attracted away from agriculture into mining; and mining pollutes water needed for farm irrigation. On the other hand, mining generates money that supplements the income of farmers who branch out into mining, allowing them to improve the productivity of their farms through buying inputs like fertilizers, and hiring labour (see: Hilson and Garforth 2012; 2013). Despite the importance of mining and agriculture to socio-economic development, the dynamics of their interaction have seldom received attention and are sometimes underestimated by scholars, governments, corporate entities and donors. There is a need for greater understanding of the mining–agriculture nexus to ensure that the two interact in a positive and balanced manner, producing social and economic development without disrupting the livelihoods of rural people whose lives are tied to farming. Read the rest of this entry »

France is alone in the Central African Republic

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By Juliette Darrousez and Julie Seemann-Ricard, translated by Charlotte Grey

From the very beginning, France has made international mobilisation in the Central African Republic a priority. In November 2013, Laurent Fabius, Minister for Foreign Affairs, announced that “France will be there” and “it will act so that the Central African Republic can hope again”. Operation Sangaris’ goal was to break the cycle of violence in the Central African Republic, and then give humanitarian aid to victims. The “anti-balakas” militia, created to defend the Séléka, have effectively lost sight of their initial goal and started targeting civilians. Read the rest of this entry »

No solutions to the machete in the Central African Republic

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by Simon Rousseau, translated by Charlotte Grey

Central African Republic support

The storm blowing across the Central African Republic is nothing new. Indeed, since its independence in 1960, the country has been in the grip of serious political and humanitarian crises which are hardly suitable conditions for sorting out the incredibly bad economy. The storm became a hurricane in March 2013 when Séléka rebels – predominantly Muslims – ousted President Bozizé, leading to a period of unprecedented violence. Christians, initially persecuted by militant ex-Séléka fighters, have seen Christian anti-balakas respond to the abuse with their own acts of violence. This has resulted in hostile attitudes towards predominantly Muslim Chadian Central Africans. Read the rest of this entry »

Violence in the Central African Republic Leads to a Humanitarian Crisis of Epic Proportions

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by Wassim Cornet

Central African Republic Crisis

The crisis in the Central African Republic, one of the least developed countries in the world, stems from the ongoing tensions that have rocked Central Africa for decades. According to a recent report issued by Human Rights Watch, 30,000 Muslims have been forced to flee their homes in the recent violence. This dramatic number along with continuous warnings of ethnic cleansing makes the understanding of this conflict very important. Read the rest of this entry »