Connect with us

NGOs - SDGs

Royal visit: Queen Matilde of Belgium wades into age old Maasai culture early marriages and FGM

Published

on

Belgian Queen Matilde with excited school children at Furaha Centre in Kalobeyei Village, Kakuma Refugee Camp, Turkana County during her recent visit-Photo By Frank Dejongh

18-year-old Purity Kesuma fits the aphorism “pigs will fly” meaning that the seemingly impossible phenomena can come to pass in a life time.

Born into the conservative Maasai culture that treats women and girls as objects without a voice, Kesuma has not only shrugged off early marriage and Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) so prevalent in her community, she has acquired wings and, like the popular aphorism,  flown to an unlikely audience with a European queen.

Thanks to the unique circumstances surrounding her life, wiry and shy Kesuma had the exceptional privilege of narrating to visiting Queen Mathilde of Belgium and Crown Princess Elizabeth her tottery walk from an igloo shaped abode at a Maasai Manyata in Mailwa Village, Kajiado County to Ilsibil Secondary School where she is a candidate in this year’s Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE).

“I am the youngest of five girls from three mothers married to my mother and the only one to set foot in a secondary school,” she recounted after a meeting with the queen who was on a tour of Kenya recently in a mission to raise awareness on education for vulnerable groups and child protection issues. She had been to in her capacity as honorary president of UNICEF, Belgium.  She had been to Niger, Tanzania, Senegal, Haiti, Ethiopia, Liberia and Laos on a similar mission.

She says: “The eminent visitors could not believe that the teenager before them who now aspires to be a doctor had escaped from an arranged child marriage to a man many years her senior when she was only 14 and had narrowly dodged the knife that had genitally mutilated her four older sisters in an age old rite of passage to womanhood.

Her story of a bare knuckled struggle to realize her dreams against all the odds stunned the royal duo by its sheer luridness.

“I returned home after sitting the Kenya Certificate of Primary Education (KCPE) at Mailwa Primary School and effervescent with the hope of proceeding to secondary school the following year courtesy of my 295 points only to be rudely confronted by the possibility of missing out for lack of school fees. I was devastated to the bone when calling letters arrived from Ilsibil and Esolenge Secondary schools.  My father told me to my face to forget further education. Reason?  No school fees.

Purity talks to Belgian queen Matilde and Crown Princess Elizabeth at Ilsibil Girls’ Secondary School, Kajiado County– Photo by Sarah Ooko

“Downhearted and lost for what to do, I left home and went to stay with a married step sister with a toddler to assist her with maternity chores, hoping that school fees would somehow come my way. I had hardly settled down when information came that I was wanted back home.

Also Read Sahara Group Reiterates Support For The Arts At Bling Lagosians Private Screening

“Still, no fees, but rumours were rife in the village that my father intended to marry me away to a man I had never met. Arrangements had been made to have me circumcised before I could meet my suitor. I hid from home and ran away to my former school the moment I confirmed the rumour from my father whose word was final.

“My former head teacher received me with love. She asked me to take courage and promised to give me protection. She contacted World Vision and a team came over to talk to me. The gesture culminated in my joining Form one at Ilbisil Girls’ Secondary School.  World Vision offered to pay my school fees and here I am today in Form Four and a 2019 KCSE candidate.
Tears jump to purity’s eyes as images of the flight from home cascade through her mind. She blinks fast and uses the edge of her palm to wipe off the tears. She recalls how a moved Queen Mathilde wondered if her parents had accepted her back into the family.

“My father had disowned me, but had a change of mind after my former Head teacher pleaded with him to forgive me. I returned home and my father gave me his blessings. A father’s blessings are crucial in Maasai culture.

She says Queen Mathilde held her hand with the words “Your courage and determination will take you far. Prepare well for your examinations. You will hear from me through UNICEF”.
World Vision program Manager In charge of Osiligi area Ms Tabitha Mwangi Meoli says Queen Mathilde and Crown Prince Elizabeth engaged in community dialogues with Maasai men and women to discuss possible interventions and facilitation to trigger change in harmful practices such as FGM and early marriage affecting girls’ education.

She says through facilitation by UNICEF, New Vision organizes alternative rites of passage and persuades fathers to bless uncut girls considered a cursed lot by society.

“The curse is real and can affect uncut girls in many forms if reprieve from fathers and elders is not sought and given.   We also talk to Morans to accept uncut girls for wives and enlighten them on the disadvantages of FGM,” says Ms Meoli.

The Queen and the crown princess who were in the country for three days also visited Furaha Centre that offers art therapy activities at the Kakuma refugee Camp in Turkana County, the Kalobeyei Integrated settlement in northern Kenya where children and adolescents build learning and education skills and the UNICEF supported Jitegemee Livelihood Project that empowers young mothers through access to education and skills development.

Also in her itinerary was the AMREF Dagoretti Child Protection and Development Centre that rescues and liberates children living in vulnerable situations, The ACAKORO football academy in Nairobi’s Korogocho slum that develops football talent in deserving children while providing them with school fees and meals.

Queen Mathilde is the wife to the reigning King Philippe of Belgium. The couple has four children of whom Crown Princess Elizabeth is the eldest. Her assistance to the king in carrying out  state functions include private and state visits abroad and audiences with representatives of various groups.

Besides her role as UNICEF ambassador for Belgium, she   is the Honorary President of the Queen Mathilde Fund that endeavours to assist the weakest members of society with focus on child poverty and the position of women in society.

 

Credit Standard Media

Continue Reading
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

NGOs - SDGs

GSMA Report Reveals The Gender Gap In Mobile Internet Use Is Shrinking, Despite The COVID-19 Pandemic

Published

on

GSMA Report: An estimated 112 million more women started using mobile internet last year across low- and middle-income countries, despite the onset of COVID-19, according to the fourth annual GSMA Mobile Gender Gap Report published today.

Nevertheless, 234 million fewer women than men access mobile internet. Moreover, the underlying gender gap in mobile ownership persists and is proving difficult to close.

Affordability, lack of literacy and digital skills, and lower awareness of mobile internet are critical and common barriers for women. Structural inequalities in society and discriminative social norms also remain a challenge. Even when women have the same levels of education, income, literacy, and employment as men, they are still less likely to own a mobile phone or use mobile internet.

The report further revealed that a record number of women in South Asia now use mobile internet services, helping shrink the gender gap to 15% from 19% last year in low- and middle-income countries.

The gains in South Asia, which had the most significant gender gap in 2019 with women 50% less likely than men to use mobile internet, masked the stagnation in other regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa. Women in both regions now face a similar gender gap in mobile internet use – 37% in Sub-Saharan Africa and 36% in South Asia.

Women were more likely than men to access the internet exclusively via mobile in almost all markets surveyed. In Kenya, for example, 63% of male internet users said they only used the internet via a mobile device compared to 79% of females. This reliance by women on mobile demonstrates the disproportionate benefit of increasing their access.

“If women are to become equal citizens in a more digital, post-COVID world, closing the mobile gender gap has never been more critical,” said Mats Granryd, Director General, of the GSMA. “I urge policymakers, the private sector and the international community to take note of the important findings laid out in the Mobile Gender Gap Report because only concerted action and collaboration will enable women and their families to reap the full benefits of connectivity.”

The GSMA introduced the Connected Women Commitment Initiative in 2016 to catalyse action to close the mobile gender gap. Mobile operators continued to make commitments during 2020, with 40 mobile operators across Africa, Asia and Latin America making formal commitments to accelerate digital and financial inclusion for women since 2016. These operators have already reached more than 40 million additional women with mobile internet or mobile money services.

The GSMA’s Mobile Gender Gap Report 2021 is available at: https://www.gsma.com/r/gender-gap/ 

Further information on the Connected Women Commitment Initiative can be found at: https://www.gsma.com/mobilefordevelopment/connected-women/the-commitment/

 

Download BAO E-MAGAZINE

Continue Reading

NGOs - SDGs

NASME Women Celebrates International Women’s Day 2021 with Empowered Women Event

Published

on

L-R Mrs Victoria Oluwasanya – immediate past Vice Chairman of NASME Lagos, Mr. Solomon Aderoju – immediate past Chairman NASME Lagos, Otunba (Mrs) Gbemi Oduntan – National Women Coordinator NASME, Sir. Prince Degun Agboade – National President- NASME, Dr. Adams Adebayo – Chairman NASME Lagos, Mrs Wumi Oluwadare – 2nd Vice Chairman NASME Lagos. (Source: NASME/Dr. Jumoke Kassim)

Every March 8 is celebrated as International Women’s Day. An annual call to action for gender parity across the world. These actions range from marches and protests to advocacy and campaigns. This year’s International Women’s Day 2021 theme was tagged – “Women in Leadership: Achieving an equal future in a COVID-19 world” with the campaign theme #ChooseToChallenge.  On the 12th March 2021, the National Association of Small & Medium Enterprises (NASME) marked this year’s international women’s day 2021 with an event organised and coordinated by the NASME Women (Lagos WING).

Due to the global pandemic (COVID-19), the event took place both physically and virtually in line with the government COVID-19 safety protocol. The physical event was held at the Adeyemi Bero Auditorium, Alausa Secretariat, Ikeja, Lagos while several guests joined virtually (Zoom) from different parts of the world. The NASME’s topic was on “Women, Family Law & Property Rights”.

Hajia Yinka Paramole-Shabi, the moderator for the day, commenced with an introduction of guests, speakers and how essential it was for NASME to have a women wing. The purpose of which is to have enviable women in business who can stand out among the male gender. She appreciated the support of the NASME president, a man that has been the backbone for the creation of the NASME Women Wing.

The Host and NASME Lagos Women Coordinator, Otunba (Mrs) Gbemi Oduntan in her opening speech explained why women should start challenging the status quo. She pointed out that women are not here to compete with their male counterpart. But are only demanding for a space on the table because it has been proven that what a man can do, a woman can do same, even much better. She believes 75% of what some women do these 3C’s jobs: Clearing, Cleaning and Chores that are not paid, because the world sees them as the weakest link. She gave some examples of women challenging the Status Quo in their respective industry. She mentioned Capt. Agbelusi who was one of the guests at their event in 2019 and her impact in the aviation industry. She concluded by saying “We need a gender balanced society” and left the audience with these three (3) parting words; Be prepared, Make sure your account is alright and Make the man know we are choosing to challenge.

NASME National President, Prince Degun Adeagbo in his speech extols the key roles women play at home, workplace and in the society at large. He said more women should choose to challenge the gender bias, inclusion and parity. He believes their aspirations can be achieved when women work together through different organisations as NASME and urged them to be a part of the community. Prince Degun admonished the Lagos women wing for their impact. On behalf of NASME, he appeals to the Government but at the federal and state to do everything possible to get more women involved in governance by lowering the bar. In future, he wants to see a woman become the President of NASME.

Mrs. Modupe Oyekunle is an industrialist and currently the National Coordinator of the Association of Nigerian Women Business Network (ANWBN). She shared her thoughts on why it is important to choose to challenge the status quo with emphasis on financial inclusion and diversity. Mrs. Oyekunle also spoke about the Passage of the bill on women national business agenda with 5 key focus areas; High rate of insecurity, Gender inequality, power and infrastructural facilities. She encouraged more women organization to work together in pursuit of the common set goals.

The Hon. Commissioner for Commerce, Industry & Cooperatives, Dr. Lola Akande was represented by Mrs. Oluwakemi Ogunmodede, a Director in the Ministry of commerce.

Mrs. Angela EMUWA, Chairman at Punch Nigeria Limited appreciated all the men supporting women who are challenging the status quo. She talked about the challenges and biases women face in the society. She emphasized on the role’s women play and why they should be given a space.

Dr. Adeyemi Agbelusi’s presentation was on the topic “Women, Family Law & Human Right” and how the law does not favour the women in our society. In terms of surrogacy, adoption, settlement after marriage divorce, Right & interest to property. He urged women to pay more attention to Cultural & financial intelligence before going into any kind of relationships.

Event Panelists

The NASME event ended with an award ceremony where two of its members were awarded a plaque and some cash to support their business.

The first awardee is Mrs. Adesanya Modupe Olusola who lost everything in her piggery business during the (COVID-19) lockdown, as a result of Swine Flu that killed all her pigs. She said the award came to her as a surprise and the fund will put her back on her feet and appreciates platforms such as the NASME that provides women with so many empowerment opportunities. According to her, one way women can choose to challenge is by challenging their children to do great things. She advises women in a male-dominated industry with this saying, “Whatever needs to be done needs to be done well.”

Mrs. Mitana Blessing Matthew, the second awardee is the co-Founder of Authentic Natural products (African cosmetic brands), a company she co-founded with her late husband. She appreciated the support from NASME and promised the fund will be used to boost her business.

The NASME International Women’s Day event is a true indication of women supporting women and we hope to see more collaborations and not competition among women in business in Africa.

NASME is the Nigerian Association of Small and Medium Entrepreneurs and owners of small businesses across all sectors of the economy, creating business opportunities as well as providing solutions to individual member’s challenges to ensure the success of every business venture in Nigeria. Their vision is to be the voice of Nigeria Entrepreneurs advocating for conducive environment while partnering with MSME promoters to ensure the emergence of large pool of viable technologically empowered MSMEs. NASME promotes the empowerment of Nigeria’s MSMEs as a means of achieving sustainable employment generation, economic growth and development in the country.

Kindly click to watch the full event here

To be a member or support what we do, kindly visit NASME Lagos

Priceless Women Initiatives founded Hon. Oyinda Adegoke

NASME Women… Upwardly mobile!

More Picture from the event

L-R: Mrs. Esther Ebeh, Ms. Oyelola Fadaini, Yeye Dupe Dada, Mrs. Matilda Taiwo & Ms. Yinka

 

 

Watch the full event here on YouTube NASME IWD2021 EVENT

 

Download BAO E-MAGAZINE

Continue Reading

NGOs - SDGs

Women are Essential to Africa’s Recovery Plan

Published

on

By Mark Elliott, Division President of Mastercard, Southern Africa

I was having an engaging Zoom chat about financial inclusion last week with a senior female executive when we were interrupted by her charming toddler who had other priorities. After some on-screen introductions and my poor attempt to entertain her child, she shared a personal reflection. Despite her partner being in an adjacent room, the little one tended to knock on her door frequently.

As we are now seeing in the data, the pandemic’s effect has added to the pressures experienced by women. Often women have had to pick up more household chores and childcare duties, and many have had to face unemployment as their jobs are 1.8x more vulnerable as they tend to work in sectors that are hardest hit by the economic downturn such as retail, restaurants etc. According to the UN Women, the pandemic risked turning back the clock on gender equality by 25 years.

But, if we collectively activate the power of women’s contribution in Africa, and encourage them to reach their potential, companies log increased performance, societies become more productive, and economies thrive. In fact, Africa could add $316 billion or 10% to GDP by 2025 if each country makes advances in women’s equality to match the country in the region that has achieved the most progress towards parity (McKinsey 2019).

Amidst recovery, we now have a chance to hit the reset button in all industries – across the board, and across boards. It is time to ask ourselves if we have the balance that Africa needs – and prepare to do what it takes to get there. It will require collective action from corporates, governments, NGOs and communities to make it happen. There is much work to do. Gender inequality in work and society loom large, and interventions are critical.

Opportunities to Advance Gender Equality

Unleashing potential and unblocking much needed growth can be actioned across three priority areas: youth, women entrepreneurs and women in the workplace.

1) Youth – Africa is home to 19 of 20 of the world’s youngest populations which should present a tailwind of productivity opportunity. However, with youth (15 – 24 years old) unemployment as high as 2% in countries like South Africa there is an urgent need to align academic and technical skills with employment realities. Encouraging girls to participate in Science Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) subjects is key to develop critical 21st century skills girls need for their studies and career success. Bringing more female youth into technology fields and achieving gender parity will only make companies stronger and products more relevant to women as customers.

2) Women entrepreneurs – According to the 2020 Mastercard Index of Women Entrepreneurs, Africa has the world’s top three countries when it comes to women entrepreneurs (as a percentage): Uganda (39.6%), Botswana (38.5%) and Ghana (36.5%). Despite some positive trends, the report also notes the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on women entrepreneurs around the world, with 87% saying they have been adversely affected. Overrepresentation in sectors hardest hit by the economic downturn, the pronounced digital gender gap in an increasingly virtual world, and the mounting pressures of childcare responsibilities are only a few factors that have left women particularly vulnerable.

Despite the obvious challenges, the report highlights a number of opportunities for women in the COVID-19 era, particularly in online shopping and digital commerce. As a non-exec board member of Junior Achievement South Africa – a non-profit organisation that is playing its part in preparing the youth for the 21st century through entrepreneurial training and financial literacy programmes – I have seen how versatile and resilient women entrepreneurs can be in the face of adversity. Shortly after the pandemic started, I had the chance to mentor a woman who pivoted her fashion business to produce face masks and set up an online store. Ensuring access to technology or digital solutions, affordable data and modern trade resources as well as business training will empower more women to succeed in business.

3) Women in the workplace – While Africa has above average board representation of women at 25% (McKinsey 2019) compared to the global average, it lags in executive committee positions and women coming into middle management positions. Gender equality in the workplace requires an adjustment by all of us if it is going to become a reality in the near term. At Mastercard, we have grown our female workforce across Africa by 370% over the last 5 years and across the Middle East and Africa, our team is 42% female. While there is still room for improvement, we have made meaningful interventions:

  • We closed the gender pay gap to ensure that women earn $1 for every $1 earned by men.
  • Recognising that women may take a professional step back if they have children, we introduced 16 weeks of paid parental leave for both men and women. Eighty percent of men from across the business take their paternity leave, helping us develop a sharing environment, redress the balance between maternity and paternity leave, while also ensuring that same-sex partners aren’t left behind.
  • We have a dedicated Mastercard Women’s Leadership Network – a global network with local chapters in South Africa and Kenya that are tasked with developing and advancing women into leadership roles supported with training and mentorship opportunities.
  • We have evolved the recruitment process, designing 50/50 gender slates for all roles. The best person will always get the job but the process has been redesigned for greater fairness and opportunity.

Companies must make gender equality a priority, commit to KPIs and measure there progress. Much acclaimed Jane Fraser shattered the glass ceiling a few weeks ago by becoming the first women to lead a major US bank as the new CEO of Citigroup – a ceiling that has already been shattered in Africa. This is a positive step, but we can agree there is much more to do beyond these first milestones.

As we position our businesses for recovery in a post Covid-19 world, we should be doing so with vision and goals for gender parity. We need to provide girls with access to education from an early age so that they can develop the skills needed to be the leaders of tomorrow. We need to provide better access to financial and digital tools, support women in starting and growing their businesses, and foster a workplace where all employees feel valued, respected and empowered to reach their greatest potential. By doing so, we can create a more equitable and prosperous future for us all.

 

Download BAO E-MAGAZINE

Continue Reading

Ads

Most Viewed