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My Message To The African Youth ~ Joan Mwende

Being young and vibrant, the African youth have so much potential! If we are motivated, passionate and refuse to entertain how things are run in the world today, we can be the cause of a lot of change. It is very common to be discouraged by the current systems in politics and society. Despite this, we need to learn to be the "change" and create a better world. We do not need to leave our futures to people who do not care about them! The following are pointers to young leaders across the continent:


  • African youth should step up and be the sources of change from the grassroots, like the 'Community Level' itself.

  • The young people interested to be the change in their communities are to be cultured and involved in social activism and politics so as to stay informed on issues and equally educate others around them. This can be done through social media platforms, reading books, following events happening currently and connecting with like minded people. They say change begins with education.

  • Do not be afraid of failure. Life is about metamorphosis and growing where failure is part of it. It is okay to be wrong at some point, and being aware of it is a good thing.

  • Be ready to be looked down upon because of your age, something which can easily make you doubt yourself. You should not allow yourself to be defined by such! Set your own standards and limits! Always remember your age is a great asset not a liability.

  • The problems we are facing currently in our world are young enough to need young people to solve them.

  • Being young means new perspective not lack of knowledge.

  • Tackle what you are passionate about - That issue that makes you furious and gives you sleepless nights when unsolved - When you start with your passion, you could cause a great deal of change!





The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of IGNITE THE YOUTH are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the entire society of IGNITE THE YOUTH.

Posted by ITY AFRICA

My Message To The African Youth ~ Joan Mwende

Why We Can't Wait!


By Ahmed Konneh (Liberia)

Whenever I look in to the future, I’m scared. I know my generation will be defined by extreme injustice, mass poverty, diseases, climate change, global warming, tension, war and terrorism. I also know that values such as integrity, patriotism, trust, love and humanity will become extinct. I doubt not that extreme greed will become the order of the day. Hunger will launch a frontal assault on the “wretched of the earth.” If the current situation can be used to predict the future, there is no doubt the future of my generation looks bleak. This might seem depressing and pessimistic but sadly is the truth unless we respond faster. We have a sacred obligation to utter the current course of history for the benefit of the future generation.

Already, we live in a world where there is so much hardship, hate, war, greed, selfishness and hunger.  We have more poor people in the world today than any other time in history. According to Joshua Cohen in his foreword of the book “Making Aid work”:  “More than a billion people now live on less than a dollar a day; eight million children die each year because they are simply too poor to live; ten million children die each year because they have the terrible misfortune of being in a country with a high infant mortality rate”. We only have 25 years’ worth of coal and 50 years’ worth of oil left. Thousands of species are going extinct per day because of our current behaviors on earth. At the current rate of population growth, we will reach the carrying capacity of the earth (with estimates ranging from 8-20 billion) in around 50-100 years. This may seem like a long time but unless we act quicker, we were headed for a catastrophic future.

Our generation must use the breakthroughs in technology and science to improve the human condition. Securing a more peaceful and safer environment for the next generation is perhaps the greatest moral challenge of our generation. We owe the next generation a cleaner, hunger free and more peaceful environment. The past generation in spite of all its awful deeds put the man on the moon. They witnessed the first personal computer. They saw the undisputed rise of capitalism and Democracy.

We must act now to save the future generation. With all the negative forces against us, we cannot afford to wait for the ‘perfect time’. The consequences of inaction is deadly. We must not only advocate for a better future but must ensure it is a reality. Our generation needs to harness the human power of creativity and innovation to overcome many of the threats facing us and the future generation. It is only through taking all of these preemptive measures that people like me will not look into the future with fear and hopelessness.  



The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of IGNITE THE YOUTH are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the entire society of IGNITE THE YOUTH.

Posted by ITY AFRICA

Why We Can't Wait!

Invisible Ceiling

Photo Credit: Kaz Chiba (Getty Images) - 88011528
Well this ceiling is only invisible to some... We just celebrated international women’s day, and this year seems like it was more popular than last. It could be that I find myself in spaces where we talk about it more often, or it was just advertised a lot better and people just know about it. I was walking with a male friend of mine the other day. It was just a few days before the international women’s day. We were talking about what we were going to do that day. He told me about how he has a sister that he is really close to, and she was always treated the same way he was at home. And I remember agreeing with him on several levels, because I come from such a household. Parents give you equal attention, your ambitions are your ambitions and family will do what it can to support. I have been fortunate to have access to education and encouraged as well. Then he said one thing that completely changed our discussion from harmonious agreement to a screeching halt. He said, “Actually, I don’t get what international women’s day is about, are things really that bad?”

Hold up, hold up, hold up!  Yes, I had to say it three times- because it needs that much emphasis. Just because there is peace inside your house does not mean outside your doorstep that war is not happening somewhere else. Just because in your few meters of life things seem balanced- doesn’t mean they are balanced everywhere. So, I decided to ask him a few questions. This honestly happened to me- I was driving with a guy friend and we had gone to the market. As I was trying to park, the lot was filled with these guys who come and wash your car for a few coins. They ran up to your car vigorously, knocking on your window- obstructing your view and concentration as you try and align the car with the parking space. Some stand behind your car- waving their hands and giving signals to allow you to park. Then I finally just followed the instruction and parked. That day, I felt like giving- so I remove fifty shillings from my purse- and hand it to him- and he looks over to the man and says, thank you. But, this was from my purse. I remember standing there and asking, why would you thank him?  It came from me. I have more instances where such occurrences in different circumstances have happened. The thing is, situations like this happen to women every day. Sometimes we take notice and other times we just brush it off.  However, there are some men who really have no clue.

Things are not black and white when it comes to gender- they tend to be grey. At what point are we undermining or disrespecting tradition and when are things just outdated? What do we even use to measure those things? Africa is filled with culture and traditions which are richly intertwined with our heritage and upbringing. The whole gender equity argument some are furiously against it because they do not quite understand what it is about. No one is talking about emasculating men. Africa will have to have her own definition- we cannot copy paste perceptions from the west and expect them to work here- there is no way they will. 



About The Author:
Nerima Martha Wako
Nairobi, Kenya

"Currently pursuing my Ph.D. from Euclid University in
Mediation and Conflict Resolution. I am interested in political leadership
in the next few years."







The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of IGNITE THE YOUTH are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the entire society of IGNITE THE YOUTH.

Posted by ITY AFRICA

Invisible Ceiling

Talking Gender: With Alida Irakoze

Q How should Gender roles be changed to balance the status of both men and women?
A Balancing the status of men and women will not be brought by changing Gender Roles, instead gender roles should be well defined, developed and respected by both parties to ensure a balanced gender community. Traditionally, it has been perceived that there are tasks done by men that can’t be done by women. This retarded the function of many households, hence affecting both community and country development in general. 

This was proven by many cases where boys would be educated but leaving out the girls, as the 'expected' role for females would be "home-caring" whereas men were the ones to plan and get involved in all political and social- economic activities. Psychologically, this increased women’s vulnerability, depriving them of the rights to think further, plan and participate actively in developmental activities. 

However much the physical status of men and women can't be changed due to nature, it can not be a reason for putting men on the forefront in some of activities. As we are in the world of science and technology, even construction and military occupations that were perceived to be sectors that required a lot of physical strength have evolved with today’s world civilization and development. This should therefore go hand in hand with Women's Empowerment and gender balance should as well be raised by focusing on the mutual division of labor based on ones proven knowledge and skills. This should all be reinforced by  open communication between the two genders. 

Q Are the rights of women in your country respected and protected well enough?
A Rwanda is among the countries that are leading by example in relation to respecting Women's Rights and Empowerment as shown in the leadership approach where women in Rwanda constitute more than 40% in parliament! Girls' education has been uplifted and they prove to be among the best performers.
Rwanda is promoting and practicing equal rights to both boys and girls, however there are still cases of gender based violence, despite a tremendous decrease. Sensitization and the reinforcement of gender and Women's rights policies are needed to ensure they are respected. 

Q In your opinion, what should be the priority for resolving Gender Issues in Africa?  
A In Africa, gender equality advocacy is perceived to be negative for existing culture and values. Men see it as a way to raise women’s voices over them and promote women to disrespect their husbands. With this perception among others, it brings resistance to adapt gender concept in some of African communities.
As a way forward, our priority should be to provide clear definitions of Gender, to develop guidelines and policies adapted to each country and to establish strategies to reinforce the policies put forth.




Posted by Philani Hlophe Dhlamini

Talking Gender: With Alida Irakoze

Talking Gender: With Dr. Ugbaja Felix Chinedu

Q Has enough been done to secure gender inequality?
A Gender inequality has been a major issue in the African continent and has shut out a lot of potential and opportunities for the African females.
It is very conspicuous that if a Nation must move forward, the whole people male and female must be carried along and given the same opportunity to harness their potentials, share their ideas and achieve their goals!
I would say a capital NO to the question above as enough has not been done but rather the gap between the male and female gender has been widened.
It is in the same Africa that insignificant political offices or appointments to the females are celebrated as freedom, still in the same Africa that a man can marry as many wives as he can but its seen as a taboo for a woman to do so. Some key titles in the religious settings , cultural settings, social settings, political settings and unfortunately the academics setting too are seen as a reserved male title due to its superiority! No enough has not been done!

Q What is your view on feminism in Africa?
A Feminism is a social theory or political movement which argues that legal and social restrictions on females must be removed in order to bring about equality of both sexes in all aspects of private and public life.
I am in total support of Feminism. It fosters equity, it brings freedom, empowerment and equality.
It gives women the room to express their views about issues as the males will do and it brings an avenue to tap into their natural human potentials and ideas.
What could have been of the Liberian president if that country did not support Feminism? What could have been the fate of the African countries that have great female doctors, lawyers and military officers if feminism was not promoted?
I am in total support of Feminism in Africa.

Q How important is the involvement of men in resolving gender issues?
A The involvement of men in resolving gender issues cannot be overemphasized. Men in Africa are seen to take the lead roles in economic assets, political power, cultural authority and armed force. This means that the African men are needed to implement the women's claim for justice especially in their resources.




Posted by ITY AFRICA

Talking Gender: With Dr. Ugbaja Felix Chinedu

Talking Gender: With Esanju Maseka

Q How should gender roles be changed to balance the status of both men and women? 
A The International Labour Organisation defines gender roles as the “learned behaviours in a given society or community or other social group that condition which activities, tasks and responsibilities are perceived as male or female.” Caroline Moser, an urban social anthropologist and social policy specialist, recognised that “in most societies, low-income women have a triple role: women undertake reproductive, productive and community managing activities, while men primarily undertake productive and community politics activities”. Due to the different demands of these roles, Moser notes that men can often play their roles sequentially, while women must play their roles simultaneously. The tasks which actually make up these roles differ, depending on factors such as geographical area or boundary. This in itself poses a challenge in trying to strike a balance between the roles as there are a number of factors which influence them.
The answer, I believe, can be found in promoting gender equity. Gender Equity, as defined by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, means “fairness and impartiality in the treatment of women and men in terms of rights, benefits, obligations and opportunities”. As the world becomes more of a global village and opportunities arise for marginalised groups to have a seat at the table, an improved narrative must be defined on what gender equity means for the societies in which we live in. This narrative must promote gender equity at all levels, respecting the roles of both men and women, yet at the same time creating the space for them to move beyond these roles if need be. So in seeking to strike a balance, I believe the answer lies in not necessarily in changing the roles, but changing the environment around these roles to promote equity.

Q Are the rights of women in your country respected and protected well enough? 
A As in many African countries, Zambia has faced challenges in trying to promote women’s rights. This can be attributed to the patriarchal nature of the society, the cultural beliefs held and various traditional practices. A number of women face significant challenges in their inability to enjoy their basic social, political and economic rights due to certain traditional practices such as early marriages and gender based violence. This is common, mostly in rural areas, where there are significantly lower literacy levels and fewer platforms for expression.
Nonetheless, commendable strides have been made in Zambia towards ensuring the rights of women are protected and respected. In 1985, the country ratified the UN Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the 2008 Southern Africa Development Community (SADC) Protocol on Gender and Development in 2012 and the 2003 Protocol of the African Charter on Human and Peoples’ Rights on the Rights of Women in Africa in 2006. Furthermore, towards the end of 2015, after much deliberation, the Gender Equality and Equity bill was passed into law by parliament.
There are a number of other key players, such as civil society and the United Nations, who have also joined efforts to not only educate women across Zambian about their intrinsic rights but also to empower them. The value of their efforts is already being felt nationwide. I believe that there is still much work to be done, but the expected results from all these joined efforts will surely put Zambia in the right direction, with regards to Women’s Rights.


Q In your opinion, what should be the priority for resolving Gender issues in Africa? 

A Personally, I think, one of the main priorities for resolving gender issues is promoting gender equity. For the most part of Africa, the society is predominantly patriarchal, as I mentioned earlier. Others may argue that this has been passed down from generation to generation and forms part of our cultural mix. However, I believe that as important as it is to preserve culture, we cannot ignore the fact that times have changed over the last generation and there are more factors at play now than ever before. My particular focus on women by no means suggests that gender issues should only be focused on women for gender comprises of both male and female. It is just that in Africa in particular, the female gender has been the most suppressed over time.  
Presently, it is not a rare occurrence to see a woman holding a key role in society and or women being encouraged to pursue the highest levels of education, feats which were considered almost cultural taboos in our recent past. As much as we have begun to see the results of women empowerment initiatives, there is still much work to be done. Gender equity needs to be inculcated into our systems, even from basic education level, so that it becomes a norm. Not only will this empower more women at all levels, it will also encourage men to see women as equals, as there will be equal opportunities for all.





Posted by ITY AFRICA

Talking Gender: With Esanju Maseka