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Global Women: Women of Africa/Middle East

Now that I am starting to migrate to this new writing forum — please  bare with me as I am not exactly tech savvy… yet!

The next several posts will be based on Women in Africa and the Middle East.  These posts are inspired by my travels abroad and my love for the continent of Africa and the very diverse nature of its landscapes and people.

Women of the continent of Africa suffer much more than our own basic career challenges — salary negotiation means very little in a place where where there are no careers other than to survive.  Although, there are several ongoing efforts to help protect young girls from HIV infection and becoming pregnant too soon [http://www.girleffect.org/question] – there is little information on the issues that women face and how they are fighting for change in their countries.  These are very serious issues and ones that we, as women in the Western world, need to be aware of and to help to take steps to alleviate the pain and suffering of women globally.

Recently, a friend of mine passed along this article to me: http://latitude.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/07/10/african-states-ahead-of-the-west-in-female-political-representation/.  It is interesting because we are starting to see a shift in leadership in developing countries.

This article discusses how many African nations are now promoting women into office.  But does women leadership outweigh the difficulties that these nations face?  Ellen Sirleaf, decidedly an idol of mine since I heard her speak at Harvard’s 2011 commencement, is a graduate of the Kennedy School and is the first female president of Liberia.  She now has won her second election — but what is going on in her country?  Is she really doing justice for her people?  http://topics.nytimes.com/top/news/international/countriesandterritories/liberia/index.html

However, there is hope that women can transform their countries – and we should note how they do it and why it works.  In Senegal it is now suggested that female representation in the government should become approximately 23%.   Women in Senegal have been working hard – both for themselves and for their country.  The Senegalese women, like many of their African country-women, suffered from female genital mutilation.  FGM is a terrible practice by which young girls have their clitoris and other genitalia removed.  In 1999, Senegal made FGM illegal [http://web.archive.org/web/20080112051855/http://www.state.gov/g/wi/rls/rep/crfgm/10107.htm] and although some rural tribes still practice FGM women are taking a stand [http://www.nytimes.com/2011/10/16/world/africa/movement-to-end-genital-cutting-spreads-in-senegal.html?pagewanted=all].  Perhaps as leaders, women can begin to challenge both the cultural norms of their African nations and give the new generation of women a better life than they had?