Ugandan prof cites western roots of Africa’s anti-gay movement | 

Stella Nyanzi
Stella Nyanzi

Stella Nyanzi is an anthropologist who studies gender and sexuality issues in Uganda, at Makerere University in Kampala.

Talk about being at the eye of the storm.

Uganda has become ground zero for what some characterize as an explosion of homophobia and increased criminalization of homosexuality in Africa. Hostility toward gays is hardly new or confined to Africa, of course, as Humanosphere has noted. Nearly 80 countries worldwide consider homosexuality a crime, with some making it a death penalty crime.

“In Africa, I think it’s worth noting that the countries with the most severe laws are former British colonies,’ said Nyanzi, who will be the keynote speaker at a Seattle conference focused on sexuality, health and human rights. “You don’t see this so much in the former colonies of other countries.”

The conference, hosted and run by students at the University of Washington, is the 11th annual Western Regional International Health Conference, which opens with Nyanzi speaking on Friday and runs through the weekend.

The meeting will also screen a powerful documentary, Call Me Kuchu, that describes the plight of gays in Uganda – and the murder of a gay activist.

“This is happening in many places but I’m not sure everyone recognizes why, and how,” said Nyanzi. Continue reading

Why are male farmers out-performing women in Africa? | 

Tanzanian farmers
Gates Foundation

The gap between men and women in some African countries is easily seen in agriculture. Male-managed farm plots consistently out-perform those of their female counterparts by as much as 66% in Niger and 25% in Malawi.

The long-held belief was that a lack of access to the necessary inputs (seed, fertilizer, labor) to make a farm successful were less available to women. That is the case to some extent, but there are more ways that women are put at a disadvantage as to their male counterparts.

“Despite the centrality of agriculture in the economies of most African nations, relatively little is known about why farms managed by women are on average less productive. This “knowledge gap” in turn translates into a “policy gap” in the steps that African governments, their development partners, business leaders and civil society can take to equalize opportunities for female and male farmers,” writes Makhtar Diop, Vice President for the Africa Region for the World Bank.

In fact, equal access to inputs does not necessarily mean that men and women will have the same levels of agricultural productivity. Doip’s comments come as a part of a joint-report on gender and agriculture led by Michael O’Sullivan from the World Bank and Arathi Rao from the ONE Campaign. A closer look at six African countries that are responsible for more than 40% of the population in Sub-Saharan Africa helps to make sense what is happening.

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What can NGOs learn from Harvard’s gender equity experiment? | 

UntitledHarvard’s venerated and brotastic MBA program quietly decided to become more female friendly to both students and faculty. Men tended to dominate the top 5% of graduating classes and are over-represented in the faculty. The class that graduated this past summer were part of an experiment to change the tide and enable more success for women.

The program worked in making things better for women, found a survey of female administrators, faculty and students. However it also pissed some people off. Others questioned whether the intentional changes would actually translate to real-world changes for the men and women when they left their Cambridge riverside digs.

The New York Times recently reported on the mixed results:

But in 2010, Drew Gilpin Faust, Harvard’s first female president, appointed a new dean who pledged to do far more than his predecessors to remake gender relations at the business school. He and his team tried to change how students spoke, studied and socialized. The administrators installed stenographers in the classroom to guard against biased grading, provided private coaching — for some, after every class — for untenured female professors, and even departed from the hallowed case-study method. Continue reading

Kuala Lumpur develops a positive WMD: Women in Malaysia Deliver | 

Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur

Our intrepid Bangkok-based correspondent Jessica Mack reports from Malaysia on what may be the biggest weapon in the global-change armamentarium – women power.


Kuala Lumpur – Thousands have descended upon Malaysia’s capital city for what is being called the “decade’s largest global conference on women and girls.”

It is the third Women Deliver conference, a gigantic convening that scoops together young people, clinicians, heads of state, donors, and women’s rights activists from all across the world with its giant conference-y arms. The meeting opens Tuesday and runs for three days. It is organized by a group of the same name, a global maternal health advocacy organization based in New York.

Women Deliver LogoThe first Women Deliver conference happened in London in 2007, and the second was in 2010 in Washington, DC. Over the years, the conference has become the “Polar Express of Women’s Empowerment,” so to speak, with the conductor, Women Deliver’s incomparable, charismatic founder Jill Sheffield, yelling “all aboard!”

Thousands have hopped on with the confidence that the train is headed, eventually, to a place where women and girls can live free of violence, with unfettered access to education, financial independence, and good health.

Of course the conference itself doesn’t alone achieve this, but it has remained a steady mechanism for convening, organization and meeting of minds – unlike any other in this movement.

The energy in this city is pulsating with hope, excitement, vision and all that other good stuff – just a few weeks after a bitterly feuded Prime Ministerial election re-seated the incumbent (dubious outcome, for many).

I am attending the conference, happy as a clam, so of course I think this conference is important. But why should you, and why should anyone?

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Global gender gap map for education | 

The Guardian often has some very cool, informative online graphics. Here’s another one — an interactive map that shows the “gender gap” in education by countries over time. As reported:

Raising the ratio of girls to boys in education was one of the eight millennium development goals agreed by world leaders in 2000. But despite 10 years of commitments – and progress in some regions – closing the gap remains a significant challenge.

Go to the link. Below is just a screen grab:

The Guardian

Afghanistan retains over time the dubious distinction of having the most inequitable education in terms of gender disparity.

The interactive map allows review for both primary and secondary education. As The Guardian’s Claire Provost notes in a separate article today, the needs for improvement on secondary education (in general, not just in terms of gender parity) are especially acute in Africa. Says Provost:

Two thirds of African children are effectively locked out of secondary school, according to a new UN report which cites secondary education as one of the next great development challenges facing many of the world’s poorest countries.