Gender inequalities in Africa are deeply rooted in cultural practices and further perpetuated by policies and actions which make the situation of vulnerable women and girls much worse. These stories from across Africa show how we are helping to tackle the issue.
Sawadogo Alizèta is 51 years old and a mother to 8 children. Her income largely depends on growing vegetables but access to water is one of the main problems affecting the Sahel region, there is a scarcity of water for drinking and irrigation in the communities.
Through Christian Aid’s Sahel programme, a pump was installed in her village and water-borne diseases reduced drastically. Also, having a ready supply of water for irrigation, combined with the practical training given, enabled Alizeta and the other women farmers to be able to cultivate all year round.
As a result, her crop yields increased along with her finances. She became an active participant in the women’s group meetings supported by the programme, which also greatly increased her standing in the community.
She is now looked up to as a woman leader within her community, owns a house and is able to pay her children’s schools fees.
I feel alive!’
When Asiyileni’s mother died, her uncle took her in as her guardian. Seizing the opportunity, he started sexually abusing her. Apart from the prolonged rapes, his wife also deprived her of food and used to beat her mercilessly. T
The situation became even worse when her aunt found out she was pregnant and destroyed everything Asiyileni was collecting for the unborn child. The violence inevitably took its toll on her health and one of her teachers noticed. Asiyileni confided in her but as the uncle was a witch doctor, the teacher was fearful of becoming involved.
Fortunately, Christian Aid’s partner Youth Net and Counseling (YONECO) became aware of the situation through its Comprehensive Action for Adolescent Girls and Young Women project which addresses issues underlying high HIV rates among adolescent girls including school dropouts, teen pregnancies, child marriages, gender-based violence, harmful cultural practices and poverty. Once informed however, YONECO took the matter to the local police and her uncle was arrested.
He told me that he will punish me if I try to tell everyone about what has been happening between us’
Floriane was married to a former combatant of a rebel movement. He started abusing her after the birth of their third child. She hoped the situation would change. When she asked for help, her mother said this is how life is.
Floriane went on enduring the abuse until she had to be admitted to a local health centre for three months. Association Dushirehamwe (AD), a partner of Christian Aid’s Get Back Your Dignity project learned about her and offered her support. The project provided psychological, financial and legal support to survivors of gender-based violence in her community.
Floriane joined therapy sessions which helped with her depression and she sought legal support from the project to get back the last piece of property that her husband had sold. She also benefited from a micro-finance loan of 41,000 BIF (around £20) to start her small business growing tomatoes and cabbages.
I am happy that I can make my life now. My children are fed, and I got back the property.’
Mulunesh Jezu, 27 was married at 15, had her first child when she was 10 and is now a mother to three boys and two girls. She could not finish her education but is determined to give her children a better life.
She was entirely dependent on her husband's income but joined a local self-help group called ‘Melkam’ (which means ‘Happy’) organised by the ASURE project. Despite not having her husband’s blessing, Mulunesh started attending the group’s weekly meetings. She received advice on reproductive health, as well as income generation ideas, getting a loan of 1,000 Birr (around £30) to start her own business. Mulunesh started selling ‘borde’ – a locally made, non-alcoholic, fizzy, malt-coloured beverage made from grain.
Using the profits from her sales and with her husband now firmly behind her, the family opened a small kiosk selling food and toiletries which generated sufficient profit, to be able to repay the loan. While the loan from the group was essential to kick-start her successful businesses, it was the confidence and knowledge she gained that provided the motivation she needed.
If every woman got an opportunity like the one I did through this project, we could bring about great changes, let alone overcoming worries about feeding our children’
The average Angolan is just 16 years old, born as the long civil war finally ended. Today’s teenagers are the first in the country’s history to have grown up with no direct experience of warfare.
Angola’s burgeoning young population could play a key role in building a more peaceful and positive society, and adolescence offers a critical window to influence attitudes and behaviour.
Find out how we are reducing gender-based violence in Angola.