West Africa Times | Serving The Community Since 2001 | Page 21

AM TIMAM, Chad – Once, Adouia Brema was a child bride forced to leave school. Today, she gives her community the gift of light. Her journey – from vulnerable teen mother to solar cell electrician – shows the remarkable feats that marginalized women and girls can achieve when they are empowered with information and economic opportunities. “I was only 13 years old when I got married. The day I got married, I was in sixth grade,” Ms. Brema recalled. “At first, they let me continue going to school. Then I gave birth to my first two children. I found myself all alone in the house and I had to drop out of school so that I could take care of my home and my children. Today, I have eight children.” Her experience is not unique:

 Chad has one of the highest rates of child marriage in the world – 67 per cent of young women were married before age 18, according to the 2019 State of World Population report.

 For many child brides, marriage means a swift exit from schooling and entry into motherhood. They are less able to advocate for themselves, have less access to health services and higher vulnerability to violence. Their communities forgo

the full fruit of their potential. But change is possible. Not just “a man’s job” The Sahel Women’s Empowerment and Demographic Dividend Project (SWEDD) gives women and girls across West Africa vocational training so that they can earn more and have a better future. The project also strengthens girls’ education, increases access to reproductive health services, and engages whole communities on issues including child marriage, human rights and gender equality. Through SWEDD, Ms. Brema enrolled in a course to become an electrician. “At first, we thought that electricity, with all those wires, was a man’s job,” she said. “We felt like we couldn’t do it. But we were told not to panic. We could do it.” She and her classmates learned quickly. “We started to grasp some of the notions, such as solar panels, batteries and all of the electrical connections,” she said. “I was able to learn the basics in two weeks, and I started to work on my first electrical installations with no fear. Now we have a business.” Empowered women lift the community In Chad and other countries where it is working, SWEDD

has already provided professional training to more than 154,000 w o m e n . W h e n marginalized women and girls are able to access information and opportunities, the benefits accrue to their whole families and communities. Ms. Brema’s own experience bears this out. With her business, she and her partners have been able to provide lowcost lighting to their community members. “Once the panels have been installed, electricity is free because it comes from the sun,” she said. “You get electricity day and night. Children use it all the time.” Ms. Brema also trains other women in the village. “Before, I depended on my husband. But today, we make a profit from each installation... Ever since I learned how to do a paid job, I’ve wanted my sisters to follow my example. If they learn skills, they will be able to work and earn money too.” E x p a n d i n g opportunities The World Bank recently approved $376 million in additional funds to support the implementation of SWEDD’s phase 2, which brings the World Bank's overall support to $680 million. In addition to supporting existing initiatives, the new injection of funding will help governments strengthen 

 legal frameworks that support women’s rights to health and education. Parliamentarians, judges and lawyers have already been consulted for this part of the project. Joining phase 2 are the West Africa Health Organization and the African Union. UNFPA will continue to implement SWEDD and provide technical guidance. The countries implementing the project are Benin, Burkina Faso, Chad, Côte d’Ivoire, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and the program will soon roll out in Cameroun and Guinea. Most recently, UNFPA has supported SWEDD in the regional campaign #StrongerTogether, which has the rallying cry “My empowerment, my future, even in times of crisis!” The campaign shares information about COVID-19, positive gender roles, water and sanitation, and menstrual hygiene. It also highlights distance learning for girls and the importance of having them return to school. “We men must seize this time of crisis to be role models for our sons by supporting our wives and daughters. Let's break the cycle of violence, and build a better world for our mothers, wives, sisters and daughters – and for ourselves,” the messages say. “Protecting and promoting the rights of adolescent girls must be emphasized.” As for Ms. Brema, she recently told UNFPA the pandemic has been hard on her family and business. Still, she has always said that with the right resources, women and girls can create a better world for all: “We will help each other and our combined efforts will make a better future,” she said.

WhatsApp Launches First Digital Payments Option


WhatsApp users in Brazil can use the encrypted mobile messaging service to send money or make purchases, Facebook said in a blog post. I t m a r k e d the first time the payments platform used at the leading social network was woven into WhatsApp. People will be able to send money or make a purchase from a local business without leaving their chat, the company noted. “Payments on WhatsApp are beginning to roll out to people across Brazil beginning today and we look forward to bringing it to everyone as we go forward,” the service said. Sending money or making payments is a free option for WhatsApp users, but businesses will be charged a processing fee on par with those charged for typically credit

 card transactions, according to the messaging service. Facebook sees longterm, money-making potential in making its social network and messaging apps venues for businesses to engage in online conversations and transactions with customers. “The over 10 million small and micro businesses are the heartbeat of Brazil’s communities,” WhatsApp said. “It’s become second nature to send a zap to a business to get questions answered.” Digital payments on WhatsApp will be tied to credit or debit cards to start, and transactions will require special identification codes or fingerprint verification. W h a t s A p p i s encrypted end-to-end.

Kenneth Kaunda

Cont’d from 20 

elections in 1991. In the elections, held late that year, Kaunda and the UNIP were defeated by the Movement for Multiparty Democracy (MMD) in a landslide. Kaunda’s successor, Frederick Chiluba, took office on November 2, 1991. After The Presidency A f t e r l e av i n g office, Kaunda clashed frequently with Chiluba’s government and the MMD. He planned to run against Chiluba in the 1996 presidential election but was barred from doing so after constitutional amendments were passed that made him ineligible. On December 25, 1997, Kaunda was arrested on charges of inciting an attempted coup that had occurred earlier that year in October. He was released six days later, but he was placed under house arrest until all charges were withdrawn in June 1998. The next month, Kaunda announced that he would resign from his role as UNIP’s president once a successor was 

 chosen. However, the lack of agreement regarding his successor caused a rift within the UNIP, and ultimately Kaunda did not resign until 2000. In March 1999 a judge ruled that Kaunda should be stripped of his Zambian citizenship because his parents were from Malawi and, furthermore, because of that fact, Kaunda had held office illegally for most of his period in government. Kaunda mounted a challenge, and his citizenship was restored the next year when the petition that generated the court ruling was withdrawn. In 2002 Kaunda was appointed the Balfour African President-inResidence at Boston University in the United States, a position he held until 2004. In 2003 he was awarded the Grand Order of the Eagle in Zambia by Chiluba’s successor, Pres. Levy Mwanawasa. This article was most recently revised and updated by Amy Tikkanen, Corrections Manager. Encyclopaedia Britannica  

Sahel Project Helps Women Raise Themselves, Their Communities From Poverty

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