Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: a time for debate and reform


Female genital mutilation or cutting (FGM/C) is one of the most controversial debates when discussing women’s rights, especially in Africa. It refers to all procedures involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genital organs for non-medical reasons. Most recently, there has been increasing debate on whether cosmetic surgery of the female genitalia; such as vaginal reconstruction, labia surgery and hymenoplasty, constitutes FGM/C. FGM/C is prevalent in the western, eastern, and north-eastern regions of Africa, some countries in Asia and the Middle East, and among certain immigrant communities in North America and Europe.   Contributing factors include culture, ethnicity, age, literacy levels, gender inequality, poverty and the value communities put on chastity. Continue reading “Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting: a time for debate and reform”

Peace and disquiet in Africa by Philip Joel Cole


Absence of an armed conflict does not always mean peace. This was evident with the recent Ebola crisis where Guinea, Liberia, and my native Sierra Leone were faced with the deadly Ebola Virus Disease (EVD), which destabilised the region and moved the United Nations Security Council to declare the outbreak “a threat to international peace and security”. Working on the Ebola response, it was clear that several key factors including poor infrastructure and low levels of education were partly responsible for the increased rate of EVD transmission. The initial method used to educate the public about the virus was through printed leaflets and posters, which were often wordy and therefore missed in areas of low literacy. Continue reading “Peace and disquiet in Africa by Philip Joel Cole”

African Union Girls Summit, Lusaka, Zambia


Every year, millions of women and girls  are subject to harmful traditional practices such as child, early and forced marriage. If current trends continue, in the next decade 14.2 million girls under the age of 18 will be married every year, with most living in low and middle-income countries.  Tradition, security, poverty and unequal gender roles are some of the leading causes of child marriage, with the highest prevalence of child marriage occuring in Africa. On  26 and 27 November 2015, the African Union, in partnership with the Government of Zambia hosted the inaugural African Girls Summit on Ending Child Marriage in Africa.
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