Tuesday, 28 May 2019

ANNOUNCING THE 2019 MILEAD FELLOWS: Africa’s Most Outstanding Emerging Women Leaders

Moremi Initiative for Women’s Leadership in Africa proudly announces the 2019 MiLEAD Fellows. The new cohorts, selected in the 11th year of the MILEAD Fellows Program, represent Africa’s most promising young women leaders, who have demonstrated the courage, passion and commitment to lead and shape the future of Africa. The Fellows were chosen through a highly competitive selection process based on their outstanding leadership promise, community service accomplishments, and commitment to the advancement of women and social justice in Africa.
“These exceptional leaders, bring their remarkable individual characteristics, but come together to learn and collectively build a better Africa. These MILEAD Fellows have responded to Africa’s call for a new kind of leadership- to shift power to the people and to be good stewards of power. The MILEAD program will help them fulfill this mission by deepening their capacities and capabilities with a supportive ecosystem, as they utilize their talents to shape the future of their communities and Africa’s place in the world. - by MILEAD Selection Committee [www.moremiinitiative.org]

The 2019 MILEAD Fellows represent a truly Pan-African diversity and potential. Representing 26 African countries and the Diaspora, the 2019 Fellows bring highly diverse socio-cultural backgrounds combined with multi-disciplinary academic and professional experiences and aspirations. The Fellows are between the ages of 19 and 25, and are already actively leading change on pertinent issues at many levels - from entrepreneurship, agriculture and women’s health, to politics, environmental innovations and gender justice. They are a new generation of African women leaders ready to provide the bold and inspirational leadership needed to shift power and lift Africa to its rightful place on the global stage. Here are the honoured 2019 Fellows:

Ms. Ashley Ahandessi [Benin]
Ms. Bosa Wame D. Sebele [Botswana] 
Ms. Laura SheïllaI Nangoma [Burundi]
Ms. Jeannine Rachelle Belibi [Cameroon]
Ms. Adèle Noudjilembaye [Chad]
Ms. N’dri Helena C. Abozan [Cote d’Ivoire]
Ms. Rachel Mawazo Salama [D. R. Congo]
Ms. ReemYehiaKamel Elsayed [Egypt]
Ms. Simiso Shabangu [Eswatini]
Ms. Selamawit Tezera Chaka [Ethiopia]
Ms. Marlyse Hangamalongo Mapaga [Gabon]
Ms. Ngenarr-Yassin Jeng [The Gambia]
Ms. Dorcas Babet Kwofie [Ghana]
Ms. Grace Amponsah [Ghana] 
 Ms. Rita W. Tunwah [Liberia] 
 Ms. Comfort Chizinga [Malawi]
Ms. Silvia Ernestina Dywili [Mozambique]
Ms. Julia MP Nampweya [Namibia]
Ms. Udoka Peace Ugwoke [Nigeria]
Ms. Anysie Ishimwe [Rwanda]
Ms. Aminata Seilloh Conteh [Sierra Leone]
Ms. Latto Catherine F. Tartisio [South Sudan]
Ms. Brigitte Adjoa Adonou [Togo]
Ms. Vanessa Chisakula [Zambia]
Ms. Faith Nyakundi [USA/ Kenya]
Ms. Samu Ngwenya [Diaspora | Zimbabwe]

From 2,070 applications from 48 African countries, and the Diaspora, the newly selected Fellows will become part of the growing MILEAD community, a powerful Pan-African network of change makers - a new generation of young African leaders. We welcome our first ever Fellow from Chad.

We acknowledge all unsuccessful applicants for their transformational work and sacrifices, often under extremely difficult circumstances. Although only 26 candidates could be selected, we truly admire the courage and commitment of all of these leaders. We look forward to collaborating with all applicants through other platforms and future programs as we strive to create opportunities and attain dignity and justice for women on our great continent.

The MILEAD Fellows will converge in Accra, Ghana to kick-start the 2019 MILEAD Leadership Institute - a three-week intensive training program - which will be hosted by the Institute of African Studies, University of Ghana, Legon. The Institute will serve as a platform for Fellows to cross-examine concepts of leadership in a broad African context, cultivate the skills and experiences necessary to occupy and excel in leadership positions, and gain knowledge on cutting-edge issues critical to African women and their communities. In addition to knowledge building lectures, skills-training workshops, teambuilding activities, role plays and other interactive activities, Fellows will be mentored by experienced and accomplished women leaders who are committed to supporting and nurturing the next generation of African women leaders.

The MILEAD Fellows Program is a bold and paradigm-shifting initiative committed to the long-term leadership development of promising young leaders selected as Fellows. Fellows benefit from a combination of training, experiential learning and mentoring crafted to build knowledge, skills, strengthen networks, and support women’s leadership on critical issues. In addition, the program links determined young women with influential and seasoned African leaders who are committed to inspiring and empowering the next generation. Most importantly, Fellows benefit from a lifelong solidarity and support through the MILEAD Network and supportive eco-system. One of the distinguishing features of our program is the deliberate integration of community service to the yearlong training. Each Fellow will initiate and lead a community change (MiCHANGE) project on a critical issue of importance to their community or African women as a whole. Moreover, Fellows will benefit from a lifelong solidarity and support through the MILEAD Network.

Moremi Initiative is widely recognized today as a leading and pioneer organization promoting women’s leadership and social justice in Africa. Our investments in transformational leadership over the past 14 years continue to inspire and equip a new generation of women leaders in politics, business and communities across the continent. Headquartered in Accra-Ghana and with an office in the United States, Moremi Initiative operates throughout Africa and the Diaspora. Moremi Initiative is a United Nations Accredited organization- in Special Consultative Status and has official partnerships with UN WOMEN, UNAIDS and other local and international partners. Moremi Initiative boasts of a growing and dynamic alumni network with over 240 strong memberships of exceptional young leaders, who share a commitment to shape the future of African and their respective communities. Our Mission is to engage, inspire and equip young women and girls to become the next generation of leading politicians, activists, social entrepreneurs and change agents.

For more information, contact Moremi Initiative: Tel: +1 917.327.5235 (USA) +233 54 909 3152 (GHANA) #MILEADFellows ● F:Facebook.com/MoremiAfrica ● E: info@moremiinitiative.org ● W:www.moremiinitiative.org

Monday, 4 February 2019

Youth Network Chairperson Hails GUSO Programme for Promoting YFHS

There is a significant change in perception and access to Youth Friendly Health Services (YFHS) at T/A Nankumba thanks to the Get Up Speak Out Project(GUSO). The sentiments were made on the side-lines of a meeting which was aimed at sensitising communities on their roles in encouraging safer Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights (SRHR) practices among sub youth populations. Chairperson for Nankumba youth network William Phiri said since the project commenced in 2016 they have managed to reach out to youths in over 21 villages within Nankumba with messages on SRH and HIV/AIDS. William however worried about the long distances youths have to cover to access such services. “Some villages are far, so you can imagine for a youth to walk about 35 kilometres to access a service it is really hard so, I feel this is a huge set back to the initiative,” said Phiri. Phiri therefore proposed that there is need to train more Youth Community Based Distribution Agents (YCBDA’s), peer educators, be trained so as to meet the demand that is there. One other key issue which needs urgent address is that of stock outs for condoms and other contraceptives. “In some instances a youth may want to get a particular service but when they go to the hospital they find that it is not there so this puts them at risk of being infected with HIV or pregnancy”, said Phiri. The chair also talked about the good rapport that is there between them and religious leaders saying it has assisted in wooing more youths to take up contraceptive methods. During the exercise, at least 350 community members including traditional and religious leaders have been sensitised about their role in promoting uptake of Youth Friendly Health Services (YFHS) and encouraging safe sex practices among young people in T/A Nankumba and Mponda. GUSO Programme is being implemented by a consortium of 6 local NGOs which formed the Malawi SRHR Alliance. YONECO is implementing the programme with financial support from Simavi, Netherlands.

Monday, 28 January 2019

Ritual Cleansing: Cultural Practices that Steal Young People's Innocence “I think there is so much we can do for the women and children who are victims of hyenas, gender-based violence, and all the other social evils that are out there”. This is what Malawi’s 2013 Big Brother Africa representative, Natasha Annie Tonthola, said during an interview with BBC’s Michael Wendling. Natasha explained the ordeal she went through as she was being traditionally ‘initiated’ into adulthood. Just as various national and international media channels were awash with a story about a man who was arrested for sleeping with young girls to cleanse and initiate them into adulthood; the celebrated entrepreneur cum girls’ rights activist, Natasha, came to the open and exposed the evils and dangers of such cultural practices. Honestly speaking; our society is full of different harmful cultural practices that lead to various sexual reproductive health challenges. Many young people like, contraction of Sexually Transmitted Infections including HIV, fueling child marriages as well as teen pregnancies and other associated consequences. These aforementioned challenges have been faced and still affecting new victims year in year out. Young people can avoid this kind of abuse by knowing their sexual reproductive health rights. No one is supposed to force you into having sex no matter what kind of influence that person has. When you get pregnant or an STI; it is the very same people who start discriminating and stigmatizing you. They are quick to force you into sex cleansing but they are always late to support when the ritual lands you in trouble. Young people; do not trust others to make sexual reproductive health decisions on your behalf. It is your life and when you are troubled by your community to undergo a harmful cultural practice you can report this by calling toll free child helpline on 116, Community Victim Support Unit or any nearest Youth Friendly Health Service Delivery Point that is close to your area. Remember; you have your sexual reproductive health rights and make wise and informed decisions. Do not let cultural beliefs and ritual steal your innocence …be assertive and report any form of abuse to remain cool and happy!

Friday, 18 January 2019

Promoting Youth Friendly Health Services Among young people Malawi should address the issue of unwanted pregnancies among young girls who are dropping out of school because of pregnancy. Heartrendingly, most of them do not go back to school after delivery as they dedicate their time to raising their babies and most are held back by the fear of how their schoolmates and teachers will treat them. The issue of teenage pregnancies in Malawi has also led to unsafe abortions among the youth. As a way of putting an end to this, young people should be practically accorded their right to sexual reproductive health and family planning services. Furthermore, the policies that are aimed at promoting young people’s sexual and reproductive health should be operationalized without much ado because the issue at hand requires immediate action. Investing in young people’s sexual reproductive health will greatly empower them so much that the youth will remain healthy, attain their education and realize their goals in life. Young people have the right to make informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health, including the number, timing, and spacing of their children and the right to the highest attainable standard of health. All young people, regardless of sex or marital status should have access to sexual and reproductive health services, which includes access to safe, effective, affordable, and youth friendly health services of their choice. There is also a need to facilitate the process of encouraging peer education which also helps young people to obtain clear information about sensitive issues pertaining to sexual behavior, reproductive health, STIs including HIV and AIDS. Provision of youth friendly health services in tertiary education institutions and workplaces and other places where young people congregate is also viable and cost effective The youth in Malawi need to increase their knowledge base on current and relevant information about sexual reproductive health. Of late, behavior change campaigns for young people have also been neglected and the consequence of this has been strongly felt in all parts of the country and that is in both rural and urban settings. The government and non-governmental organizations need to maintain and develop effective monitoring systems of such initiatives to inform programing and improve service delivery. On the other hand, when all is said and done, my fellow young people should also know that the onus is in their hands. No matter what the government and NGOs will do, the youth themselves are key to this. A lot of money, time and resources have already been spent on the promotion of young people’s sexual and reproductive health and rights but the youth themselves are also to blame for not being active. Posted by Unknown at 02:21 No comments: Email This BlogThis! Share to Twitter Share to Facebook Share to Pinterest TUESDAY, 2 MAY 2017 YFHS and Social Economic Development of Young People “I have a 2 year old child and living positively mainly because I had no access to HIV”, these are words that were spoken in a discussion whereby young people were debating the importance of accessing Youth Friendly Health Services (YFHS). The narrator of this heartrending account, a youth worker from Mangochi district, told me that the girl continued to explain that she firmly believed that if she had access to YFHS about 3 years ago, the turnout of events in her life could have been different. When a certain youth worker who was facilitating this session told me about the statements, I felt that the whole nation failed this young girl big time. Why would someone grow from childhood to adolescence without knowing critical issues about sex and sexuality? As I have always argued, parents and older relatives also know that they are supposed to discuss such matters with young people. Every adult realizes the need to discuss SRHR issues with a growing up young person. However, shyness forces people to continuously curtail such important sessions until it becomes too late to so. The consequences are so dire and at times irreparable. I for one believe that older citizens as well as duty bearers should know that they are also to blame when the country is registering increased cases of unintended teen age pregnancies and shockingly high prevalence rate of HIV and other Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs). We need to acknowledge our failure to protect innocent young lives as it is our responsibility to ensure that the young people are going into the adult world which they are conversant with and prepared for. It is illogical to leave things to chance and expect that young people will one way or the other know about their sexual reproductive health. If one does not take that initiative to discuss SRHR issues with a young person who is growing into adolescence, the end result is that young person gets wrong information from their peers. Let me share with you what a group of adults told me about the most misleading SRH information they once got from friends and realise after some years that it was all a lie. Here are some of the misconceptions that were mentioned; · sleeping with boys or men helps a girl to get vitamin K · A girl can avoid conception by having a bath immediately after having unprotected sex · Infertility in men is caused by failure to undergo sexual cleansing during adolescence These and many other factors are the reasons why allowing young people to access YFHS is the best option which parents and guardians of adolescent young boys and girls should choose. Young people’s access to YFHS will help everyone serve a lot in terms of time, money and other resources as problems that are caused by young people’s SRH challenges are costly. Furthermore, parents and guardians should accept that they are not experts in SRH. Sometimes, if parents or guardian are feeling shy or hesitant to discuss SRH issues with their adolescent boys or girls then they should let the YFHS Providers do the needful. Leaving the specialists to do the work is paramount in as far as prevention of SRH challenges which young people face is concerned. There is a need for all to know and understand that access to YFHS among young people is very key to social and economic development of young people. The welfare of young people and their lives in future is shaped by how their sexual reproductive health is taken care of today.

Thursday, 10 January 2019

The Plight of Young People Living with HIV in Malawi

It is now a known fact that HIV is now manageable as compared to how the situation was in the last two decades. People living with HIV are now able to live healthy and productive lives without the fear of death which loosely became the synonym of HIV some years ago. 

Through various ways, more and more young people are living with HIV. The coming in of Antiretroviral Drugs is a major step towards having healthy and strong young people. Both those Living with HIV and those who are not are able to contribute positively to the development of the country in their capacities as young people.

Recently, there has been a lot of talk about providing necessary support to young people who are living with HIV. However, I have not really seen a lot in terms of action towards ensuring that Young People Living HIV/AIDS are given the much needed support. If there is a group of people who need to be heard and their concerns addressed are the young people who are living with HIV.

The inattention that is given to YPLHA has led to increased number of them to default drugs and eventually develop AIDS. Many young people have been lost due to our uncaring attitudes.

Having HIV is a health issue and just like any other personal healthy issue, YPLHA have been longing for privacy. They have always wanted to make sure that their HIV status is not known to others. This is due to a number of valid reasons and it would be good to work on the issues that are there to guarantee them this wish. For instance, YPLHV who are in boarding schools face a lot of challenges to get a permission to go to hospital to collect ARTs.

Why do teachers have to ask so many question?

Why do teachers disclose this to every staff member who later go out to tell other students?

This leads to the worst stigma ever on the school compass. When their status is known, YPLHA have to brave and endure discrimination in all its various forms. However, it is hard to concentrate when the whole compass seems to be sidelining you and maybe a few others. We should not except such young people to excel in their studies because the position they have been places on is worse than I a prison cell where everyone treats another as a fellow prisoner and not an outsider.

There are so many situations that have put the lives of YPLHA in danger. We need to work on this as a nation. Let us listen to the voices of YPLHA…even their silence has to be properly comprehended, it is a communication and we need to know what it means.