One of the biggest inhibitors of female success in Africa is the sexual abuse some women face. Here are some staggering facts about sexual abuse according to Advocates for Youth:
- 46 percent of Ugandan women, 60 percent of Tanzanian women, 42 percent of Kenyan women, and 40 percent of Zambian women report regular physical abuse.
- In a Nigerian survey, 81 percent of married women report being verbally or physically abused by their husbands.
- Forty-six percent report being abused in the presence of their children.
For women to be successful in Africa, steps need to be taken to end the violence. The World Bank estimates that women who are victims of rape lose 5 healthy years of life in developing countries. The violence is harming these women and hurting their countries by removing potentially successful members of society from the workforce.
One of the best ways to combat the violence is through education. Bettina Shell‑Duncan & Ylva Hernlund’s writings on female genital mutilation discuss this movement. The act alters female genital organs for non-medical reasons. The procedure can cause severe problems for women such as infertility and infection. The act was previously called female circumcision, but it has been reclassified and declared a human rights violation. Many human rights organizations are working to bring light to the issue and end the practice. Amnesty International runs a campaign called End Female Genital Mutilation and holds an International Day of Zero Tolerance against Female Genital Mutilation. Here is one of the organization’s projects they use to raise money for the cause:
Another way to combat the violence is through allowing local groups to take action. A California initiative called Let Girls Lead partnered with the Malawi Girls Empowerment Network (GENET) to help villages raise the marriage age to 18 or 21. Villages then institute penalties such as forcing parents who try to marry their daughters off early to clean floors at local hospitals. Another possible punishment is taking away chickens or goats from men who try to marry underage girls. Localized penalties like this have proven effective in reducing underage girls from facing unfair sexual treatment. You can learn more about their cause here: