A context of aid in Africa through Moyo’s view


Dambisa Moyo articulates that there are three broad types of aid: humanitarian aid, charity-based aid, and systematic aid. These categories are separated by their sense of urgency. For instance, humanitarian aid is the most urgent covering issues such as unexpected natural disasters such as the devastating earthquake in Haiti a few years back. While this is probably the most publicized type of aid, there probably is not a lot of analysis or criticism or scrutiny for it because of the dire need of it. However, systematic aid comes under a large amount of scrutiny because it is consistently flowed in resources and cash. Moyo’s criticism with systematic aid is that a large amount of it is grants that do not require to be paid back. She says that grants do not incentivize responsible use of funds such as the way that loans do. Because loans require repayment plus interest they create a need for entrepreneurial drive and initiative to improve one’s financial standing. Grants are not tracked once the money is spent and this causes way for political corruption.

Moyo is a chief critic of liberal ideology and Western savior-like principles. Much like Kipling’s view of the “white man’s burden” is the lens of Moyo’s perspective in my opinion. She believes that Westernized nations use a very narcissistic share the wealth policy in order to aid impoverished nations. While the intentions are there, it is ultimately a lost cause in improving situations of poverty in Africa, if you follow her logic on giving grants to foreign countries.

Moyo also brings up the World Bank. She believes that it creates a cycle of corruption and misuse of precious funds and resources. The World Bank wants to personally funnel funds itself to oversee more administrative practices to help governments but have no solution to prevent corruption committed by government employees. Increasing pay and funds to an underdeveloped and ethically challenged workforce will only hinder the success of the country’s economic infrastructure.

Large gift philanthropists such as Bill Gates have criticized Moyo’s conservative economic view. But as an African woman, I believe Moyo is trying to set herself apart as a cheetah. She is a modern African with a modern view for the future of Africa and I believe that her views, while I personally cannot agree with all of them, do support a progressive view of African development rather than to support an old system of only aid and no foundation for the future.


Economic Opportunities for African Women

A developing economy will find more success when all members of society are able to contribute. This is a fact many African countries are learning as some allow women to enter the workforce. According to the IMF’s Women, Work and the Economy research, when a local business in Chad allowed women to participate in a business development project, the women increased their annual income by approximately 70%. This was part of a project funded by ExxonMobil and partnered with Africare. Chad experienced first hand the contribution women can make to local economies.

You can learn more about local programs such as this in this video about the Training and Mentoring Program for Women Led Business in Liberia, South Africa, DRC, Mozambique, Senegal and Rwanda.

Women trying to enter the workforce face a multitude of problems. Beginning a business usually requires financial capital. For women who have not had the same educational opportunities as men, it can be hard to understand financial terminology or comprehend how lending services work. Credit can be difficult to achieve when you don’t have financial literacy. Many banks will not lend to women for these reasons and more. For example, in South Africa, “only one out of South Africa’s four major banks is contemplating a specific program to increase its share of women-owned enterprises.”

fides_02While there are many different public and private financing options, most women don’t know how to access different funding opportunities. These require knowledge of the business world, and with no previous exposure, can be hard for women to find. According to the IMF, women also have less financial confidence than men. No confidence means women might not ask for help or might not even attempt to find financial options because they do not believe in their own abilities.

Many financial gains can be made when women are allowed to enter the economy. The IMF says that women are “more likely than men to invest a large proportion of their household income in the education of their children.” This means future generations are less likely to grow up in poverty and have better resources at their disposal. Research shows “GDP per capita losses attributable to gender gaps in the labor market have been estimated at
up to 27 percent in certain regions.” When women can contribute to the economy, GDP grows, further helping advance developing countries markets.


Righting Wrongs: The Day of the Girl

In many civilizations, women have taken a back seat to men and found themselves trapped in unfair gender roles. While men have the ability to receive educations, become business owners and engage in free trade, women face inequalities in resources, support and access. As many African countries develop and industrialize, it has become more apparent that many women in Africa are stuck in these situations. The countries are investing and growing but opportunities for women are not.

One of the major areas where this is happening is in education. In some African countries, 1 in 7 girls is married before the age of 15, ending her chances of furthering her education. When she is married, she no longer gets the opportunity to go to school. And if that means she is only educated until age 9, she receives no further schooling.

The UN declared October 11th the International Day of the Girl, and the Day of the Girl organization works to “highlight, discuss, celebrate and ultimately advance girls’ lives and opportunities across the globe.” banner-one3-e1392334376566It is one of many organizations working to bring awareness to unequal education opportunities and right the wrongs. They have an annual project for this cause, and the project for 2014 is The Rally Project. They hope to hold rallies in 11 cities (on October 11) to create a new generation of activists. The goal is for the rallies to be led by young leaders in the communities. They hope these rallies will raise awareness for education, Title IX, sex trafficking and other women’s issues around the world.

Another organization working to end education inequalities for women in Africa is the African Women Education & Development Partnership Forum. AWEDP-F was founded by Veronica Kette in 2006 as an organization dedicated to “empowering women through knowledge and partnerships.” Part of their education strategy focuses on raising awareness of the value of women’s education. Kette notes that in many areas of Africa, “families would rather have male than female children because the old belief holds that only male can inherit property and provide for their polygamous homes.” However, in countries such as Cameroon, the educated females are the ones keeping families from poverty.

The world needs organizations such as these to help create a more sustainable gender equality. By raising awareness and fighting inequalities, NGO’s and local organizations are helping women gain fundamental rights. Governments need to step in with policies that create punishments for families keeping their daughters from these opportunities. It is time to stand up for the rights of females who cannot speak up for themselves.


Preventing Sexual Abuse in Africa

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:



Empowering African Women

Even most of the earliest of documented societies had specific roles that men and women filled. Men were the hunters: they had jobs, provided for their families and were the breadwinners. Women were the homemakers: they had children, provided care and were their husband’s domestic counterparts. Unfortunately for many developing societies, these roles have not been completely shattered. Many jobs are still filled by men, and women are considered inferior in the business place. Women are expected to stay home and cook and clean instead of being business owners and CEOs. Fortunately, many programs, both by the government and non-profits, are working to empower women and end this gender gap.sky2

USAid has multiple programs aimed towards female empowerment and equality. One of these movements is called Half the Sky.
Based off a book and turned into a television mini-series, the program uses an integrated media campaign to educate women. One of their projects was to create three mobile phone games for people in India and East Africa. The games include topics such as :

  • Family planning and reproductive health;
  • Maternal and child health;
  • Girls’ education; and
  • Domestic violence and other gender-related themes (via Half the Sky).

This public service announcement is also part of the campaign:

Another one of their programs the Gender Equality and Female Empowerment Policy. The major aim is to train more women to be successful leaders and get them involved in decision-making processes. 7089987135_ffd0c776d9_o_0Women receive training in peace negotiating, political processes and academia. USAID also tries to “support additional programs that promote women’s empowerment by:

  • Improving women’s access to capital, markets and mobile technology
  • Building women’s capacities and skills in agriculture
  • Supporting women’s desires to own businesses”.

The biggest issue I see campaigns like this facing are outreach. Projects such as mobile apps have great potential to influence an entire generation. However, many of the women who need help are in the lowest poverty levels and may not have access to mobile technology. Many of these women are also uneducated and could have a hard time grasping such difficult concepts as peace negotiations.

However, I think projects like this are helping women take a huge step in the right direction. Women are getting access to information and programs that did not exist a few decades ago. Knowledge is power, and by providing women with tools to succeed, we are helping them become self-sustaining and contributors to society as a whole.

Women Driving Economic Growth in Africa

By Connor J. Wangler
Source: NC Policy Watch

Source: NC Policy Watch

They make up half of the world’s population and yet, for hundreds of years, have been removed from the economic processes of much of the globe. Women are now, at last, being recognized for their potential in driving economic growth; not just a basic human right, but now seen as a critical component of development. Unfortunately, women still face constraints on their economic participation in many parts of the world, notable Sub-Saharan Africa. Many of these stem from cultural and institutional hurdles that remain the norm in several African countries.

In many cases, women are still treated as the lessers of men, which has had enormous effects on their economic agency. Firstly, this view of women has led to their exclusion in the labor force. Womens’ role in marriage keeps many at home to care for the family where they are unable to access employment or education opportunities. In many cases, when these opportunities are opened up to women, they face sexual harassment and discrimination that greatly limits their ability to achieve their full economic potential. Also, institutional arrangements and government policies often favor men over women, especially when it comes to economic participation. For example, in many countries, women have difficulty in achieving true property ownership because of lack of access to government services or because of discriminatory laws. This prevents them from accessing trade and capital markets. Here is an interview with Anne Kamau, a Fellow at the Brookings Institution, that further explores challenges faced by African women in accessing economic opportunities.

Source: SoleRebels

Source: SoleRebels

When these obstacles to womens’ participation in developing economies are addressed, society stands to gain greatly. Increasing the amount of properly trained women in the labor force of African countries can potentially lead to a twenty percent increase in worker productivity, according to some studies. Improving property laws can lead to an increase in the amount of female-owned agricultural businesses. For example, in Rwanda, a land-title law reform lead to an increase of nearly twenty percent in female-registered farms. Women also represent an interesting opportunity for developing economies to tap into innovative entrepreneurship. Bethlehem Tilahun, the founder of SoleRobels, built a footwear business focusing on locally made shoes using recycled materials. The business has been hailed as a huge success for African female entrepreneurs, notably for her revamping of customer service operations to incorporate Ethiopia’s culture of hospitality. Ventures such as this show a huge opportunity for African economies to access businesses that are unique to their communities and highlight each countries’ cultural resources.

Clearly, challenges to women’s achievement of total economic potential exist and must be addressed. Without taking on the many hurdles women face, the benefits that global economies could enjoy will be left ignored. It is not simply a human rights issue, ensuring equal treatment of men and women, but it is an opportunity to alleviate poverty and build stronger, robust economies. Women are the future is not just a fancy slogan, it is a fact.

Women in the Workforce

Many cultures throughout history placed women and men in different niches. Traditionally, the man is the bread winner. He does the hard labor. He has a job outside of the home. He fits the gender role of a strong, masculine character. In these cultures, the woman stays at home. She has children and raises them. She cooks and cleans and is the home maker. Her gender role is the delicate one who needs protecting. glassceilingUnfortunately, women have never been able to completely shed this stereotype. The glass ceiling is a common metaphor to describe the invisible barrier limiting women from reaching as high as men.

One of the places where women face many struggles is Kenya. The Foundation for Sustainable Development reports that agriculture provides 60 percent of Kenya’s income, and women do most of the agricultural work in the country However, women earn very low wages if they earn any at all. The foundation says only 29% of those making a wage in Kenya are women. This causes severe problems because nearly 40 percent of households are run solely by women and “because of a lack of fair income, nearly all these homes suffer from poverty or extreme poverty.” This video from the World Bank discusses men and women in the labor force in Kenya:

The problem is most apparent in developing countries like Kenya where women do not have the financial means to be successful. One way to help women break the glass ceiling is by providing them opportunities and resources. Kavita Kulkarni, Managing Director of Shalmala Finance in India, runs a company that specializes in microfinancing. This system allows institutions to lend smaller amounts of money to clients with very low, if any, interest rates. The concept behind microfinancing is to give low-income individuals access to financial services they could not previously afford. By loaning, providing insurance and protecting against risks on smaller levels, these individuals can start from nothing and develop their own business. Ms. Kulkarni said that most clients who use microfinancing are women looking to create their own path. The basics of microfinance are explained in this video:

I would argue that microfinance loans could be exactly what women in developing countries need to be successful. Success is never guaranteed, but these small loans are allowing women to start their own businesses and become their own providers. They are no longer sitting around after being rejected by banks. They can get microfinance loans with low interest rates and sell goods or provide services. These small loans could break the poverty cycle for many families if they correctly harness their potential.

Gender Disparities in African Agriculture

By Connor J. Wangler

Men and women throughout African nations experience wide gaps in equal treatment, access, and privilege. From local communities to the national scale, women have long been treated as second class to men as a result of cultural, political, and economic factors. The process of development, however, has brought the issue of gender equality to the social forefront. The role of women in improving the quality of life in developing countries is now being recognized by individual governments and private organizations. This has spawned the implementation of several policies and initiatives aimed at closing the gender gaps in several areas, such as political representation and access to economic services. There is a level of difficulty, however, at identifying which areas need to receive the focus of governments and NGOs. Thorough research is necessary to understand in which areas inequality exists and what factors have led to the gap; even more studying is required to then formulate policy direction that will accurately reduce the inequality.

Source: World Bank

Source: World Bank

One area that has been of recent attention for the African countries is the role of women in agricultural production. Almost fifty percent of agricultural production in Africa is performed by women. The first study released on the gender gap in this area was released in 1996 by Christopher R. Udry, a professor at Yale University and member of the Poverty Action Lab. Udry’s study found that agricultural production differed between plots operated by men and women. This goes against the micro-economic understanding of “Pareto Efficiency,” in which all resources are equally distributed among household plots to achieve maximum return.  A 2014 report by the World Bank and the ONE Campaign reaffirmed this observation by noting than in six countries profiled, women produced less than men, from thirteen percent in Uganda to twenty-five percent in Malawi. Here is a video by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization that details the issue in further detail:

The report identifies ten key policy areas that require attention to reduce the gap that exists in production levels. Many of the suggestions focus of improving womens’ access to critical resources. For example, the report encourages policies that increase womens’ access to property ownership and land rights, hired labor, community child-care centers, higher quality fertilizers and seeds, and financial services and commodity markets. Other suggestions are focused on providing women farmers increased education and training. For example, policies that should be addressed must increase women’s knowledge of tools and equipment to reduce the amount of human labor needed, be tailored to women’s needs and use social networks to improve the dissemination of this knowledge, promote the cultivation of high-value and cash crops, and improve access to formal education opportunities. Not all of these suggestions are agreed upon by those studying the issue. For instance, in Udry’s 1996 study, he noted that increased access to property rights and labor may not necessarily solve the problem.

The World Bank report suggests that if this gender gap is reduced, between twenty and thirty percent more food could be produced by women farmers in Africa. This increase, the report notes, could raise 150 million out of hunger. Clearly, anything that could carry such an impact must be made a top priority of those working to reduce global extreme poverty. While access to resources is not enough to effectively close the gap, it seems necessary that it be apart of any attempt to address this inequality. Further research into the area may be needed to produce more effective policy, but the suggestions made by the World Bank report are good place to start for governments wishing to make the change.

Breaking the Cycle: Poverty-Reducing Initiatives in Africa

The Grameen Foundation’s motto is simple: connecting potential. The foundation says it helps the poorest people in the world reach their full potential by matching their skills with the resources they need to succeed. Many Sub-Sahara African countries are finding success by partnering with the foundation in different projects.

One of those countries is Ghana. The foundation teamed up with Ghana Health Services to improve care of mothers and babies in rural communities. The initiative is called MOTECH, or Mobile Technology for Community Health. The Alliance for Reproductive Health Rights says that 63 newborns die during childbirth each day. A woman in Ghana also has a 1 in 68 chance of dying from maternal causes during her lifetime. This initiative also works to provide sexual reproductive health information to younger generations to improve the standard of sexual health in the country. 

The Grameen Foundation has also worked with Uganda in a few different mobile technology initiatives. The Community Knowledge Worker initiative uses mobile technology to give small farmers better access to knowledge about their crops and animals. It helps them better protect their farms and get better market prices for their yields. AppLab Incubator and Mobile Financial Services Accelerator are two initiatives the foundation is testing in the business of improving “next-generation products and services tailored for the poor.” 

You can learn more about the work of the Grameen Foundation in this video:

Mobile technology is extremely important because of the information it can provide. Farmers who have no access to this technology can receive a wealth of instant knowledge from this technology. Much like the Community Knowledge Workers initiative, information is power to farmers who have no access to technology that can improve their yields and protect their lands.

Microfinancing is also a tool many developing countries are using, and combining technology with this practice is allowing individuals around the world to help. Kiva allows individuals to make a loan through their website. The donors can watch the progress of their loan and as it gets paid back, the money is credited to their account. They can then use the money to make another loan or on a different project. You can follow the story of a Kiva loan in this video:

All of these initiatives and projects are working to reduce the cycle of poverty in Sub-Saharan Africa. In her book Dead Aid, Dambisa Moyo presents a three step process that countries need to follow to escape this cycle. Step one is to reduce dependency on foreign aid every year. Second, countries need to reduce spending and scale down their national budgets. And third, countries need to invest in and protect institutions that help growth. While this three step plan appears very logical, it differs with the thoughts of economist Jeffrey Sachs. His plan states that aid should continue but in a more intelligent and economical way. It is important that no matter which side we agree with, we continue to work for the eradication of poverty because it hurts more than just the people living in it. The world cannot operate at or near its potential when people are living in poor conditions and cannot be successful. The poverty cycle is a deadly trap and if not broken, can affect generations before they even have a chance.















New, Holistic approached to ending violence in Africa

According to an article from The Economist from October 2010, South Africa was ranked fourth out of 53 African countries for its record on women’s rights. It comes in sixth–out of 134 countries, on the World Economic Forum’s “gender gap index.” Also, on the UNDP’s “gender empowerment measure” it does well, being placed 26th out of 182 countries. In the South African Constitution, which was penned in 1996, non-sexism is equally ranked with non-racialism. Laws regarding women’s rights have been put into practice by the dozens: legalizing abortion, giving women equal power in marriage, cracking down on domestic violence, criminalising sexual harassment at work, banning all gender discrimination and providing women of any skin colour with the same degree of affirmative action in education, employment and politics as blacks, coloureds (people of mixed race) and Indians.

This all looks great on paper. It is impressive actually. But what about what is being practiced? That article was published in 2010, and now, three short years later, South Africa is facing a monstrous women’s rights controversy in the murder of Reeva Steenkamp, the girlfriend of South African superstar athlete Oscar Pistorius. Steenkamp was a celebrity in her own right–a model, actress and activist for violence against women. Merely hours before she died, Steenkamp tweeted:


She also posted an illustration of domestic violence on Instagram and wrote: “I woke up in a happy safe home this morning. Not everyone did. Speak out against the rape of individuals in SA.” Who would have ever guessed that a woman who was such a strong advocate for women’s rights and independence would fall victim herself? In the aftermath of her shooting, accusations have come to light that domestic disturbances had occurred between Steenkamp and Pistorius during their relationship. If police had been notified of these possible violent acts, why wasn’t more done as a precaution so her murder could have been prevented?

These are the questions that envelop each and every case of violence against women. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter how many laws you have in place or how many organizations you have that ensure gender equality. What matters is that each and every citizen is safe.

In the book, “African Guerrillas: Raging Against the Machine” editor Morten Bøås and Kevin C. Dunn argue for a more nuanced, holistic approach that is historically grounded and integrates multiple levels of analysis, from the local and national to the regional and global to address the uncanny notion of violence versus violence that has characterized Africa for centuries now

Researchers and advocates alike have pegged down four areas in which holistic approaches have upturned positive outcomes, and they are the following:

1. Encouraging a nurturing facet of fatherhood

2. Uncovering, and disbanding women instigators and acceptors of violence

3. Acknowledging domestic violence against men also exists

4. Ending domestic child abuse and encouraging primary education for all children