Cultural Trends/Popular Culture

Africa's Women Wield Power Through Rule of Law

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Women's eNews has launched a five-part series on how the rule of law in Africa is changing the lives of the women who live there. The research and production of the series is supported by a grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York.

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Lwanga(WOMENSENEWS)--Women in Africa are often covered by the international media as helpless victims of tragedy. Yet, women are making progressive changes in their communities across the continent by pressing for legal reforms and working through legal and political frameworks to improve their status.

Continuing its partnership with the Carnegie Corporation of New York, Women's eNews is producing its third series on women in Africa, scouting out stories about women that are flying under the media radar but are making an impact on the ground. The Carnegie Corporation has deep philanthropic roots in Africa and is taking a lead in supporting media coverage that steers around the usual and seeks out stories of the real challenges facing women.

The current legal landscape in Africa often limits women's ability to participate in civil society: adherence to tribal or customary laws that limit a woman's right to marry, own property or even inherit land; laws against rape and genital cutting are ignored or nonexistent; sexual assaults against young girls and women are becoming more widespread and tolerated; polygamy has left many women virtual hostages to HIV exposure.

But at the same time, earth-shattering movements for change are taking root across Africa, and women are at the forefront. The world has focused on conflicts tearing apart nations; once those conflicts are over the stories of success are often lost. While frustrations abound for women limited by traditional laws, the greater story to be told is that of these women's inspirations and the complex, hard-won victories that slowly emerge.

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