It’s 40 degrees Celsius and our skin is sticky. There is so much noise, people constantly moving, taxi drivers screaming directions, prices shouted, and sellers calling out to clients. The sun is rising, but inside the market it is completely dark. Pieces of cloth and large plastic bags protect the stalls, the food and the people from the rising heat of the day. The place looks like a beehive of activity.
Mwajuma* was 15 in rural Shinyanga when her parents informed her she would not be going to school anymore – she was getting married. She never objected. Several of her peers had similarly had their schooling terminated and were already busy taking care of their own families. Neither did she object to the fact she was to be the second wife – this too was commonplace among her peers. But the marriage did not last.
As of the end of 2016, thousands of refugees and asylum-seekers were registered in my home country of Ghana, with more than half of them girls, women and persons with disabilities.
The inaugural World Bank Group Law, Justice and Development Week 2018 Law Student Contest for Development Solutions, was a great opportunity to contribute to the timely discussion on rights, protection and development of vulnerable groups, particularly refugees.
For the World Bank’s partner governments, investing in roads and other infrastructure development is critical to driving growth and reducing poverty. At the same time, adverse social impacts can occur if social risks are not properly assessed, mitigated and managed. In particular, projects that involve large labor influxes—such as road construction projects in rural areas—can contribute to an increased risk of gender-based violence in the local community, including sexual exploitation and abuse of women and adolescent girls.
For several years during my childhood, I helped my mother plant vegetables and harvest crops on an urban farm in the distant suburbs of Ulaanbaatar, the capital city of Mongolia. Growing up working on the farm with my siblings and observing my mother work diligently towards the goal of full harvest made me realize what a challenging yet fulfilling journey it is to be a female farmer in a developing country. My mother refused to yield when confronted with adversity--Mongolia’s harsh climate, crop theft, as well as a lack of necessary inputs, labor, and agricultural services- all while taking care of her four children and handling chores.
In front of a crowd overflowing into the hallways of the UN, Her Honor, Mrs. Wina Inonge, Vice President of the Republic of Zambia, showcased the Girls’ Education and Women’s Empowerment and Livelihoods (GEWEL) Program to the 62nd UN Commission on the Status of Women.
On a beautiful fall afternoon in 2017, I visited a “female only” village in Telkouk locality, Kassala State, Sudan. There, a woman dressed in blue caught my attention. We were wearing the same color that day, and I soon found that she and I shared a few other things in common.
Do good intentions matter if they end up contributing to harm?
In 15 years of working in international development, I have asked myself this question many times, and the answer is always complicated. I learned working on the Uganda Development Responses to Displacement Impacts Project (DRDIP) that even the most straightforward interventions – building a school, for example – can contribute to unintended consequences if they are not well thought-through. As Dr. Robert Limlim, DRDIP’s director, put it: “You build a school and it does not cause harm, but this school is built under social contradictions that impede equal access to education for boys and girls. If we want to transform social dynamics, doing good is not enough, we need to systematically address Gender Based Violence (GBV) in development responses to forced displacement.”
"I grew up raised by two parents who were farmers, but as I grew up, I hated farming." That's one of the first things I heard as I met with Ntuba Masena, the owner of a fruit and vegetable drying business in Lesotho. Ntuba remembered spending long days plowing the fields with her parents, and as a result, agriculture was the last thing on her mind. It's safe to say that it has been an unusual journey for the 61-year-old retired nurse who had reinvented herself as an entrepreneur and small business owner.
I hated the question, “Who is circumcised in this class? This question was often asked by my literature teacher when we were reading, “The River Between” by professor Ngugi wa Thiong'o. One of the characters, Muthoni, dies after being circumcised.