The Human Impact

A male child is still important for some Nigerian women

For Amaka Okoli, a modern-minded businesswoman living in urban Nigeria with her loving husband Nonso and their daughter, the sex of the baby she’s expecting is irrelevant.

The same can’t be said of her mother-in-law who, in accordance with Nigerian Igbo culture, is desperate for her son to have a male heir and is trying to persuade him to take a second wife, in spite of his reluctance and Amaka’s open opposition.

Amaka is the protagonist of “B for Boy”, the first feature film by Nigerian director Chika Anadu, which was screened at this year’sLondon Film Festival. It is a courageous tale of being a woman and a mother in contemporary Nigeria and of the social pressure that is still put on women to produce a male child.

It’s a movie filled with witty lines and a pungent humour that make its tragic ending a surprise.

From the embarrassing scene at the breakfast table in Amaka’s home, when Nonso’s mother brings in the girl she wants to become her son’s second wife, to the heart-wrenching moment when Amaka is attacked by the women of her husband’s village, who despise her for not letting him take a second wife, the film draws a stark line between modernity and cultural traditions that are hard to circumvent.

Strong Arms Trade Treaty could help prevent use of child soldiers-Amnesty

Although it is a war crime to conscript or use child soldiers under age 15 in active hostilities, the practice continues in at least 19 countries, Amnesty International said on Tuesday, citing the charity Child Soldiers International.

Amnesty has documented the recent use or allegations of use of child soldiers in MaliCentral African RepublicChadCôte d’IvoireDemocratic Republic of CongoSri LankaSomalia, and Yemen.  As well as perpetrating human rights abuses themselves, many child soldiers are killed, maimed or become victims of rape and other sexual violence.

Poorly regulated weapons sales continue to contribute to the use of boys and girls in hostilities by armed groups and government forces, despite the protective Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child agreed by 150 countries, the rights group said in a statement issued to mark International Day against the Use of Child Soldiers.

Q+A – Child-friendly toilets key in fight to improve global sanitation

If toilets meet children’s needs, this will keep them in school longer, reduce the spread of life-threatening diarrhoeal diseases and help meet development goals, according to the charity Water For People.

At least 2.5 billion people worldwide do not have proper sanitation facilities. The combined effects of improper sanitation, unsafe water supply and poor hygiene are estimated to cause almost 2,000 child deaths per day, the U.N. children’s agency, UNICEF, reports.

“Allowing youth to become comfortable using toilets and practising good hygiene from a young age, means that as they grow up there are fewer people to educate and convince of the reasons that improved toilets are important,” said Kate Fogelberg, Water For People’s regional manager in South America.

IF campaign to end hunger seems a bit iffy

By Maria Caspani

Techno music and revolving images of hungry babies were among the most disheartening, not to say disturbing aspects of the event that kicked off the ‘Enough Food for Everyone IF’ campaign at London’s Somerset House this week.

The catchphrase – ‘There is enough food in the world to feed everyone, yet 2 million children die from malnutrition every year’ – was repeated so many times during the hour-long event on Wednesday evening that, by the end of it, I felt like the words had lost their meaning.

This might just be me cynically bantering about what I perceived to be the patronising attitude of people in the so-called Western world when they try hard to do good and put an end to the suffering of poor people in the so-called developing world.

Dial-a-maid, get-a-slave in middle class India

When I arrived in India some years back as a single mother and full-time journalist, there was one thing I knew I wouldn’t have to worry about – finding domestic help.

Maids, nannies, drivers, cooks and cleaners are ten-a-penny amongst the urban middle classes here.

In New Delhi’s neighbourhoods, for example, most families employ full- or part-time help, who do everything from feeding and bathing babies and cooking family meals to sweeping and washing floors.

Poor Kenyan women robbed of choice to give birth

The saddest part of the stories told by 40 HIV-positive Kenyan women who are suing the government for forced or coercive sterilisation is not that they can no longer give birth.

Most already have children, often more than they can comfortably provide for.

“Getting food is a problem,” said Pamela Adeka, who was sterilised after giving birth to twins in 2004.

She later gave them up for adoption as she could not afford to raise them and now lives with her HIV-positive, 14-year-old son.

How can contraception cut child deaths?

LONDON (TrustLaw) – It’s well known that good family planning vastly reduces the risk of women dying from pregnancy complications and helps prevent miscarriages and still births.

What is far less recognised is the effect that spacing out pregnancies has on the survival of children way beyond birth.

A report published by the Lancet medical journal on the eve of an international summit on family planning says improving access to contraceptives in developing countries could reduce deaths in young children by 20 percent.

Uganda school children put chill on teacher truancy

A new hard-hitting advocacy video highlights the success of a project at a Uganda primary school where students monitored the attendance rates of their instructors to try and reduce teacher absenteeism.

Uganda has the worst teacher absenteeism rate in the world, according to Anslem Wandega, a program manager at African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect (ANPPCAN), which oversaw the project with funding from the Results for Development Institute (R4D) in Washington, D.C.

Following the success of the monitoring project in Uganda’s Iganga school district, ANPPCAN intends to use the video to persuade other school districts to take up the project, Courtney Heck, a senior program associate in R4D’s Transparency and Accountability Program, said.

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