The implications of the violence wrought by extremist group Boko Haram to the nations surrounding Nigeria, including Chad and Niger, reach far beyond civilian casualties and displacement. It is no secret that rape is an unfortunately common weapon of war, and Niger is no exception. Sexual violence against women is part of Boko Haram’s plundering strategy, and it can provoke psychological and social trauma; women that have been raped are frequently ostracized by their families and neighbors despite it having been against their will.
Total fertility rate is a measure used by demographers that quantifies the average number of children that women in a specified population tend to have. Like many African countries, Niger’s fertility rate is rather high—it is so high in fact, as to be in the top ten fastest growing countries with regards to population in the world. The total fertility rate of the nation is 7.57, meaning that Niger’s women tend to have an average of 7-8 kids each during their lifetimes.
Gender issues have come into sharp focus in recent years, particularly in Africa. The African Union declared 2016 to be “The Year of Human Rights with a Special Focus on Women’s Human Rights.” Gender was a priority in the Millennium Development Goals and continues to be so in the new Sustainable Development Goals.
Earlier this year, members of Wells Bring Hope’s Board and Advisory Board had the opportunity to meet with Esperance Klugan, Director of Operations, West Africa Region and former Director of World Vision, Niger. Esperance has a unique background, combining the worlds of finance and humanitarian help for women.
Just a pinch of sound logic is enough to realize that denying educational opportunities, justice, and equal rights to women oppresses approximately half of the world’s population. The oppression of women misuses the scarce resource that is human brainpower and vastly inhibits the possibility of prosperity for many developing nations. It’s an equation that does not add up. On the noble quest to end global poverty, we are casting aside the very individuals that experience it and could be empowered to contribute meaningfully to the solution.
Nelson Mandela defined education as a weapon that can change the world; education is the most important way to measure civilization and the progress of nations.
It must be said that distance is a funny old thing. What we perceive as distant can vary by such great degrees that at times it can get a little ridiculous.
Recently, several stories have appeared in the press that mentioned charities and their dishonest fundraising efforts. One such story, released by ABC news, reported that a leukemia charity used less than one percent of its donations on its patients or programs.
I’m happy to report that Wells Bring Hope’s water projects in Niger are all going well, all fully operational, putting an end to death and disease from contaminated water. 328 wells have been funded with four more to come within the week.
On March 8th we celebrated International Women’s Day, commemorating the economic, political and social achievements of women past, present and future, all while reflecting on the inequities which still demand change.