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The role of African women in national liberation movements and calls for Independence is often paid very little attention. Women played an indispensable role in liberation movements across Africa from joining the ranks and fighting alongside their male comrades to marching and protesting against injustices. We’ve put together a short list of women’s movements as we salute the women who sacrificed for their countries.
Algeria: During the Algerian War of Independence there were more than 10,000 women fighters in the FLN (National Liberation Front) . Women served as combatants, spies, fundraisers, couriers and nurses among other things. Some women were able to conceal weapons and bombs in their hijab and others would alter their appearance to look French, making it easier to cross checkpoints and carry out their missions.
South Africa: In the 1950s, the South African government imposed “pass laws” on women. These laws meant women were not allowed to live in towns or travel freely unless they had permission. The African National Congress Women’s League, the Federation of Women and members of the Black Sash movement organized a march; on August 9, 1956, 20,000 women of different racial backgrounds from all across South Africa marched to the Union Buildings in Pretoria where they stood in silence as petitions against the pass laws were handed over to the Prime Minister’s office. The woman chanted the phrase “wathinth’ abafazi, wathinth’ imbokodo” which is translated to “you strike a woman, you strike a rock” – it became a symbol of the strength and courage of women in the movement. August 9 is now celebrated as Women’s Day in South Africa.
Ghana: In 1951, the CPP selected Leticia Quake, Hanna Cudjoe, Ama Nkrumah and Madam Sohia Doku as propaganda secretaries who traveled around the country conducting political education meetings and recruiting people into the party. After Independence in 1957, these women played an integral role in shaping the policies in Ghana as organizers, politicians and journalists. In 1960 they brought all the women’s movements together and consolidated them into the National Council of Ghana Women.
These are only a few examples of women becoming involved in the fight to liberate their countries. We’d love to hear about more!
News Orgs: their Fans and Followers, March 2012
The Onion, holding its own.
UPDATE: Just to clarify, this is US-based. H/T: Ben Piven.
Why didn’t we get invited to this party? Newsweek/Daily Beast Twitter: 1,884,000. Newsweek/Daily Beast Facebook: 357,000.
DRC: MSF Launches Massive Malaria Response Across Three Provinces
Several regions of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are facing a serious outbreak of malaria. MSF teams are working in three provinces, supporting the Congolese Ministry of Health. So far, MSF has treated more than 17,000 people in Maniema, Equateur, and Orientale provinces.
In DRC, malaria is the leading cause of death. Every year the mosquito-borne disease kills 180,000 children under five.
“To contain the disease, a purely preventative approach such as mosquito net distribution is not enough. We must also treat as many people as possible,” said Dr. Jorgen Stassijn, a malaria specialist and member of the MSF team currently working in Equateur Province.
DRC 2011 © Ben Milpas
Mothers feed their children beneath mosquito netting in an MSF facility
Libya: A Precarious Situation for Vulnerable Populations
As Libya grapples with consolidating state authority and restoring normality after the revolution, groups of migrants, refugees, and internally displaced people remain in a vulnerable and precarious situation. MSF is continuing to provide basic medical and psychological assistance to these groups in Tripoli. In parallel, MSF will also end its remaining activities in Misrata at the beginning of April to refocus on other areas of intervention.
There are concerns that camps in Tripoli are being shut down by authorities without any clear strategy that the people will be appropriately cared for afterwards, leaving former residents in an even more vulnerable situation. Already on February 14, a camp where hundreds of primarily sub-Saharan African migrants had taken refuge was closed and evacuated. On March 20, another camp housing approximately 300 Somali refugees was evacuated, with residents now being spread out over Tripoli. As MSF had been running mobile clinics in these two camps, it is now trying to trace patients to be able to ensure the provision of follow-up care if needed.
Currently, MSF is running mobile clinics in two camps for internally displaced people in the city, providing basic health care and psychological support. When necessary, MSF also assists in referring residents to secondary health structures. The camps, containing a total of approximately 4,000 people, are primarily made up of people from the Tawargha city. Members of this community were forcibly displaced at the end of the conflict, and are unable to return home. On average, MSF performs 50 consultations in these two camps every week.
Libya 2011 © Niklas Bergstrand
Nearly all buildings in Tripoli street in downtown Misrata were completely destroyed during the war.