Eritrea-born woman elected German MP

Eritrea-born woman elected German MP

Following Sunday’s German elections, Green party politician Awet Tesfaiesus will become the first African-born black female MP in the country’s parliament, known as the Bundestag.

Since graduating from Frankfurt University in 2006, the 47-year-old has been practising law, often representing asylum seekers and refugees, local media report.

(Graphic)—Born in Eritrea, she migrated to Germany with her family at the age of six and grew up in Heidelberg.

A member of the Greens since 2009, she was thrust into active politics following the Hanau shooting, just outside Frankfurt, in 2020 in which a neo-Nazi sympathiser killed at least nine people.

Her name, Awet, in her native Eritrean Tigrinya language means victory.

Negotiaitons to form the next German government are on-going but Ms Awet’s party is likely to lay a key part.

Last year another Eritrean made headlines after he became the first African-born member of New Zealand’s parliament. Ibrahim Omer is a member of the Labour Party.

No democracy at home , now they are enjoying abroad.

A woman’s courage to end wartime rape in Ethiopia

A woman’s courage to end wartime rape in Ethiopia

Out of conscience, the country’s minister for women resigns after campaigning for justice against wartime sexual violence.

(csmonitor)–One of the world’s most courageous people of 2021 has to be Ethiopia’s departing minister for women. On Monday, Filsan Abdullahi Ahmed resigned her post after trying to end the use of rape as a weapon of war in Ethiopia’s 11-month internal conflict. Her own government’s forces, along with rebel fighters in the Tigray region and soldiers from neighboring Eritrea, are accused by the United Nations and others of mass sexual violence against innocent civilians.

“Any situation that compromises my ethics is contrary to my convictions and values, and betraying these beliefs is a breach of trust to myself and our citizens,” she said in her resignation notice.

Last February, she boldly confirmed that rape was “undoubtedly” being committed in Tigray, the first official confirmation of such crimes. She then pressured Ethiopia’s attorney general to deliver justice. In April, Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed admitted that sexual assault had become a key tactic in the war. By May, the attorney general said three soldiers had been convicted and sentenced for rape and another 25 had been charged

But not much has been done since, perhaps the main reason for her resignation. In addition, the United States has become alarmed at the violence and humanitarian disaster in Ethiopia. On Sept. 18, President Joe Biden ordered sanctions to be imposed on Ethiopian officials if they don’t move to end the war. “I am shocked by reports of massacres, rapes and sexual assaults,” the president said in a statement. On Sept. 24, the U.S. House passed legislation that would force the administration to determine whether Ethiopia’s and Eritrea’s actions in the Tigray region constitute genocide.

Ms. Filsan was appointed as minister for women, children, and youth in 2020 because of her campaign for reconciliation among the country’s more than 90 ethnic groups. With a population of roughly 110 million, African’s second most populous country has a long history of civil strife.

She is founder of the Nabad Project (nabad means peace), which uses volunteers – dubbed peace engineers – to bring different ethnic groups together for community-level dialogue to unify Ethiopia, as she said in 2019 to the Addis Standard magazine.

“I started … the Nabad Project to show Ethiopians that [an ethnic] Somali young female can actually bring the love, harmony, and prosperity among them,” she said.

One of her approaches was to deal with post-violence social trauma, especially for women who had been raped for their ethnicity. “I have reached multiple victims [but] I hate to use the word ‘victim’ itself because it sounds people felt helpless,” she said.

Now out of office, Ms. Filsan may again return to her private work as a “peace engineer,” or what she calls turning differences into opportunities. Her resignation was an act of conscience. It was also an act of courage to rally Ethiopians to join her to work, as she calls it, “together for good.”

Ethiopia minister who spoke out about rape in Tigray resigns

Ethiopia minister who spoke out about rape in Tigray resigns

By Rédaction Africanews

(Africanews)–Ethiopia’s women’s minister, the first federal official to acknowledge rape had taken place during the Tigray war, announced her resignation Monday, without specifying a reason.

“Any situation that compromises my ethics is contrary to my convictions and values, and betraying those beliefs is a breach of trust to myself and our citizens,” Filsan Abdullahi Ahmed said in a statement posted on Twitter.

“For reasons of a personal nature that weigh heavily on my conscience, I regretfully submit my letter of resignation effective immediately.”

Last month she told AFP the task force’s report had been sent to the attorney general and that it was up to law enforcement officials to determine the scale of the crimes and who was responsible.

She said she believed law enforcement officials were “doing their best” but that she hoped the work would move faster.

“I can’t say to you, ‘No, it’s absolutely fine the time they took.’ For me, I would prefer them moving at a faster pace so I can say justice has been served, and I hope we will see justice has been served.”

Filsan did not respond to requests for comment Monday.

Her resignation comes one week before Abiy, whose Prosperity Party scored a landslide victory in national elections earlier this year, is set to name a new government.

Sexual slavery alleged (A INSERER EN H2)

Amnesty International said last month that Ethiopian troops and allied Eritrean forces had raped hundreds of women and girls in Tigray, subjecting some to sexual slavery and mutilation.

Survivors told Amnesty they had been gang-raped while held captive for weeks, raped in front of their families, and had objects including nails and gravel inserted into their vaginas.

AFP has also documented allegations of gang rape committed by Ethiopian and Eritrean soldiers.

In May, the attorney general’s office said three soldiers had been convicted and sentenced for rape and that another 25 had been charged with “committing acts of sexual violence and rape”.

Investigations were continuing, it said.

Gender Analysis Key Findings: Women’s Exploitation & Gender-based Violence Across Ethiopia’s Tigray Crisis

Gender Analysis Key Findings: Women’s Exploitation & Gender-based Violence Across Ethiopia’s Tigray Crisis


Between late February and early-April 2021, as the crisis continued in Tigray, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) conducted a Rapid Gender Analysis (RGA) with 186 clients and stakeholders across 6 refugee camps and sites for internally displaced persons (IDPs). The RGA is a critical step in the IRC’s efforts to ensure that emergency programming in Tigray is responsive to the needs of women and girls, who have been impacted differently by the crisis than men and boys. This document focuses primarily on the findings around gender-based violence, and the sexual exploitation of women and girls in exchange for cash to buy food. A more comprehensive report will be released in mid-May 2021, with more detailed findings on women’s needs, and how these are shaped by changing gender and social norms, within the camp setting.

Key Findings

  1. Women’s lack of access to food and sources of cash has led to a situation where in order to meet basic needs, female IDPs and refugees are exchanging sex for small amounts of cash – $1.25 for sexually exploitative relationships. Female-headed households are particularly vulnerable. Little has been reported on this topic in the media or INGO reports.

  2. While gender-based violence (GBV) was taking place in the community, respondents also reported a spike in Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) (including verbal, physical and emotional abuse) perpetrated by husbands and partners.

  3. There is evidence that sexual harassment, assault and rape were prevalent not just during the conflict, but have continued – Not only were there previous Gender-Based Violence (GBV) violations, but an increase in and continuation of the same.

  4. A number of factors are contributing to ongoing GBV, including a breakdown of traditional accountability mechanisms, increased exposure to and normalization of GBV and acts of sexual violence, economic uncertainty and lack of economic alternatives for women, increased alcohol consumption, an emphasis on basic needs which sidelines conversations on GBV, a lack of GBV reporting mechanism, and healthcare workers, with training in case management.

  5. Health findings show significant limitations in healthcare services across all sites visited. The healthcare sector is under significant strain and has experienced a drain in skills as experienced personnel have fled. Some healthcare workers do not see GBV as a serious health issue.

  6. Lack of women’s health was a consistent theme and there is evidence that pregnant women died on the way to safety and that unattended births are taking place in camps. Pre-natal and post-natal care is a major gap and infants are missing vital immunizations.

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‘Choose – I kill you or rape you’: abuse accusations surge in Ethiopia’s war

‘Choose – I kill you or rape you’: abuse accusations surge in Ethiopia’s war

How can women support groups still meet in Ethiopia during the pandemic?

How can women support groups still meet in Ethiopia during the pandemic?

Cassandra Murtagh
23 July 2020

(reliefweb)—Life changing women’s groups provide mutual support and safe spaces for women and girls affected by conflict and drought in Ethiopia. But the COVID-19 pandemic means that large groups can no longer meet, yet the women have come up with an innovative way to continue to provide support to each-other.

“After I took on this responsibility, I felt what empowerment really means” says Alima Ali, a 25 year old mother of two in Southern Ethiopia. “I was able to share important life-saving knowledge and skills to my community”.

Alima is speaking of her women’s group, and how empowered she felt after she became a leader in this group.

Alima is one of over 600 women who are members of women’s groups in Southern Ethiopia, many of whom have experienced violence and extreme hardship. The groups have been set up to provide a safe space for these women and girls to gather together and to share their concerns.

The groups have had a huge impact on the women in this troubled area near the Kenya border, where almost 200,000 people have been forced from their homes in recent years due to conflict and drought.

Trócaire and our local partners have been working in the Borena Zone region to provide humanitarian assistance and protection services to the most vulnerable communities. In particular, women and girls in displaced communities face huge burdens, and can be left on the fringes of society.

Traditional gender roles are very entrenched here. During gatherings where men and women are together, if a man stands up to speak, the women are expected to turn their backs and not look at the man while he is speaking.

So these groups are really important, so that women have a safe space to share their concerns, get critical information and seek support.

Currently there are 25 safe space groups for women in the area. However, these important life-changing groups are now under threat due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as large groups can now longer gather safely.


Before COVID-19, Alima’s support group met once a fortnight. They are encouraged to talk about their experiences in a supportive environment. For many of these women this has been the first time in their lives that they have been able to express themselves openly.

The name of Alima’s women’s group is Angasu. This translates as ‘a ray of light that sparkles through darkness’ in the local Oromo language.

Angasu is a life-line for many community members. As well as psychological support, group members take it in turns to gather firewood and water for each other. They help elderly, disabled community members and new mothers with household chores. The women even construct and fix houses for other community members.


In March, the Ethiopian government banned large gatherings of people and instituted social-distancing measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Group members feared that Angasu would be in danger of closing. This would cut off this invaluable support system for women and girls in the area.

To prevent this from happening, with help from Trócaire and our local partner organisation Oromia Pastoralist Association, Angasu members changed how they operated.

They adopted new procedures to allow groups to meet and share important COVID-19 information with other community members. Alima says there was a lot of misinformation about the pandemic, saying that ‘some think the virus drops from the sky like rain’.

Angasu now choose four representatives to support other members by organising small group sessions on COVID-19 prevention and hygiene. In this way they avoid meeting in a large group, but the representatives then make sure that all the relevant information reaches everyone in the group.

Through thinking creatively, and turning one large group into a wider support network of smaller groups, these incredible support groups can continue to operate.

As these women continue to recover from the effects of conflict, and stay resilient during a global pandemic, that is indeed a ray of light in the darkness.

**These safe spaces for women in Ethiopia are an example of how impactful overseas aid projects can be. Our ‘Build Back Better’ campaign is calling on Ireland to protect our aid budget. This project in Ethiopia was funded with the generous support of the Irish government.

A second black beauty crowned global beauty as Miss Jamaica wins the 2019 Miss World title

A second black beauty crowned global beauty as Miss Jamaica wins the 2019 Miss World title

Jamaica’s Toni-Ann Singh had a bit of an out of body experience when they called her name as the winner of Miss World 2019.

(africanews)–“I was shocked,” said Miss Jamaican Toni-Ann Singh who was crowned Miss World 2019 on Saturday at a ceremony in London, ahead of her French and Indian competitors.

“To this little girl from St Thomas, Jamaica, and to all the girls around the world: believe in yourself. Know that you deserve and are able to realize your dreams. This crown is not mine, but yours. You have a GOAL,” the winner tweeted.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=”16″]To this little girl from St Thomas, Jamaica, and to all the girls around the world: believe in yourself.[/perfectpullquote]

Toni-Ann Singh, a 23-year-old psychology student, won the final of the competition in front of Frenchwoman Ophély Mézino and Indian Suman Rao. She was crowned by the previous winner, the Mexican Vanessa Ponce de Leon.

“I had to take a moment to say ‘They said Jamaica. They said Jamaica. So that means you and that means get out there.’ But it was just so surreal. I had to really pull from within to get it back together because how crazy is that?”

Singh joined women from 130 countries in late November for the final stages of the Miss World competition in the British capital and she said the month-long experience taught her that women are stronger together.

“You realize that even though we’re so strong and we’re representing our different countries, we also need each other. We also need help and support and love. And you really realize that when you’re actually here. And it was a beautiful thing to realize. Like my eyelashes – India put them on for me. And usually Trinidad would put them on for me. You know, I mean, we keep each other together.”

Singh was crowned by Miss World 2018, Miss Mexico Vanessa Ponce de Leon

The continental winners were Miss Caribbean (Miss Guyana – Joylyn Conway), Miss Americas (Miss Brazil – Elis Miele Coelho), Miss Europe (Miss France- Ophely Mezino), Miss Asia (Miss India – Suman Rao), Miss Africa (Miss Nigeria – Nyekachi Douglas) and Miss Oceania (Miss Cook Islands Tajiya Eikura Sahay).

This is the fourth time a Jamaican woman has won the title.


‘Power of Unity’ crown: The $5m headgear Miss Universe 2019 wore

‘Power of Unity’ crown: The $5m headgear Miss Universe 2019 wore

Miss South Africa, Zozibini Tunzi was over the weekend crowned Miss Universe 2019. It turns out that the crown her predecessor fitted on her head is a new one.

(africanews)–Jewelry designer Mouawad created a new “Power of Unity” crown reportedly worth $5 million for the 2019 edition of the competition.

The crown features 18-karat gold vines and ivy leaves inlaid with more than 1,770 diamonds. The ivy and vine are meant to represent the seven continents. It’s flanked by two smaller diamonds cut from the same stone mined from Botswana.

The 26-year-old beauty queen won the contest in Atlanta in an event hosted by Steve Harvey. She is the third South African to be crowned Miss Universe. Demi-Leigh Nel-Peters won in 2017 whiles the inaugural South African winner was Margaret Gardiner in 1978.

Tunzi is from Tsolo, South Africa and is passionate about encouraging natural beauty and crusades against gender bias.

Miss Puerto Rico Madison Anderson was runner-up with Miss Mexico Sofia Aragon as the second runner-up.

Mouawad Miss Universe Crown 2019

‘Wave of hope’ to End FGM in Ethiopia as activist pioneer dies

‘Wave of hope’ to end FGM in Ethiopia as activist pioneer dies
K. Sophie Will

LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – Ethiopia’s Bogaletch Gebre – feted for almost eradicating female genital mutilation in her home region – has died, her charity said on Wednesday, as activists vowed to push on with her work.

The former scientist and marathon runner’s quiet revolution saved tens of thousands of girls from potential injury or death in Ethiopia, which has the second highest number of women living with FGM globally, data from anti-FGM charity 28TooMany shows.

“It was most impressive how she empowered the youth to reject the practice; it is a wave of hope and change into the community,” Faiza Mohamed, Africa director of the advocacy group Equality Now, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

“It’s critical to involve the youth, have a dynamic partnership and engage with them.”

Bogaletch died at the age of 59 in Los Angeles and will be buried in Ethiopia, her charity KMG said in a statement. No details were immediately available on the cause of her death.

World leaders have pledged to end FGM – which involves the partial or total removal of the external genitalia and affects 200 million girls and women – under global development goals agreed in 2015.

Equality Now is building on the pioneering work of Bogaletch – who studied for a PhD in California after growing up in a village where most girls did not go to school – by supporting grassroots activists to end FGM in their communities.

Bogaletch was determined to stop female cutting in Ethiopia after it killed her sister and nearly claimed her own life, setting up the charity Kembatti Mentti Gezzimma (KMG), which translates as Kembatta Women Standing Together in 1997.

KMG’s ethos is to instigate social change through “community conversations” involving everyone, from young men to elders and religious leaders, and replacing traditional cutting festivities with “whole body celebrations” to honour girls who are uncut.

When the U.N. children’s agency, UNICEF, conducted a survey in Kembatta-Tembarro in 2008, it found 97% of the population opposed FGM – a practice that had been universal only a decade before – and recommended KMG’s model be replicated elsewhere.

Emma Lightowlers, spokeswoman for 28TooMany, which takes it name from the 28 African countries where FGM is endemic, said she was optimistic about the future of Ethiopia and the new possibilities for human rights pioneered by Bogaletch.

“It’s still about getting religious leaders on board, involving communities, identifying key influencers, and making sure they hear from people that are respected,” she said.

“It’s about making sure everyone is part of it.”

(The story clarifies FGM statistic in par 2 and replaces “earned” with “studied” in par 7.)

Despite Trump, Somali-Americans overcame scrutiny to make political history in Minnesota

Despite Trump, Somali-Americans overcame scrutiny to make political history in Minnesota

By Abdi Latif Dahir


(QZ)—–Two days before the 2016 US presidential elections, Donald Trump visited Minnesota and told supporters that faulty refugee vetting processes allowed large numbers of Somalis to come to the state. They came here, he said, “without your knowledge, without your support or approval, and with some of them then joining ISIS and spreading their extremist views all over our country and all over the world.”

His characterization of Somalis was deemed “dangerous,” with critics saying the remarks were a setback for the community who worked hard to become part of the state and nation’s fabric. Around 150,000 Somalis live in the US according to United Nations estimates, with many of them living in Minnesota than any other state.

On Tuesday night (Aug. 14), voters in that state cast Trump’s comments aside and delivered a resounding victory for immigrants and women. The ongoing primary elections are being seen as a test of Trump’s influence and whether Republicans or Democrats will control both houses of Congress next year.

Ilhan Omar, 36, won the Democratic primary in Minnesota’s 5th congressional district, likely becoming the first Somali-American to serve in Congress. Omar, who fled the Somali civil war and lived in a Kenyan refugee camp, won the seat left behind by representative Keith Ellison, another Muslim who is running for state attorney general in November. Along with Rashida Tlaib, a Palestinian-American, the two are poised to become the first Muslim women elected to Congress.

In other trailblazing wins, Hodan Hassan won the Democratic primary race for district 62A in Minneapolis, likely becoming the second Somali-American woman to be elected to the Minnesota state legislature. Another Somali, Mohamud Noor, won the primary for Omar’s seat to represent District 60B in southeast Minneapolis.

The historic wins represent a hopeful moment for Somalis in the state, who have faced scrutiny even as they pushed for more integration and made political strides. The Trump travel ban on Somalia in Jan. 2017 affected the community, with many wondering if they would ever be reunited with loved ones. Since Trump’s election, the spike in the number of African migrants sent back home has especially affected the Somalis, with some deportees accusing the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement of maltreatment and abuse during removals.

ICE removal of African migrants are rising