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Doris is a 75-year-old woman from Kayaba informal settlement in Nairobi. As with most families in the settlement, her house is a single dilapidated room with mud walls, a corrugated iron roof, and dirt floors. There is no clean running water, and she…
People stand outside a purple building with a mural on it that says "Corona is Real"
News

On Human Rights Day, Celebrating People Who Make the World Better

This Human Rights Day I’m celebrating my sister’s commitment to lifting up the lives of girls and giving them a chance at realizing their potential. I think of my sister Vicky as a warrior in the fight for human rights, and on December 10, I’m…
Vicky, a teacher in a girls’ school in Kenya, is dedicated to empowering girls. 
News

As domestic violence rates soar in Europe under COVID-19 restrictions, women’s groups protest government inaction from Poland to Turkey.

As violence against women repeatedly grabs headlines during the COVID-19 pandemic, women across Europe are at the forefront of mass protests demanding government action to protect women from abuse. Some argue that women shouldn’t risk their lives…
Protesters with a banner reading "Women's Strike" take part in a rally against the Polish government’s plans to withdraw from the Istanbul Convention on prevention and combating of domestic violence, in Warsaw, Poland, July 24, 2020. © 2020 AP Photo/Czarek Sokolowski
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Harms Girls and Reduces Nation's Potential

"I didn't go back to school, because I didn't have anyone to give me advice," "Harriet" told me. "I wish someone would've come to talk to me about school and encourage me." We were sitting in   her brother's home in Migori county, western…
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A Supreme Court review of the division of matrimonial property law may provide clarity for Kenyans on rights to land, houses, and other assets acquired during marriage. Over the last decade, Kenya has enacted laws to ensure equality of spouses in…
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Kenyans are speaking about divorce more openly than ever before. But women still face insurmountable difficulty when trying to claim matrimonial property after divorce. Human Rights Watch found that the process for dividing up this property discriminates…
Women registering for a community dialogue meeting organized by the Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya (FIDA-Kenya) with the Milimani Law Courts in Kibera, Nairobi.
News

Kenyan authorities demolished hundreds of homes last month, leaving thousands homeless and without any support.

In early May, Kenyan authorities evicted more than 8,000 people in two of Nairobi’s informal settlements. Deprived of their homes, hundreds of families were forced to sleep out in the open for weeks. They not only had to gather around fires…
Alongside evicting residents in the Kariobangi North Sewerage settlement and surrounding areas, authorities used excavators to demolish homes, churches, shops, and schools, and destroyed personal belongings.
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COVID-19 in Europe, the Central Eurasian Region, and Turkey

What are some of your biggest concerns about the coronavirus moving through Europe and Central Asia? Europe is one of the world’s epicenters of COVID-19 cases. There’s an awful death toll in Italy and Spain with the numbers of dead going up…
Military police officers patrol at a market in Budapest, Hungary, March 31, 2020.
News
As the world celebrates International Women’s Day, women in Kenya still face hurdles in owning and using land and property. “I feel like a prisoner,” a 45-year-old widow told me last year during an interview about the subject in Kakamega. “I’m…
A woman walks past a mural on a Family Health Options clinic in the Kibera slums in Nairobi, Kenya, May 16, 2017. © 2017 Reuters
News
How has the situation on Lesbos changed since your last visit? When I was here in 2016, I couldn’t imagine things being worse. We saw a lawless situation in Moria refugee camp. There were around 6,000 people in the camp,…
Migrants who arrived yesterday to Greece from Turkey eat bread as they try to warm themselves at the village of Skala Sikaminias, on the Greek island of Lesbos on Friday, March 6, 2020.
News

The Reality for Refugees in the EU-Turkey Stand-Off

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s cynical move to open his western EU borders to allow refugees and migrants to leave - while keeping his southern border to Syria shut to asylum seekers desperate to escape the onslaught there - poses an enormous…
Refugee being taken away by Greek police
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"I was deported with about 35 Syrians on a large bus. They handcuffed us and…they beat some of the men on the bus with truncheons when they asked to go to the toilet or for water. We all spoke with each other [and] no one wanted to go back to Syria…
Turkish authorities have used the Cilvegözü border crossing, pictured here on March 3, 2015, to deport Syrian refugees. © 2015 Getty Images
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On May 14, the Kenyan justice system failed women miserably. The Federation of Women Lawyers (FIDA), Kenya, petitioned the High Court, challenging the provisions of section 7 of the Matrimonial Property Act, 2013. The section makes ownership of…
Two widows in eastern Zimbabwe, facing harassment from in-laws who are trying to force them to vacate their homes and fields. Rural Eastern Zimbabwe, October 2016.
News
Despite setbacks for women’s rights around the globe in 2017, some of the most exciting reforms and positive momentum emerged from the Middle East and North Africa. Tunisian women have new protections against violence. Migrant domestic workers in…
Demonstration outside Parliament on December 6, 2016, with women in white dresses and wrapped in bandages, calling for the repeal of article 522 of the penal code.
News
I had already heard many disturbing stories of violence by the time I interviewed Mercy Maina, whose name I have changed to protect her privacy.  Even so, what Mercy told me was truly disturbing. She said she was raped during the post-…
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State-run clinics are exempt from the ban on U.S. funding going to groups that provide abortion services. But many government clinics rely on essential support from NGOs, who can no longer afford to offer it, says Skye Wheeler of Human Rights Watch.

“We will just have to forget about the women who will suffer – money is just not enough, we won’t be able to reach the community at all.” This is what a senior staff member at a large health organization in Kenya told me in July this year. Her…
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James lives in a Nairobi slum and takes care of his niece. Her mother died almost 10 years ago following complications from a botched abortion. She had become pregnant in a horrific gang rape. “She told us that she saw three men rape her and…
Women look on as residents talk to police officers after an attack in Panda Nguo, Lamu County on the northern coast of Kenya July 11, 2014.
News
‘They will kill us all,” “Ahmad,” a Syrian aid worker, told me last month, referring to the many armed parties to the Syrian conflict. We were talking about Idlib, a province in northwest Syria that is home to around 2…
Syrian Man Carries Children After Barrel Bomb Attack
News
“Is there no justice for rape?” asked Jane, a young woman from Nairobi’s slums. “If police, who should be helping us, can just rape women and nothing is done to them, what will prevent men from continuing to rape us?” Jane (not her real name)…
Kenyan anti-riot police fire tear gas in Kisumu, Kenya, August 9, 2017. © 2017 Baz Ratner/Reuters