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From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Mon, 09 Dec 2002 13:45:01 -0800

December 9, 2002

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Major Campaign To Pick Up Pace On Girls Education

DAR ES SALAAM / GENEVA (AANA) December 9 - Declaring that "the education of 
girls  is  key	to  real  progress  in	overcoming  poverty,"  UNICEF last 
week announced	a  major  initiative  to  get  girls  into school in 25 
priority countries, mainly in  Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia.

Speaking to a meeting of African Education Ministers here on December 3, 
UNICEF Executive Director  Carol  Bellamy  announced  the "25 by 2005" 
campaign to eliminate gender  disparities in primary and secondary education.

The campaign, which includes 15  countries  in	Africa,  focuses  on 
countries where girls are furthest  behind    and  where progress would 
make a real impact.  Bellamy said  UNICEF  is prepared to do whatever is 
necessary to help the countries meet the goal of gender equality in 
education by 2005.

"It  is  our  commitment  that	no  girl will be left behind as her country 
attempts  to  move  forward, and that every girl will be educated to assume 
her  rightful place as an agent in her country's development," Bellamy told 
the Ministers.

She spoke at the opening session of the eighth conference of Ministers	of 
Education of African Member States (MINEDAF VIII), held in Dar es Salaam 
during	December 3-6.

The  Millennium Development Goals agreed to by all the Member States of the 
United	Nations have set 2005 as the first milestone, seeking to end gender 
disparities in primary and secondary education by the end of that year.

Bellamy  warned  that failure to achieve credible progress toward the goals 
is  a  threat  to  human  development.	 "Any  delay  will  only perpetuate 
entrenched  inequities	and condemn yet another generation of children to a 
life of poverty, dependence, and unfulfilled possibility," Bellamy said..

UNICEF	will  work  closely with governments and other partners to 
identify  girls who are not in school in the 25 countries. In each country, 
UNICEF will work with the government to mobilize new resources, build broad 
national  consensus about the need to get girls in school, and help improve 
schools themselves to make them more welcoming to girls.

UNICEF	said  the  lessons learned in the 25 by 2005 campaign over the next 
two  years  will  be  applied  to  accelerating  girls'  education in other 
countries  until  all  children - girls and boys - enjoy their right to a 
quality basic education.

UNICEF	said  it  had chosen a manageable number of countries and based its 
selection  on  criteria  that  looked for countries with one or more of the 
following:  low  enrolment rates for girls; gender gaps of more than 10 
percent in primary  education  enrolment; countries with more than one 
million girls out of  school;  and  countries  hard  hit  by  a  range	of 
crises that affect schooling opportunities for girls, such as HIV/AIDS and 

The  majority  of  the targeted countries are in Sub-Saharan Africa, a 
region with one  of the most pronounced gender gaps in enrolment and home 
to 50 million out-of-school  children,	including  27  million girls. 
Despite progress in girls'  enrolment in the last ten years, glaring gender 
disparities persist in many of the selected African countries.

Bellamy  underscored  the  importance of focusing on girls, noting that the 
numbers  and  proportions  of  girls  out of school present a "human rights 
tragedy and a downward spiral in development".

Of the 120 million children who never go to school, the majority are girls. 
An  even  greater majority of those who get some schooling but do not reach 
the  fifth  grade  are	girls.

Girls, more often than boys, are denied opportunities  to  go to school in 
times of crisis and instability. In many countries  cultural gender bias 
and domestic demands keep girls at home and out of the classroom.

UNICEF advocates for investment in girls' education as an entryway for all 
children  to  fulfil  their  right to a quality basic education. A singular 
focus  on  getting  girls into school works to bring down the barriers that 
keep  all  children  out of school.

Moreover, when girls are educated they are  more likely to ensure the 
education and health of their own children - a cyclical effect of enormous 
importance. Held  on  average every five years, the MINEDAF conferences 
make a critical assessment  of	educational  policies and practices in 
Africa and recommend strategic action.

The  conference  of African Education Ministers follows on the heels of the 
five-day Forum of African Parliamentarians for Education, also held in Dar 
es Salaam.


Traumatic Experience Of A Woman Victim Of War

Kitgum area and many other parts of Northern Uganda have experienced a 
state of insecurity for over 16 years now. The insurgency of rebels in the 
area has caused unfathomable suffering and pain to the people who live 
there. Apart from the maiming that is caused by landmines in the area, 
there is so much pain in terms of psychological torture and trauma.

By Isaiah Kipyegon

Consider these words from Isaiah 43: 18-19: "Forget the former things, do 
not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing, now it springs up do you 
not perceive it?"

These are the words from the Bible that have become endeared sentiments and 
a theme for Margaret Arach. Yet it has not been this way all along. The 
events that took place in her life toward the end of 1998 marked the 
turning point of her life, and that with so much agony.

When a landmine exploded under the vehicle Arach was travelling in, 
shattering her life in a split of a second, such words of comfort were 
nowhere to be heard, much less understood and appreciated.

On the contrary, her mind was filled with questions that would form the 
greater part of her struggle to overcome fear and bitterness, at the same 
time embracing hope. I had dedicated my life to God two days prior to the 
explosion and I knew I had found peace. I did not know the test would come 
so soon," says Arach.

The events that took place on that twenty-second day of December 1998 were 
more than just a test. She had just started to settle down in Kitgum in 
Northern Uganda where she had found a job that prompted her relocation from 
Kampala, the capital, where her family lives.

On that fateful day, Arach was on her way to Kampala to join her children 
for Christmas. The bus she was travelling in ran over a landmine that had 
been strategically placed by rebels.

Most of the passengers thought the resultant explosion was a tyre burst. 
Nevertheless reality dawned on them when they heard gun shots and saw 
themselves being slowly surrounded by armed rebels.

"I immediately realised that we had been ambushed. I was still ignorant of 
the fact that my leg had been completely severed by the explosion until I 
tried to run. That is when I noticed the dangling flesh where my foot used 
to be," says Arach.

Kitgum area and many other parts of Northern Uganda have experienced a 
state of insecurity for over 16 years now. The insurgency of rebels in the 
area has caused unfathomable suffering and pain to the people who live 
there. Apart from the maiming that is caused by landmines in the area, 
there is so much pain in terms of psychological torture and trauma.

Arach was lucky enough to escape with her life, but the vivid memories of 
her violators looting from her still linger in her mind. In fact one of 
them tried to rape her, but when she feigned death she was left alone.

According to Bishop Baker Ochola II from the Acholi Religious Leaders Peace 
Initiative the people of Northern Uganda have for a long time lived under 
oppression and the fear of the realities of insecurity presented in the 
community. As a church leader in the area, Bishop Ochola II says he has 
buried very many people, thanks to the situation in their community.

"As a diocesan priest in Kitgum I spend most of my time burying people 
ruthlessly killed by the two warring factions, that is the government and 
the rebels".

Some of the people who could not take any more of the pain committed 
suicide. Bishop Ochola II recalls the moment his daughter committed suicide 
after she was defiled and abused by rebels. As if to add more injury to a 
fresh wound wife was killed by a landmine.

"My wife was blown into pieces by a landmine that was planted by rebels. I 
felt like a tree that had been split from top to bottom by lightning".

For Arach and Bishop Ochola II, life has to take a new turn and at the same 
time acquire a new meaning. Despite the fact that bitterness and anger kept 
Arach from total healing for a long time, the word of God has opened new 
avenues for her.

She confesses that read the book of Psalms and found solace there. However, 
her turning point came through the words of the book of Isaiah 43: 18-19, 
which encouraged her to forget the things of the past and to embrace the 
new things God is doing.

She now uses her disability to advocate for other landmine survivors and 
people with disabilities. On the other hand, Bishop Ochola II says he has 
embarked on a lifestyle that is entirely dedicated to peace building and 

Says he: "I have dedicated my life and my time to peace in Uganda and in 
the world. I do not want anyone else to ever go through what happened in my 

That it has not been easy for them and the hundreds of others in their 
situation is an understatement. Yet, they have used their turmoil as an 
opportunity and a platform to advocate for peace and justice.

Many of them have had to go through counselling and various therapies in 
order to at least calm down and deal with their overwhelming lose. At the 
same time lessons have been learnt and taught as those affected seek to 
provide counselling and solace to others.

Arach acknowledges the fact that most of the so called rebels who still 
cause untold suffering to the population of Northern Uganda are only 
children who were abducted and taught in a brutal way to inflict pain and 
to kill.

"They are empty and need help. We need to cultivate a culture of 
forgiveness, and to support these rebels when they come back".

Cases of rebels who have come back to the society seeking forgiveness and 
reformation are plentiful. Morlee Zawoo from Liberia is an example of such. 
He was conscripted into the National Patriotic Front of Liberia when he was 
15 and in 9th grade.

After years of experiencing bloody battles and killing many people and 
destroying property, Morlee fled from the front. "I broke my arm in an 
ambush and due to my subsequent disability and the death of my brothers on 
the battlefront, I escaped".

Such participation in the battlefront was not without consequences. For 
many days and nights Morlee suffered from terrible fear and nightmares that 
kept home reminding him of the atrocities he committed and witnessed.

Morlee now works as a preacher of the gospel and as a counsellor who 
through his own experiences help in the restoration of many a youth who 
have worked in battlefronts.

That these three people have dedicated their lives to serving other and 
advocating for peace in their communities and in the society at large is 
nothing short of a miracle. They understand, only too well, that peace is a 
gift that should be embraced.

Dreams Over AGOA Initiative May Not Come True

With an increase in textile and apparels export earnings rising by 800 
percent from US $7 million in 2000 to US$137 million this year, African 
Growth and Opportunity Act AGOA is set to absorb 25,000 Kenyans in direct 
employment at the end of this year. But the bright prospects of creation of 
employment opportunities in an hitherto gloomy economy may not last beyond 
two years.

By Pedro Shipepechero

It may as well be that prospects of creation of employment opportunities in 
an economy that has for the past 10 years been shrinking and retrenching 
workers, are only temporary as exporters warn that they may not last beyond 
September 2004, unless the textile and apparel provision of Agoa is 
renegotiated or the cotton industry is bolstered to resuscitate and 
increase local production of yarn.

Compared with the experience of the three West African nations, the 
prospects of long term benefits of Agoa to Kenya's textile and cotton 
industries appear remote in the context of the US government's subsidies to 
cotton farmers, which have pushed down the prices of cotton in the world 
market to an all-time low.

Signed into law in May 2001 by the Congress, Agoa provides duty free access 
to the world's largest market - the US	- for most products from eligible 
African countries. The Act was the initiative former US president Bill 
Clinton, which aimed at fighting poverty on the impoverished continent 
through increased exports to the US markets.

Under the Agoa initiative, over 8,000 products are eligible for export to 
the US, although the textile and apparel provisions of the Act are by far 
the most significant to African farm products.

But even as the prospects of African producers of cotton move to adhere to 
the rules of origin, trade experts in developing countries warn that the 
trade preference was designed to hoodwink African farmers into supporting 
the American farmer.

An assessment of Agoa by Oxfam under the Make Trade Fair initiative, warns 
that, "The economic losses inflicted by the US cotton subsidy programme far 
outweigh the benefits of its aidThe cotton subsidy programme has also 
undermined the Heavily Indebted Poor Countries initiative, costing 
countries like Benin, Burkina Faso and Chad more than they have received in 
debt relief".

Currently, African countries are allowed to source fibre and yarn from a 
third country as long as they do not violate rules of origin including 
trans-shipment of the products. Kenya, which was among the first to qualify 
under the textile protocol, has so far exported textile worth over KShs 11 
billion (US$ 137.5 million), according to trade consultant Mr Peter Kegode.

However, Kegode says that the country has done very little to prepare its 
cotton industry for the US markets, valued at over US$1.4 trillion. "The 
cost of fabric in Kenya is too high and Kenya must do something urgent to 
get investors to invest in this country. So far, we are only getting lip 
service," said Mr Ulha Kamat, the chairman, Kenya Apparel Manufacturers and 
Exporters Association.

The high production cost of the crop in Kenya not necessarily translated 
into profits for the primary producers, as according to Oxfam, government 
subsidies to American farmers "artificially raise the cost of cotton 
production in the US, stimulate exports and, by extension, artificially 
depress the world market price of cotton".

Oxfam points out that the subsidies trigger balance-of-payments pressure in 
cotton producing countries as "lower world prices are transmitted to the 
poor in the form of reduced farm incomes, lower agricultural wages and 
diminished provision of basic services". The result is that there is more 
capital outflow from Africa countries than inflow under Agoa.

At a recent workshop organised to disseminate information of the impact of 
Agoa on Kenya's economy, particularly on primary producers, it emerged that 
sub-Saharan Africa faced problems of supply as the region could only meet 
30 percent of the total demand owing to the high cost of production of 
cotton and textile.

  During the workshop held in Kenya's western city, Kisumu, Kamat said that 
Agoa would have been a great development opportunity if the Kenyan 
government took steps to lower the cost of farm inputs.

More exports to US would have helped to revamp the economy that is starved 
of donor funding and overburdened by domestic borrowing and heavy debt 
servicing, said Kamat.

Kegode, the lead researcher in the study, said Kenya needed to develop its 
capacity to efficiently produce local fabric by 2004 to cash in on the 
export opportunity provided by Agoa.

The present Cotton Act, which was last revised in 1990, he said, needed to 
be amended to reflect the current realities in the sector, among them 
capital outlay for the new technology that needs to be infused in the 
institutional structures such as ginnery operations and textile mills.

The government's commitment to policy implementation, high taxation 
regimes, weak support institutions and poor infrastructure coupled with 
limited access to credit were some of the impediments to full exploitation 
of Agoa.

He said that unless these factors are reviewed in the interests of the 
farmers, Agoa may cease to be the means of fighting poverty and become a 
vehicle for further impoverishment of the local producers, many of whom 
live off less than a dollar per day.

Participants in the workshop, who included cotton farmers, exporters and 
USAid officials want the initiative to be driven by the private sector and 
not the government.

In Kenya, the Ministry of Trade and Industry oversees the Agoa initiative. 
However, potential beneficiaries of the initiative do not have information 
required to facilitate the implementation of the initiative. Although the 
Ministry of Trade and Industry has a website, many Kenya traders do not 
know about it.

"Most of the officers who had been trained on Agoa by the government had 
been made redundant with the restructuring in the civil service," said an 
official from the Ministry.

Mr Thomas Joseph, Action Aid Kenya's Country Director, lent support to the 
general feeling that Agoa in its present structure will not fight poverty 
in Africa as had been expected. He said that the playing field is not even 
and took issue with the subsidies the US government gives to her farmers.

  "As the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank insist on the 
tearing down of our barriers, others are being erected", Joseph said.

  Joseph's sentiments tie in with the issues Oxfam has raised 
regarding  double standards by the US in as far trade liberalisation is 

  Says Oxfam: "Through the aid programme, the Bush administration has 
sought to promote free market reforms in Africa. Similarly, trade 
preferences under Agoa are conditional on Africa liberalising the 
agricultural market, including the cotton sector".

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