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Rwanda’s push for gender equality improves women’s lives in the countryside

Nov 26, 2015 Rwanda currently ranks as one of the countries with the smallest gender gaps, following a 70 percent surge in its female population after the 1994 genocide.

In recent years, the government has intensified efforts to promoted gender equality through its new constitution. The new laws currently gives women rights to land, inheritance, education and employment opportunities.

In its stride to cub gender inequality, the government also introduced gender equality trainings in local communities.

Five years later, about 6,000 families have gone through the training.

Commenting on the link between gender inequality in the household and poverty, Raymond Kamwe, the project’s gender specialist said:

“Gender is a key part of our training programme because we know the significant role that women play in lifting households out of poverty. Women are critical for the agricultural sector so we emphasize gender equality in farming so that they can contribute and share their vision for their family’s future,”

In Rwanda, 46% of all decision-making positions at district level are held by women. Its parliament also has the highest number of women globally.

Despite the progress made, Rwandan women still lag behind in traditionally male-dominated fields like science and business.

Kayilisa Caritas, a gender coordinator at the ministry of Agriculture, said:

“We can’t talk about gender equality without talking about the financial independence of women. So we want our women to be economically empowered so that they can face their future,”

In recent years, Rwandan lawmakers have passed several legislations on gender issues, including abolishing patriarchal laws, which has made it easier for women to take advantage of opportunities to develop themselves.


Get Educated: Calabar

Here, I’m going to tell you facts that you may or may not know about Calabar, the home of The Fattening Room. There’s so much I didn’t know about this rich capital of Cross River State. I’m going to take you through this slowly, so sit back and get educated!

  • Did you know that Calabar is a city in the South Eastern region of Nigeria (Cross River State) and is located on the bank of the Calabar river?
  • There are about 1.2 million people living in Calabar and the natives are Efik people (watch The Fattening room to know more about their culture). They are notorious for their artistic skills, rich food, culture and traditions.
  • Their main occupation is Agriculture which explains Calabar’s service as a seaport exporting rubber, palm oil, cocoa and timber.
  • Calabar which was one of the first regions invaded by the British has been inhabited for over 2000 years.
  • Known to European sailors as far back as the 15th century and recognised as an international sea port since the 16th century.
  • Calabar was a major slave trade port from the late 17th to 19th centuries.
  • Calabar is made up of seven clans which are (drum roll please): Creek Town, Adiabo, Ikoneto, Ikot Offiong, Old Town, Duke Town and Henshaw Town
  • It is the home of one of the major universities in Nigeria, University of Calabar (UNICAL).
  • This history filled town can be accessed by air, road and sea from different parts of Africa.
  • Calabar boasts of a lot of Nigeria’s firsts (don’t try to read it all in one breathe, you won’t survive)

  • Nigeria’s first public hospital – St Margaret’s Hospital

  • The oldest Post Office (extremely handy back then)

  • One of the first two Botanical Gardens in Nigeria (an establishment where plants are grown for scientific study and display to the public)
  • In terms of social life, Calabar prides itself of the first social club in Nigeria, The Africa Club and also the very first competitive football, cricket and field hockey games were hosted in this City.
  • In addition to this, the cities firsts include the first Presbyterian church (Church of Scotland Mission) in 1846, earliest Military barracks, the first monorail and the first modern road network in Nigeria.
  • Calabar is noted as the cleanest city on top of that, it is also the number one tourist destination in the whole of Nigeria. On that same note; Calabar is second to Abuja when it comes to beauty and planning. What’s more, there are no hawkers (I didn’t know such a thing existed in Nigeria) and the residents are disciplined which makes the city welcoming.
  • Want to see the best cultural setting of the Efik people? Go to Calabar… It can be seen in their traditional attire, masquerades and cuisine…
  • As a result of the abundant warmth and hospitality of its people, rich history, natural and cultural attractions, the city has been branded “Canaan City” which translates as “the land of flowing milk and honey”

That’s all I’ve got for you for now, but as we’re often told, we can’t know everything so if there are any interesting or fun facts about Calabar that I have missed, please fill free to add them in the comments section below.

I hope you enjoyed reading and I hope you learned something new.


Hottest Premiere on EbonyLife TV: The Fattening Room Series.

Follow six young beautiful ladies from diverse African backgrounds on a powerful journey of self-discovery steeped in the deepest and richest cultural heritage … embark on an adventurous journey intothe inner chambers of one of the most important age-old Efik traditions.

This April, EbonyLife TV premieres the long awaited television reality series…The Fattening Room!

The Fattening Room is a unique reality show about six young and charming ladies from Ghana, Nigeria, Botswana, South Africa, Zambia and Kenya, who arrive the golden city of Calabar in Nigeria, on a mission to experience the popular Efik culture and tradition in a bid to come into the compelling awareness of themselves as strong African women … full of value and worth.

These feisty, modern, single women from across Africa enter the Fattening Room on a must-see adventure of cultural enlightenment, to fatten their hearts and souls as they get molded into their (future) men’s ideal partners and as they learn the secret to finding and keeping love.

Africa’s First Global Black Entertainment Network, EbonyLife TV, DStv Channel 165 continues to deliver premium homegrown content that highlights the richness and beauty that is embodied in the African culture.

The journey starts on April 19, 2014 at 21:30 CAT.

Tune in, you don’t want to miss this!


The Legend of The Fattening Room

In a world where there are people going under the knife to lose weight in order to portray a perfect body, on the other side of the world, are women going into what is called “The Fattening Room” where they are beefed up. I for one would love to be able to eat what I want and be branded desirable. But in today’s society, we are almost prisoners in our own bodies having to think twice about whether you can afford to eat that chocolate bar or if you can eat that bowl of rice.

However, in an age old tradition, a tradition owned by the Efik community in the Southern part of Nigeria, Calabar, being big represents wealth, it represents beauty and affluence. It is a sign that you come from money and that your family has looked after you well. It is the ideology that if a woman has not gone through the process, she does not qualify for marriage. Now, I don’t know about you but if I belonged to such a culture I wouldn’t want to be seen as less than able so if I have to through such an ordeal, believe me when I say I’m going to do it!

The average weight of a Nigerian woman is reported to be 60kg but women who come out of The Fattening Room can weigh twice as much and then some. Imagine doubling up in a matter of months, I know I’d be unrecognisable.

The women are secluded for months and not allowed to be contacted by anyone. They are chaperoned by a few female elders of the village who are with them throughout the whole phase.

A typical day of a woman who enters The Fattening Room is, they wake up and eat (when I say eat, I mean EAAAATTT), then they have a bath, they sleep some more, wake up and eat even more before sleeping. In between they receive three massages and are taught by the elders as they go through what is called “domestic training” which includes, home economics which simplified translates as cooking and housekeeping, childcare and how to respect and make her husband-to-be and his family happy. In reference to the man, this includes how to satisfy him in the bedroom department. The women are also advised by the elder women who share experience in marriage showing them the way to a successful one.

Their diet consists of porridge Ekpang, plantain, yam, fufu and assorted pepper soups amongst other things, they are encouraged to drink three pints of water three times a day, can you imagine? That’s 4.2 litres a day (twice the daily recommended amount)

At the end of the isolation period, people from all over are invited to what is known as the “Graduation Ceremony” at which the women are congratulated and praised for passing the ordeal and becoming “certified women”. The ceremony includes display of the traditional Efik dances (Ekombi) and other forms of entertainment. The fiesta goes on throughout the day and night with presentations from families, friends and well wishers of donations and gifts to the bride in order to express their joy and happiness. At the end of the day, she and her future husband dance and embrace; welcoming everyone that has come to unite in their celebration. All this occurs amidst cheers from the crowd.

Everything in life has an advantage and a disadvantage and every one will have their reservations. Many can and probably will look at the concept of The Fattening Room and think “Oh my gosh, why would I want to be isolated for God knows how many months just to be forced to eat my weight in food every day?” or “why would I want to be trained on how to be a slave to my husband?”And that’s the problem with belonging to a culture that can be argued to be in the “minority”. You’d be misunderstood by the majority. So in this instance where “mahoosive” (my own made-up word for massive and huge) women are desired, once you step out of that culture you become the undesired by the majority and you’d get shallow minded people questioning your culture. Trust me, you’d have to be well grounded within that culture and be thick skinned (no pun intended) as to not let the opinions of the majority affect you.

Belonging to such a culture I guess is another way to ensure marriage within the same culture. But the question with this nowadays is that with people moving states and even countries, is there really a need for the Fattening Room? Would I say that minds are becoming more relaxed or more westernised? Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s very good to have your own tradition/culture and I take my hat off to women who choose to go through a process such as the Fattening Room but the fact remains that in a world that is becoming more westernised, is one such as this seen as extreme?

The other side of the argument is that women today restructure their appearances (like it’s no big deal) in more extreme ways through science. From using Botox to delay aging in the west as well as using gastric bands with the aim to lose weight, to using fat enhancing pills in Jamaica, two very extreme ends of the spectrum but in the end, it’s each to their own!

I’m looking forward to seeing how the girls from The Fattening Room shown on EbonyLife TV DStv Channel 165 every Saturday at 21:30 CAT deal with the whole process in the modernised version of it. What do you think? Leave your comments below. I wonder if any of them cracked or wanted to leave at any point? I guess we’ll all have to wait and see!