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March 16, 2018

1. Protesters in Rio mourn the death of progressive councilwoman Marielle Franco

The city of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, has been rocked by the murder of progressive councilwoman Marielle Franco, who was shot Wednesday night along with her driver Anderson Pedro Gomes. Thousands of supporters flooded the streets to mourn her death and to demand answers from the government.

A champion of women’s rights and outspoken critic of police brutality, Franco was the only Black female representative in the city council. As a Black, queer woman who grew up in one of Rio’s biggest favelas, Franco’s activism and politics resonated with many people. She was a close ally of ActionAid Brazil and their partners, Redes da Maré. Here in the United States, we grieve alongside them and honor her life and legacy.

2. Indian women farmers march 112 miles for land rights

This land is… still not their land. On Monday thousands of Indian women farmers completed a 112-mile-long march from the town of Nashik to the city of Mumbai to demand their rights to forests and land. For six days they marched alongside their male counterparts who were also fed up with the government for taking over their land for industrial projects. While India’s prolonged agrarian crisis affects farmers across the country, leading to suicide for many, female farmers are taking the brunt of it.

More than two-thirds of India’s rural women make a living through farming, but only about 13 percent of them own land. Even when male landowners have migrated or passed away, it is challenging for female spouses or relatives to transfer land titles to themselves.

In response to the march, Maharashtra state officials said the government would settle disputes over indigenous ownership of land within six months and expand the loan-waiver program it had promised farmers last year.

3. Young South African scientist invents a fire-resistant home for shack dwellers

Seventeen-year-old Gabriella Mogale has come up with a solution to prevent a repeat of last year’s wildfires in Knysna, a town in South Africa’s Western Cape province. The fires burned down more than 1,000 homes including shacks, which are informal settlements made of wood. The tight living quarters within shack communities make them even more vulnerable to fires, which can spread rapidly from house to house.

Knowing that fires were all too common in shack communities, Mogale presented a model of a fire-resistant shack at a regional science expo in 2017 – and won a gold medal in the process. Upon one of her judge’s recommendation, she’s returning to the exhibition this year with new improvements to her project.