August 3, 2018

The Fight Against Plastic Waste Growing in Africa

There has been a global push in recent years to minimize the use of plastics, especially single use plastics like straws. In Africa as a whole, momentum is rising around legislation that will slow down and eventually ban the consumption of single use plastics. Images of plastic clogging rivers, contaminating water supplies, and hurting animals are a driving force behind efforts to use less plastic.

Most environmental activism is taking place in capital cities throughout Africa where large scale campaigns are lobbying for the eventual purge of plastic. Some countries including Morocco, Rwanda, and Kenya have banned single use plastics altogether. Entrepreneurs are finding other ways to up-cycle plastic, such as an engineer in Ghana using plastic bags to make asphalt. Activists from the Ivory Coast to Egypt are organizing massive clean-ups to rid their water sources of plastic. Africa is becoming a leader in conservation efforts to limit plastic in our ecosystem and find other ways to recycle the plastic already filling our landfills.

Kenyan Women Become Their Own Lawyers

A Kenyan woman named Yvonne beat the odds and won a divorce settlement representing herself. Her husband had left her but refused to grant her a divorce despite her repeatedly asking for years. She had no prior knowledge or experience of what to do in a court room, but through guidance from a local non-profit, she was able to gain freedom from her husband. Her case is one of hundreds where women became their own lawyers to fight injustice.

FIDA, the Federation of Women Lawyers in Kenya, helps women who can’t afford legal fees to advocate for themselves. Over the last eight years, 700 women have filed petitions in court with an 86% success rate. FIDA supports them to build confidence, teaches them legal jargon and how to dress for court, and trains them to prepare court documents – so that they are successful in presenting their cases. In the face of discrimination, women have been able to file for divorce from abusive or negligent husbands, win custody of their children, and secure child support.

Nigerian Woman Makes Furniture Out of Tires

Not only is Olabanke Banjo, founder and CEO of Cyrus45 Factory, positively impacting the environment, she’s also inspiring other women to pursue entrepreneurship and carpentry, a male dominated field. Olabanke recycles old discarded tires and transforms them into modern household furniture.

She got the idea after seeing a pile of used tires that were going to be disposed of. Tires are usually incinerated, releasing harmful toxins into the air. She had always expressed an interest in art and found a way to combine her creativity with her desire to help the environment. Olabanke is now a small-business owner and is encouraging women to explore their talents and find their inner strength.