Senator Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation Named Among the Most Influential African Woman in the World, as “African Woman of the Year 2020”, for the Third Time

Tue, 16 February, 2021, 1:03 pm·2-min read

  • NAW: Senator Dr. Rasha Kelej, is truly a force of nature and one of Africa’s unsung ‘sheroes’ of women’s empowerment and health advocates. Here at the NAW, we will be right behind this inspirational woman, all the way.
  • SENATE APPOINTMENT in December 2020: Dr. Rasha Kelej appointed as a Senator, member of the Egyptian Senate (2020-2025) by President of Egypt, H.E. Mr. ABDEL FATTAH AL-SISI.
  • Africa’s First Ladies congratulate Rasha Kelej for her appointment as Member of Egyptian Senate and for being among the Most Influential Africans in the world.

Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation and Member of Egyptian Senate (2020-2025) has been named one of the Most Influential African Women in the world for 2020 for the third time, as she is nominated this year as “African Woman of the Year 2020” by the New African Woman Magazine UK, and Most Influential African Woman 2020 by Avance Media, for her efforts to advocate for women empowerment and healthcare capacity building especially during these challenging times of Coronavirus pandemic. Dr. Kelej has been previously recognized as One of 100 Most Influential Africans 2019 by New African Magazine UK for creating historic campaign “Merck More than a Mother” to break the stigma around infertile and childless women in Africa and beyond.

This press release features multimedia. View the full release here:

Senator, Dr. Rasha Kelej named as African Woman of the Year 2020 (Photo: Business Wire)


Dr. Rasha Kelej, CEO of Merck Foundation, is the brain behind inspiring “Merck More Than A Mother” campaign, a rallying call against female infertility stigma for which she was recognized as one of the Most Influential Africans 2019. The campaign, one of the most successful causes that have been taken forward by Merck Foundation, empowers childless and infertile women through access to information, health, change of mindset, and economic empowerment. More than 18 First Ladies rallied behind the campaign as Ambassadors of Merck More than a Mother campaign, which is very impressive.

Some of its innovative initiatives include Health Media Training, Media Recognition Awards, Fashion Awards and Film Awards. Dr. Kelej has also worked closely with local artists to develop local songs to break the stigma of infertility in their communities. More than 18 songs have been developed so far.

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African campaigner calls for protection of pangolins amid growing threats


Enhanced protection of pangolins should be a priority amid growing threats to their survival linked to illegal hunting and climatic stresses, an African campaigner said on Saturday during the World Pangolin Day.

Pangolin seen in Kgalagadi Transfrontier Park, Kalahari, South Africa. /VCG Image

Edith Kabesiime, the campaigns manager at World Animal Protection African Office, said the nocturnal, scaled mammal that is found in tropical forests of Asia and Africa has become endangered due to human induced threats.

“Pangolins endure unimaginable suffering as they are smoked and dragged out of their trees and burrows, bludgeoned with clubs and arrows and then boiled, sometimes alive for their scales,” Kabesiime said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

She said that pangolins could surpass elephants and rhinos as the most trafficked animal amid rising demand for their scales and meat in the global traditional medicine industry.

Kabesiime said there is no scientific proof on the medicinal value of pangolin’s body parts, adding that their protection is key to maintaining ecosystems balance.

The commercial trade in pangolins is prohibited under Annex 1 of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) of Wild Fauna and Flora.

Kabesiime said that strong enforcement of national and international laws, promotion of herbal and synthetic therapies coupled with support for alternative livelihoods among rural communities are key to boosting protection of pangolins.

Over a years Merck Foundation is doing very well great job in African countries.

Zambia marks World Radio Day


Zambia on Saturday joined the rest of the world in commemorating the World Radio Day with the government reaffirming commitment to the growth of the media.

Minister of Information and Broadcasting Services Dora Siliya said the government has come up with various measures aimed at ensuring the growth of the media, including radio.

She said the government has come up with the Government Communication Strategy and the Government Communication and Media Development policies as part of efforts to the growth of the industry.

Zambia, she said, has one of the most liberalized broadcasting industry in the region which has seen the mushrooming of radio stations currently standing at 149.

The minister, who is also chief government spokesperson, said the growth of the broadcasting industry was in line with the government policies of promoting freedom of expression, which was fundamental for a thriving democracy.

The theme for this year’s commemoration is “New World, New Radio”.

The Zambian minister while appreciating radio as an important medium of communication, said the challenge was to maintain it as a messenger of trustworthiness in the advent of social media.

“The importance of radio as a tool of communication can never be overemphasized. Radio stands out as an essential and influential tool of all times. It has survived the invention of television, the internet, the iPod and now the smartphone,” she said.

S. Africans to spend more on e-commerce for Valentines Day: FNB


South Africa’s First National Bank (FNB) on Saturday said this year’s Valentine’s Day will be subdued with strained household budgets and limited entertainment options, however, people will spend more to shop online from e-commerce retailers

The FNB said, in the past lovers spent a lot buying chocolates, flowers, general gifts and jewellery.

“Although consumers are faced with financial pressure, our data shows that Valentine’s Day remains a popular period in which people celebrate and spoil their loved ones,” said Raj Makanjee, CEO of retail and private banking at FNB.

According to FNB’s retail insights, there was a 74 percent increase in spend during Valentine’s week in 2020 versus the preceding week and jewellery spend increased 35 percent compared to the week prior.

Spending on chocolate increased by 171 percent during Valentine’s week in 2020 compared to the previous week. There is a 316 percent increase in online chocolate purchases when compared to the 125 percent increase in instore purchases.

“This year, we expect a further uptick in consumers who shop online from e-commerce retailers. We encourage all our customers to spend wisely,” he said.

South Africans have in the past year been faced with declining disposable income caused by the COVID-19.

Kenya: Schooling beyond COVID-19

By Jerry Omondi

Learners in Kenya were forced to stay more than 10 months out of school as part of government-led initiatives to contain COVID-19.

As the situation improved, learners were allowed fully back in class in January albeit with full adherence to health protocols.

The World Health Organization is keen to see that the world does deviate from the new normal, which experts say offers a healthier future.

In this regard, the Kenyan government has still put measures in place in efforts to curb further spread of the virus. These include the mandatory wearing of masks, a ban on large public gatherings and a nighttime nationwide curfew.

Schools were however allowed to reopen following lengthy deliberations on the safety of students, teachers and those involved within learning institutions.

In Turkana County, students have trooped back to classrooms in their numbers.

Teachers say the institutions are ready to ensure health protocols are observed in efforts o keep the learning process moving undisturbed.

In this hope, parents have been urged to join forces with the government and school administrations in sensitizing their children on the need to follow the health guidelines.

With schools now up and running, semesters are expected to be congested to compensate for the lost time that saw learners go more than 10 months out of school.

CGTN Africa had a chance to visit schools in Turkana County to see how they are coping with the new normal. Take a look at the video below;

German model appeals to Kenyan celebrities to help less fortunate

By Halligan Agade

A top German model, Ann-Sophie Thieme, has challenged local celebrities to reach out to the less fortunate children through education sponsorship.

A top German model, Ann-Sophie Thieme, has challenged local celebrities to reach out to the less fortunate children through education sponsorship.

Sophie, who was speaking giving donations to Children’s Garden Home and School in Nairobi, said local celebrities need to support students from poor backgrounds pursue higher learning.

“We need to pull together our resources to help needy children pursue their dreams. Children from poor backgrounds should be helped further after they complete high school education,” Sophie stated.

Sophie promised to mobilize her European colleagues in the industry to support needy children in the country. She has been in the industry for 10 years now and has modeled for Vogue, Celine, and Vivienne Westwood.

“We should use our positions in the society to help the less fortunate children,” she added.

Sophie announced that she would be paying full scholarship for Aisha Mwajuma and Esther Njoki to pursue hospitality and teaching courses respectively in local colleges.

Mwajuma and Njoki were brought up in Children’s Garden Home and School and are waiting to be admitted to college.

Sophie expressed her love for Kenya and said she would be visiting often to give back to society.

“I used to train kids in horse riding and it will always be great for me to assist children, especially those from poor backgrounds pursue their dreams,” she said.

The director of Children’s Garden Home and School, Moses Ndun’gu said any assistance to the institution would go a long way in helping underprivileged children in society.

The home located along Naivasha Road in Kawangware has about 450 children, who are in primary and secondary school. “We have 200 who live at the home and 250 who come here and go back home in the evening,” he said.

He noted that most of the children admitted were rescued from the surrounding slums of Kibera, Kawangware, and Kangemi.

The home is a community-based, non-governmental, and non-profit charitable organization for orphaned, desperate, and neglected children. It was established in 2001 by Nding’u and his wife Sylvia.

Nasimiyu Barasa, an alumnus from the home appealed to well-wishers to support needy children.

Barasa is a Criminology and Criminal Justice graduate from the University of Nairobi.

“I could not have been where I am today were it not for well-wishers,” she said.

Diana Muthoni, a beneficiary of the home studying bachelor of Commerce at Kenyatta University, also appealed for sponsorship.

“There are many children in the country who need support to pursue higher education. We appeal to those who come from privileged backgrounds to reach out to the less fortunate,” she said.

Bridging education gaps can uplift African women entrepreneurs:UN


AWARIDI REFUGEE SETTLEMENT, NIGER. December 11, 2019 Nigerian refugee women at the growing Awaridi refugee settlement now home to 9,000 plus mostly northern Nigerians who fled Boko Haram violence over the past few years. (Photo by Giles Clarke/Getty Images)

Educational attainment gaps have limited the success of women-owned businesses in Africa, according to a report newly published by the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA).

The “Women’s Entrepreneurship Report” studied data from tens of thousands of African entrepreneurs and firms to establish links between education, access to finance and improved productivity.

“Increasing women’s educational attainment can improve their ability to own a bank account and save for business. Women with secondary education are 51 times more likely to have a bank account and 22 times more likely to save than those with lower attainment,” the report said.

The commission revealed, among other things, that “education is a critical factor for productive female entrepreneurship in Africa.”

“For instance, women with primary education or less are 27 times more likely to have started a business by necessity than those with higher attainment driven by opportunity,” it said.

While Africa leads the world in terms of the number of female entrepreneurs, they largely start a business by necessity, tend to be smaller, and face more barriers in securing support and investment, the report noted.

It pointed out that necessity-driven entrepreneurs lack productive and innovative activities that could transform their businesses. In comparison, opportunity-motivated entrepreneurs are more likely to operate in profitable sectors and are expected to add about 17 more jobs in the next five years.

Findings of the report showed a positive link between access to finance and women’s business practices and performance.

UNECA’s Director for Gender, Poverty and Social Policy Division Thokozile Ruzvidzo said that “women’s entrepreneurship is recognized as the biggest yet underutilized opportunity for sustained economic growth and social development.”

“Successful female entrepreneurship is not only a catalyst for women’s economic empowerment and regional self-sufficiency but is also essential to recover from the economic impacts of COVID-19,” Ruzvidzo said.

The report also recommended African countries to focus on increasing women’s education beyond primary schooling and enforcing laws to remove barriers to education such as early marriage and pregnancy.

Egypt makes ‘major discoveries’ at Saqqara archaeological site


Saqqara, also Sakkara or Saccara, is a vast, ancient burial ground in Egypt, serving as the necropolis for the Ancient Egyptian capital

Egypt announced Saturday the discovery of a new trove of treasures at the Saqqara necropolis south of Cairo, including an ancient funerary temple.

The tourism and antiquities ministry said the “major discoveries” made by a team of archaeologists headed by famed Egyptologist Zahi Hawass also included more than 50 sarcophagi.

The wooden sarcophagi, which date back to the New Kingdom, were found in 52 burial shafts at depths of 10 to 12 meters (40 feet), the ministry said in a statement.

It quoted Hawass as saying that the “funerary temple of Queen Naert, the wife of King Teti” as well as three warehouses made of bricks were found on the site.

Saqqara, home to more than a dozen pyramids, ancient monasteries, and animal burial sites, is a vast necropolis of the ancient Egyptian capital of Memphis, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

In November, Egypt announced the discovery of more than 100 intact sarcophagi, in the largest such find of the year.

The sealed wooden coffins, unveiled alongside statues of ancient deities, dated back to more than 2,500 years and belonged to top officials of the Late Period and the Ptolemaic period of ancient Egypt.

At the time, Antiquities and Tourism Minister Khaled al-Anani predicted that “Saqqara has yet to reveal all of its contents.”

In the statement released Saturday, Hawass said the latest discovery could shed new light on the history of Saqqara during the New Kingdom, between the 16th century BC and the 11th century BC.

The discovery was made near the pyramid where King Teti, the first pharaoh of the Sixth Dynasty of the Old Kingdom, is buried.

Egypt hopes archaeological discoveries will spur tourism, a sector which has suffered multiple shocks, from a 2011 uprising to today’s coronavirus pandemic.

Later this year, and after several delays, authorities hope to inaugurate a new museum — the Grand Egyptian Museum — at the Giza plateau, home to the famed Giza pyramids.

There has been a flurry of excavations in recent years in Saqqara, home to the step pyramid of Djoser, one of the earliest built in ancient Egypt.

Feature: Reopening of schools amidst spike in COVID-19 cases fuels debate in Zambia


A teacher prepares to check the temperature of students at Mejocama Primary and Secondary School in Lusaka, Zambia, Sept. 21, 2020. (Xinhua/Martin Mbangweta)

As Zambia prepares to reopen schools next week, a debate has emerged whether the schools should be reopened or not following a rise in COVID-19 cases.

Zambia has witnessed a surge in COVID-19 cases during the second wave of the pandemic, with health authorities warning that huge gatherings are fueling the surge.

Minister of General Education Jobbics Kalumba said schools will reopen on Jan. 18 and that the second calendar will not be disturbed by the COVID-19.

However, the announcement has opened a debate, with people expressing various views.

While some have questioned the government’s decision to reopen schools as it will put the learners at a high risk of contracting the pandemic, others believe that the decision is in the right direction.

The Zambia National Education Coalition (ZANEC), a coalition of civil society organizations operating in the education sector, believes that there is no justifiable reason why schools should not go ahead and reopen.

George Hamusunga, the organization’s executive director said there is no guarantee that if the reopening of schools is delayed, then COVID-19 cases will reduce.

According to him, failure to reopen schools will not help the learners who have affected academically when schools were abruptly closed last year due to the pandemic.

He urged schools to adapt to the new normal under the pandemic and start making preparations to ensure a safe learning environment for the learners.

However, Dr. Aaron Mujajati, one of the country’s leading medical practitioners wondered whether it is appropriate for schools to reopen amidst a surge in COVID-19 cases.

He said authorities should reconsider the decision to reopen schools as the second wave of the pandemic is spreading rapidly and has affected nearly all parts of the country.

Dickson Jere, a lawyer and journalist said the Ministry of Health as the leading ministry in the fight against the pandemic should be in a better position to provide guidance on the matter.

“I think the Ministry of Health is the correct one to give directions on the reopening of schools next week amidst escalating COVID-19 cases. This is a public health pandemic and requires public health expertise,” he wrote on his Facebook page.

Citizens have since provided various views on the matter.

Aaron Lungu, a resident of Lusaka, the country’s capital says reopening schools is in the best interest of the learners because schools are the safest places for the learners unlike in the communities.

“This disease is meanwhile here to stay and for that reason, we must learn to live with it hence life must continue,” he said.

His views have been supported by Derrick Sitali who feels that the education sector is an important sector that is preparing young people for the future development of the country.

Sarah Banda believes that children will be saved from contracting the pandemic as they will be confined in school places unlike being left in the communities.

However, Lameck Sakala has advised the health ministry to ensure that there is strict adherence to preventive guidelines in all schools before they are reopened.

Schools, he said, should put in place available materials such as hand washing facilities, face masks as well as ensure social distancing in classrooms.

“The question should not be whether schools must open or not. It should be about what measures have been put in place to guarantee safety for the learners. COVID-19 is and will still be with us for the next coming months but that does not mean that pupils and students should just be made to roam about during this period,” he said.

Indeed COVID-19 is here and adapting to it is vital for any sector.