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Female Genital Mutilation in African Countries: The Harmful Traditional Practice

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Female Genital Mutilation Stats

Female genital mutilation has been around for 2,000+ years. Some African communities perform the practice to uphold tradition and religious values, prepare girls for womanhood, meet family expectations, preserve virginity and purity and even for social & community acceptance.

Just recently, a group of Kenyan doctors moved to the court, wanting the FGM ban lifted, terming it as unconstitutional. They argued that it’s discriminatory to stop women from undergoing circumcision, yet men are allowed to.

“Banning the FGM practice is as good as embracing the Western culture and viewing the local traditions as inferior,” said Dr. Kamau, who has been practicing medicine for about three decades. “All citizens have freedom from discrimination and the right to equality. The Act doesn’t give a chance to the females who wish to undergo the cut even to maintain their culture and beliefs,” she concluded.

This leads us to the question, why are communities still practicing female genital mutilation?

As it is, the reasons for FGM vary from one community to the next. The most commonly cited include:

  • It’s association with cultural ideals of modesty and femininity – the idea that girls are beautiful and clean following the removal of body parts that are believed to be male-like, or unclean
  • The rite of passage from girlhood to womanhood – as preparation for marriage
  • It’s seen as a way to uphold virginity, and marital fidelity – the cutting of clitoris minimizes the libido, and can, therefore, aids the woman in resisting sexual advancements.
  • Social norm – girls are forced to conform to the pressure since everyone around them is doing so. They do this for fear of rejection.
  • Family expectations and upholding family honor.

The World Health Organization identifies four types of Female Genital Mutilation.

  1. Infibulation: Involves stitching of the vaginal opening, without cutting the clitoris, to prevent sexual intercourse.
  2. Excision: Is where the clitoris and the labia minora and the labia majora are partially or entirely removed.
  3. Clitoridectomy: Is the partial or total removal of the clitoris. In rare circumstances, they remove the prepuce.
  4. Other harmful processes: Refers to all other procedures that cause harm to female genitals for non-medical reasons. This includes incising, pricking, cauterizing and scraping.

If you thought female genital mutilation was a tradition of the past, well, you are wrong. Many girls in Africa are subject to genital mutilation.

According to statistics, over 200 million females are affected by FGM, while three million girls face the risk of going through the painful procedure each year. The practice is prominent in 30 countries in Africa, Asia, and the Middle East.

 

Women’s

Health Risks of FGM

Girls and women who undergo FGM are exposed to both short and long-term health risks. Organizations like WHO, UNFPA and World Vision oppose to all forms of FGM, regardless of who executes the practice.

Short-term risks

  • Swelling of the genitals due to local infections or inflammatory response
  • Bleeding due to accidental cutting to the clitoral artery
  • HIV through sharing of the same unsterilized surgical instruments
  • The shock from bleeding, infection or pain
  • Problems passing urine as a result of injury or discomfort to the urethra or tissue swelling
  • Psychological consequences of the trauma, pain and physical force
  • Some cases of bleeding, tetanus that cause shock can result in death

Long-term risks

  • Pain from tissue damage and scarring which cause unprotected or trapped nerve endings
  • Infections including chronic tract infections, chronic genital diseases, and urinary tract infections
  • Obstetric complications –the practice is associated with painful labor, post-partum hemorrhage, the risk of C-section, prolonged labor, instrumental delivery, recourse to episiotomy, obstetric lacerations and more.
  • Painful urination from recurrent UTIs and urethral obstruction
  • Keloids
  • Menstrual problems
  • Perinatal risks
  • Obstetric fistula
  • Sexual problems like decreased sexual pleasure and desire, lubrication, and penetration.

What can you do to end FGM?

Heard of the cliché “change begins with you?” There’s a lot you can add to the fight against this harmful practice. Start by talking to your family, friends, and colleagues. Tell everyone who cares to listen and insight that urgent actions must be taken.

The practicing communities have complex reasons for doing so. Shouting “It’s wrong, it’s wrong,” won’t cut it. You can take part in community outreach or support the people who do that so that these groups are sensitized on the dangers associated with FGM.

This article was written by Olivia Kibaba of http://oliviakibaba.com/. She is passionate about the rights of women and children in Africa, and around the globe.

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Business

Performance Management: Why Organisations Should Prioritise Performance Management

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Performance management is defined as the “process of creating a work environment or setting in which people are enabled to perform to the best of their abilities.” Additionally, in order to ensure that the optimal work environment is created, employee performance is measured.

This definition raises the following issues or questions that need to be asked and answered:

How do companies measure performance, what parameters or metrics are used to measure performance, and how is an equitable measurement drawn up across all job roles? In other words, how is a sales assistant’s performance weighed equally against a sale’s executive’s performance, for example?

Performance management: A case study

By way of answering these questions, let’s look at a simple case study. Company A is involved in the design and manufacture of a new product that they hope to launch just before the Festive season this year.

Thus, there is a design team with a team lead, and a sales team, headed by a sales manager. The company outsources the product manufacture and packaging, so the buying department only consists of a single person at this stage. A multi-departmental team dually manages quality control. It includes employees from the design and sales team as well as staff from the manufacturer.

It must be noted that the manufacturing company employee has no relevance to our case study, so we will ignore him/her for now. Also, the company has decided that it manages its performance review on a project basis, and they any one of the software applications that are available on the market to drive its process.

Therefore, let’s start by dividing the project’s performance management process into its key performance areas:

Goals

The goal of this project is to design, manufacture, and launch Product X in time for the Festive season. Therefore, both staff and management need to sit down and define measurable and equitable goals to meet the project deadlines.

Planning

This point includes the three following elements:

  • Clarity on job expectations.
  • Discussion about organisational vision & core values
  • Discussion on time bound goals

At this juncture, it must be noted that the clearer the job expectations in relation to the organisation’s core values and vision, the great the chance there will be successful outcomes.

Review collection and analysis

When utilised correctly, employee reviews can be a valuable resource for management and human resources as they are an accurate reflection of the organisation’s employee culture and inner workings.  Therefore, by organising regular feedback using team performance management software, it is possible to collect valuable data that can be plotted on graphs and charts for senior management to make sense of it.

Consequently, it is vital for management to get employee buy-in; otherwise this process will fail.

Using analytical data gathered to facilitate informed decision-making

Finally, if the performance management process is administered correctly; thereby, gaining employee trust, management will be able to utilise the valuable information collected to make improvements to the work environment and employee culture to ensure business growth and an increased bottom line.

 After all, a company exists to make money. And wise top-level management will pay close attention to the fact that happy employees result in a successful organisation.

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4 Reasons Why Exercising Daily is Beneficial for Your Health

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Exercise

Are you feeling lethargic and drained by the end of the week? It’s all you can do to get yourself to the weekend so you can rest to try and recover to start the new working week?

This issue seems to be a frequent topic of discussion these days: and for good reason.

Lethargy and exhaustion: Why?

Before we look at one of the best ways to counteract the extreme lassitude and fatigue by the end of the work week, let’s look at several reasons why we feel this way by the end of the week:

Our global society has moved from the Industrial Age where people were more active at work to the Information Age where people sit behind a computer for long hours without moving. Not only is the lack of movement an issue but many people do not sit behind an ergonomic workstation. Consequently, they develop conditions such as Repetitive Strain Injury, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and other maladies specific to the lack of movement.

The article published on Everydayhealth.com titled “The Real Effects of Technology on Your Health” notes that information is continuously available via mobile devices, and it can be consumed 24/7. This often causes the brain fatigue from the constant barrage of information. In summary, part of the reason why we feel overwhelmed all the time is that our brains never get time to relax. They are always processing and sorting out information.

Staring at a computer, or mobile device screen all day (and for most of the night) causes eye strain, loss of vision, migraine headaches, light sensitivity, and exhaustion. It also induces sleep deprivation. Firstly, we spend too long on our mobile devices when we should be sleeping. And, because our brains are so busy processing all the information consumed, it never calms down enough so we can fall asleep.

Exercise: One of the best ways to counteract exhaustion and fatigue

At the outset, it’s important to note that I am not a medical professional. Therefore,  it’s important to check with your doctor before embarking on a programme of rigorous exercise.

That being said, here are several benefits to exercising on a daily basis:

Improves the quality of your sleep

As long you don’t exercise just before bedtime, it promotes better sleep than if you don’t exercise. Not only will you fall asleep quicker, but your quality of sleep will also be better.

Helps with weight loss

There is no doubt that our sedentary lifestyles are a major cause of the global obesity epidemic. The World Health Organisation’s statistics show that “worldwide obesity has nearly tripled since 1975.” Therefore, exercising every day will help us reduce excess weight and reduce the likelihood of contracting obesity-related diseases like heart disease, and diabetes.

Is a mood booster

The Mayo Clinic website notes that “physical activity stimulates various brain chemicals that may leave you feeling happier and more relaxed.” It gets your heart rate going, increases your natural endorphin levels and helps reduce the stress hormones like noradrenalin and adrenalin.

Improves energy levels

Does walking from your car to your office, or completing household chores exhaust you? Exercise increases muscle strength, density, and endurance levels. It also “delivers oxygen and nutrients to your tissues and helps your cardiovascular system work more efficiently.” Therefore, when your muscles, heart, and lungs receive more oxygen, you will be able to go about your daily life without feeling tired and out-of-breath.

Final thoughts

Starting an exercise programme can be demoralising and tiring in itself. However, on the other hand, it can also be exciting, especially when you notice your fitness levels improving and your lethargy levels reducing. It is important to persevere, break down your fitness goals into bite-size chunks, and celebrate every small milestone.

Succinctly stated, your joie de vivre and raison d’etre will return, thereby, improving your quality of life and your ability to cope with all of the modern-day stresses. It is for this reason alone that it is worth embarking on a daily exercise programme.

 

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5 Reasons Why You Should Prioritise Internet Security

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Most people nowadays can no longer do without their laptops, computers, and smartphones. Some people can no longer stand a day without connecting to the internet. While the advent of the internet has brought in loads of perks (especially for freelancers and entrepreneurs), users still need to practice caution since there are a lot of risks if internet security is taken for granted. Here are some of the biggest reasons why you should make your internet security a top priority:

Loss of Privacy and Confidentiality

You definitely don’t want any of your confidential or private information and messages to be viewed, intercepted, or stolen. Government institutions and companies that hold highly sensitive information are more prone to this kind of risk. Thus, there’s a need to update their systems to bring maximum security about.

Identity Theft

Identity theft is one of the biggest issues online as most people are now into buying, selling, and exchanging information through the web. If internet security is not prioritized, these online transactions may lead to fraudulent activities like cyber-criminals getting access to your credit card information, social security number, and other personal data. Using these sensitive data, they can make purchases, apply for government benefits, take out loans, or even ruin your private life. The damages of identity theft could be vast, and so caution is a must.

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Data Theft

Your photos, videos, documents, and other digital files are also prone to data theft. These data can be distributed or resold illegally. For example, companies may end up losing confidential financial files, important testing data, product blueprints, trade secrets, and many more. Governments are also at risk of losing their sensitive data like research projects, strategies, agent names abroad, lists of military placements, and so on.

Computer Damage

There are also some hackers that are more interested in causing damage than embezzling information. They can cause harm to your computer using Trojans, malicious software, and other computer viruses. These can render your computer unworkable. The common targets are corporate and government systems. Hackers attach their computers to disrupt services and communications, resulting in various secondary problems.

Ruined reputation

Hackers could get into your system and post something that could ruin your reputation online. This includes posting data that are supposed to be private for everyone to see. Bad posts could crumble the public image that you have worked so hard to establish. This is particularly risky for influential people and huge businesses. The challenge is that once something is posted online, it is nearly impossible to totally erase it, especially if the damage is already done.

Lost revenue

If your business’ online system is crashed, this could lead to downtime. And downtime means lost revenue. This could also affect your credibility as customers are likely to lose their trust in a business that isn’t totally secure. All your digital money could also go down the drain once the hackers find their way into your accounting and financial system or digital wallets.

How to improve your internet security

With the plethora of risks poor internet security tags along, you need to make sure that you’re doing the right precautions to keep troubles at bay. You could start with the following:

  1. Have secure passwords for all your accounts

Your passwords should be strong and secure. Use long passwords that have random letters, numbers, and characters.

  1. Have a working antivirus software on your computer

Use a reliable antivirus software to protect your computer from viruses and other malicious software programs that could steal your data and cause other unwanted damages.

  1. Do not click on malicious links

Be wary of unknown links from unknown sources. If you are not familiar with the source of an email, just ignore it instead of jumping into the risk.

  1. Use the latest version of web browsers

Update your web browser from time to time. Use the latest version as much as possible as new versions always come with better security features.

  1. Screen all downloads

If the website is unfamiliar, do not download or install programs from that source. Also, prior to opening attachments or downloads, scan it with your internet security protocol for an added layer of protection.

As security features get more advanced, hacking strategies also get better. Thus, always update your security features and do whatever you can to equip yourself with the best security measures available.

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