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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

5 Tips to Help You Implement a Content Marketing Strategy

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Content is King

High-quality web content that’s useful, usable, and enjoyable is one of the greatest competitive advantages you can create for yourself online. – Kristina Halvorson

The age-old adage: “Content is King” is more relevant in the global digital media marketing world that it has ever been before. Statistics generated by Newscred.com show the following:

  • 71% of consumers are turned away from a brand by direct sales pitches.
  • 40% of consumers prefer emails that are content-rich and not promotional.
  • 84% of millennials do not trust traditional advertising.
  • 2017 statistics show that 615 million mobile devices have installed adblocker technology.
  • 2017 statistics show that 84% of people expect brands to create content.

It should be noted at this juncture that we are talking about high-quality, informative, authoritative content. Publishing run-of-the-mill spun content is counterproductive and can harm your brand’s reputation as a leader in its field.

Finally, 2016 studies have shown that circa 75% of brand marketers are increasing their content marketing budgets to allocate a more significant slice of their overall marketing budgets to content strategy and content marketing.

Implementing a content strategy

From the figures mentioned above, we can see that designing and implementing a content marketing strategy is a vital part of a brand’s digital marketing strategy. And it should not be avoided or downgraded to a very low priority. Therefore, here are five tips to help you with your content strategy:

Work with a reputable agency

It is vital to partner with a digital marketing agency that has years of experience writing high-quality, informative content. Additionally, it’s a good idea for this agency to keep up to date with the changes to Google’s ranking search engine algorithms to ensure that their clients’ brands continue to rank up in the top three to five brands on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

Identify your brand’s target audience

Let us assume for this article that you own a business that designs and manufactures Merino wool jackets for the athleisure and casual outdoor market. It is vital to describe each persona-type that will be interested in purchasing this jacket. For example, someone that is interested in only wearing high fashion and is not interested in spending time outdoors hiking is probably not going to wear this jacket. Therefore, there will be very little ROI if you market your brand to this persona.

Identify the type of content that will add value to your brand

Different content types suit different brands. It depends both on the brand’s products and the target audience. Once again, if we look at our Merino wool jacket, we can see that the following content types are suitable:

  • Instagram and Pinterest posts with high-quality photos showing how the jacket can be worn.
  • Long-form articles that are related to the jacket and how to care for the jacket.
  • Informative emails that provide links to the long-form articles as well as links to new products.

Consistency is critical

Consistency is a cornerstone of all content marketing strategies. Regular content gets ranked higher on Google (or other search engines) because of its consistency. It does not matter what the time frame of each post is. What matters is that if the content strategy states that a guest blog post will be published three times a week, the brand marketer must stick to the plan. On the other hand, brands that do not post regular content do not keep on “reminding” Google that they are essential, and they add value to their target audience’s lives.

Content builds trust

High-authority, informative content builds trust. For example, let us go back to our Merino wool jackets. It is natural to assume that the brand’s target audience will ask what temperature can the jacket be worn at, whether the jacket is waterproof or not, how to wash the jacket, and how should the jacket be stored when not in use.

The best way to answer these valid questions is, not only to add this information (in bullet point form) to the jacket’s description but to write and publish an informative article on the value of a Merino wool jacket and how to care for it. As a result, the brand’s target audience will see the brand owners as knowledgeable. Additionally, they will assume that the brand cares about its customers.

Final words

This article does not attempt to be a comprehensive guide to the mastery of content strategy. For more information, talk to Firecrab Digital Media.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Life Hacks

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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Life Hacks

5 Life Hacks to help you Beat Stress

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Stress

If you feel overwhelmed by the strains and stresses of life, just know you are not alone. A recent study by the American Psychological Association revealed that 75% of Americans experience moderate to high levels of stress on a regular basis. Even more alarming, 91% of Australians feel stress in one or more crucial areas in their lives. About 50% feel overly stressed in at least one area of their lives, this is according to Lifeline Australia.

Going by the numbers, stress is part of life. However, when it exceeds the normal threshold, then it becomes a problem.

Here are five life hacks to help you beat stress:

Don’t rush through life

Today, everything is moving so fast. It seems as though “fast” is the trend. We want to rush through college, rush to get an internship, rush to get a job. We are rushing because the society expects us to do so. We also are rushing because we want to compare our success to that of our peers, in the name of keeping up.

Not to say that rushing is bad; but if you think about it, when was the last time you had no worries, or when did you last relax? When was the last time you felt happy moving in the direction of your choice? I bet you can’t remember.

Here’s the thing, rushing only adds to your anxiety and stress; it’s unhealthy, it affects your decision-making skills, it causes you to miss out on opportunities and what’s worse, it won’t make you happy. So, slow down. Appreciate yourself and things around you. Learn to say no, and don’t take more than you can handle. Live life without regrets: work hard, play harder and just let things to take care of themselves.

Be responsible for your actions

It’s not uncommon for people to want to blame others for the negative things that are happening in their lives. They are always blaming their jobs, their spouse, their mother-in-law, the government, their neighbours, the media, the receptionist at the hotel, or the tailor who took wrong measurements.

Placing the blame for whatever it is you’re feeling on others can make you happy for a moment, but does it really help you to address the real problem? No. think of it this way, how is it that your spouse is responsible for your stress? Are you their slave, puppet or tool? How can you lose the control of your emotions when other people confront you?

Remember, everyone else is but a pretext; regardless of how restricting the situation appears, you have a margin of freedom to act on. Like if someone points a gun at you and manipulates you into doing something, you still have the power to surrender or not.

Don’t create your own storm and get upset when it rains. In the face of a problem, you should accept that you took part in creating it and believe that it is a lesson learned, then grow from it. You can take some time alone to review the situation and once you have everything figured out, let go of your attachment to the problem.

Learn to accept help

Accepting help is not a sign of weakness as many would want to imagine. The notion that it’s a sign of weakness is what makes a lot of people want to struggle with their problems, even when it’s killing them. Human beings are social beings and need one another to thrive.

Your prideful or flawed thinking is most likely the reason why you don’t want to ask for help: it could be that you are scared of what others will think of you or of showing your weakness. However, you should know that it is all in your head – you are the one who’s reinforcing unrealistic ideas. So, instead of struggling with something, learn to ask for help and to trust other people too.

A good approach is to not second-guess yourself – when the thought crosses your mind, act on it. Just be selective about who you are asking for help. Above all, do not undermine your problems – whether it’s difficult or easy. A problem is a problem and belittling it as not worth being solved only makes it harder to cope with.

Don’t let tomorrow’s worries ruin today

Omar Khayyam said, “Dead is yesterday, unborn is tomorrow, why fret about them if today is sweet?”  Worrying about tomorrow will only ruin your beautiful today. And the worst bit is, worrying never changes anything; in fact, it only makes things worse.

So, instead of worry about tomorrow, do your best today, and forget about the rest. Often, things are never as bad as they seem.

Exercise

This list wouldn’t be complete without exercise – and what better way to release the tension and stress from the mind than exercising? Regular exercise is good for your bones and muscles. It can help reduce your risk of chronic diseases; it can help with your skin health; it can help your memory and brain and can help with relaxation and sleep quality. Exercise will also make you happier.

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