Full disclosure: As someone who grew up the big sister to a brother, I have a bit of a stake in the subject of this article. It’s a new study that suggests big sisters can make a powerful difference for their younger siblings.
But there’s no such personal angle for the authors of the study: economists Pamela Jakiela and Owen Ozier of Williams College in Massachusetts. “No! I’m an only child,” Jakiela says with a chuckle. “And Owen is an older brother.”
Rather, she says, they were prompted to do the study after reading that many parents in Kenya give daughters a huge amount of responsibility when they’re still very young.
“By age 6 to 8, older sisters are spending as much as half of their free time looking after younger children,” Jakieka says. And that’s much less common for older brothers.
Anthropologists have been documenting this difference for decades. But Jakiela says there’s not a lot of economic or health or educational research into what effect these young big sister-babysitters have on the toddlers for whom they’re caring.
While an effective vaccine against HIV may still be a long way off, a new HIV prevention technique has proven remarkably effective at protecting women against the virus.
A single injection of a drug called cabotegravir every two months was so successful in preventing HIV in a clinical trial among women in sub-Saharan Africa that the study was wrapped up ahead of schedule.
The study, run by the HIV Prevention Trials Network, was looking at two forms of pre-exposure prophylaxis or (PrEP) aimed at women. PrEP is a technique of administering low doses of anti-AIDS drugs to people who are HIV negative as a way to protect them from infection. The study compared the effectiveness of the new long-acting injectable against the current form of PrEP, a daily pill of Truvada.
The findings were announced by the study’s researchers on Monday.
“This is a major, major advance,” said Dr. Anthony Fauci in a briefing. The director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, which was involved in the study, Fauci has spent much of his career working on HIV/AIDS.
Women must be included to successfully build inclusive and sustainable food systems in Africa. Yet, women are still too often absent from critical decision-making, in the minority in critical roles, and overlooked in terms of support, training and investment. This has to change if Africa is to achieve resilient, productive food systems.
“We live in a time where we can do so much more, and have the ability to do it, but we are constrained by so many factors,” said Agnes Kalibata, President of the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) and Special Envoy to the 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit, as she reflected on a recent discussion, convened by the CGIAR GENDER Platform. “We need to double down on the opportunities we are providing for women,” she urged.
The discussion, titled “Bringing Lessons from African Countries to Scale: How to support young women to drive inclusive and resilient food systems,” took place on November 17, 2020. It was part of Cultivate Africa, a two-day dialogue designed to reach across sectors, strengthen understanding, and reinforce efforts to tackle immediate and long-term challenges facing African agriculture and food systems in the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cultivate Africa was organized by the African Union Commission, who partnered with the CGIAR GENDER Platform to organize the women in agriculture track discussions.
Through lively conversation, with contributions from young agri-entrepreneurs as well as experts in agriculture, a number of insights and suggestions emerged for how to better include women across African food systems. The exchanges were designed to bring out clear recommendations to help inform the African Union Commission’s work, including the next meeting of the African Ministers Responsible for Agriculture, Trade and Finance on the Impact of COVID-19 On Food and Nutrition Security, scheduled for early 2021.
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