Natasha Salifyanji Kaoma is a 25 year-old Zambian doctor already making an impact in her community. Kaoma who says she won’t rest “until all women and girls in Zambia live their lives to their maximum potential,” has promised herself to be “on the frontlines, speaking, inspiring, uplifting millions one life at a time.”
Kaoma is a women’s health advocate, and she is among the 25 Africans who won the 2017 Queen’s Young Leader Award. The award recognises, and celebrates exceptional people aged 18-29 from across the Commonwealth, who are taking the lead in their communities and using their skills to transform lives. Winners of this prestigious award receive a unique package of training, mentoring and networking, including a one-week residential programme in the U.K. during which they collect their award from Her Majesty The Queen of England. With this support, award winners will be expected to continue developing the amazing work they are already doing in their communities.
Kaoma’s focus has been on menstrual hygiene. She co-founded Copper Rose Zambia in 2015 while still in medical school. The organisation sought to teach women the importance of sexual and reproductive health. This led to a drive to launch fundraising to provide menstrual hygiene kits to girls in rural areas. The organisation which started as a mentorship programme to pair 1st year students with senior students at the Copperbelt University, has through its Candid Pride Campaign and Woman4Her programmes educated over 5,000 teenagers about reproductive health.
Kaoma’s goal is to reach a million females through sexual and reproductive health programmes over the next five years (2021).
In an effort to combat HIV infections in girls and young women in 10 sub-Saharan African nations hit hardest by the virus, the Obama administration recently announced a $300 million program to help reduce the growing numbers according to The Associated Press.
The administration hopes to see a “25 percent infection reduction in females between ages 15-24 by the end of next year and a 40 percent reduction by the end of 2017,” the report says.
“No greater action is needed right now than empowering adolescent girls and young women to defeat HIV/AIDS,” said National Security Adviser Susan Rice of the program credited with saving millions of lives in Africa, writes The AP.
The new goals represent the next phase of the program, which was started by President George W. Bush and broadened by President Barack Obama, the report says.
The Obama administration releaased the new targets before “a U.N. summit on development goals for lifting people around the world out of poverty. Obama is scheduled to address the development meeting on Sunday,” writes The AP
About half of all new HIV infections among girls and young women last year are from the 10 countries countries targeted by the new initiatives, including Kenya, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Uganda, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, The AP says.
Namwali Serpell, an associate professor of English at the University of California, is the winner of the 2015 Caine Prize, honoring the best writing by an African author. The award was presented on July 7 at a ceremony at the Bodleian Library of the University of Oxford. Zoë Wicomb, a South African author who was chair of the judges committee for this year’s Caine Prize, said that “from a very strong shortlist we have picked an extraordinary story about the aftermath of revolution with its liberatory promises shattered. It makes demands on the reader and challenges conventions of the genre. It yields fresh meaning with every reading. Formally innovative, stylistically stunning, haunting and enigmatic in its effects.”
Dr. Serpell is a native of Zambia and came to the United States at the age of 9. Her parents returned to Zambia in 2002. Her father is a professor of psychology at the University of Zambia and her mother is an economist who has worked for the United Nations. Professor Serpell was honored for her short story “The Sack,” which can be viewed here. She is the first author from Zambia to win the Caine Prize.
The Caine Prize comes with a cash award of £10,000. Dr. Serpell announced that she would share the prize money with the other authors who were on the short list for the Caine Prize. As the winner of the Caine Prize, Dr. Serpell will have the opportunity to take up a month’s residence at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., as a Writer-in-Residence at the Lannan Center for Poetics and Social Practice. Dr. Serpell joined the faculty at Berkeley in 2008 and was promoted and granted tenure in 2014. She is the author of Seven Modes of Uncertainty (Harvard University Press, 2014). Dr. Serpell is a summa cum laude graduate of Yale University. She holds a master’s degree and a Ph.D. in English language and literature from Harvard University.