On a continent where LGBTI rights are skimmed over constantly, for the first time, in May 2014, the African Union (AU) granted acknowledgment and a sense of protection to the LGBTI community all over Africa.

These changes in Africa’s Commission on Human and Peoples’ Rights serves as a direct rebuttal to fellow African nations, Nigeria and Uganda; two countries that recently passed laws denouncing LGBTI rights in Africa. In Uganda, the law passed stated that if a human is convicted of homosexuality, they are to be imprisoned for life. The situation in Nigeria is similar to this, also criminalizing same-sex marriage harshly.

Both these countries refuse to offer support to a large portion of their community and therefore received outraged feedback from much of the country and foreign countries as well.

While there is no formal law associated with the new view coming into play in the AU, the resolution has been formally acknowledged. The document states that the AU condemns the difficult reality of LGBTI rights in Africa and it’s disruption of human rights, including many violations such as murder, rape, assault and biased imprisonment or persecution based on sexual identity.

LGBTI community leaders have rejoiced with this small victory in Africa. The resolution lacks any sort of enforcement laws and serves more so as guidelines and expectations, but for those who have suffered greatly, this is a huge step in the direction of overturning current laws seen in Nigeria and Uganda.

The AU represents a possible change in heart for many Africans who have become accustomed to politicians from all over the continent supporting and allowing violence against LGBTI while claiming their human rights are fictional fairy tales of the U.S. and Europe. This overarching change allows hope for those who live in daily fear for themselves and their loved ones.

This iconic first step to possible equal rights in Africa creates a strong platform for growth and development throughout the nations. There is a slight possibility that the AU will revoke this resolution, however, many members seem hopeful and supportive of this change in a progressive direction. A homegrown movement such as this accurately represents the turmoil of the LGBTI community in Africa and their hopes for an equalized future.

– Elena Lopez

Sources: ACHPR, ISHR
Photo: Aljazeera

5 Easy Resolutions to Make a Difference in 2014
Once again, the end of the year is fast approaching and entertainment media is filled with encouraging epithets for the coming year. Titles like 2014 is Your Year and Achieve Your New Year Weight Loss Resolution headlines grace magazine racks in grocery stores nationwide.

Each year, millions of Americans make superficial promises to themselves from losing weight to paying off college loans. Often, these goals are made with the utmost level of optimism and determination but after several weeks, motivation wans and soon, the dumbbells lie in the corner, forgotten.

But, what if you could achieve every resolution made for the coming year without the expected time commitment or sweat stains? If you are determined to do everything you set your mind to this year then this list is for you. Here are 5 easy resolutions to achieve while give something back in the process.

1. Shop More

The New Year is the perfect time of year to reinvent yourself. Wanting to try a new look but not sure if you want to make the jump? Do it. Clean out the closet and donate to a nearby clothes drive. Just because the holidays are over, does not mean that winter is. Thousands of individuals worldwide are in need of warm clothes.

And remember to say yes when the cashier asks for a donation at the department store.

2. Make Time for Yourself

The long holiday season can make the most organized party planner stressed. Make sure you take time to decompress before returning to the normal 9 to 5 struggle. Relax. Go to the movies. Take a walk. Don’t have the extra time? Make normal activities exciting, even showering. Philosophy’s line of bath products provide the perfect sensory vacation.

The newest addition, To Believe, is a blend of cranberry and currant  — additionally, each purchase goes to whyhunger, an organization committed to ending world hunger.

3. Have a Playdate

Work days can drag on forever. Remember to take small breaks. Stand up and stretch. Take a second to stop by the coffee machine. If you feel confined, don’t be afraid to take your break outside. Still bored? Play a game.

Between iTunes and Google Play, there are thousands of apps and games to occupy your time. Some apps even allow you to donate to a charity, for free.

And the internet is full of great sites like, which allows players to complete crosswords to earn money for a cause.

4. Pack Extra for a Trip

Have a trip coming up in the new year but don’t know what to pack? No worries.

International nonprofit, Pack for a Purpose, tracks children in need around the world. So whether you are traveling for business or pleasure, they will tell you exactly what to toss in your suitcase. A global partner to hotel chains worldwide, donors only have to drop off a suggested item upon check-in.

5. Put Unlimited Texting to Good Use

Due to the overwhelming use of social media, nonprofit organizations have become as tech savvy as global corporations. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram and other sites have become standard in marketing practices across the board. Phone companies have also joined the movement, as potential donors can merely text a company in order to make a donation.

In short, making a difference is only as hard or simple as you want it to be. So, challenge yourself to change the world, it may only take one click.

– Jasmine D. Smith

Sources: PhilosophyCharitiiPack for a Purpose
Photo: Vintage 3D

The End of a 50-Year Debate: Lake Malawi Mediation Begins in MarchA border dispute between Malawi and Tanzania that has remained unresolved for almost fifty years should be resolved within the next three months, according to government officials of both countries. The dispute involves ownership of Lake Malawi, also known as Lake Nyasa in Tanzania and Lago Niassa in Mozambique.

Lake Malawi is located in the southeastern region of Africa between Malawi, Mozambique, and Tanzania. It is Africa’s third-largest and second-deepest lake and is the ninth-largest lake in the world.

The lake is an extremely valuable resource for the region’s inhabitants. Besides being home to thousands of types of fish and other plants and wildlife, Lake Malawi is the primary source of income, food, transportation, and other basic needs for about 1.5 million Malawians and 600,000 Tanzanians. Local residents report that they are unable to cross freely between the countries because of tension, and even mistreatment, at the border.

The dispute over Lake Malawi ownership began in 1963 with the reaffirmation of the Heligoland Agreement, which stated that the national border lay on the Tanzanian side of the lake. Since that time, the countries have, tried twice to resolve the problem, to no avail. Malawi claims ownership of the lake as a stipulation of the treaty, while Tanzania claims the treaty is flawed and that the boundary should be redrawn down the lake’s center.

The dispute has come to a head recently due to the Malawian government reports that Lake Malawi holds rich mineral and oil deposits beneath its floor. Over the last eight months, Malawi has awarded oil exploration licenses to oil companies based in the United Kingdom and South Africa, which has increased tensions between the countries. Officials are hopeful that with the help of an objective third party, the Forum for Former African Heads of State and Government, the dispute will finally be resolved.

– Kat Henrichs

Source: All Africa
Photo: Real Malawi Travel