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Neha Wadekar

Nairobi, Kenya
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About Neha
Neha Wadekar is a video and on-air journalist based in Nairobi, Nairobi County, Kenya and reporting across Africa. She also has a background in print and has reported for Reuters, the AP, the NYTimes and the Huffington Post.
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Video Package (Web / Broadcast) Audio package (Radio / Podcast) Interview (Video / Broadcast)
Business Politics Current Affairs

Rio Tinto’s Madagascar Mine Promised Prosperity. It Tainted a Community.

03 Apr 2024  |  theintercept.com
The article investigates the environmental and health impacts of Rio Tinto's QIT Madagascar Minerals mine in southeastern Madagascar. Local communities have experienced significant fish deaths and water contamination, which they attribute to the mine's operations. Despite Rio Tinto's denials and claims of regulatory compliance, independent studies and blood lead level tests indicate elevated levels of harmful metals in the water and local residents. The mine has faced protests, legal challenges, and accusations of failing to provide promised benefits to the community. The situation highlights broader issues of corporate accountability and environmental justice.

After alleged metaverse rape, calls to protect women and girls grow

22 Jan 2024  |  The Fuller Project
Police in the UK are investigating an alleged rape in the metaverse, where a girl under 16 experienced psychological trauma after her avatar was assaulted in a VR game. This incident highlights the safety concerns for women and girls in virtual reality spaces. Psychotherapist Nina Jane Patel had a similar experience on Meta's Horizon Venues. Associate Professor Elena Martellozzo at Middlesex University, who is researching children's safety in the metaverse, calls for tech companies to embed safety by design. The UK's Online Safety Act regulator, OFCOM, is expected to produce guidance on violence against women and girls by 2025, but advocates argue that action is needed sooner.

World Bank Helped Cover Up Sex Abuse at For-Profit School Chain

17 Oct 2023  |  theintercept.com
The article exposes a cover-up by the World Bank and Bridge International Academies regarding sexual abuse and safety issues at Bridge schools in Kenya. Founders Shannon May and Jay Kimmelman, along with World Bank officials, attempted to suppress an investigation led by Daniel Adler of the Compliance Advisor Ombudsman. The investigation revealed numerous cases of child sexual abuse and safety violations, which were not reported to the World Bank or the public. The article highlights the institutional failures and retaliatory actions against whistleblowers, drawing attention from U.S. Congress members Elizabeth Warren and Peter Welch, who are pressing for accountability.

Men Alone Cannot Build a Durable Peace in the Middle East

07 Oct 2023  |  fullerproject.org
The article emphasizes the critical role of women in peacebuilding efforts between Israel and Palestine, highlighting the work of groups like Women Wage Peace and Women of the Sun. It underscores the historical and ongoing contributions of women in conflict resolution and peace negotiations, citing examples from Northern Ireland and Liberia. Despite the challenges and limited representation in leadership roles, the article argues that women's participation is essential for achieving lasting peace. It calls for increased international support and funding for women's organizations and stresses the importance of involving women in current and future peace negotiations.

Saray Khumalo Takes on Everest

01 Oct 2023  |  www.vice.com
Saray Khumalo, a mountaineer from South Africa, is making her third attempt to summit Mount Everest, aiming to become the first black African woman to do so. Her journey is marked by previous setbacks, including a deadly avalanche and a massive earthquake. Khumalo's mountaineering efforts are driven by a desire to inspire young Africans and promote education, particularly for girls. She has previously summited Mount Kilimanjaro, Mount Elbrus, and Aconcagua, using her climbs to fund educational projects in Africa. Despite facing racism and sexism, Khumalo remains determined to break barriers and achieve her goals.

Author Cat Bohannon on post-Roe America, asteroids and the medical “male norm”

01 Oct 2023  |  fullerproject.org
Cat Bohannon's new book, 'Eve: How the Female Body Drove 200 Million Years of Human Evolution,' challenges the 'male norm' in scientific research by highlighting the pivotal role of the female body in human evolution. The book addresses the historical and ongoing marginalization of female physiology in medical studies and critiques the criminalization of abortion in the U.S. as detrimental to species sustainability. Bohannon emphasizes the importance of hope and the potential for progress towards gender equality, despite the persistent challenges.

Japan’s “Flower Demo” Movement Prompts Change in Rape Law

01 Oct 2023  |  fullerproject.org
In response to the 'Flower Demo' movement, which began in April 2019 with protests against acquittals in high-profile rape cases, Japan has reformed its rape law. The new law redefines rape as 'nonconsensual sexual intercourse' and raises the age of consent to 16, reflecting a significant shift in societal norms regarding sexual assault. The movement, which spread nationwide, highlighted the inadequacies of the previous legal framework and successfully advocated for these changes.

In Uganda, sex work is illegal and highly stigmatised, making women vulnerable to unlawful arrest, rape, bribery, beating and murder

06 Sep 2023  |  news.trust.org
The article by Neha Wadekar discusses the plight of sex workers in Uganda, focusing on the challenges they face, including police harassment, violence, and the threat of HIV/AIDS. It highlights the work of Lady Mermaid's Bureau (LMB), a sex workers' advocacy organization that provides support and emergency assistance to sex workers in trouble with the law. The Indigo Trust has supported LMB by providing digital memory cards loaded with information to educate sex workers on self-protection and legal rights. Despite the criminalization of sex work in Uganda, organizations like LMB and the Women's Organisation Network for Human Rights Advocacy (WONETHA) are working to improve the situation for sex workers and change societal attitudes. The article includes statements from Ugandan police denying systemic harassment and encourages sex workers to report misconduct.

As heat waves intensify, evidence that older women are hit hardest is growing. Now some are fighting back.

14 Aug 2023  |  fullerproject.org
July 2023 was the hottest month ever recorded, with a study revealing that older women are disproportionately affected by heatwaves. The Klimaseniorinnen, a group of over 2,000 Swiss women aged 64 and over, have taken their government to the European Court of Human Rights, arguing that insufficient action on climate change violates their rights. Studies show that women, especially those over 80, are more vulnerable to heat, with physiological and sociocultural factors contributing to this disparity. The Klimaseniorinnen's case, supported by Greenpeace Switzerland, could have significant implications for climate policy across Europe. The Swiss government contends that climate policy decisions should be made by elected officials, not courts. The ECHR is expected to rule by the end of the year.

Sudan’s Failed Democracy Is a Disaster for Women

04 Aug 2023  |  Foreign Policy
Sudan's ongoing civil war and political instability have severely impacted women's rights, with activists like Fahima Hashim and Lina Marwan continuing to fight for equality despite systemic oppression. The transitional government, dominated by military leaders, has failed to deliver on promises of gender equality, leading to widespread gender-based violence and exclusion from political processes. Women's movements, historically strong in Sudan, are now focused on providing emergency relief and support services amid the conflict. Experts argue that including women in peace negotiations could significantly improve the chances of lasting agreements.

The East African nation has become a major transit route for international drug cartels

19 Jul 2023  |  news.trust.org
The article discusses the rise of heroin use in Kenya and its implications for the spread of HIV. Rashid Hassan Mohammed, a former addict, shares his story of drug use and contracting HIV through shared needles. Kenya has become a significant transit point for heroin from Afghanistan to Europe, leading to an increase in local drug use and HIV infections. The Nairobi Outreach Services Trust (NOSET) and other organizations are working to provide HIV prevention and treatment services to drug users. Despite Kenya's success in reducing HIV prevalence, little has been done for at-risk groups like injecting drug users. The government has initiated needle and syringe programs and methadone clinics to combat the issue, but more funding and services are needed. The article highlights the challenges faced by drug users, including stigma and punitive laws, and the need for specialized services to prevent HIV transmission among this vulnerable population.

‘Women bear the biggest brunt of climate change,’ says climate scientist Susan Chomba

21 Jun 2023  |  the Guardian
Susan Chomba, a prominent African climate scientist, highlights the disproportionate impact of climate change on women, particularly in rural areas. As the director of food, land, and water programs at the World Resources Institute, Chomba advocates for incorporating women's perspectives in climate solutions. She criticizes Kenya's tree-planting initiatives for lacking detailed planning and emphasizes the need for community-driven ideas. Chomba's personal journey from poverty to a leading role in environmental conservation underscores her commitment to social justice and sustainable development.

Do Gender Quotas in Elections Work?

01 Jun 2023  |  fullerproject.org
Aminata Bilkisu Kanu, a single mother and the first woman to run for national parliament from Mamoi village in Sierra Leone, is campaigning under the new gender quota law requiring 30% female representation in public and private institutions. Despite being placed low on her party's list, she remains hopeful. Gender quotas, first introduced in Argentina in 1991, have been adopted globally and are shown to increase women's representation and legislative diversity. However, their effectiveness varies by country, influenced by enforcement mechanisms and political will. Critics argue quotas are non-meritocratic and nepotistic, but recent studies suggest they improve overall political competence. In Sierra Leone, skepticism remains about the genuine political commitment to gender quotas, with accusations of superficial compliance and insufficient support for female candidates.

Thailand Is a Global Capital of (Illegal) Sex Work

15 Feb 2023  |  Foreign Policy
Thailand's sex work industry, contributing significantly to the economy, remains illegal and stigmatized. Efforts to legalize it face opposition from conservative factions and anti-trafficking organizations. Proponents argue that legalization or decriminalization would provide sex workers with labor rights and protections, reducing health risks and exploitation. The COVID-19 pandemic highlighted the vulnerabilities of sex workers, who were excluded from government relief. A bill introduced by the Move Forward Party aims to establish legal zones for sex work, but faces significant political hurdles. The debate continues, with advocates pushing for change to improve the lives of sex workers.

Tensions simmer in Kenya as candidate who lost presidential election contests vote count

15 Aug 2022  |  PBS.org
Kenyans recently participated in a highly transparent and peaceful presidential election. However, losing candidate Raila Odinga has refused to concede and may challenge the results in the Supreme Court. The election saw Deputy President William Ruto declared the winner, leading to celebrations and isolated protests, particularly in Odinga's stronghold of Kibera. Despite the transparency efforts, the election faced controversies, including the abduction and murder of an election official and internal disputes within the electoral commission. The situation remains tense but has not escalated into widespread violence.

The Cyclones Destroyed Everything. Climate Change Will Likely Make Things Worse

01 Oct 2021  |  www.vice.com
Mozambique's Buzi village has been devastated by repeated cyclones, including Cyclone Idai, Tropical Storm Chalane, and Cyclone Eloise, which have caused significant loss of life, homes, and livelihoods. The increasing frequency and intensity of these storms are linked to climate change, with warming oceans creating ideal conditions for cyclones. Despite contributing minimally to global greenhouse gas emissions, Mozambique is highly vulnerable to climate change impacts. Efforts by the government and international organizations to rebuild and support affected communities have been insufficient, leaving many families struggling to recover. The article highlights the personal stories of residents like Catarina Joaquim Ukanga, António Simango, Fernando Joao, and Ayuba Martinho, who have faced immense challenges due to these natural disasters.

What Happens When Women Can’t Get Legal Abortions

03 Sep 2021  |  Foreign Policy
The Supreme Court of the United States upheld a Texas law banning most abortions after six weeks, sparking concerns about the future of Roe v. Wade. The article highlights the catastrophic consequences of reduced abortion access, drawing parallels with countries like Kenya and Uganda where restrictive laws lead to unsafe abortions and maternal deaths. It underscores that abortion restrictions often result in more unsafe procedures rather than fewer abortions. The piece includes personal stories from women in Kenya who suffered due to the lack of safe, legal abortion options, emphasizing the dire need for accessible reproductive healthcare.

The Coronavirus Is Cutting Off Africa’s Abortion Access

04 May 2020  |  Foreign Policy
COVID-19 has severely disrupted the supply chain for reproductive health medications and contraceptives in East Africa, leading to shortages and increased prices. Organizations like Marie Stopes Kenya and DKT International are struggling to maintain services, predicting a rise in unintended pregnancies and unsafe abortions. Lockdowns and curfews further hinder access to clinics, exacerbating the crisis. Financial aid from agencies like the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency may not be sufficient to address the ongoing disruptions. The situation poses significant health risks for women and girls in the region.

Colombian Women Are Saying ‘Yes, We Can’

05 Nov 2019  |  Foreign Policy
In Medellín, Colombia, the feminist political movement Estamos Listas has made significant strides by electing Dora Saldarriaga to the city council, marking a symbolic victory for women's political participation. The movement, which began in 2016, aims to address issues such as violence against women, femicide, and poverty. Despite facing challenges in a conservative and patriarchal society, Estamos Listas has grown through grassroots efforts and innovative recruitment strategies. The movement's success is seen as a step towards greater gender equality in Colombian politics, inspired by similar achievements in the United States.

Will International Courts Investigate Pro-Trump Media?

14 Aug 2019  |  Foreign Policy
The article examines the potential accountability of pro-Trump media outlets for inciting violence through dehumanizing rhetoric, drawing parallels with historical cases in Nazi Germany and Rwanda. It highlights the role of media in shaping public perception and the legal precedents for holding journalists accountable for incitement to violence. The piece critiques Fox News and other media for amplifying divisive language, contributing to a rise in hate crimes, and questions whether international courts might investigate such media practices.

Women Want to Put Yemen Back Together Again

27 Nov 2018  |  Foreign Policy
Yemeni women, who played a significant role in the 2011 political movements, are now being excluded from peace negotiations despite the devastating impact of the civil war on their lives. Activists argue that including women in peace processes leads to more stable and lasting agreements. The United Nations and countries like the United States have been criticized for not enforcing women's participation in these talks. Yemeni women are pushing for a 30 percent quota in peace negotiations and leadership roles to ensure their rights and contributions are recognized in rebuilding the nation.

Somalia Gets First Forensic Lab Dedicated to Rape Investigation

06 Sep 2017  |  www.voanews.com
The Puntland Forensic Center, funded by the Swedish government and supported by the UN Population Fund, was launched on September 6 in central Somalia, offering advanced DNA testing to support the enforcement of the Sexual Offenses Act. The lab aims to improve the handling of rape and gender-based violence cases, providing critical evidence for investigations and prosecutions. Despite challenges such as infrastructure and security, the lab's establishment is seen as a step towards increasing convictions, fostering confidence in the legal system, and breaking the culture of silence around sexual assault.

VIDEO- Police in Nairobi’s slums face serious dangers when doing their job. For some officers, the risk is too high, leading to underpolicing or overpolicing in some of the city’s most vulnerable communities. Kenya Police Chief Spokesman Charles Owino discusses policing in the slums, and touches on KPS’ response to a rise in informal security groups in these dangerous areas.

VIDEO- Stephen Mwangi grew up in Mathare, one of Nairobi’s most dangerous slums. As a child, he was exposed to police abuse of power, brutality and extrajudicial killings. These experiences led him to become a youth activist with the Mathare Social Justice Center, a group that works towards mobilizing the community to stand up for its rights through grassroots activism.

VIDEO- Issac Muasa used to be a criminal in Mathare, one of Nairobi’s most notorious slums. After a near-death experience, he decided to change his ways, becoming a champion for his community. Believing his community would not be adequately protected by government or police, Muasa started a organization made up of young former criminals who patrol the streets at night as a deterrent to crime.

FACEBOOK DIGITAL VIDEO- Eighty former criminals and young men from one of Nairobi’s most dangerous neighborhoods patrol its dark streets unauthorized, providing protection to a neighborhood largely left behind by police.

FACEBOOK LIVE- Want to hear what Kenyans think about President Barack Obama leaving office (he’s a fellow Kenyan)? What they think about the upcoming U.S. election? Check out my Facebook for #NYTimes live from Nairobi.

BROADCAST- Of the estimated 1.2 million Syrian refugees in Jordan, around 20% live in refugee camps set up by the government. I visited one of these state-sponsored camps, and some of the unofficial camps in northern Jordan, to better understand how these refugees survive each day.

BROADCAST- Fadi Hamdan was on his way to Friday prayers in his hometown in southern Syria when a shell landed next to him. He was taken to a hospital in Jordan for emergency surgery. His father waited by his bedside, praying for his son’s recovery, which never came.

BROADCAST- The violence in Syria has left waves of sick and injured on the doorsteps of bordering countries. The Jordanian government is struggling to keep up with the massive demand for healthcare services. I traveled to the Jordanian-Syrian border to document how one organization is trying to help.

TEXT/VIDEO- This multimedia experience examines the role of security in Kenya's most dangerous slums, focusing on police misuse of power and informal citizen security groups that have emerged as a solution to high crime.

Sidian Bank approves car loans for Uber drivers in Kenya

29 Jun 2016  |  Reuters
Sidian Bank in Kenya has initiated a program to offer car loans to experienced Uber drivers, using data from the Uber app to assess creditworthiness. This innovative lending approach bypasses traditional banking methods, requiring drivers to have completed a minimum of 500 trips and maintain an average rating of 4.6 or higher. The program offers up to 100 percent financing with a maximum loan of 1.5 million shillings at a 10.5 percent interest rate, significantly lower than the national average. Since its launch, 10 loans have been approved. The scheme is seen as a potential model for other African countries with similar financial market challenges. Safaricom, partly owned by Vodafone, is also entering the ride-hailing market, indicating a competitive and technologically adaptive environment in Kenya.

African parks use artificial intelligence to fight poaching

24 May 2013  |  Reuters
The article discusses a U.S.-funded initiative that employs artificial intelligence and game theory algorithms to combat poaching in Africa. This technology, known as Protection Assistant for Wildlife Security (PAWS), is being tested in Uganda's Queen Elizabeth National Park to help rangers predict and locate poachers. Professor Milind Tambe from the University of Southern California leads the project, which has shown promising results in detecting illegal traps. The technology is based on game theory and has been previously used in online poker and computer games. Despite the successes, challenges such as poor connectivity and potential dangers to rangers from armed poachers remain. The initiative has also received support from the U.S. National Science Foundation and the Army Research Office.

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