A Proud baker in the Congolese city of Masi Manimba
Jacques Kikuni Kokonyange

BENI - Gisèle Masika, a young divorced woman from this Congolese city, says she wants nothing of her aunt's life as a housewife. "My aunt can't do anything, her husband takes care of everything, and he has no consideration for her," she says.

Like other women in Beni, in northeastern Congo, Masika decided to learn a trade -- making braziers -- and is now doing as well as her male colleagues. Some of these women have even opened their own workshops, and employ male workers.

Thanks to their jobs, these women are on the road to self-sufficiency. They can cover basic expenses such as rent, school fees, healthcare, food ... without any help from anyone else.

Mireille Kavira is a good example. This 35-year old mother of three works at the "Super Entretien" refrigerator repair workshop downtown. Thanks to this job, her children now attend a prestigious private school where most pupils are children of businessmen and local administration executives.

In the Mupanda neighborhood, at the "Dieu Merci" ("Thank God") garage, three women are repairing cars. They do the same work as their male colleagues, lying down underneath the vehicles, yanking out parts, replacing hubcaps. Their jobs have made them the backbone of their families.

Madeleine Mwayuma is already proud of her toolbox, pass key, a welding machine and electrical generator -- and now is about to open her own garage. "I realized that in life, you have to work hard and be independent," she says.

Madeleine's colleague, Pauline Mwatatu, an expert at fixing gas pumps, says that she is no longer considering marriage. She is against a union where men – once married – expect their wives to stay at home. She wants the marriage laws to be revised. According to Congolese Family Law, men are considered as the head of the household. This leads some men to believe they are allowed to humiliate and dominate their wives.

The shame of being single

In Congo, single women – even when they are rich – are often the victims of scorn and disregard, and criticized by their families and friends. But thanks to this new generation of working women, single and proud, things are starting to change.

These working women often excel in their trade. Most repairmen and tailors don’t have a great reputation in Beni – respecting deadlines is not their forte. But women, on the other hand, are great at finishing tasks on time. In their workshops, it is all about being integrity and dignity; they are fighting hard to break down stereotypes. A customs agent met in a sewing workshop near Beni's central market explains: "I nearly got arrested because I wanted to beat up the tailor who had promised he would sew me a jacket in time for my cousin's wedding. He had not even started making it. I told myself I would never trust a tailor again. But then women came along. They respect deadlines and work honestly."

Inspired by these powerful models, many women – including young singles and students – are no longer ashamed of living alone. Their uncles and brothers now understand that they can have whatever life they want without getting married. "Rather than living with an irresponsible man, it is better for my sister to live by herself," says local economic actor Matthieu Mashahuri.

Sociologist Make Mahamba says he can see the evolution in Congolese society. "It is very hard today to try and force a woman to marry a man she did not chose. In the past, a young woman could not go against her family."

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Thousands of Tunisians gathered in the capital of Tunis

Hannah Steinkopf-Frank, Bertrand Hauger and Anne-Sophie Goninet

👋 Laphi!*

Welcome to Monday, where post-Merkel Germany looks set shift to a center-left coalition, San Marino and Switzerland catch up with the rest of Europe on two key social issues, and a turtle slows things down at a Japan airport. Meanwhile, we take an international look at different ways to handle beloved, yet controversial, comic books and graphic novels characters.

[*Aymara, Bolivia]

🌎  7 THINGS TO KNOW RIGHT NOW

Social Democrats narrowly win German elections: Germany's center-left party claimed a narrow victory in the federal election, beating the CDU party of outgoing chancellor Angela Merkel by just over 1.5%, according to preliminary results. SPD leader Olaf Scholz has claimed a mandate to form a government with the Greens and Liberals, in what would be Germany's first three-way ruling coalition. Germany's capital city Berlin will also get its first female mayor.

Switzerland says yes to same-sex marriage: Nearly two-thirds of Swiss voters approved the proposal to legalize same-sex marriage in a referendum, making it one of the last countries in Western Europe to do so.

San Marino voters back legal abortion: More than 77% voted in support of legalizing abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy in San Marino in a historic referendum for the predominantly Catholic tiny city-state, which was one of the last places in Europe that still criminalized abortion.

COVID update: Australian authorities announced they will gradually reopen lockdowned Sydney, with a system that will give vaccinated citizens more freedom than the unvaccinated. Meanwhile, Thailand will waive its mandatory quarantine requirement in Bangkok and several other regions for vaccinated travellers in November. In Brazil, a fourth member of President Jair Bolsonaro's delegation to the United Nations has tested positive to COVID-19.

Power shortages in China spread: Tight coal supplies and toughening emissions standards have led to power shortages in northeastern China, forcing numerous factories including many supplying Apple and Tesla to halt production.

Strong earthquake hits Crete, at least one killed: An earthquake of magnitude 6 struck the Greek island of Crete, with reports that at least one person was killed and several injured after buildings collapsed.

Turtle causes delays at Tokyo airport: A wandering turtle forced the Tokyo Narita airport to close its runway for twelve minutes, delaying five planes, including an All Nippon Airways plane featuring ... a sea turtle-themed fuselage.

🗞️  FRONT PAGE

"Neck and neck," titles German daily Augsburger Allgemeine about the tight results of the federal election, which according to preliminary results, is set to be won by the center-left party SPD led by Olaf Sholz by just over 1.5%. It was the country's tightest race in years, and will likely lead to long, complicated negotiations to form a coalition government.


💬  LEXICON

Magal

On Sunday, hundreds of thousands of Muslim pilgrims from Senegal, but also from elsewhere in Africa, Europe, and the United States, converged to the great Mosque of Touba, as part of the Grand Magal. The annual pilgrimage, a Wolof word meaning celebration, marks the date French colonial authorities exiled spiritual leader and founder of the Senegalese Mouride Brotherhood Sheikh Amadou Bamba.

📰  STORY OF THE DAY

Cancel Tintin? Spotting racist imagery in comics around the world

From the anti-Semitic children's books of Nazi Germany to the many racist caricatures of Asian, African or Indigenous people in the 20th century, comics have long contained prejudiced, sexist and xenophobic stereotypes. These publications have been rightfully criticized but some are pushing back, saying that this kind of unwarranted "canceling" threatens freedom of expression. Here are examples from three countries around the world about how people are handling the debate and sketching the future of comics.

🔥📚 The Adventures of Tintin and The Adventures of Asterix both emerged in French-speaking Europe during the 20th century and quickly developed global audiences. But the comic books have also been called out for controversial depictions of certain groups, including North American Indigenous peoples. And as Radio-Canada recently reported, one group of French-speaking schools in Ontario found the texts so offensive that they decided to go ahead and burn the books. The report, not surprisingly, stirred up a pretty fiery debate on the issues of free speech and what some refer to as "cancel culture."

🤠 In a more progressive model for rethinking cartoons with long — and complicated — legacies, Lucky Luke in France is taking a different direction. Telling the story of a cowboy in the Wild West, the series is notably lacking in terms of diversity. But in 2020, well-known French cartoonists Julien Berjeaut (known as Jul) and Hervé Darmenton (known as Achdé) took on the challenge of a more inclusive Lucky Luke. With its 81st album, Un Cow-Boy Dans Le Coton (A Cowboy in High Cotton), they changed the perspective to focus on recently freed Black slaves.

🇯🇵 Outside of France and Belgium, Japan arguably has the largest market for graphic novels, or manga, which first developed in the late 19th century. And like their European counterparts, certain manga titles have been accused of using racist tropes. One example is the character Mr. Popo, a genie from the popular Dragon Ball series who has been cited for having offensive features. In the meantime, more and more mangaka (creators of manga) are expanding beyond these traditional representations, including in their depictions of women, who are over-sexualized in many mangas.


➡️ Read more on Worldcrunch.com

📣 VERBATIM

"Still now, I am terrified."

— In mid-August, Afghan news anchor Beheshta Arghand interviewed Mawlawi Abdulhaq Hemad, a high-ranking Taliban representative, for TOLOnews. A historic moment for the female presenter, just days after the Islamic fundamentalist group took over Afghanistan. Now exiled in Albania, Arghand tells the BBC in a moving testimony why she had to flee to Albania and how she, like many in her country, has lost everything.

✍️ Newsletter by Anne-Sophie Goninet, Jane Herbelin, Clémence Guimier & Bertrand Hauger


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