Malaka Gharib

Malaka Gharib is deputy editor and digital strategist of Goats and Soda, NPR's global health and development blog. She reports on topics such as the humanitarian aid sector, gender equality, and innovation in the developing world.

Before coming to NPR in 2015, Gharib was the digital content manager at Malala Fund, Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai's global education charity, and social media and blog editor for ONE, a global anti-poverty advocacy group founded by Bono. Gharib graduated from Syracuse University with a dual degree in journalism and marketing.

Selamawit Lake Fenta, a midwife from Ethiopia, would like to change a lot of things about her profession — including its name in her country.

And she has made an impact in another crusade: fair pay.

This week, Fenta was one of five midwife champions selected by the International Confederation of Midwives for the International Day of the Midwife on May 5. The group picked the five from nominations submitted by members from 122 countries. The goal was to honor midwives who've made an impact in their community.

This month, one of the big news stories is about parents who bribed and cheated to get their kids into prestigious universities.

And then there's the college admissions story of John Awiel Chol Diing.

Diing, 25, is a former refugee from South Sudan and grew up in U.N.-supported camps in Ethiopia and Kenya. His family couldn't even afford high school fees, let alone college tuition.

But today, thanks to an unlikely series of events, he is a student at Earth University in Costa Rica, finishing up his fourth year studying agricultural science.

A hashtag called #ThisIsMyHustle started trending in Nigeria in mid-March after Sadiq Abubakar, 30, a small-business owner from Abuja, organized a Twitter chat for his entrepreneur friends.

"I said, 'Let's do a hashtag and let the world know what we do,' " he says. "Young Nigerians are very determined to succeed. What we hear about young Nigerian people is that we are lazy. But we are hardworking. We want to make it."

Earlier this year, millions of women lined up to form a human "wall" of protest to call for gender equality in India. The story is one of many from our blog that we're highlighting for International Women's Day — dedicated to celebrating the achievements of women in all arenas: social, economic, cultural, political and personal.

To highlight the March 8 commemoration, here are some of the remarkable women and women's movements we've covered over the past year.

In recent weeks, thousands of women and young people in Afghanistan as well as Afghans living abroad have been protesting and speaking out against peace talks taking place between the U.S. and the Taliban.

Activists say that the views of the Taliban — whose harsh rule from 1996 to 2001 was notorious for repression of women — do not reflect the views and needs of Afghan people. They fear a Taliban return to power will undermine the progress that the country has worked to build since the regime fell nearly two decades ago.

While presenting the montage for best picture nominee Black Panther, Daily Show host Trevor Noah made a joke in Xhosa, a language spoken by millions in South Africa and in a few other African countries as well.

We all need symbols to navigate the world.

Some of them are very clear, like a stop sign or a green light.

Some are not quite as apparent — like these hilariously confusing toilet signs.

And people who work in specialized fields also benefit when there are efficient icons that tell them what's going on.

When Mashiyat Rahman, 22, texts her friends about her period, she sends them the "crying" emoji to describe her mood, the "knife" emoji to describe painful cramps and the "sweat" emoji — which looks like water droplets — to illustrate a heavy flow.

In her 20 years of researching menstrual health, Chris Bobel has run across a lot of myths — that menstruation makes a girl unclean, that menstrual pain isn't as bad as women claim.

But she has also seen a lot of myths spread by the very people seeking to fight those misconceptions.

That is what she explores in her new book, The Managed Body: Developing Girls and Menstrual Health in the Global South. Bobel finds that a surprising amount of misinformation is fueling the work of charities and nonprofits in the menstrual health sector.

One in 3 U.N. employees has reported being sexually harassed in the past two years, according to a survey that the United Nations released last week.

It's part of an unfortunate trend in the humanitarian sector: complaints about sexual harassment, bullying and other unacceptable workplace behavior.

In a prime-time address from the Oval Office on Tuesday night, President Trump said there is a "growing humanitarian and security crisis at our southern border."

Aid groups agree that what is happening on the border meets the definition of a humanitarian crisis. Thousands of migrants are fleeing Central America to seek asylum in the U.S., a journey that puts many at risk of health problems and human trafficking as well as detainment by U.S. authorities.

Three American women of Taiwanese descent are cooking up the dishes of their youth: dumplings, roasted pork belly, sticky rice buns, shaved ice.

Except they're not using food. They're using materials like plaster, paint and porcelain.

Remarkably, the artists don't know each other in real life, only through Instagram. But they share a common goal: to re-create the foods of their culture in sculpture to pay homage to their heritage.

It was an epic year for women activists. Nadia Murad, who had been sexually enslaved by ISIS, was the co-recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for her fight against human trafficking. She was one of many women who made news — and made changes — in 2018. Here are six inspiring women we profiled on Goats and Soda in 2018.

Which Goats and Soda stories were most popular this year?

You loved the stories that looked to the developing world that offered insights into the way we live our lives: how to sit without hurting your back; whether it's OK to sleep with your baby.

Readers also were drawn to stories of injustice (like the gang rape and murder of an 8-year-old girl in India) and looming dangers (the thawing permafrost in Alaska could release billions of tons of carbon dioxide into the Earth's atmosphere).

A years-old Disney trademark on the use of the phrase "Hakuna Matata" on T-shirts has stirred up a new debate among Swahili speakers about cultural appropriation.

The words mean "no worries" in Swahili, a language spoken in countries like the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Estimates for the number of speakers vary widely, from 60 to 150 million.

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