Quality Education: Africans Are Among the Best Educated US Immigrants, Study Finds #education #globalgoals

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African Graduates

By Salem Solomon

WASHINGTON — When you picture an African immigrant in the United States, do you imagine someone with little or no schooling, struggling to find work? New research shows a different reality: African immigrants in the United States are college-educated and employed at about the same rates as the general population, and far more likely to be educated and working than their counterparts in Europe.

The report, by the Pew Research Center, found 69 percent of sub-Saharan African immigrants in the United States have some college education. That number is six percentage points higher than the level for native-born Americans, and far higher than levels in Europe.

In Britain, about half of sub-Saharan African immigrants have some college education. In France, the number is 30 percent. In Italy it is only 10 percent.

The Pew study, based on 2015 data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Eurostat’s Labor Force Survey, also found about 93 percent of African immigrants in the United States were employed, whereas in Europe employment figures ranged from 80 percent in Italy to 92 percent in the U.K. These numbers were roughly equal to the general population in each country.

Monica Anderson is a research associate at Pew and a co-author of the report. The research team wanted to compare demographics of African immigrants in the United States to their counterparts in Europe, Anderson told VOA by phone.

“What we found is that the sub-Saharan African immigrant population [in the U.S.] really stands out and that they are a very highly educated group,” Anderson said.

“The majority of sub-Saharan African immigrants in all of these countries that we looked at are employed, and when you look at their employment compared to those who were actually — who were born in those specific countries — there’s really not a lot of difference,” she added.

MIGRATION ROUTES

In 2015, about 2.1 million African immigrants were living in the U.S., according to Pew. That number has more than doubled since 2000.

They came to the United States in different ways – to study, for employment opportunities, and through family reunification programs, the latter denounced by President Donald Trump as “chain migration.”

Some Africans come to the United States as refugees and asylum seekers. In 2016, about 31,000 Africans were admitted into the United States as refugees, accounting for 37 percent of all admissions. About 19 percent of admissions came from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, where conflict has displaced nearly two million people in the past 18 months.

Thousands more come through the State Department’s diversity visa lottery, which provides 50,000 permanent resident visas annually to persons from countries with low rates of immigration to the United States. In 2015, the last year for which data is available, African immigrants made up 46 percent of applicants invited to request immigrant visas.

EASE OF REACH

One explanation for the difference in education levels is that Europe is much easier to reach for low-income Africans who travel by boat or other means.

Since 2010, violence, turmoil and poverty have driven approximately 1.5 million Africans to leave the continent for the United States or Europe, and the numbers have grown each year, according to the United Nations.

Hundreds of thousands have risked crossing the Mediterranean Sea on rickety boats, hoping to make it to Italy or Greece.

In contrast, Africans coming to America often have the money to travel by plane, and the permission to enter the country once they arrive.

“It is also about proximity, and I think there are other studies and literature out there about how proximity might impact the kind of characteristics that different groups might have when they’re migrating,” Anderson said. “So those who have a lower socioeconomic status may not have the capabilities or have the resources to move to a distant country.”

BETTER OFF?

Higher education and employment levels don’t necessarily translate into a higher quality of life for African immigrants in the United States, based on previous research by Pew.

Despite high education and employment rates, black immigrants — including those from Africa, the Caribbean, Central America and South America — have a median household income that’s about $8,200 lower than the U.S. average, Pew researchers found.

Forty percent of black immigrants are homeowners, 24 percent less than the overall U.S. population, and 20 percent of black immigrants live below the poverty line, compared to 16 percent of the overall U.S. population.

These numbers suggest that, despite relatively high education and employment rates, African immigrants face challenges getting access to all the opportunities that other groups enjoy.

 

Reduced Inequalities: 160 Babies, Children Rescued in Latest Nigerian ‘Baby Factory’ Raid #sdgs #globalgoals

The victims have all been relocated to government-approved homes.

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More than 160 children were rescued from a Nigerian “baby factory” and two illegal orphanages this week, according to a report by the BBC. It was one of the largest raids in recent history.

“The children and teenagers rescued from the baby factory were placed at Government Approved Homes for Care and Protection,” the Lagos State government said in a statement.

But the war on human trafficking is far from being won.

Baby factories are a recurring problem in Nigeria, where it is not uncommon for unmarried pregnant women to be lured to a location with the promise of healthcare only to be imprisoned and have their baby stolen. In other instances, women are kidnapped, raped, and forced to become pregnant.

The children are then “sold for adoption, used for child labour, trafficked to Europe for prostitution or killed for ritual purposes,” according to the BBC report.

Some of the babies and children rescued had been sexually abused, said Agboola Dabiri, the Commissioner for Youths and Social Development in Lagos State, in a statement.

The Commissioner also noted that of the 163 children rescued in total, 100 were girls and 62 were boys.

More than 4.8 million people worldwide are victims of forced sexual exploitation, or sex trafficking, according to the International Labour Organization. It’s also estimated that one in three trafficking victims are children below the age of 18.

Women/Girls: Focus “Breast Ironing”; The Crazy Reason Mothers in Cameroon Are ‘Ironing’ Their Daughters’ Breasts {PHOTOS} #BreastIroning #sdgs

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Breast Ironing

They want to protect their daughters, but “breast ironing” is more harmful than helpful.

For many girls around the world the onset of puberty represents a time of uncertainty, even anxiety, as their bodies change. But for approximately 3.8 million girls around the world that anxiety turns to anguish, as the start of adolescence brings with it a practice called “breast ironing.”

When girls start showing signs of puberty, mothers begin “ironing” their breasts, using heated tools like stones, spatulas, and pestles to pound or massage their chests, in an attempt to prevent them from developing. The practice is also known as “breast flattening” or “breast sweeping,” according to Newsweek. In order to prevent girls’ breasts from growing, mothers may also wrap bandages tightly around their daughters’ chests.

“Breast ironing,” like “female genital mutilation” is a practice that has been perpetuated for the “good” of girls.

While studies have found that “breast ironing” is practiced in Chad, Guinea Bissau, Togo, and Benin, it is most common in Cameroon, where nearly a quarter of girls and women have had their breasts “ironed.” Cases have also been reported in the UK and as many as 1,000 girls from West African immigrant communities in the UK are believed to have undergone “breast ironing,” The Week reported.

Though “breast ironing” is intended to protect girls from unwanted sexual advances, the practice can be both physically and emotionally traumatic.

“Every morning, before going to school, my mom makes me lift up my top so she can make sure I haven’t taken my bandage off,” a 14-year-old Cameroonian girl told French photographer Gildas Paré, whose project Plastic Surgery Dream spotlights victims of the practice. “It’s been two years now and she still checks it on a daily basis. It’s humiliating. I’d like her to stop.”

 

The “breast ironing” process itself is painful and may make girls feel ashamed of their bodies. And ultimately, “breast ironing” is ineffective, as it does not stop breasts from developing.

Though “breast ironing” is not exclusively performed by mothers on their daughters, the practice is typically carried out by a girl’s mother or a female relative; however, in some cases, girls have “ironed” their own breasts, Newsweek reported.bi

The heated tools often leave scars, and the wounds can make girls more vulnerable to infections and cause complications later in life. Some women whose breasts were “ironed” have said they had trouble producing milk and breastfeeding their children later in life.

By “ironing” their daughters’ breasts, mothers in Cameroon hope to make their daughters less sexually attractive to men, staving off early marriage and pregnancy, and keeping them in school, Newsweek reported. While the practice is misguided, such fears of early pregnancy, marriage, or rape are not unfounded.

According to UNICEF, 38% of children in Cameroon are married by their 18th birthdays. More than a quarter of adolescent girls are mothers, and 20% of them drop out of school after getting pregnant, the Cameroon Medical Council reported.

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“When my breasts started to grow, people in my house began to talk about it,” a 28-year-old Cameroonian woman told Paré. “Eventually, my mom decided to iron my breasts. ‘If we don’t iron them, it will attract men. And we know that men mean pregnancy,’ she said…I suppose she meant well.”

Though these mothers may have good intentions, “breast ironing” is unlikely to address the larger, systemic problems they are hoping to solve: violence against women and gender inequality.

Rather than trusting men to respect women’s bodies and their choices, these mothers believe they must make their daughters less attractive to protect them.

When girls and women are seen as equals and are empowered to make choices for themselves, choices that are respected by those around them, the need to “protect” girls through “breast ironing” will be eliminated.

Some survivors of “breast ironing” have made it their mission to educate Cameroonian women about its harmful effects to discourage them from continuing the practice, CBS reported. Cameroon has yet to pass against the “traditional harmful practice,” according to Gender Empowerment and Development (GeED) a Cameroon-based organization.

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Women & Girls: Saudi Woman Seen Wearing Miniskirt in Snapchat Video Arrested #pressforprogress #timeisnow #globalgoals #sdgs

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A six-second Snapchat led to this woman’s arrest.

Six seconds can change your life.

For a woman in Saudi Arabia, a six-second Snapchat video of her wearing a miniskirt and walking through a fort in Ushayqir, a village in the ultra-conservative region of Njad, was that moment. It also led to her detainment by police and arrest.

Over the weekend, a video was posted to Snapchat to an account attributed to a popular user and model with the user name “Khulood” that featured a young woman strolling through Ushayqir in a skirt and crop-top.

On Monday, media sources reported that a woman, believed to be “Khulood,” was being investigated by legal and religious authorities in Saudi Arabia. Her full name, however, was not released by the authorities.

Then this morning, Saudi State television station, Al Ekhbariya, stated that a young woman had been arrested by police in Riyadh, 95 miles north of Ushayqir, for “wearing suggestive clothing.”

“Riyadh police arrested a woman dressed in indecent clothing in the village of Ushayqir, and has sent her to the public prosecutor,” Saudi State television station, Al Ekhbariya said in a tweet. She was reportedly released a few hours later.

In Saudi Arabia, women are required by law to wear an abaya, a long loose-fitting cloak, and a head-covering. However, the country makes exceptions for foreign dignitaries. Those exceptions have included Michelle Obama, who visited in 2015, and Melania and Ivanka Trump, who visited Saudi Arabia in May.

For Saudi women, however, wearing clothing deemed “immodest,” is still banned, along with driving and opening a business without male permission. Each act is considered a punishable crime.

And so the video has sparked debate through social media over Saudi Arabia’s conservative and controversial dress code law, with some arguing that the law reflects Saudi culture and should be respected.

“Just like we call on people to respect the laws of countries they travel to, people must also respect the laws of this country,” Saudi writer Ibrahim al-Munayif wrote on his Twitter account, according to the Washington Post

Others say the dress requirement is discriminatory against women.

“Saudi Arabia’s purported plans to reshape society and advance women’s rights will never succeed as long as authorities go after women for what they wear,” Sarah Leah Whitson, executive director of Human Rights Watch’s Middle East and North Africa Division, told the Washington Post.

The debate also included discussion on women’s dress policy in the workplace, which if violated, can incur fines of up to $300, according to the Washington Post.

Police said that the woman detained told them she was with a male guardian the entire time she was in Ushayqir and that she did not post the video herself, the Guardian reports. She did not offer a statement or alternative explanation as to how the video was released.

“She admitted to visiting the site in question with a male guardian, and that the viral videos were published by an account attributed to her without her knowledge,” the Riyadh police said in a statement, according to CNN.  

And although she denies posting the video herself, her choice and bravery to wear immodest clothing was seen as inspiration by some.

 

Women & Girls: This Is What It’s Like to Be Sex Trafficked in India at 14 #sdgs #2030Now #agenda2030 #Syria #globalgoals

Sadhna thought she would be helping with housework, until she was drugged and raped.

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Sadhna used to love to fish. Her father would always be waiting for her when she got home, with the oven burning and ready to cook the family meal.

“I used to cuddle up beside him as he’d clean and cook the fish so we could have a meal together,” she says, telling her story to anti-slavery organisation  International Justice Mission . “I miss the wonderful time we had in the village.” 

Sadha and IJM shared her interview and story with Global Citizen. As Sadha looks back at her childhood, she recalls a time when she says she wasn’t afraid of anything.

Brilliant green rice paddies surrounded her family’s small home as far as she could see, and the narrow pathways of her village were shaded by mango, tamarind and coconut trees. When the landowner fell asleep, Sadhna and her friends would shin up the tree and steal the fruit.

As beautiful as these memories remain, however, Sadhna knows her childhood was far from idyllic. She says soberly, “For as long as I can remember, there were problems in my family.”

Her parents were gone most of the time. Most days, they travelled two hours by bus to work in Kolkata; her mother as a housekeeper and her father as a rickshaw driver. They struggled to make ends meet and argued constantly about the family’s poverty.

Each morning, as Sadhna and her friends walked to school, she felt guilty she wasn’t helping more. She remembers, “While I ate my lunch, I always wondered whether my mother and little sister at home had anything to eat.”

But then, in 2010, Sadhna’s family was changed forever: her father died, and Sadhna was left holding everything together.

At just 11 years old, she had to perform the Hindu funeral rituals and start contributing to the family’s upkeep. She sold frayed coconut husks as a packing material, earning just 30 rupees (around 50 cents) a week, but it was never enough.

“I felt like I was left all alone to take care of my family,” Sadhna says. “At age 12 or 13, a girl dreams of her future and her studies, but I couldn’t afford to do that. I would always think how to protect my family or educate my younger sister and take care of my mother.” 

She adds: “I broke down at times, but I didn’t let my mother take notice of that.”

Before long, Sadhna’s family packed up their small hut and went to Kolkata, seeking new opportunities and, once there, both Sadhna and her mother began working 12-hour days as housekeepers.

She stuck it out for three long years, before Sadhna began asking friends to help her find a better job. A girl in the neighbourhood put her in touch with a woman looking for house help, and Sadhna, now 14, went to meet her.

They met in an ordinary house, in an ordinary neighbourhood in Kolkata. The woman led Sadhna inside, and into a room full of strange men, beer bottles, and crushed cigarette packets.

“The lady told me not to worry, as I would get a nice job where I would be able to earn a lot of money,” she remembers—though she knew something was off. “I didn’t like the atmosphere, and I asked them to let me leave. They told me to sit and have a glass of water…I don’t remember anything after drinking the water.”

Sadhna woke up hours later on the floor—disoriented, naked, and afraid. Her clothes were strewn everywhere. She quickly learned that she had been raped, that this apartment was operating as a private brothel, and that she was now their property. She began to cry.

“The lady threatened to expose me to my family and my villagers. She said she knew everything about me,” Sadhna remembers shakily. She begged to leave until the madam relented—instead agreeing to call her back whenever a customer wanted sex. “She told me that two men would be following me, and if I tried to contact anyone she would get my mother and sister killed.”

Terrified, Sadhna told her mother she had found a well-paying job as a housekeeper and hurriedly convinced them to move back to their village. For the next two months, she slept at home and traveled one hour back and forth to Kolkata.

At the house, Sadhna and two or three other girls she never saw would be sold for sex several times a day in three tiny rooms — “not even big enough for a single bed” — hidden from anyone passing by the house. She says: “Those people were constantly calling me up and threatening me of dire consequences if I didn’t turn up. They even sent men to follow me. I had no other option but to go back to them.

And private brothels like this have been growing more and more popular in Kolkata in recent years.

They are based in unassuming houses or apartments, where pimps and madams arrange private meetings between customers and the girls through secret networks, according to International Justice Mission. They are more hidden than traditional brothels in red-light districts, but they exploit young girls just the same.

“She used to take money from the customers in front of me, and I had to go with them even if I didn’t want to,” Sadhna continues. “The customers who visited me at that house didn’t behave very nicely with me. They were so bad I can’t even discuss it now…I felt worthless and couldn’t see any way out of it.”

Event though Sadhna wasn’t physically restrained, she was still trapped. Threats kept her bound by fear, too scared to run. While the stigma placed on a young girl who has lost her virginity made her too ashamed to tell anyone.

“I struggled with myself constantly,” she remembers. “I didn’t know if I could ever come out of this trap and live a normal girl’s life. I had lost all hope of getting out. I felt as if I had no hope left in life and had become a worthless human being.”

The experience changed her. “After that incident, I stopped laughing or mixing with others,” she continues. “I felt totally isolated from girls like me. I realized I had wasted my life and could never be one of them. I felt as if it was the end of the road for me.”

It was on January 8, 2013, that the police finally arrived. Sadhna was with a customer in one of the tiny rooms when officers raided the house. Police and staff from International Justice Mission had been investigating the brothel for weeks, documenting the abuse that Sadhna and another young woman had been suffering — and they were here to rescue them.

As the customer fled outside, Sadhna listened to the raid. She heard the madam frantically begging not to be arrested, terrified of anyone finding out she had been running a brothel.

Sadhna gave her statement to the police, and was taken to a shelter. But it was clear the two months of exploitation she had suffered had taken their toll. Gone was the playful mischief, gone was the energetic smile and carefree spirit.

“I’ll never be able to trust anyone in life again,” she remembers thinking when she was first rescued. “This has shocked me beyond imagination. I stopped caring about anything in life. I had faced the worst experience of my life and didn’t bother anymore about anything else.”

But, after meeting other survivors like herself at the shelter, Sadhna began to open up, and, slowly, return to the fun-loving girl she had been.

“I found out that some of the girls had to go through a tougher time than me in the past,” she remembers. “In spite of these difficulties, they were trying to turn around and do something worthwhile in life. That pushed me to think positively about the future of my own. They motivated me to start going to school, to look ahead in life and to forget the past like they did.”

Sadhan was able to re-start her education, and to rebuild her self-esteem. She rediscovered her talent for music and dancing, and learned how to manage her feelings of fear and anxiety.

To close this painful chapter of her life, Sadhna knew she would have to see the madam held accountable for her crimes.

“I was scared of going to the court in the beginning, but the aunties from the shelter encouraged me to testify,” she says. “I felt by testifying in court I could save the life of another girl like me who would be a victim if this lady got away without a trial.”

Now, aged 19, Sadhna is once again confident and vibrant. She loves maths, and computers, watching horror films, and practicing traditional Hindi dance. Her younger sister has also been living in the shelter with Sadhna since late 2016, and Sadhna hopes to be able to support her sister, so she will never have to live through the same exploitation.

“My dream is to complete my education and get a job as a social worker, to hear the stories of other girls and help them,” she says. “I was quite fearless in my childhood days. Through this phase of life, I started getting scared of people around me. Now I’ve learned to draw inspiration for these experiences and have become fearless again. I’m no longer scared of anything in life.” 

 

Women & Girls: 12 Times Women Nevertheless Persisted in 2017 #globalgoals #sdgs #pressforprogress #timeisnow

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From the Women’s March to national protests, women this year were a force to be reckoned with.

Millions of women around the world set the tone for 2017 when they marched in support of gender equality and women’s rights this January.

And though the Women’s March may have been the first major protest for women’s rights this year, it certainly wasn’t the last. Far from losing steam throughout the year, women worldwide stood up and spoke out for equality.

Here are 12 times that women, nevertheless persisted in 2017.


1/Women’s March

On Jan. 21, the day after Donald Trump officially became the 45th President of the United States, millions of women — from Washington, D.C., to London, to Nairobi — took to the streets to protest for gender equality. Women showed up to protest against healthcare policies that restrict women’s access to healthcare, the gender wage gap, and Trump’s controversial campaign statements.


2/Women in India Say #IWillGoOut

Women across India marched on Jan. 21 too, but for a very specific reason.

After multiple women were allegedly sexually harassed and assaulted on New Year’s Eve in Bangalore, India, thousands of women took to the streets to march for their right to feel safe when out in public, CNN reported. The movement also gained traction on social media with the hashtag #IWillGoOut.


3/Sen. Elizabeth Warren Is Silenced on the Senate Floor

In February, Sen. Elizabeth Warren was silenced by Sen. Mitch McConnell as she attempted to deliver a speech criticizing Jeff Sessions, then the nominee for Attorney General, and to read a letter from Coretta Scott King, civil rights activist and wife of Martin Luther King, Jr., the New York Times reported. McConnell cut off Warren’s speech, citing a rarely used rule, according to the Washington Post, later defending his move saying that Warren “had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

His criticism of her became 2017’s battle cry for women around the world fighting for their rights.


4/Women Wear White for Suffrage

Democratic congresswomen wore white as a quiet show of solidarity during President Trump’s address to Congress in February.

“We wear white to unite against any attempts by the Trump administration to roll back the incredible progress women have made in the last century,” Rep. Lois Frankel said.


5/Venezuelan Women March Against Repression

Tens of thousands of women took to the streets of Caracas, Venezuela’s capital, in May. Clad in white in support of President Nicolás Maduro’s opposition, women marched against the government’s repression and what they consider Maduro’s dictatorship.


6/International Women’s Day

International Women’s Day is a day designated to celebrate women’s achievements, but this March, women around the world decided to go on strike to show the world exactly how important women’s contributions to economics, politics, and society are.

7/Quinceañeras in Texas’s Capital

Fifteen teenage girls in beaded, lace Quinceañera gowns stood on the steps of the capitol building in Austin, Texas.

But the young women weren’t celebrating their Quinceañera, instead they were protesting a Senate Bill that reverses Austin’s status as a sanctuary city and allows law enforcement officers to enter local jails to question immigrants and deport undocumented immigrants.


8/Handmaids at Courthouses

Dozens of women dressed as characters from the Hulu TV show “The Handmaid’s Tale,” inspired by Margaret Atwood’s novel of the same title, stationed themselves at courthouses in Texas, Ohio, New Hampshire, Washington, D.C., and New York. Throughout May and June, women donned red cloaks to protest bills that restricted women’s access to healthcare and family planning methods like abortion, the New York Times reported.


9/Women Bridge Gaps to March for Peace

In October, thousands of Israeli and Palestinian women dressed in white marched from Israel’s southern Negev region to a “peace tent” by the edge of the Jordan River to “wage peace” instead of war.

“We are women from the right, the left, Jews and Arabs, from the cities and the periphery and we have decided that we will stop the next war,” Marilyn Smadja, a founder of the movement, said.

10/Dia de los Muertos March Against Femicide

Hundreds of women wore traditional face paint on Dia de los Muertos, but unconventionally carried signs protesting rampant violence against women as they marched through the streets of Mexico’s capital.

More than 2,000 women were victims of femicide in Mexico last year, Reuters reported, killed simply because of their gender.


11/Me Too 

After the New York Times published an investigative report exposing decades of sexual misconduct by film producer Harvey Weinstein, thousands of people marched in Los Angeles, California to support victims of sexual harassment and assault, the Guardian reported.


12/International Day to End Violence Against Women 

In November, thousands of women around the world turned out to recognize the International Day to End Violence Against Women, the Voice of America reported. From Brazil to Turkey, women took to the streets to protest against gender-based violence in all its forms.

Women And Girls: 7 Feminist Laws Iceland Has That the World Needs #feminist #feminism #globalgoals #sdgs

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By a lot of measures, Iceland is the best place to be a woman. Iceland starts gender equality lessons in preschool. The country has not just one, but three, laws protecting women at work. Sick of media, treating women as sex objects? That doesn’t fly in Iceland, where a law bans gender discriminatory advertising. Plus, the country was the first to ban strip clubs for feminist reasons.

Overall, the Nordic country has a near perfect score on the gender-equality scale. For eight years, the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report ranked Iceland No. 1 on its list of countries actively closing gaps in gender equality. In 2009, Iceland became the first country to completely close the gender gap in education and health. And in 2016, Iceland was 87% of the way to closing the gender gap in all sectors.

 

Clearly, Iceland is leading the way, so what are the policies and standards in place that the rest of the world is looking up to?

Here are seven laws and standard practices that support women’s rights, and penalize gender discrimination.

1. Women’s Equality Is Literally Protected by Law 

The Act on Equal Status and Equal Rights of Women and Men is the reason gender equality is a hallmark of Icelandic culture. The law, established in 2000, was revamped in 2008 with the overarching goal of reaching equal rights through all paradigms of society. This law includes information on gender equality for government and businesses to follow.

Within the law there are nine defined areas of gender discrimination. It identifies differences between indirect and direct gender discrimination, acknowledges gaps in wages, and recognizes that gender-based violence is detrimental to society.

The law draws out a roadmap to achieving gender equality, even including language on changing negative gender stereotypes. Within the law are 35 articles outlining specific policies on everything from outlawing gender discrimination in schoolbooks and the workplace to buying goods and services.

2. ‘Equal Pay For Equal Work’ Is Mandatory, Almost

When Icelanders found out it would be another 122 years before they closed the gender pay gap at the current rate, that was unacceptable. Lawmakers took action, announcing on International Women’s Day that Iceland would require companies to prove they pay employees equal rates for equal work, or pay the fine.

Parliament is expected to pass the bill becoming the first country to make gender wage discrimination illegal. After passing, the government expects the law to roll into effect by 2020 in an effort to close the gender wage gap.

Currently women make between 14-18% less than men. But the country is soon to ending the last bit of gender inequality in the workplace.

“We want to break down the last of the gender barriers in the workplace,” said Thorsteinn Viglundsson, Iceland’s social affairs and equality minister. “History has shown that if you want progress, you need to enforce it.”

3. Companies’ Boards Must Include At Least 40% Women

 

After the shocking corruption and financial collapse in 2009, the government made an effort to include more women in seats of power to reduce corruption. They also prosecuted those responsible for the financial crisis, unlike in the US.

Article 15 of the Act on Equal Status and Equal Rights of Women and Men states that no public company board or government council or committee may have less than 40% gender equality.

The law also states that any company with more than 25 employees must have a gender equality program in place, which will review goals every three years.

 4. Best Parental Leave Policy in the World 

Iceland has the best maternity/paternity policy in the world. The official law, created in 2000, is known as the Icelandic Act on Maternity/Paternity and Parental Leave. The law itself was amended in 2006 increasing parental leave from six to nine months. The government covers parental leave for birth, adoption, and foster care for all employees in Iceland, even those who are self-employed paying 80% of earned salary to new parents. Parents split the time of leave equally to ensure children grow up with equal care from both parents, and workplaces are balanced. The policy is truly the gold standard of parental care.

5. From Preschool to College, Kids Learn Gender Equality Matters  

After kids grow up with equal time from parents, gender equality lessons don’t stop. Article 23 of the Act on Equal Status and Equal Rights of Women and Men mandates that gender equality must be taught in schools throughout all levels of education.

That means from early education through university, which is free, all sports, classes, and forms of schooling must include and practice gender equality. Iceland has no time for sexist books or assignments either.

The law states: “educational materials and textbooks shall be designed in such a way as not to discriminate against either sex.” So you would never see an assignment, like the school in Utah, which forced girls to go on dates with male classmates, telling girls to “keep it to yourself” if they feel fat.

6. Paying For Sex Is Illegal. Stripclubs Are Illegal. Prostitutes Are Victims. 

Paying for sex is illegal in Iceland. It has been for decades. The difference, however, is in 2007 the government amended the law arguing that most people who turn to soliciting sex have no other option or were coerced by others.

So instead of penalizing victims of poor circumstances who are often forced into prostitution, the law places criminalization on those who pay for sex, and third parties involved.

The country also banned stripclubs in 2009 for feminist reasoning. The revised law states no business may profit from nudity of employees. The law passed with full support in parliament.

“It is not acceptable that women or people in general are a product to be sold,” said Kolbrún Halldórsdóttir who proposed the ban on strip clubs.

This applies to public advertising too. No ad may belittle any gender or go against the country’s fierce mission to achieve gender equality.

7. There Is a Magical ‘Ministry of Gender Equality’ 

Ironically, the caveat to achieving gender equality for Nordic countries is taking it for granted.

“Our biggest challenge is taking equality for granted. We relax too much. We think everything is done for good. This worries me,” said Gro Bruntland, Norway’s first female prime minister.

Fortunately, in Iceland, there’s a ministry to complacency on gender equality.  The ministry of gender equality, as in Harry Potter, is magic. But unlike the fictional novel, this ministry is real.

The country created agency to check and balance progress on advancing equality as part of a revisions to the Act on Equal Status and Equal Rights of Women and Men. The agency includes a three part council which includes the Equal Status Council, the Complaints Committee, and a new Centre for Gender Equality.

Together these agencies research, advertise, advocate, and check laws on gender equality. Their goal is to create a legal, cultural, historical, social and psychosocial approach to gender equality.

Food & Hunger: A promising study on nutrition #GlobalGoals #SDGs #Nutrition

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About 40 percent of children under 5 in sub-Saharan Africa are stunted, or short for their age, a result of problems such as chronically poor nutrition, inadequate maternal and child care, and repeated bouts of infectious disease. A new study has found that a broad effort to address the problem — like that used by the Millennium Villages Project — that includes improved farming techniques and diet, better access to health care, disease control and other services may help reduce the problem. In this video, the researchers explain their work.

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Zero Poverty: Ending Extreme Poverty … in a Generation #2030Now #GlobalGoals #SDGs #Poverty #ZeroPoverty

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The Zero Poverty Project

1.3 billion people in our world currently live in extreme poverty.

From The Global Poverty Project:

These 1,300,000,000 individuals live on less than what you can buy in the US for $1.25 per day. You might think this buys more in a poor country than it does here, but actually, it’s a figure that’s been adjusted for purchasing power, which means that anywhere in the world, the $1.25 a day measure buys little more than enough basic food, clean water and cooking fuel to make two simple meals.

In the last 30 years, the proportion of the world’s population that live below this line has halved – from 52% in 1980, to 25% today. That’s a decline from 1.9 billion people down to 1.3 billion people.

At the Global Poverty Project we’re passionate about communicating these amazing achievements, and highlighting the opportunity we have to bring this number down to zero – within a generation.

This post summarizes how we can each play a part in realizing this opportunity – moving a world without extreme poverty from its current status of ‘improbable possibility’, to ‘likely reality’. This list is designed to introduce you to the key themes and issues related to ending extreme poverty.

How we think about extreme poverty

We know ending extreme poverty is a big and complex challenge. It has many causes, and there’s certainly no silver bullet or single solution, but we don’t think that this complexity means the challenge cannot be overcome. There are a huge number of smart and talented people all over the world in charities, business, academia, evaluation organisations,government and think-tanks who are building an evidence base of things that work, things that don’t and why.

The big three issues

To see an end to extreme poverty, there are three big issues that we need to see action on – governance, aid and trade. We know that we have the resources (economic, social, political and environmental) to see an end to extreme poverty. But, right now, the world works in a way that keeps some people poor, which is what we all need to focus on to see an end to extreme poverty.

Improving governance structures can ensure that decision-making works in favour of the world’s poorest people. At present, most discussions about governance are framed in terms of corruption. Rather than treating the problem of corruption as an excuse to stop investing in development efforts, we need to get behind those working in communities to counter corruption: by holding local leaders to account, increasing transparency, and ensuring that laws are applied. Corruption is not only a problem that needs to be tackled in poor countries. In rich countries we need to hold governments and businesses to account for any complicity in the process of corruption, or for unethically undermining poverty reduction through actions like avoiding tax or utilising vulture funds to recover illegitimate debts. We’ve posted more about corruption here, including an interview with leading experts here, or you can see the work being done by corruption-fighting organisations like Global Witness and Transparency International.

Next, we need to make sure that aid that’s given – whether through donations to charities or taxes to government – is spent on programs that really work. Foreign aid won’t end poverty – but it’s a vital ingredient that can be used to make investments in things like health, education and infrastructure – resources needed for countries and communities to lift themselves out of poverty and prevent dependence on aid in the future. We’ve written more about good aid here, here and here.

Ultimately, extreme poverty ends when local communities can trade their way to a better future. The amazing poverty alleviation that we’ve seen in the past generation has been led by countries who have joined global markets: in China 400 million citizens have been lifted out of poverty since 1980, South Korea has moved from aid recipient to aid donor by building industry and creating world-renowned brands, and Botswana has grown faster than any other country in Africa by wisely investing proceeds from its diamond mines. Currently, the potential of trade is limited by the rules which work against poor countries, and will need to be reformed before we will see an end to extreme poverty.

The Elephants in the Room

Beyond these three issues, climate change and resource limitations are the elephants in the room, threatening the potential end to extreme poverty. The impact of these issues can be seen in the Pakistan floods, and in the record food prices which will mean that 1 billion people go to bed hungry tonight. On both of these issues our challenge is distribution, not scarcity. We aren’t running out of food – there’s more than enough food on our planet to feed everyone. The problem is that the world’s poorest people can’t afford to buy enough of it. In order to realize the potential of developing populations, rich countries have to increase their efficiency in resource use, and support clean development.

Our role

All of the opportunities and challenges of fighting extreme poverty outlined above are technically possible and eminently affordable. Our role is to make them politically viable and increasingly probable.

We can make a start with simple changes to the way that we act on a daily basis and by learning more about the issues so we can make informed decisions, especially about the ethics of the products we buy and the effectiveness of the money we donate.

Beyond that, we can help others realise that it is possible to end extreme poverty, that we are already making significant progress, and that practical steps can be taken to overcome the challenges that remain.

From there, it’s about using your voice as a citizen to join the campaigns and initiatives of organisations fighting hard in your local community to change the rules and systems that keep people poor: ensuring that corruption is reduced, that aid is given in appropriate quantities in the right way to the right things, and changing trade rules to give the world’s poorest a fair chance to lift themselves out of poverty.

Most importantly, it’s about recognizing that the movement to end extreme poverty is led by people in poverty themselves. As we reflect on the changes of the last generation, we can look forward a generation and see a real prospect of extreme poverty not existing. Our role is to get behind the world’s poor, give voice to their aspirations, and work as citizens and consumers to make the end of extreme poverty the legacy that our generation leaves on this world.

Simon Moss, Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer, Global Poverty Project

Good Health & Well-Being: Focus “Child Mortality”; Child deaths can reach the number ZERO #SDGs #Neonatal #GlobalGoals #2030Now

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UNICEF is working toward the day when zero children die from preventable causes.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) works in 190 countries and territories to save and improve children’s lives, providing health care and immunizations, clean water and sanitation, nutrition, education, emergency relief and more. The U.S. Fund for UNICEF supports UNICEF’s work through fundraising, advocacy, and education in the United States. Together, we are working toward the day when zero children die from preventable causes and every child has a safe and healthy childhood. For more information, visit www.unicefusa.org.

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