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

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Women & Girls: The All-Female Army That Inspired ‘Black Panther’s’ Warriors Are Getting a New Show #DahomeyAmazon #SDGs #GlobalGoals

The Dora Milaje were inspired by a real army of women called the Dahomey Amazons.

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Since Marvel Studios’ “Black Panther” premiered in February, the superhero blockbuster has smashed records, stereotypes, and the patriarchy.

Its female characters and all-women army, called the Dora Milaje, have been celebrated for their strength and defiance of traditional gender roles. What many audience members may not know is that, though the Dora Milaje are fictional, they were inspired by the Dahomey Amazons, a group of West African women warriors.

And now the Dahomey Amazons are getting their own show.

The show, whose name has yet to be announced, will not only break down barriers through its depiction of powerful women warriors, but will also break down barriers in the global entertainment industry.

US-based Sony Pictures Television and the Nigerian network EbonyLife announced on Thursday that they would collaboratively produce the series — the first time Hollywood and Nollywood have worked together to create a tv show, CNN reported.

The Dahomey Amazons, originally drafted from among captured and imprisoned foreign women, have a complicated history that dates back to the 17th century. The women warriors were also known as the Ahosi, meaning the “king’s wives” because they were charged with guarding the king. But the majority of the women were not treated as wives, and instead were looked upon as soldiers, sisters, and daughters, according to Teen Vogue.

The fierce women are said to be the only all-female fighting force documented in modern history. It’s this legacy that the show hopes to bring to life on the small screen while pushing back against stereotypes about the African continent.

“Our vision has always been to change the narrative about Africa and to tell our stories from our perspective,” Chief Executive Officer of Ebony Life Mo Abudu said in a statement.

Though no timeline for the show’s release has been announced, people are already looking forward to the series and its potential impact.

 

Partnership for the Goals: Foreign Aid Was a Big Winner in the Budget Trump Signed Last Week #2030Now #SDGs #GlobalGoals

Essential programs around the world will receive the funding they need.

 

For months, it looked like US foreign aid would face massive cuts, imperilling programs that support education in disaster zones, food relief in famines, and maternal health.

But, thanks to bipartisan leadership from US Congresspeople and Senators, those concerns have dissipated — for now.

US President Donald Trump signed a federal budget through fiscal year 2018 last week that dispensed with the steep cuts that the administration had called for and nearly maintains existing levels of foreign aid, even increasing funding in various areas.

Funding for foreign aid was $59.1 billion last year and this year it will be $55.9 billion — still a sizable cut, but much less than the $17.9 billion reduction requested by the White House.

Although foreign aid makes up less than 0.5% of all US spending, its impacts around the world are enormous — and enormously positive. Foreign aid has helped increase access to health care around the world, provide quality education to millions of children, and help communities become more resilient to climate change.

By largely maintaining current levels of US foreign aid, essential programs around will receive the funding they need.

Here are five takeaways from this 2018 budget.


1/ Health Funding Increased

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Last year, the Trump administration threatened to cut funding for all maternal health programs through the “Global Gag Rule” and GC mounted the “She Decides” campaign to counter this possibility.

Instead of getting cut by the US government, maternal health programs are getting an additional $15 million to provide women and children with essential services.

Notably, the bill rejects the Administration’s original proposal to eliminate funding for family planning, keeping funding for international family planning programs that are bilaterally funded by the US at $608M

Funding for global health security, which seeks to mitigate the threat of infectious and other diseases, increased by $100 million, and funding for efforts to fight tuberculosis, which has been proliferating around the world, increased by $20 million.

2/ Education Funding Increased

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Funding for the Global Partnership for Education was expected to get cut or stay the same, but it ended up receiving getting an additional $12.5 million on the 2017 commitment, bringing the US total contribution to GPE for 2018 to $87.5 million.

Globally, 264 million children are out of school, either because of conflict and crisis, poverty, a lack of teachers and resources, or some other reason. Girls in particular are prevented from completing their educations because of stigmas and barriers around the world.

GPE is working to ensure children in 89 countries get access to a quality education.

3/ Food Aid Increased

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More than 127 million people were on the brink of starvation last year, and funding calls to stop various famines were made throughout the year.

The US budget responded to this demand by allocating an additional $116 million to Food for Peace, to bring the total US commitment to $1.72 billion.

Food for Peace is a US program that seeks to end hunger around the world.

4/ Various Programs Remained Intact

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The 2018 budget maintained funding for a lot of different programs.

For instance, US efforts to combat HIV/AIDS will continue to receive $6 billion; funding for programs that promote access to water and sanitation stayed at $400 million; and agricultural programs that promote food security will continue to receive $1.93 billion.

5/ There Was Broad Bipartisan Support

Senators and congressman from both major parties stepped up to protect foreign aid funding.

In particular,  we applaud:

  • Hal Rogers, Republican Congressman from Kentucky

  • Patrick Leahy, Democratic Congressman from Vermont

  • Nita Lowey, Democratic Congresswoman from New York

  • Lindsey Graham, Republican Senator from South Carolina

  • And all the members of the Appropriations and State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs committees


It wasn’t all good news, however. A lot of essential programs will be affected by the net $3.2 billion in foreign aid cuts.

For example, $49 million was removed from emergency migration and refugee assistance, a staggering 98% cut. The world is currently facing the largest refugee crisis in recorded history and countries cannot afford to be withholding aid.

The Economic Support Fund, which supports emerging economies and establishes trade partners, was cut by $713 million; diplomacy programs were cut by $890 million; and funds for UN peacekeeping campaigns were slashed by $528 million, meaning other governments will need to pick up the slack.

Foreign aid fared better than expected in the 2018 budget, but this funding cycle will only be covered through September 30, and the negotiations on 2019’s budget, which will start at a 30% cut once again, have already begun.


Quality Education: Taco Bell Is Helping All 210,000 of Its Employees Get an Education #SDGs #2030Now #GlobalGoals

All Taco Bell employee are now eligible for scholarships, online classes, and skills training.

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Fast-casual restaurant chain Taco Bell is known for its creative combinations: quesadilla and burrito (Quesarito), tacos and pizza (Mexican Pizza), and tacos and gorditas (Doritos Cheesy Gordita Crunch).

Now, the chain is getting creative with its employee benefits, combining work with educational opportunities for all of its 210,000 workers.

On March 15, Taco Bell announced that employees at the chain’s 7,000 stores nationwide are eligible for education classes at 80 online universities, as well as tuition assistance and college credit for job training at the restaurant.

Discounted classes are offered through Taco Bell’s partnership with Guild Education, which also works with Chipotle.

“When we surveyed our employees, education support was one of the top three things they asked for,” Frank Tucker, global chief people officer at Taco Bell, said in a statement. “The barriers to achieving their education goals were time, money and support.”

Programs like this, which are also available for workers at other fast food chains, such as Chipotle, McDonalds, and Starbucks, can be the jump-start students with a high-school degree or less need to improve future economic prospects.

Although the large majority of Americans have a high school diploma or equivalent, just one in three have a bachelor’s degree, and slightly over 10 percent have a master’s degree. Obtaining a bachelor’s degree can increase earnings by more than $20,000 per year, according to Smartasset.

So far, Taco Bell’s program seems to be working, and not just for employees. According to the press release, 98% of 700 workers who participated in a pilot program stayed with the company for more than six months — much higher than the company’s average six-month retention rate of 64 percent.

And with the company planning on adding 100,000 new jobs by 2022, they may not be only employees working at Taco Bell in the long-run.

Hopefully, the early success of Taco Bell’s will inspire other fast-food and fast-casual employers to provide educational opportunities for their workers, as well. 

Environment & Pollution: McDonald’s Will Phase Out Plastic Straws From UK Restaurants #BanPlastic #2030Now #SDGs

The trial will start across all 1,300 fast food outlets in May.

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McDonald’s will be phasing out plastic straws from its restaurants across the UK — in its latest environmentally-friendly effort.

The fast food chain will start trialling paper straws instead of the plastic ones at all 1,300 British outlets in May, in announced on Wednesday on Twitter.

Straws will also be kept behind the counter so customers will have to ask if they want one.

“Customers have told us that they don’t want to be given a straw and that they want to have to ask for one, so we’re acting on that,” said McDonald’s chief executive Paul Pomroy, in an interview with Sky News . “Straws are one of those things that people feel passionately about, and rightly so, and we’re moving those straws behind the front counter.” 

“If you come into McDonald’s going forward, you’ll be asked if you want a straw,” he added. “The other thing we’re looking to do is to move to recycled paper on the straws and biodegradable paper straws and that test, I’m really proud to say, will start next month.” 

The plastic straws in the fast food restaurant can actually already be recycled, but most people still throw them in the rubbish bin.

McDonald’s is “really close” to all of its packaging being recyclable, according to Pomroy. In fact, the only item of packaging that can’t currently be recycled, he said, are the plastic drink lids. But the chain hopes to find a solution to the plastic lids “within the next year.

Some 3.7 million people reportedly visit McDonald’s every day in the UK, with around 90% of the British population visiting at least once a year.

The announcement comes just a week after McDonald’s pledged to cut emissions in its restaurants and offices by 36% and across its supply chain by 31% by 2030, compared to 2015 levels.

It’s also part of a huge drive to cut down on single-use plastics, after the David Attenborough documentary “Blue Planet II” last year drove home exactly what plastics are doing to the marine environment.

On Wednesday, the government announced that England will be getting a deposit return scheme for bottles and cans — a system that has achieved a 97% recycling rate in Germany. It will mean customers pay a small amount extra — to be decided in a consultation later this year — when they buy their drinks, which they will get back when they return the container for recycling.

The scheme is part of the government’s 25-year plan , which aims to “set the global gold standard” on eliminating plastic, according to environment minister Michael Gove.

Quality Education: Malala Returns to Pakistan for the First Time Since She Was Shot #Malala #SDGs #GlobalGoals #2030Now

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She was attacked by the Taliban in 2012, to stop her speaking out for girls’ education.

Malala Yousafzai has returned to Pakistan for the first time since she was shot in the head, in an attack intended to silence her campaigning on girls’ education.

The activist, who is now 20 and studying at Oxford University, was attacked by the Taliban at just 15, in 2012. The group said at the time she was “promoting Western culture.”

Malala met with Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi in Islamabad Pakistan’s capital city, who welcomed her home and said she has returned “as the most prominent citizen of Pakistan.” Malala then gave a short speech on television.

“It’s the happiest day of my life,” she said in the speech , in tears. “I still can’t believe it’s happening. “I don’t normally cry… I’m still 20 years old but I’ve seen so many things in life. Whenever I travel in a plane, car I see the cities of London, New York and I was told that just imagine this is Pakistan, imagine that you are traveling in Islamabad, imagine that your are in Karachi. And it was never true. But now today I see I am here. I am extremely happy.”

Details of her four-day trip are being “kept secret in view of the sensitivity surrounding the visit,” an official told AFP news agency .

It’s not yet know whether Malala will visit her hometown of Swat, in the north-west of the country, which Malala described earlier this month as “paradise on earth.”

“I have received a lot of support in my country,” Malala told David Letterman, a US talk-show host , in a Netflix special. 

“There is this lust for change,” she added. “People want to see change in their country. I am already doing work there but I want my feet to touch that land.” 

It was in Swat that Malala was attacked, along with two other girls, while they were on a school bus after taking an exam. The gunman asked “who is Malala?” before he fired. She was taken to a military hospital in Pakistan, before moving to the UK to recover.

Malala had previously begun writing an anonymous diary about life under the Taliban rule, at just 11, for BBC Urdu. She became the youngest Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2014, when she received the award jointly with Indian activist Kailash Satyarthi.

The Taliban, which remains active in the country, have specifically targeted schools and colleges in attacks, reported the BBC , killing hundreds of people.

Earlier this month, Malala penned an open letter  to the 53 leaders of the Commonwealth countries, calling them to ensure girls’ education is on the agenda at the Commonwealth Summit, to be held in London in April.

“Together we are fighting for what has been promised but not delivered for far too long: 12 years of safe, free, quality education for every girl,” she wrote. 

 

 

Environment And Pollution: China Reaches 2020 Emissions Target* More Than 600 Days Ahead of Schedule #SDGs #GlobalGoals #2030Now

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*But it hasn’t actually reduced its total amount of emissions.

China, the largest emitter of greenhouse gases in the world, says that it has already reached its 2020 goal for reducing carbon dioxide emissions* set under the Paris climate agreement, according to the state-run news agency Xinhua.

The government said that carbon emissions as a unit of gross domestic product have fallen by 46% compared with 2005 levels, while the 2020 goal was a 40% reduction.

The announcement was made Monday by Xie Zhenhua, China’s special representative for climate change, at the country’s Green Carbon Summit, according to The Hill.

*But, here’s where the asterisk comes in: the way the achievement is framed obscures the fact that China hasn’t actually reduced aggregate carbon emissions.

Instead, the country’s carbon emissions are increasing at a rate that’s slower than the economy’s growth — hence the “as a unit of GDP” framework.

While that means China’s economy is becoming more efficient, it doesn’t mean it has reached “peak carbon,” the point at which a country’s emissions begin to decline.

China currently emits more carbon than the US and Europe combined.

The country plans to max out carbon emissions by 2030, according to The Hill, and will continue to burn more fossil fuels in the meantime.

But if the government continues to pour money into renewable energy and efficiency measures, then this target may also be reached ahead of schedule.

Zhenhua said that the country was able to reach its 2020 goal thanks to a carbon trading program it put in place in 2011 that required manufacturing companies in several states to limit their emissions. That program was rolled out to the rest of the country last year, according to The New York Times.

The government has also begun to invest heavily in renewable energy.

In the last year, China announced a $361 billion clean energy investment plan, shuddered pollution-heavy factories, called for the end of gasoline-powered cars, and assumed a more prominent role in global climate talks.

Despite these advances, China has been criticized for not doing enough to mitigate climate change and many environmental advocates hope that the country will set more ambitious targets under the Paris agreement.

Reduced Inequalities: This Hong Kong Heiress Became an Accidental #LGBT Champion #HumanRights #PressForProgress #SDGs #GlobalGoals #LGBTQ

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Her father offered $127 million to any man who could make her straight.

By Beh Lih Yi

HONG KONG, March 27 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – When Hong Kong property tycoon Cecil Chao offered $65 million to any man who could win over his lesbian daughter and make her straight, he inadvertently laid the ground for her to become one of Asia’s most prominent gay rights campaigners.

The bizarre reward in 2012 grabbed international headlines and his daughter, Gigi Chao, was bombarded with thousands of marriage proposals from across the world – from war veterans to a body double of George Clooney in a sports movie.

It was the first time the issue of acceptance of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community had played out in such high-profile way in Hong Kong – a city modern in many ways but where social attitudes remain conservative.

“I am glad it happened,” Gigi Chao told the Thomson Reuters Foundation at the office of her property firm is housed in Hong Kong’s third-tallest skyscraper overlooking the city’s harbour.

“It has been able to put a comic spin on a topic that is often marred by a lot of tragedies and taboos,” said the 38-year-old, wearing a sparkly rainbow-coloured jacket.

The elder Chao – whose property empire invests in Hong Kong, China and Malaysia – put the $65 million “marriage bounty” on his daughter’s head after she entered into a civil partnership with her girlfriend in France in early 2012.

After failing to find any suitors, the 81-year-old billionaire doubled the offer to HK$1 billion ($127 million) in 2014.

This prompted Chao to pen an open letter published in Hong Kong newspapers which said: “Dear daddy, you must accept I’m a lesbian” and urged him to treat her partner like a “normal, dignified human being”.

Such a public feud in a well-known family would have been remarkable anywhere but was particularly unusual in Asia when no country in the region at that time recognised same-sex marriage.

It was only last year that the Taiwan’s constitutional court paved the way for the island to become the first place in Asia with gay marriage after it ruled in favour of same-sex unions.

Today Chao is not only the heir to her father’s property business and one of Hong Kong’s richest women, she is also the most recognisable face campaigning for LGBT rights in the city.

ENGAGING BUSINESSES

Homosexuality has been decriminalised since 1991 in Hong Kong, a former British colony which returned to Chinese rule in 1997. The city has an annual pride parade and lively gay scene.

But despite the city enjoying freedom of speech and assembly, it does not recognise same-sex marriage and campaigners say LGBT people still face widespread discrimination and often come under family pressure to marry and have children.

Transgender people are recognised if they have undergone sex reassignment surgery but activists have been lobbying to remove this requirement.

A proposal to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation has been under discussion in the city’s legislature, the Legislative Council (LegCo), but there is no clear indication whether it will be adopted.

“It is disappointing in that LegCo doesn’t have the forward vision or the courage to put something forward like this in fear of offending the traditional groups,” Chao said.

But where the government has failed, is where Chao believes businesses can step in to take the lead.

The businesswoman has been using her influence in high society to forge a coalition of allies to mobilise support.

“What we found to be most effective is to engage top executives and allow them to see how inclusion, diversity and equality is something they should, and they shall, stand for and let it cascade down the organisation,” she said.

“There are a lot of notable organisations which have been doing that. Engaging the government is more difficult.”

TOP LGBT EXECUTIVE

There have been other signs of growing acceptance.

Hong Kong is set to become the host of the 2022 Gay Games, a sports and cultural event dubbed the “Gay Olympics”, after fighting off bids from cities in the United States and Mexico.

In a rare victory, a Hong Kong court last year ruled that a British lesbian whose partner worked in the city should receive a spousal visa.

The charity Big Love Alliance – of which Chao is a founding member – organises an annual Pink Dot gathering to campaign for LGBT rights and it has attracted sponsorship from embassies and investment banks.

Chao also works with the United Nations on LGBT rights and became the first Asian to be named as the top LGBT executive on an annual OUTstanding list compiled by the Financial Times which ranks LGBT role models in business.

A qualified helicopter pilot, Chao said the marriage bounty episode did not tarnish her ties with her father – who like her also shares a passion of flying.

“You build a much stronger bond in these relationships after you have been able to live your full self, be a full person and live as an honest person in front of your mum and dad,” she said.

“It is an important process to go through although in the short term it does jolt them into a bit of shock.”

But in a signal that there is still a long way to go for same-sex marriage in Hong Kong, Chao said she and her partner have had to temporarily put aside the idea of having children.

“Even for people like me – who many perceive as having all the resources in the world to do whatever I want in some ways – it is very difficult,” she said.

“It is not easy because you can’t do it in Hong Kong or anywhere else in Asia.”

Women And Girls: In Uganda, Unmarried Women Are Fighting to Keep Their Homes #TimeIsNow #PressForProgress #SDGs #WomensHistoryMonth

Women’s rights to land are often undermined by patriarchal customs.

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By Amy Fallon

Kampala, UGANDA – After almost two decades living with a man nearly twice her age, who first got her pregnant when she was 15, Jane Zamukunda finally had one small comfort: a nice home that she felt was hers.

Her partner and father of her three children had bought a piece of land in the Nansana suburb of Kampala, where they built a house together. It was comfortable by most standards, with furniture and a TV. But most important to Zamukunda, now 28, was the fact that she had a key to the house: unusual in a country where it’s rare for a woman to own property.

“That was what I aspired to, to have a house for my children,” said Zamukunda, who works as a tailor.

Then one day in 2015, Zamukunda returned from work to find her home completely empty.

“[My partner] basically cleaned out the whole house,” she said.

Different variations of this scene play out every day across Uganda, where both official legislation and cultural laws deny women their full rights to own, inherit and control the use of land and property. Women make up more than 70 percent of the country’s agricultural workforce, but less than 20 percent of women own land in their own right.

The equal property rights afforded to women by law are often overruled by traditional customs. In a 2016 survey, respondents who were asked about 14 “serious” justice problems affecting Ugandans put land as the No. 1 issue.

A month after Zamukunda’s husband disappeared, during which time she and her children slept on the floor of their empty home, a group of men carrying padlocks confronted her and told her the house had been sold to them.

“They threatened to cut me up if I even went back to the house, so I had to run,” Zamukunda said. She took refuge in her brother’s one-bedroom house, about 10km (6.2 miles) away in Kawempe slum.

When Zamukunda went to local leaders for help, they told her, “Your man was right to sell, after all, you’re not even married.” She then went to the police who told her they would search for and arrest her partner. She has heard nothing from them – or him – since.

‘CULTURAL LAWS ARE INGRAINED SO DEEP’

Desperate to keep the home she had spent 10 years sharing with her partner, Zamukunda sought help from Barefoot Law, a Ugandan nonprofit social enterprise offering free legal guidance. Zamukunda said she feels she knows more about the law than many women, but Maureen Nuwamanya, a legal officer at Barefoot Law, said that even if Ugandan women are aware of their rights, that doesn’t guarantee those rights will be recognized.

“Cultural laws are ingrained so deep” that land disputes affect Ugandan women “regardless of the fact that you know your rights,” Nuwamanya said. “It’s a patriarchal society.”

Barefoot Law advised Zamukunda that, among other things, the men who evicted her had taken advantage of the fact that cohabitation isn’t recognized by law.

If a couple lives and buys property or land together without getting married and then separates, the woman usually has no claim to that property or land.

But even if women are married to their partners, their rights to land ownership and inheritance are often undermined by customary laws built on “dominant patriarchal mindsets [and] practices,” said Isaac Ssemakadde, CEO of human rights group Legal Brains Trust.

Most land tribunals consist entirely of men, who often discriminate against women when it comes to cases of property ownership. And women are also often disadvantaged by illiteracy, making it hard for them to fight for their rights, said Regina Bafaki, executive director of NGO Action for Development.

Bafaki receives daily queries from women over land conflicts and said her organization is one of several that offers property rights training for women. But home duties mean women often don’t have time to attend.

“I also think the other challenge is more or less lack of political will to support women in acquiring land,” Bafaki said.

A government spokesman did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

LONG-RUNNING LAND BATTLES

In Uganda, where women have protested over land rights in long-running disputes, there has been recent criticism from human rights groups, the church and the public over government plans to amend the constitution to allow it to take private land for projects.

Winfred Ngabiirwe, the executive director of NGO Global Rights Alert, said the amendment, if passed, would result in “legalized land grabbing,” adding that women would be most affected. “Land is for feeding, it’s employment, [children] go to school because mothers sell crops,” she said.

With help from Barefoot Legal, Zamukunda has won the battle for her property, at least for now. The organization referred her to the office of the district commissioner, who halted the eviction. Representatives from Barefoot Legal also accompanied her to meet with her neighbors and local leaders to explain that she would be moving back in and any issues should be directed to her lawyers. Zamukunda and her children were finally able to return to their home. She cut the padlocks off the door herself.

Zamukunda said she has not seen or heard from her former partner or the strangers who tried to evict her since the dispute began. She knows there is a chance they could reappear, but said if they do, “I have help.”

But more importantly, Zamukunda wants all women in Uganda to know their property rights and get help to fight for them.

“I saw a case on the news that is exactly like mine, so I’m not the only one affected,” she said. “I want other women to be empowered.”

Now she wants the government to make sure what happened to her won’t happen to other women. She wants the government to look at recognizing property rights between cohabiting couples.

Quality Education: Linda Brown, Who Helped End School Segregation, Dies at 75 #PressForProgress #TimeIsNow #SDGs #Inclusion

Equal access to education remains an elusive goal.

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Linda Brown, the student at the center of the Brown v. Education court case that legally ended racial discrimination in US schools, died March 25 at the age of 75, according to her family.

Brown’s legacy is a reminder that meaningful social change often requires both legal action and social awareness, according to the New York Times.

When Brown was growing up in Topeka, Kansas, in the 1940s and 50s, an elementary school was located a few blocks from her family’s home, according to NPR.

Walking to class would have been easy, but Brown wasn’t allowed to attend the Sumner School — it was only for white kids.

Instead, she had to walk a much farther distance and then take a bus to an all-black school.

For her father, Oliver Brown, this unfair treatment was intolerable and one day he led his daughter to the Sumner School, but they were turned away.

“I could tell something was wrong, and he came out and took me by the hand and we walked back home,” she said, recalling the incident, in an interview with The Miami Herald in 1987. “We walked even more briskly, and I could feel the tension being transferred from his hand to mine.”

Her father soon joined the NAACP to file a lawsuit against the Topeka Board of Education, setting in motion what would become one of the most defining Supreme Court cases in US history.

In 1954, Brown v. Board of Education legally ended segregation in schools throughout the US.

“To separate them from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race,” the court said, “generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely to ever be undone.”

Since then, Brown has become a symbol for progress in the US. Her struggle helped to pave the way for the broader civil rights era and gave people legal recourse when facing discrimination.

But even though integration became the law of the land in 1954, US schools are more segregated now than they have been in more than 40 years.

Today, black children are more likely to grow up in poverty than they were 50 years ago and school quality and choice are largely determined by a family’s zip code.

As Vox argues, uneven access to education persists in the US because neighborhoods throughout the country have become more segregated through various policies and actions.

This stubborn reality has partly undermined the promise of Brown v. Board of Education, Vox suggests.

“Six decades after Brown v. Board, we have failed to close opportunity and achievement gaps for our African-American and Latino students at every level of education,” former US Education Secretary John King said in 2016.

“And in far too many schools, we continue to offer them less — less access to the best teachers and the most challenging courses; less access to the services and supports that affluent students often take for granted, and less access to what it takes to succeed academically,” he added.

Despite these problems, Brown, who became an educational consultant and public speaker, remained optimistic during her life that school access would improve.

“I am very proud that this happened to me and my family and I think it has helped minorities everywhere,” she told NPR.