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.

Partnerships For The Goals: “Voluntourism” – Good or Bad? Lets find out… #sdgs #globalgoals #2030Now

This article from guest  Francesca Rhodes asks if short-term volunteering overseas is good for the fight against poverty.

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The industry for combining volunteering with travel (or ‘voluntourism’) is booming. But the sector is controversial, accused of irresponsibly promoting the idea that tourists can make a real difference to development by spending a few weeks of their time at a project.

According to the critics, this approach purely serves the needs and aspirations of the volunteer, and can have negative effects on the local communities that have to host and direct people who have little or no experience in the work they are carrying out.

One volunteer company doesn’t seem to shy away from this assumption, allowing potential volunteers to search through its projects with the questions, ‘Where do you want to go?’, ‘What do you want to do’ and ‘How long do you want to go for?’. If the volunteer is there to ‘make a difference’ to local communities then surely it should be ‘What can you do?’, ‘What are your skills’ and ‘Where are you needed?’.

Voluntouring isn’t cheap either. Volunteers usually shell out for flights, insurance, transfers, food, visas and vaccinations as well as the volunteer placement fee, which can be up to £400 a week.
The critics (including a character in our recent ‘aid worker’ video), argue that this money could be better spent if it was donated straight to the project, for example it would last a lot longer used as a salary for a qualified local worker to take the place of the volunteer.

But sometimes these criticisms can all feel a bit cynical. Surely there are lots of projects that would benefit from enthusiastic volunteers committing their time and energy, even if only for a short time? And isn’t there huge potential for utilising volunteers who return from their trip inspired, better informed about the world and looking to contribute more?

From my experience volunteering abroad, I would say that both sides of the argument have truth in them. The key to making sure your volunteering abroad is useful, efficient and positive for both parties is being honest about what skills you really have to offer as a volunteer, and careful research into where these skills might be used most effectively.

When I was 18 I volunteered as a teacher in the South Pacific country of Vanuatu. I hadn’t been much further east than Norwich before and had no experience teaching or working with young people. But, I had always dreamt of living on a tropical island – ever since seeing ‘The Beach’ aged 14 it had been a bit of an obsession. I believed that if placements were on offer there then these poor people must need me. Before I arrived I pictured myself surrounded by happy smiling children whose life chances had been drastically improved by my imparted wisdom and English language skills.

The reality was of course quite different. Don’t get me wrong, I loved my time living on an amazing tropical island steeped in history and culture, and I met some of the most welcoming and friendly people on the planet. I had an amazing year and my experience still influences me personally and professionally. What troubles me is that I could have experienced these things without taking up that particular teaching placement, and the arrogance in assuming children ‘needed’ to be taught by an unqualified and inexperienced westerner.

My school already had an English teacher, Lizzy, who was from the island and had stuck it out through high school and Uni to qualify – and she was really good at her job. When I arrived I took over her classes, and as I was completely new to teaching and had minimal (one week) training, it took me quite some time to get into it, and frankly I was never going to be as good as her. It would have been far better for me to have played an assistant role to Lizzy in her classes, or to have focused on helping students with their conversational English. However when I had seen teaching assistant placements advertised in the volunteer brochure, I turned them down in favour of full teaching as I thought I would make more of a difference that way.

It was partly the volunteer organisation’s fault, they should have had a better understanding of the education system in Vanuatu and the local community to know what their needs really were and weren’t. But it was also my fault for choosing a placement based on what I wanted to get out of it, not what I could honestly offer at the time.

I don’t have a problem with people wanting to see more of the world through voluntourism, it can provide links to communities which most tourists will never interact with, and these relationships can be mutually beneficial. I don’t have a problem with people shelling out thousands of pounds for placements which could be arranged locally for a fraction of the price, some people wouldn’t be confident doing so and would therefore never go. I don’t have a problem with qualified western teachers working in developing countries where there is a need (although this is a short term solution to a long term problem).

What I do have a problem with is volunteering projects which are not locally needed, not culturally sensitive and focus more on the aspirations of the volunteer than the community they are trying to help. There are some great ways to volunteer out there, but as volunteers we need to be honest and humble about what we can provide, and we need to challenge the sector to provide sustainable and effective ways to contribute our time.

So, if you’d like volunteer overseas for a short period, here are some sites and resources that I feel are approaching things the right way:
– Ecoteer offers community based, low cost volunteering projects committed to environmental, economic and socio-cultural responsibility. 100% of the programme fee goes to the project and projects do not pay to list opportunities on the site.
– 2 Way development is a specialist international volunteer agency, placing skilled volunteers with sustainable development projects.
– Volunteer 4 Africa is an independent, non profit organisation providing a database of low cost volunteering projects.
– Volunteer Latin America is an information service connecting volunteers to non profit organizations seeking independent volunteers in Central and South America.
– Volunteer Thailand provides instant access to organizations in Thailand actively seeking international volunteers.

If you’re interested in spending longer overseas and have strong skills to offer, then check out VSO in the UK, AVI in Australia or Peace Corps in the USA.

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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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Good Health & Well-Being: Diddy Donated $200K to Provide Healthcare to Women in Uganda #health #agenda2030 #Africa #Uganda #sdgs #globalgoals

“It’s important to give back. It’s important to be an agent of change.”

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An initiative started by rapper French Montana, in partnership with Global Citizen, in February of last year to bring health care to a rural medical clinic in Uganda can now count on another star philanthropist.

On Thursday, Rolling Stone reported that rapper Sean ‘Diddy’ Combs donated $200K to the Suubi Health Center in Budondo, which provides maternal care services to rural mothers in the region.

According to the report, $100K of the donation came through Ciroc, a vodka company owned by the rapper. Combs matched that donation with $100K of his own money.

The money will go toward building a prenatal care clinic, birth house, and new ambulance, Rolling Stone reported.

“It’s important to give back. It’s important to be an agent of change,” Combs said in a video released on YouTube by the Mama Hope organization,

Combs’ donation brings the total money raised for the Suubi Health Center to $400K.

In May, French Montana donated $100K to Mama Hope after visiting Uganda in February to film the music video for his hit song “Unforgettable.” He had been inspired to visit after seeing a video posted online of Uganda’s Triplets Ghetto Kids, a local dance troupe.

Montana’s generosity in turn convinced The Weeknd to match the $100K donation, which, according to Mama Hope, allowed the clinic to increase its serving capacity from 56,000 people to 260,000.

Access to health care for poor women in Uganda is severely lacking, especially in rural areas.

Fewer than half of Ugandan women made at least four visits — the minimum number recommended by the World Health Organization — to antenatal care centers, according to UNICEF. In some regions, midwives must handle an estimated eight to 10 births each day and patients must walk almost 20 miles to reach the nearest health center, Insider reports.

The maternal mortality rate in Uganda, while lower than it used to be, is still 336 maternal deaths for every 100,000 births.

The Mordi Ibe Foundation campaigns on the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, including goal number three: good health and well-being. This goal specifically calls on all countries to reduce their maternal mortality rates to below 70 per 100,000 births by 2030. 

Combs, who has invested in youth on numerous occasions in the past, sees his donation as an opportunity to create a brighter for women and children not just in his own country, but around the world.

“I’ve always said my purpose is to inspire and empower the next generation to become great leaders — and to honor their hustle along the way,” he told the Rolling Stone.

When it comes to his investment in maternal health care, Diddy’s showing that he’s still “All About the Benjamins.”

 

Women And Girls: Apple’s New Hijab Emoji Sparks Both Controversy and Hope #pressforprogress #timeisnow #sdgs #globalgoals

“I just wanted an emoji of me.”

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Last year, Rayouf Alhumedhi was sitting in her bedroom in Berlin creating a group chat with her friends when she had a realization:

“The fact that there wasn’t an emoji to represent me and the millions of other hijabi women across the world was baffling to me,” she told CNN.

The Saudi-born teen decided to take action. She created a draft of a hijabi woman emoji and sent it to the Unicode Consortium, the nonprofit responsible for reviewing and developing new emojis.

“I just wanted an emoji of me,” she recalled.

On Monday night, her wish was granted. Alhumedhi found out “just like everyone else” that her emoji had been accepted; her friend messaged her a link to a Buzzfeed article which detailed the plans to release the new emojis in Apple products in the coming months.

Emojis have grown more inclusive over the past years, expanding their catalogue to feature a wide range of skin tones. Beyond the hijab, emoji is set to release gender neutral and breastfeeding women emojis later this year.

Apple’s inclusion of the headscarf-wearing emoji did not come without contention. Some people took to social media to express disapproval of the company’s decision. One user said that, by adding the hijab emoji, the company is expressing “support for the oppression of women.”

Alhumedhi is of the opposite mindset. Her family moved to the German capital from Saudi Arabia – a nation notorious for its oppression of women – when Rayouf was a child. She views the emoji she proposed as a means of increasing representation of Muslim women, and possibly even a vehicle to “indirectly promote tolerance.”

There has been a spike in hate crimes against Muslims since the 2016 United States presidential election. The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) reports that 15% of the time, headscarves act as the trigger for attackers.

Alhumedhi hopes that the new emoji can help reduce the stigma against hijabs, and illustrate that the millions of women who choose to wear a headscarf are “normal people carrying out daily routines just like you.”

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.

Affordable And Clean Energy: Bernie Sanders Introduces Legislation to Rebuild Puerto Rico With Clean Energy #globalgoals #sdgs

Sanders’ new bill would invest billions into modernizing Puerto Rico’s infrastructure.

The tail end of Hurricane Maria’s driving rains and powerful winds retreated from Puerto Rico over two months ago, but the aftermath of the devastating storm is not leaving the island any time soon.

Nearly 3.5 million American citizens are still facing a severely damaged electrical grid, crumbling infrastructure, and apathy from a president who has been roundly criticized for his recovery effort.

However, some are choosing to view the massive operation of rebuilding Puerto Rico as a chance to improve the island, bringing it back better than ever before. Leading this charge is former presidential hopeful and current Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders.

After visiting Puerto Rico last month, Sanders introduced a $146 billion recovery plan Tuesday aimed at rebuilding Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands. Notably, the plan calls for the elimination of Puerto Rico’s outstanding debt, and prevents all proposed privatization of any public institutions on the islands.

Aptly named the “The Puerto Rico and U.S Virgin Islands Equitable Rebuild Act of 2017,” Sanders’ plan offers a different vision of recovery than anything previously proposed. The bill emphasizes the importance of placing control of recovery into the hands of local impacted communities, with special focus on the sustainable development of infrastructure, and a clean energy power grid.

As hundreds of thousands of Puerto Ricans leave the island for the mainland of the US, the bill would also incentivize residents to remain in their homes by offering subsidies to municipalities and homeowners who install renewable energy technologies like solar, wind, and geothermal power systems.

the havoc wreaked by Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico were exacerbated by the effects of rampant poverty, high rates of unemployment, and a lack of economic investment by the US government into efficient infrastructure systems.

Sanders’ bill, which is to be co-sponsored by Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), would seek to remedy some of these longstanding social ills by including increased funding to the island’s healthcare and education systems.

Furthermore, the bill would provide additional funds to be invested in efforts to prepare for and mitigate the effects of climate change — a reality that could worsen the impacts of future weather-related disasters hitting both the Virgin Islands and Puerto Rico.

Global Citizen campaigns on the United Nations’ Global Goals for Sustainable Development, and taking action on climate change is goal number 13. Acting too late to combat the effects of climate change would be devastating to millions around the world at risk from weather catastrophes like hurricanes. You can take action on this issue here.

Even with the support of high ranking Democrats, it is expected that Sanders’ bill will not pass through the Republican-controlled congress, as reported by the Washington Post. Earlier in November, Puerto Rican governor Ricardo Rosselló requested just under $95 billion to aid relief efforts on the island, but Congress has not approved this sum. Sanders’ bill would nearly double that.

As of this week, Congress has allotted $51 billion in aid for Puerto Rico, with another round of cash expected to be approved in December, Reuters reported.

Sanders told the Washington Post that it is Congress’ responsibility to pass legislation that solves the longstanding structural deficiencies of Puerto Rico.

“Congress must work with the people of Puerto Rico to fundamentally transform its expensive, antiquated and unreliable system,” he said.

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.

Watch Video Here