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.

 

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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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 & 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 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.”

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: These Are the Best Countries to Be a Woman #PressForProgress #TimeIsNow #sdgs #globalgoals

These countries are leading the way in women’s rights and gender equality.

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There’s no country that can boast total gender equality yet, but some can proudly say they’re close.

Data reflected in the 2015 World Economic Forum Gender Gap Report shows that more than 96 percent of the gender gap in health outcomes and 95 percent in educational attainment has been closed, while only 59 percent of the gap in economic participation and 23 percent in political empowerment (compared to 14 percent 10 years ago) has been closed. The five countries with the least gender inequality are still only about 80 percent of the way to gender parity.

Despite the great distance left to go, this is significant progress.

Here are the countries that are leading the way in women’s rights and gender equality through equal pay, economic opportunities, political representation, and access to education.

Iceland

Iceland — where the sun doesn’t set in the summer, the ponies are fluffy, and the gender gap is almost closed! The 2015 World Economic Forum Gender Gap Report found that Iceland has closed 88 percent of its gender gap — which is not just “pretty good,” it’s actually the best (that the world has to date). Iceland has topped the list for smallest gender gap for the seventh year in a row. The levels of equality in access to healthcare, education, and economic participation and opportunities are close among the top five countries in the report, but Iceland outpaces the pack when it comes to gender parity in politics — with close to 72 percent of the gap closed, it’s more than 10 points ahead of the next closest contender (Finland). Iceland has had a female head of state for 20 out of the past 50 years and women are generally well represented in its political system.

The small country has come a long way from the historic strike of 1975, when 90 percent of the nation’s women went on strike — taking the day off from their office jobs, childcare, and housework — to rally for equal rights.

New Zealand

This small nation, whose sheep population outnumbers its human population, was the first to give women the right to vote in 1893. According to 2015 World Economic Forum Gender Gap Report, New Zealand can boast gender parity in access to education, and very nearly equal access to health care. It hasn’t reached perfect parity yet, but it’s certainly fairing better than most countries. New Zealand’s gender wage gap is (relatively) small, at 11.8% this past year — close to half that of the US — and women make up about 30% of its political representatives.

Finland

While women in New Zealand were the first to have to right to vote, Finnish women were the first to be elected to parliament in 1907 — 19 women members were elected. Today, women hold 10 out of 18 parliamentary posts. Finland also has a generous maternity leave policy, allowing women to begin their leave up to 50 working days before their due dates, and offering a maternity allowance for 105 working days — and that offer comes with very few strings attached, students, self-employed and unemployed women can all take advantage of it. But Finland doesn’t just expect women to do all the parenting — paternity leave is offered (and encouraged) for up to 54 working days and also comes with an allowance, which also means that new moms can re-enter the workforce sooner if they choose. Hopefully they’ll soon close the gender gap in equal parenting.

Denmark

Denmark gave women the right to vote in the second iteration of its constitution in 1915 — and more than 20,000 women marched to the palace to commemorate the achievement. More recently, Denmark was rated the best country for women, based on the responses of over 7,000 women who completed US News’ 2016 Best countries survey. Like Finland, Denmark has a flexible parental leave policies that encourage gender parity at home and in the office. It’s healthcare and education systems are “virtually free,” which has equalized access to both. And while Danes are often seen as some of the happiest people in the world, a study found that it’s older women are the happiest of the happiest — so they must be doing something right!

Sweden

Sweden has closed more than 80 percent of its gender gap and is often cited as an example of a nation close to achieving gender parity, perhaps because it reportedly has the “most progressive attitudes toward gender equality,” according to a YouGov poll. Sweden’s policies are similar the other Scandinavian countries — it has a welfare system that emphasizes work-life balance, parental leave policies to support that, and public services that enable men and women to access healthcare, education, and job opportunities equally. Sweden boasts the highest percentage of working mothers in the EU (more than 73 percent in 2014), in no small part due to its generous family benefits, flexible parental leave policies, access to quality education and day care.


It may surprise you to know that some of the most developed countries don’t even come close to the top 10 in gender equality — the UK weighs in at 18, while the US and Canada trail behind at 28 and 30, respectively. Australian women are poorly represented in their political system, putting them at 36, while Japan’s similarly under-represented women land them at 101 (of 145 evaluated in the 2015 World Economic Forum Gender Gap Report).

On the other hand, Rwanda and the Philippines come in at 6 and 7, the only developing nations in the top 10, largely due to low levels of disparity in economic opportunities. In fact, Rwanda was the top performing country overall on wage equality for similar work.

No country has the total package yet, though some are farther along in the process than others. What’s more, many are taking active steps toward achieving gender parity. Girls and women deserve equal opportunities to thrive and achieve. Hopefully soon, we’ll be able to declare global gender equality.

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

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