Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Integrating gender equality into academia and research: legal, policy and other stimulatory initiatives in the EU Member States III/VII

Legal framework
The purpose of the Directive 2006/54/EC (recast) is to ensure the implementation of the principle of equal opportnities and equal treatment of men and women in matters of employment and occupation. The Directive contains provisions to implement the principle of equal treatment in relation to: a) access to employment, including promotion, and to vocational training; b) working conditions, including (gender) equal pay, return from maternity, paternity and adoption leave, and sexual harassment; and c) occupational social security schemes. It also contains provisions to ensure more effective implementation by the establishment of appropriate procedures. Although this Directive applies to research and higher education institutions as employers, some EU Member States have developed specific legislation to achieve the overarching objective of mainstreaming gender equality in public research and higher education. By November 2015, 14 EU Member States2 had included the overarching objective of integrating gender in public research in their national general equality and/or anti-discrimination legal frameworks (see Figure 2). In most cases, it is the status of higher education institutions and research organisations as public bodies and employers, which determines whether they are explicitly covered by the general equality and/or antidiscrimination legislation. These provisions primarily target equality in the workplace, equal access to decision-making positions and fighting sexual harassment and discrimination. Specific provisions requiring research and/or higher education institutions to implement structured gender equality plans exist only in eight EU Member States3 (see Figure 2).

Policy framework
22 EU Member States4 have put in place policies promoting gender equality in research. It was found that a policy framework on the integration of gender in research may exist in countries lacking legal provisions on the same topic. This is the case of Czech Republic, Hungary and Slovenia. On the other hand, countries with a comprehensive legislative framework, such as Austria, were found not to reflect this into a comprehensive policy framework. There is a high degree of diversity in the different dimensions covered by these policies and in the intensity of their implementation.
In 165 out of 22 Member States where policies are in place, the main focus is on equality in participation in research activities and gender balance in access to management and decisionmaking positions. In other countries, although these basic dimensions are not covered, other aspects are considered, such as promoting work-life balance (GR), or establishing a partnership between equality and research governance bodies (PT). Policies on the integration of a gender perspective in knowledge production could be identified in three countries (BE, FI and FR), while policies on the integration of a gender dimension in curricula are present in four (BE, FI, HR and SI). Worth noting is that French and Spanish policy documents include specific measures directed at fighting gender-based violence.
Ensuring support (or absence thereof) for the implementation of Gender Equality Plans is also a point of divergence in the policies identified in the EU Member States. Only eight countries6  include supportive measures for establishing and implementing Gender Equality Plans.  The fieldwork of this project also provided evidence that Research Funding Organisations have increased their involvement in the implementation of policies that promote gender equality in research. Nevertheless, the degree of support still varies considerably among countries.

Other stimulatory initiatives

 The most widespread initiative seems to be the L’Oréal-UNESCO awards for female scientists, which has been implemented over the last years by 12 Member States7. This practice consists of awarding female senior researchers and granting fellowships to doctoral and post-doctoral researchers. The Athena-SWAN Chart initiative was established in 2005 in the UK with the aim of encouraging and advancing the careers of women in science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medicines (STEMs). In 2015, the Charter included the research areas of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities, Business and Law. Also in early 2015, the Athena-SWAN charter was extended to Ireland. Other stimulatory initiatives have been identified in different EU Member States such as the Charter for Gender Equality in Higher Education and Research in France, or the Charter for More Women in Management and Operation Chain Reaction in Denmark.
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Monday, November 28, 2016

EU objectives for gender equality in research II/VII

Three objectives underpin the European Commission’s strategy on gender equality in research and innovation policy:
• Fostering equality in scientific careers; • Ensuring gender balance in decision-making processes and bodies; • Integrating the gender dimension in research and innovation content, i.e. taking into account the biological characteristics and the social features of women and men.
As laid out in the European Commission’s Communication for a Reinforced European Research Area (2012), the EU Member States are encouraged to:
• Create a legal and policy environment and provide incentives to: › remove legal and other barriers to the recruitment, retention and career progression of female researchers while fully complying with EU law on gender equality (Directive 2006/54/EC); › address gender imbalances in decision making processes; › strengthen the gender dimension in research programmes;
• Engage in partnerships with funding agencies, research organisations and universities to foster cultural and institutional change on gender – charters, performance agreements, and awards.
• Ensure that at least 40% of the underrepresented sex participate in committees involved in recruitment/career progression and in establishing and evaluating research programmes.
The Council Conclusions on Advancing gender equality in the European Research Area (adopted in 2015) reiterate the need to foster sustainable cultural and institutional change in the ERA national action plans or strategies at the level of Member States and research institutions.
The Council also invites EU Member States and research funding organisations to provide incentives to encourage higher education institutions and research organisations to revise or develop gender mainstreaming strategies and/or gender equality plans and to mobilise adequate resources.
The Council calls in particular for:
• Guiding targets in decision-making bodies, such as leading scientific and administrative boards, recruitment and promotion committees and evaluation panels, to achieve gender balance in leadership and decisionmaking positions.
• Guiding targets for a more even gender balance of full professors in higher education institutions.
• Monitoring, with appropriate indicators, the implementation of gender policies, and actions at institutional, national and EU level.
• Gender awareness-raising and capacity-building tools in order to achieve institutional change.
• Flexible and family-friendly working conditions and arrangements for both women and men.
• The review of the assessment of researchers’ performance, to eliminate gender bias.

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Saturday, November 26, 2016

Promoting gender equality in academia and research institutions in the European Union I/VII

Over the last 15 years, continuous and cumulative steps have been made to advance gender equality in research and higher education institutions in the European Union (see Figure 1).
Despite these efforts, and although progress can be noticed (as shown by ‘She Figures’), there is still work to be done because literature and statistics provide evidence that: research and higher education institutions are gendered settings; unconscious or implicit biases impede an objective and fair judgement when recruiting or assessing people; there is a tendency to associate science with men; female researchers are generally underrepresented (with even lower percentages in typical male-dominated fields and in leadership and senior positions); and much research is gender-blind or genderbiased. 
In order to change the current state-of-play and ultimately contribute to the promotion of gender equality in research and higher education institutions, the European Institute for Gender Equality (EIGE), in cooperation with the European Commission’s Directorate-General for Research and Innovation, commissioned a project aimed at: 
• mapping and analysing the legal and policy frameworks and other stimulatory initiatives promoting gender equality in research;
• identifying good practices for integrating gender equality in research and higher education institutions;
• developing an online tool to assist these institutions in setting up, implementing, monitoring and evaluating gender equality plans.

This project ran from July 2015 until October 20161 . 
A participatory approach was followed throughout the project. A multiplicity of stakeholders and experts across the EU and beyond were involved to: 
• ensure that a comprehensive mapping was carried out;
• identify and select good practices promoting gender equality in research and higher education institutions;
• to co-design an online tool that meets the needs of those working in the field.  
The GEAR tool (Gender Equality in Research and Academia) is the result of multiple contributions, in different stages of the process, covering the 28 EU Member States and beyond. 
Considering the wealth of information and insights gathered, this publication summarises the main findings of the research and co-creation processes undertaken throughout the project.

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Thursday, November 24, 2016


Born in Iraq, raised in Jordan, and educated in England, Zain Habboo now calls Washington, D.C., home. As the Senior Director for Digital and Multimedia Strategy at the United Nations Foundation, Zain develops and oversees digital, video, photo, and mobile strategy for the Foundation and its 17-plus worldwide campaigns and initiatives. Her team's ambitious mission—to engage citizens around the globe with the lifesaving work of the United Nations—has resulted in the creation of viral memes (the #unselfie) and social media innovations (#Instacorps), as well as participation in groundbreaking convergences such as the Social Good Summit, and much more.

Zain is quickly becoming known for her creative and strategic force behind “Digital Surge Days,” such as a day of programming around the International Day of Happiness in partnership with the artist Pharrell Williams, and marquee UN-related days such as Momentum 1000 and MDG500.

Prior to joining the United Nations Foundation, Zain spent 14 years at National Geographic, first in the magazine’s prestigious photo editing department. She was tapped by senior executives to help launch and steer the society's nascent digital presence into an award-winning Internet standout.

Zain serves on the board of the Petra National Foundation, the sister organization of the Petra National Trust in Jordan. She is an active member of the young professional Jordanian community in Washington, D.C. She lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland, with her husband and two young sons.
Follow Zain on Twitter: @zainyh
Follow Zain on Instagram: @embratora

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Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Nancy Lyman Roelker

Nancy Lyman Roelker (1915–1993) 

Nancy Lyman Roelker was born on June 15, 1915, in Warwick, Rhode Island, to William Greene Roelker, a historian, and Anna (Koues) Roelker. She received an A.B. from Radcliffe College in 1936, an A.M. from Harvard University in 1937, and a Ph.D. from Harvard in 1953. She taught European history from 1937 to 1941 at Concord Academy in Concord, Massachusetts, and from 1941 to 1963 at Winsor School in Boston, Massachusetts. She was assistant professor at Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts, from 1963 to 1965, associate professor from 1965 to 1969, and professor from 1969 to 1971. She then became professor of European history at Boston University. Roelker retired in 1980. In 1960 and 1970 she received research grants from the American Philosophical Society, and in 1965–66 she was a Guggenheim fellow. She received the Distinguished Achievement Medal from the Radcliffe Graduate Society in 1970. In 1985 she was awarded the Gold Medal of Paris for contributions to that city’s history.

Roelker translated and edited The Paris of Henry of Navarre by Pierre de L’Estoile in 1958, was contributing editor and translator of In Search of France in 1963, and was editor and translator of Jean-Batiste Duroselle, From Wilson to Roosevelt: American Foreign Policy, 1913–1945 , that same year. In 1965 she was editor of Raymond Aron’s The Great Debate: Theories of Nuclear Strategy , and in 1968 she wrote Queen of Navarre: Jeanne d’Albret, 1529–1572 . She returned to editing and translating with Correspondence of Jeanne d’Albret, 1541–1572 , and her last book, One King, One Faith: The Parliament of Paris and the Reformations of the Sixteenth Century , was scheduled for publication when she died in December 1993; it was placed on the University of California Press’s centennial roster of the 100 most distinguished books published by the press since 1895.

The Nancy Lyman Roelker Mentorship Award was established to honor teachers of history who taught, guided, and inspired their students in a way that changed their lives. Mentoring is as important to the discipline of history as fine scholarship and good teaching. The ideal mentor is forthright, supportive, and constructively critical, committed to the student as a person, regardless of age or career goals.
While it is difficult to formulate a precise definition of this multifaceted process, there are some essential elements:
belief in the value of the study of history and commitment to and love of teaching it to students regardless of age or career goals
consistent personal commitment by the mentor to the student as a person
honesty and integrity of the mentor
mentor's contribution to the process of mentoring as a one-to-one partnership in learning that is comfortable to both, that is likely to endure and develop beyond the initial context as each learns from, gives to, and shares with the other, enriching both professional and personal lives

The Nancy Lyman Roelker Mentorship Award is given on a three-year cycle: graduate mentors (including combined graduate and undergraduate teaching); secondary school teachers, and undergraduate mentors (both two-and four-year colleges). The 2017 award is for undergraduate mentors.

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Sunday, November 20, 2016

10 action points to ensure access to compensation for trafficked persons.

Although compensation is an internationally recognised right of trafficked persons, there are many barriers that prevent them from accessing this right. 
Obstacles include lack of awareness among police and the judicial system, lack of access to legal aid and adequate information for victims, the postponement of trials and long duration of criminal and civil proceedings, and, in the case of foreign victims, their return or deportation to their country of origin before a verdict is reached. Other reasons for denying compensation to trafficked persons may be their irregular immigration status or their involvement in the sex industry. But even when compensation is granted, trafficked persons rarely have the means to ensure a compensation order is actually enforced, so that they receive some payment.   

Another barrier to trafficked persons obtaining compensation is that the traffickers are not found, or are not prosecuted, or have moved their assets abroad and/or have declared themselves bankrupt to avoid confiscation of their assets and having to pay compensation. 
Finally, lack of residence status, lack of information, lack of means and lack of access to legal aid prevent many trafficked persons from claiming their rights, including the right to compensation.
Compensation for victims who have been exploited to make money for criminals is a key element of delivering justice for them: obtaining it means justice for trafficked persons and recognition of their right to remedy. It empowers trafficked persons, helps them to take their future in their own hands and reduces the risk of them being re-trafficked. 

Compensation is a significant instrument which serves restorative, punitive and preventive  purposes. People who are trafficked are subjected to a range of physical, mental, economic and often sexual abuse. The exploitation they have undergone may lead to physical suffering and health problems, emotional trauma and loss of livelihood. Enabling and facilitating access to compensation helps victims to recover, as well as punishing and deterring traffickers. 
As long as barriers to compensation exist, European Governments fail to fully implement their obligations under article 17 of the EU Directive 2011/36/EU to ensure victims access to compensation. 
We therefore call upon all European governments to recognise and remove the barriers for trafficked persons to claim compensation and to ensure that justice is done

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Friday, November 18, 2016

Khadija al Salami

Nothing at first sight betrays the strong will and bravery that lie behind the smiles and the gentle manners of Khadija al Salami, the softly-spoken cultural counsellor at the Yemeni embassy in Paris. But Mrs al Salami’s story is an unusual and inspiring one.

From humble beginnings in Sanaa, Khadija al Salami achieved diplomatic status as representative of her country in one of Europe’s most vibrant capital cities, but it was not an easy struggle and she needs the 400 pages of her book, The Tears of Sheba, Tales of survival and intrigue in Arabia, to unravel the story of the 40 years of her life.

Published in the UK by John Wiley, a French translation of The Tears of Sheba was recently published by Editions Actes Sud; a unique book, which blends Khadija al Salami’s personal history with the political and tribal history of Yemen.

The Yemeni civil war

Khadija al Salami was only two years old in 1968 when her home city of Sanaa was shelled by the Republicans during the Yemeni civil war (1962-1969), but she recalls how horrified she was when a small girl of her neighbourhood was killed. "I still remember, she says, having my milk bottle in my mouth, seeing the dead Saida. I was so shocked".

But the worst occured when her father, Mohammed Murzah, who was conscripted as a medic to give first aid to the wounded on the battlefield, came back shellshocked from very heavy fighting between the Royalists and the Republicans: "The deafening roar of the battle intertwined with the screams of his comrades overwhelmed him. Squatting on the ground, he found a rusted oil drum with the top cut off and pulled it over him", writes Khadija al Salami. "When the hell around him subsided, he emerged from the flimsy barrel miraculously unscathed, physically. Yet Father was a changed man... He staggered from the battlefield in a daze". He was crazy. Somehow, he found his way back to Sanaa, reached his home, started beating his wife, Fatima, and slashed at her face with an iron key in his hand, hacking out a deep gash in her mouth, nearly cutting out her tongue. The child witnessed the whole scene.

Khadija skatingEventually her mother lost hope and filed for a divorce. She remarried a tribesman, and Khadija al Salami was sent to live with her grand mother in a humble home in the old quarter of Sanaa.

Ashamed of being poor

At primary school, the girl was ashamed of being poor, the daughter of a mad man and that her mother had married again. These "family secrets" were such a heavy burden that during all her years at school she never mentioned her family. When asked her name on the first day of class she answered simply "Khadija". "Bint min?", the teacher probed. "The daughter of whom?" I hesitated at what for other students was a simple question, but my life was anything but simple. .. But I had never known Mohamed Murzah as a father. Furthermore my Grand Father Hamud carried the Murzah name too, and I hated no one in the world more than him.... I would be damned if I took Grandfather Hamud’s name. "Al-Salami", I finally stuttered to the teacher. I had replaced Murzah with my mother’s name. "Khadija al Salami is my name". She kept it to the day.

More grief and pain were to come. Khadija al Salami was only 11 when her uncle, Ali al Salami, decided to marry her to a Yemeni friend living in Damascus "before something unfortunate happens". A few years earlier, she had gone with her grand mother, Amina, to attend a collective wedding of 25 couples in a village. The following morning they visited the homes of the 25 grooms, and on entering the houses, Khadija noticed before anything else "a large white sheet spanning the wall beside the bedroom door, suspended from a nail at each corner. A dark red stain attesting to the virginity of the bride adorned the centre of the spread, with the groom’s and the bride’s mothers standing proudly beneath it". Khadija al Salami asked what the vermillion streaks on the sheets were, and her grandmother Amina said it was "sharaf" -- honour -- and she understood that the stains came from the blood of the brides. "I curled my nose indignantly, dreading my own wedding day", writes Khadija al Salami.

Married at 11

Khadija drivingIn an effort to appease her anxious mother, Khadija’s matchmaker uncle explained he had obliged her future husband not to have intercourse with her for three years, until she reached the age of 14. But after the wedding, he drove Khadija to her new husband’s home and told her: "Your husband will come in a few minutes, and you are to do exactly as he tells you"! I understood immediately what he meant", writes Khadija. After a brief and unequal struggle, she was raped by her husband. But after three weeks of fighting, he finally had to admit defeat and brought Khadija al Salami back to her mother in Sanaa. Her uncle disowned her. Khadija al Salami says the injustice convinced her that life was a battle to be fought and won, with no allies but her own will. It also caused her to question her religious faith.

So what pushed this secretive young woman to disclose in print the secrets that as a young girl she was horrified to reveal ?

"I reached a point in my life where I became happy with myself", answers Khadija al Salami in her office at the Yemen embassy in Paris. "I wanted to inform people that I am not the person they believe. I am different. I had a difficult life. My childhood was not happy, but these problems did not prevent me from aspiring to and reaching my aims".

"I don’t know how I reached this point", she muses. "Maybe it’s because I want to help the girls who dream. It is not easy, true enough, but if you have a dream, you can achieve it. Just be strong, I am an example. I come from a poor and modest family, I had more problems than anybody, still... I managed to make it".

What of her grand mother Amina and mother Fatima, who themselves were forced to marry young and to men they hated ? How could they force the young Khadija to follow the same destiny? "My grand mother and my mother loved me. For them, a woman is born to be put in the grave, or to get married, she has no other role. They learn this from their mothers, from their grand mothers"

With education, I could become anybody

After her arranged wedding -- "an arranged rape, not a marriage" -- Khadija resumed school. "I felt strongly even at that age that with an education I could become anybody and do anything I wanted. People would one day look up to me because of my diploma, and not because of what family I belonged to. As a result, I became a different person at school, where I felt that people valued me more, and I valued myself more".

To help her mother who was struggling financially to care for her children, Khadija al Salami looked for a job, at 11. Looking like a 14 year old girl, she started working at the telephone exchange on the afternoon shift. Then a friend introduced her to a Sanaa TV director who wanted to develop a children’s programme and was looking for a child to host the show. She got the job. From then on, her life took a turn for the better. At secondary school she decided to learn English and she went for a month to Cambridge.

Then she won a scholarship to further her studies in English at Georgetown University. So in 1983 the 16-year-old Khadija landed in Washington where she would live for almost four years. She writes, "In America the burden of my past, of trying to keep it all hidden, miraculously lifted from my weary shoulders... For the first time in my life, I lived in the present, and stopped dwelling on a painful past".

She became friendly with Yahya al Mutawakil, then Yemeni ambassador to the US, who liked her and became like a father figure.

The contemporary history of Yemen

Pt al Hamdi 1974Her friendship with the ambassador opens a series of new chapters in her book -- about the statesmen and politicians who shaped the history of the Republic of Yemen after 1962. Khadija al Salami got to know some of these men who would help shape the future of her homeland quite well, especially Yahya al Mutawakil, Mujahid abu Shawared and Mohammed abu Lahum, and she writes long exciting chapters about their careers, based on rare personal confidences and interviews. For example, she reveals that in 1974 "13 of the 14 members of the Command council raised their hands to elect Mujahid abu Shawareb to succeed al Iryani as President". But he refused the job, and after a new vote, the council elected Ibrahim al Hamdi, who was President of Yemen until murdered by his successor, Ahmed al Ghasmi, on 11 October 1977.

Khadija al Salami also reveals how Ahmed al Ghasmi was himself killed after less than a year in power, on 24 June 1978, by a booby-trapped briefcase sent from Aden.

With these personal testimonies, we glimpse a fascinating history of the politics of modern Yemen. It reveals, for example,the "colossal ambition" of President Ibrahim al Hamdi and how the Yemeni North-South civil war developed in 1994. Asked why she deals in her book only with such famous leaders, mostly of tribal extraction, but not with Yemeni intellectuals, Khadija al Salami answers: "These "famous men" were more attached to me than I was to them. They kept contacting me. In Washington, Yahya al Mutawakil admired my personality -- how could such a young Yemeni girl live alone and study in America. The same happened with Mujahid abu Shawareb in Paris. For me, at first, he was a tribal and illiterate man. I was not intimidated and not interested. Then our common friend insisted, and when I got to know him, I was impressed. But they cannot tell me what to do -- not as they do with their daughters".

The Yemeni intellectuals

"The Yemeni "intellectuals" are absent, because they are confused, frequently they say something and do another; they have double standards and are afraid of voicing their true opinions for fear of being killed by the fundamentalists, which is disappointing".

After graduating from Mount Vernon College in America in 1986, Khadija al Salami returned to Yemen, but could not get along with her brother Hamud, who had taken over the role of family protector. So she left for France in the summer of 1986, becoming press attaché in 1993, after her marriage to an American, Charles Hoot, on 2 August 1990 -- the day Saddam Hussain invaded Kuwait!

Now cultural counsellor, Khadija shares her time between her work at the embassy, and making films. She has shot 20 films about Yemeni archaeology, women and democracy.

Her last film tells the story of a girl accused of killing her husband at the age of 15 who was sentenced to death, spending nine years in prison before being pardoned by President Ali Abdullah Salih. "This girl reminds me of myself", says Khadija al Salami

"I am trying in my book and in my films to cover sensitive issues. In our Yemeni culture, women are not allowed to express themselves freely, not even about daily life. They are not allowed to speak in public. But if we want our society to change, we must speak out and ask questions. In my film about the girl in prison, I also shot footage of my friend Asma, who became minister of human rights, to illustrate what women can do when they are helped by their family"..

Khadija al Salami has proved what a determined woman can achieve if she has the will. "Now", she concludes, "I feel free, I have fulfilled my dreams, and I appreciate every step I take when walking the streets of Paris".

The Middle East magazine, June 2006
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Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Mara Schiavocampo

Mara Schiavocampo born September 28, 1979 is an American journalist, working for ABC News. She was an anchor for Early Today on NBC and for First Look on MSNBC and was an NBC News correspondent. She is now an ABC News New York-based correspondent.

Schiavocampo received her undergraduate degree from University of California, Los Angeles and master's degree from University of Maryland, College Park.

Schiavocampo has worked for ABC News, CBS News, Current TV, Yahoo!, NPR, Ebony Magazine, The Oprah Winfrey Show and Uptown. Schiavocampo was with NBC News from 2007–2013, where she was a digital correspondent and anchor of Early Today and anchor of MSNBC'S First Look for the last three years with NB
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Monday, November 14, 2016

Reshma Saujani

Reshma Saujani is the Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, a national non-profit organization working to close the gender gap in technology. Through its Summer Immersion Programs and Clubs, Girls Who Code is leading the movement to inspire, educate, and equip young women with the computing skills to pursue 21st century opportunities.
Started in 2012, the organization will reach more than 40,000 girls in every state by the end of 2016. This year, Girls Who Code will run 78 Summer Immersion Programs and 1500 Clubs. The results speak for themselves: 90 percent of alumnae have declared or intend to declare a major or minor in computer science.

Reshma began her career as an attorney and activist. In 2010, she surged onto the political scene as the first Indian American woman to run for U.S. Congress. During the race, Reshma visited local schools and saw the gender gap in computing classes firsthand, which led her to start Girls Who Code. Reshma has also served as Deputy Public Advocate for New York City and ran a spirited campaign for Public Advocate in 2013.

Reshma is the author of the groundbreaking new book, Women Who Don’t Wait In Line, in which she advocates for a new model of female leadership focused on embracing risk and failure, promoting mentorship and sponsorship, and boldly charting your own course — personally and professionally. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and Yale Law School. She’s been named one of Fortune’s 40 under 40, a WSJ Magazine Innovator of the Year, one of the 50 Most Powerful Women in New York by the New York Daily News, CNBC’s Next List, Forbes’s Most Powerful Women Changing the World, Fast Company’s 100 Most Creative People, Crain’s New York 40 Under 40, Ad Age’s Creativity 50, Business Insider’s 50 Women Who Are Changing the World, City & State’s Rising Stars, and an AOL/PBS Next MAKER.

Reshma lives in New York City with her husband, Nihal, their son, Shaan, and their bulldog Stanley.
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Saturday, November 12, 2016

Mary Jane Veloso on death row

Mary Jane Fiesta Veloso is a Filipino woman who was arrested and sentenced to death for smuggling heroin into Indonesia. Her case, among others, sparked international attention towards Indonesia's capital punishment and drug prohibition laws.

Veloso was born to a poor family in Cabanatuan, Nueva Ecija. She is the youngest of five siblings. She and her husband married when she was around 17 years old but they later separated. They have two sons. Prior to her arrest, in 2009, Veloso worked in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates for about six months. Her father said that she left her job because her employer attempted to rape her.

Veloso was arrested in Indonesia in April 2010 for smuggling 2.6 kilograms (5.7 lb) of heroin in a suitcase.[Throughout her trial, she maintained her innocence, claiming that she was duped into carrying the suitcase by her godsister who convinced her to go to Indonesia after losing a job in Malaysia.

Veloso was sentenced to death in October 2010 but was spared due to a moratorium on capital punishment enacted by Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. She was again scheduled to be executed in January 2015 after the election of Joko Widodo as President of Indonesia.

After her appeals to have her sentence reversed were rejected by the Indonesian courts, she was spared from the death row due to public outcry. Protests in the Philippines and in other countries were held weeks before the supposed date of her execution.

She was scheduled to be executed in Nusa Kambangan  on 29 April 2015.

At midnight on 29 April 2015, Veloso was granted a stay of execution so she could act as a witness during the trial of her alleged human trafficker. She was reprieved after reports that her trafficker had surrendered to the police had prompted Philippines President Benigno Aquino III to make a final appeal for clemency on the basis that her testimony could be invaluable in the prosecuting her alleged recruiter. Veloso's alleged trafficker Maria Kristina Sergio, along with Sergio's live-in partner Julius Lacanilao, and a third man of African descent will face[clarification needed] charges of human trafficking, illegal recruiting and estafa (fraud).Her mother believes Veloso was spared by a 'miracle'; the other eight prisoners scheduled for execution alongside her were executed by firing squad early on the morning of 29 April.

On 12 September 2016, Indonesia President Joko Widodo reported that Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has authorized Veloso's execution, according to The Jakarta Post. However, on the same day, a Manila Bulletin article said that Manny Piñol, the Philippines Agriculture Secretary, said that Duterte actually asked for clemency for Veloso.
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Thursday, November 10, 2016


Around the world, better-educated women are able to protect themselves and their families from the e ects of natural disasters because they can provide higher quality of care for their children in the face of crisis and navigate the challenges posed to bounce back quicker. Deaths due to disaster could be reduced by 60 percent by 2050 if 70 percent of all 20-39 year old women completed lower-secondary school*

* Streissnig, Erich, Wolfgang Lutz, and Anthony Patt. 2013. E ects of Educational Attainment on Climate Risk Vulnerability Ecology and Society 18, no. 1: 16.
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Tuesday, November 8, 2016


Girls’ education helps give women the skills they need to take on leadership roles in public life. In those roles, they are much more likely to advocate for decisions and policy that benefit family and community life, such as improved education and social services.In India, increasing the number of women who can read and write by 8 percent would increase the share of female candidates by 16 percent, the share of votes obtained by women by 13 percent, and female voter turnout by 4 percent.*

*Bhalotra, Sonia, Irma Clots-Figueras, and Lakshmi Iyer. 2013. Women’s Political Participation and the Female–Male Literacy Di erential in India. Background paper commissioned for EFA Global Monitoring Report 2013/4. Paris: UNESCO.
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Sunday, November 6, 2016


Educating women and girls improves their agency and empowers them. For example, women with higher levels of education are less likely to accept domestic violence, more likely to have control over household resource decisions, and have greater freedom to move about on their own. In a study of one African country, for every additional year of school a woman completed she was 10 percent less likely to believe domestic abuse is acceptable*

* Mocan, Naci H., and Colin Cannonier. 2012. Empowering Women through Education: Evidence from Sierra Leone. NBER Working Paper w18016. Cambridge, Mass.: National Bureau of Economic Research. doi: 10.3386/w18016.
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Friday, November 4, 2016


A high-quality education for girls is a critical strategy for preventing child marriage and improving the lives of girls who are already married. Across 18 of the 20 countries with the highest prevalence of child marriage, girls with no education are up to six times more likely to marry as children than girls with a secondary education.*

* ICRW (International Center for Research on Women). 2006. Too Young to Wed: Education and Action toward Ending Child Marriage, Brief on Child Marriage and Domestic Violence. Washington: ICRW.
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Wednesday, November 2, 2016


Girls and women who are better educated are less likely to contract and spread HIV/AIDS because they have more knowledge about how it is contracted and practice safer sex. For that reason, girls'
education is often called the “social vaccine.”
The same is true for malaria.

If all young adults completed primary education, we could expect 700,000 fewer new cases of HIV
infections each year, or 7 million in a decade.
As for malaria, if all mothers completed a secondary education the odds that children would carry malaria parasites would be 36 percent lower.

*Bruns, Barbara, Alain Mingat, and Ramahatra Rakotoma- lala. 2003. Achieving Universal Primary Education by 2015: A Chance for Every Child. Washington: World Bank.
- Global Campaign for Education. 2004. Learning to Survive: How Education for all would save millions of young people from HIV/AIDS. Oxford, U.K.: Oxfam International
-UNESCO. 2014a. Gender Summary: Teaching and Learning—Achieving Quality for All—EFA Global Monitor ing Report 2013/4. Paris: UNESCO
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