Wednesday, February 28, 2018

How many women and girls are victims of violence?

Violence against women and girls is one of the most systematic and widespread human rights violations: 35% of women worldwide are estimated to have experienced at some point in their lives either physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence or sexual violence by a non-partner. In some countries, this figure goes up to 70%. Worldwide, more than 700 million women alive today were married as children. Of those women, more than 1 in 3—or some 250 million—were married before the age of 15. About 70% of all human trafficking victims detected globally are women and girls. At least 200 million women and girls alive today have undergone female genital mutilation/cutting in 30 countries. Around 120 million girls worldwide (over 1 in 10) have experienced forced intercourse or other forced sexual acts. By far the most common perpetrators of sexual violence against girls are current or former husbands, partners or boyfriends.
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Monday, February 26, 2018

What is the EU-UN Spotlight Initiative to eliminate violence against women and girls?

The European Union and the United Nations have launched a new partnership to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. The EU and the UN have launched a new partnership to eliminate all forms of violence against women and girls. It galvanises political commitment at the highest levels and contributes to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), and more specifically Goal 5 on Gender Equality. It will do so by building new multistakeholder partnerships and providing large-scale, targeted support, backed by an initial dedicated financial envelope in the order of EUR 500 million. The Initiative will focus on all forms of violence against women and girls that are prevalent and contribute to gender inequality. Its focus is on: domestic and family violence; sexual and gender-based violence; harmful practices; and trafficking in human beings and sexual and economic (labour) exploitation.
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Saturday, February 24, 2018


From the halls of the United Nations to communities around the world, much has been done to raise awareness of child marriage. But sometimes the myths about what drives child marriage persist. Here are eight common misconceptions about child marriage – and why they’re wrong.

A Google search for “child marriage” will bring up photos of Indian brides or adolescent mothers from Africa. But child marriage is a global problem that cuts across countries, regions, cultures and religions. The countries with the highest numbers of child brides range from Niger to Indonesia to Brazil. The practice also happens in parts of North America and Europe.

In many communities, child marriage has been a tradition for decades, if not centuries. So much so that it can be seen as a core part of the culture. But not all cultural practices are positive. Child marriage deprives girls of education and economic opportunities, and puts their health and safety at risk. The solution is not to condemn all traditions, but to work with communities to change traditions from within. As Girls Not Brides champion Graça Machel always says:

Child marriage is driven by gender inequality. But boys are married off too. According to UNICEF, 156 million men alive today were married before 18. Child marriage often pushes boys into the workforce and forces them to take on adult responsibilities before they are ready.

Child marriage is driven by factors that go beyond parents’ individual decisions. Parents might feel they have no choice given the circumstances, or think they’re doing the best for their daughters. Ignoring the root causes of child marriage, or attacking the value system of people who practice it, will only alienate girls and their parents. When parents see how much better off girls are in school and out of marriage we can create change.

The media often focuses on stories of girls married at a very young age. While these stories happen, the vast majority of child marriages involve adolescent girls. Globally, the rates of marriage of under-15s have gradually declined. But the marriage rates of 16 to 17-year-old girls have stagnated or increased.

Behind this trend lie deeper problems: lack of educational and employment opportunities for girls past secondary school, as well as the social and family pressure to marry – especially if they already have a boyfriend. In Nepal, for instance, there has been an increase in “love marriages” where adolescent boys and girls decide to marry.

The consequences of child marriage do not just stay within the family. When 15 million girls are married before 18 every year, everyone is affected. Child marriage perpetuates cycles of poverty, inequality and oppression – from one generation to another. It is one of the most blatant manifestations of gender inequality worldwide. It should concern us all.

Child marriage is not linked to a single religion. It happens to girls of Hindu, Muslim or Catholic faith, as well as girls from other faiths. In fact, religious leaders play a crucial role in tackling child marriage. They can check that the bride and the groom are both above 18 before a religious wedding, promote progressive interpretation of religious texts, and help people understand that their religion does not condone child marriage.

Girls can play a huge role in ending child marriage if they have access to education and know about their rights. Many girls who once faced child marriage, now advocate for an end to the practice. Girls speaking from experience are well placed to change the minds of their peers and community members.

The causes and drivers of child marriage are as varied as they are complex. And by constantly challenging the myths about child marriage and setting the record straight we are all a step closer to solving a problem that affects 15 million girls each year.

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Thursday, February 22, 2018


What are the policy steps that countries can take to close the digital gender gap and ensure full digital inclusion? Rapid progress is possible if policymakers take immediate action to REACT — that is, to focus on Rights, Education, Access, Content, and Targets — to close the gender digital divide: 


Protect and enhance everyone’s rights online. The web can’t serve as an empowering space unless we know everyone’s rights will be protected online. We must ensure the web is a safe space for women and protect fundamental rights such as freedom of speech and privacy, and that policy, legislative, and regulatory processes uphold digital rights.


Use education to equip everyone – especially women – with the skills they need to access and use the web effectively. Our research shows that education is the most powerful tool we have to have close this gap. We must include digital skills in primary and secondary school curricula in every country around the world, especially targeted at girls; we must also take steps to eradicate the gender gap in access to higher and tertiary education by ensuring that women have equal access to tertiary education opportunities.


Deliver affordable — or free — access to an open web. Affordability remains a major obstacle to universal internet access across the globe; women, on average, earn less than men, resulting in a higher real cost to connect. Countries must adopt and work towards a more ambitious ‘1 for 2’ affordability target of  – 1GB of data monthly for less than 2% of monthly income. Public access programmes that offer free or subsidised ways to connect in public spaces will enable those that still might not be able to afford a connection, even once prices have reduced, to come online.


Ensure relevant and empowering content for women is available and used. Unless content on the web is valuable and empowering, people simply won’t use it. Governments can play an important role here both by delivering vital services online and ensuring important content is available in local languages. As content and service delivery providers, governments must ensure that critical government content relevant to women, including information on sexual and reproductive health, legal rights, and digital financial services, is readily available online in local languages.


Set and measure concrete gender-equity targets. We want every country in the world to update their connectivity targets as mandated by the SDGs, including clearly laying out how they will close the gender gap and for data on progress towards these targets to be regularly published in open formats so that everyone can keep tabs on progress and look for creative solutions.
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Tuesday, February 20, 2018



The Women Who Walk Miles To Feed Their Families
Thank You
Women Who Love When No Love Is Returned
Thank You
Women Who Dance The Stories Of The Ancients
Thank You
Women Who Lose Their Children And Keep On Going
Thank You
Women Who Speak Their Truth To Educate Others
Thank You
Women Of Beauty Who Know Their Power Is To Share
Thank You
Women Who Mother When  Mothering Is Called Upon For Healing
Thank You
Women Who Love Men Enough To Respect Their Differences
Thank You
Women Who Love Themselves Enough To Come Forward
Thank You
Women Who Know The Truth Of Their Soul
Thank You
In Honor Of You
We Honor Women
And Say
Thank You

 Joana Ukali
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Sunday, February 18, 2018


A Tribute to brave activist we have lost

 A Tribute  to Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs)  no longer with us

We bring into our collective memory and carry their legacy of struggle as our torch in feminist and women’s rights movements.
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Friday, February 16, 2018


A Tribute to brave activist we have lost

 A Tribute  to Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs)  no longer with us

We bring into our collective memory and carry their legacy of struggle as our torch in feminist and women’s rights movements.
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Wednesday, February 14, 2018


A Tribute to brave activist we have lost

 A Tribute  to Women Human Rights Defenders (WHRDs)  no longer with us

We bring into our collective memory and carry their legacy of struggle as our torch in feminist and women’s rights movements.
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Sunday, February 11, 2018

SOPHIA JEX BLAKE: Speech for admission to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh-1871

"I called on Dr. Christison, who told me curtly that the question was entirely decided in his own mind, and that it was useless for me to enter upon it. I did not call on Dr. Andrew Wood; but I was introduced to him in Sir James Simpson's room by Sir James, whose large-heartedness and large-mindedness made him from the first our warm friend and helper. On this introduction, I asked Dr. Wood to favour me with five minutes' conversation, to which his reply was that he would rather not, and turned on his heel and pursued a conversation with other persons in the room. These are specimens of the way in which a few a - very few only - met me on my arrival in Edinburgh; and I must do those few the justice to say that their conduct has been absolutely and uniformly consistent ever since. Never have we applied for educational facilities of any kind but they have done their best to meet us with an uncompromising refusal, so far as it was in their power.

When the Senatus Academicus gave me leave to enter as a visitor the Botanical and Natural History classes, it was the members of this hostile clique who got a veto put on the permission. When we applied for permission merely for separate classes, exactly the same dead opposition confronted us. When, through the liberality of public feeling, this boon was granted to us, the same adversaries continued to meet us at every corner, even after one of the chief had stated publicly in the Senatus that, the experiment once begun, he would use every means in his power to give it a fair trial.

We endeavoured to make private arrangements at great expense for separate anatomical instruction; we were told repeatedly that our efforts would be useless (as indeed they proved), because certain all-powerful members of the Colleges of Physicians and Surgeons had resolved to ostracise any medical men who agreed to give us instructions. ("Oh, oh.") When the absolute impossibility of getting a complete course of separate instruction drove us to ask admittance to the ordinary classes, to which several Professors would willingly have admitted us, the same phalanx of opponents raised the cry of indelicacy - knowing that thus they might prevail in ranging against us public opinion, which would have been on our side had the real issue - education or no education - been declared. And now I want to point out that it was certain of these same men, who had, so to speak, pledged themselves from the first to defeat our hopes of education, and render all our efforts abortive - who, sitting in their places on the Infirmary Board, took advantage of the almost irresponsible power with which they were temporarily invested to thwart and nullify all our efforts...

Till then, during a period of five weeks, the conduct of the students with whom we had been associated in Surgeons' Hall in the most trying of all our studies, that of Practical Anatomy, had been quiet, respectful, and in every way inoffensive. They had evidently accepted our presence there in earnest silent work as a matter of course, and Dr. Handyside, in answer to a question of mine after the speeches made at the meeting of the General Council, assured me that, in the course of some twenty sessions, he had never had a month of such quiet earnest work as since we entered his rooms. But at a certain meeting of the managers, when our memorial was presented a majority of those present were, I understand, in favour of immediately admitting us to the Infirmary. The minority alleged want of due notice to the question, and succeeded in obtaining an adjournment. What means were used in the interim I cannot say, or what influence was brought to bear: but I do know that from that day the conduct of the students was utterly changed, that those who had hitherto been quiet and courteous became impertinent and offensive; and at last came the day of that disgraceful riot, when the College gates were shut in our faces and our little band bespattered with mud from head to foot. ("Shame.") It is true that other students, who were too manly to dance as puppets on such ignoble strings, came indignantly to our rescue, that by them the gates were wrenched open and we protected in our return to our homes. But none the less was it evident that some new influence, wholly distinct from any intrinsic facts, had been at work....

This I do know, that the riot was not wholly or mainly due to the students at Surgeons' Hall, I know that Dr. Christison's class assistant was one of the leading rioters - (Hisses and "Order")- and the foul language he used could only be excused on the supposition I heard that he was intoxicated. I do not say that Dr. Christison knew of or sanctioned his presence, but I do say that I think he would not have been there had he thought the doctor would have strongly objected to his presence.

Dr. Christison: I must again appeal to you, my lord. I think the language used regarding my assistant is language that no one is entitled to use at such an assembly as this -(hear)- where a gentleman is not present to defend himself, and to say whether it be true or not. I do not know whether it is true or not, but I know that my assistant is a thorough gentleman, otherwise he would never have been my assistant, and I appeal to you again, my lord, whether language such as this is to be allowed in the mouth of any person. I am perfectly sure there is not one gentleman in the whole assembly who would have used such language in regard to an absentee.

Miss Jex-Blake: If Dr. Christison prefers...

Dr. Christison: I wish nothing but that this foul language shall be put an end to.

The Lord Provost: I do not know what the foul language is. She merely said that, in her opinion...

Dr. Christison: In her opinion the gentleman was intoxicated.

Miss Jex-Blake: I did not say he was intoxicated. I said I was told he was.

The Lord Provost: Withdraw the word "intoxicated."

Miss Jex-Blake: I said it was the only excuse for his conduct. If Dr. Christison prefers that I should say he used the language when sober, I will withdraw the other supposition. (Laughter.)"
From The Englishwoman's Review, April 1871

Her opponents were the universities, the male students, and the British Medical Association. She eventually established a practice in Edinburgh where she joined the women's suffrage movement.
Sophia Jex Blake was a lesbian and never married; she once said: "I believe I love women too much ever to love a man" (Todd, p.65). In 1899 she retired to Tunbridge Wells where she died in 1912, aged 62.
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Friday, February 9, 2018

Gender equality and women’s empowerment (GEWE) in Africa: Institutional culture shift

GEWE in foreign aid since Beijing
 Enthusiasm in the late 1990s, quietness in the early 2000s, steadily growing attention and contestation since the late 2000s
 The organisational origin of aid agencies (bank, foundation, diplomacy, etc.) significantly influences how GEWE is taken up
 The challenges of even committed agencies to seriously address GEWE (domestic politics, organisational pressures and priorities at the headquarter level)

Implementation challenges
Challenges at the country level of aid agencies:
 Numerous, changing priorities and overstretched staff
 Limited capacities
 Gender focal points are often junior staff working part-time on GEWE
 Limited room for manoeuvre → Attention to GEWE becomes a tick-box exercise

Challenges in African countries
 Government commitment: GEWE in national politics
 Stability, fragility and post-conflict recovery
 Religious and customary authorities
 Gender relations are power relations and deeply embedded in cultures that change only slowly (like in Europe)

Recommendations (1)
 Prioritise the priorities and recognise the political limitations
 Perceive the institutional culture shift as a 10years, SDG-like project
 Be realistic – avoid: ‘We were bad in the past, we will be good in the future.’
 Delegate as much as possible to country offices permitting these to carry out pragmatic aid management (flexible, context dependent, politically sensitive, and liberal in relation to EU policies)

Recommendations (2)
 Distinguish between types of African countries:
– Strong governments committed to GEWE: Budget support and political dialogue
– Governments not committed to GEWE: Targeted activities
– Fragile situations: Targeted activities
– Post-conflict recovery: Targeted activities and political dialogue

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Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Goal 17: Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalize the Global Partnership for Sustainable Development

A stronger commitment to partnership and cooperation is needed to achieve the SDGs. Attaining the Goals will require coherent policies, an enabling environment for sustainable development at all levels and by all actors, and a reinvigorated Global Partnership for Sustainable Development. Meeting the means of implementation targets is key to realizing the 2030 Agenda, as is the full implementation of the Addis Ababa Action Agenda. Incremental progress has been made in these areas, but more is needed. 
  • From 2015 to 2016, official development assistance (ODA) rose by 8.9 per cent in real terms to 142.6 billion US dollars, reaching a new peak. Despite this progress, bilateral aid to LDCs fell by 3.9 per cent in real terms.  
  • Debt service is trending upwards. From 2000 to 2011, debt service in lower-middleincome countries fell from 12.9 per cent to 3.6 per cent, before rising slowly to 6.1 per cent in 2015.  
  • In 2016, international remittances totalled 575 billion US dollars, 75 per cent of which (429 billion US dollars) flowed to developing countries. However, remittances to developing countries fell in 2016 for a second consecutive year, declining by 2.4 per cent over 2015.  fIn 2016, about 80 per cent of the population in developed regions had Internet access, compared to 40 per cent in developing regions and 15 per cent in LDCs.  
  • In 2014, financial support for statistical capacity in developing countries (338 million US dollars) accounted for only 0.18 per cent of total ODA. From 2007 to 2016, 89 per cent of countries or areas around the world conducted at least one population and housing census; 25 countries or areas failed to conduct a census during this period. 

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Monday, February 5, 2018

Goal 16: Promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels

Peace, justice and effective, accountable and inclusive institutions are at the core of sustainable development. Progress in promoting peaceful and inclusive societies remains uneven across and within countries. Violent conflicts have increased in recent years, and a number of high-intensity armed conflicts are causing large numbers of civilian casualties and driving millions of people from their homes. 

  •  In 2015, the intentional homicide rate in countries with high income inequality (Gini index >0.45) was nine times that of countries with low income inequality (Gini index <0.35). 
  • In 76 countries with available data from 2005 to 2016, about 8 in 10 children aged 1 to 14 years were subjected to some form of psychological aggression and/or physical punishment on a regular basis.  
  • More than 570 different human trafficking flows, which criss-cross the globe, were identified by law enforcement officers between 2012 and 2014. The large majority of identified trafficking victims in 2014 were women and girls (71 per cent), and more than a quarter were children. 
  • Globally, the proportion of people held in detention without being tried or sentenced for a crime was 31 per cent in 2013-2015.  
  • According to data from 2005 to 2016, over 18 per cent of firms worldwide reported receiving at least one bribery payment request. The share of firms in low- and lowermiddle-income countries was 25 per cent, versus 4 per cent in high-income countries.  
  • Data reported for 147 countries from 2010 to 2016 indicate that 71 per cent of children under age 5 worldwide have had their births registered; the birth registration rate in sub-Saharan Africa stands at just 46 per cent. 
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Saturday, February 3, 2018

Goal 15: Protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainably manage forests, combat desertification, and halt and reverse land degradation and halt biodiversity loss

Protected and restored ecosystems and the biodiversity they support can help mitigate climate change and provide increased resilience in the face of mounting human pressures and natural disasters. Healthy ecosystems also produce multiple benefits for communities that rely on them. Goal 15 focuses on preserving and sustainably using the earth’s terrestrial species and ecosystems. 

  •  From 2010 to 2015, the annual net loss of forest area globally was less than half that of the 1990s. The proportion of land area covered by forest decreased from 31.6 per cent  in 1990 to 30.8 per cent in 2010 and 30.6 per cent in 2015.
  •  From 2000 to 2017, average worldwide coverage of terrestrial, freshwater and mountain KBAs by protected areas increased from 35 per cent to 47 per cent, from 32 per cent to 43 per cent, and from 39 per cent to 49 per cent, respectively. 
  •  Biodiversity loss, however, continues at an alarming rate. Corals, amphibians and cycads are in serious decline due to distinct and worsening threats. Bleaching, driven by climate change and local impacts, has affected the health of coral reefs worldwide, which could disappear completely by 2050. Amphibians also face a high risk of extinction, with 41 per cent already threatened.
  •  Illicit poaching and trafficking of wildlife continues to thwart conservation efforts, with nearly 7,000 species of animals and plants reported in illegal trade involving 120 countries. In 2013, elephant ivory, rosewood, rhinoceros horn and reptiles comprised 70 per cent of total wildlife seizures.

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Thursday, February 1, 2018

Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development

Oceans cover almost three quarters of the planet, comprising the largest ecosystem on earth. The increasingly adverse impacts of climate change (including ocean acidification), overfishing and marine pollution are jeopardizing recent gains in protecting portions of the world’s oceans.

  •  In 2017, protected areas cover 13.2 per cent of the marine environment under national jurisdiction, 0.25 per cent of the marine environment beyond national jurisdiction, and 5.3 per cent of the total global ocean area. The average coverage of marine key biodiversity areas (KBAs) by protected areas has risen from 32 per cent in 2000 to 45 per cent in 2017. 
  •  The proportion of marine fish stocks worldwide that have been overfished—that is, are at biologically unsustainable levels—increased from 10 per cent in 1974 to 31 per cent in 2013. 
  • Oceans absorb up to 30 per cent of the annual emissions of CO2 generated by human activity. However, the absorbed CO2 also leads to an increase in the acidity of seawater, which weakens the shells and skeletons of many marine species, such as corals.  As atmospheric CO2 levels rise, estimates indicate that oceans could be nearly 150 per cent more acidic by 2100.
  •  Of the 63 large marine ecosystems evaluated under the Transboundary Waters Assessment Programme, 16 per cent are in the “high” or “highest” risk categories for coastal eutrophication. By 2050, it is estimated that coastal eutrophication will increase in 21 per cent of these large ecosystems.

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