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HEALTH How the New UN Secretary-General Can Reshape Global Drug Policy


Jan. 12, 2017
670817-guterres.jpg__1500x670_q85_crop_sUN Photo/Manuel Elias

By Mikaela Hildebrand, Aram Barra, and Patrick Louis B. Angeles for UNAIDS

The appointment of Antonio Guterres as the next United Nations Secretary-General (SG) could potentially usher in a new era of how the world approaches drugs and the people who use them.

During Guterres’ term as Prime Minister of Portugal (1995-2002), he pushed for a nationwide decriminalization of use of all drugsfor personal consumption and put in place a comprehensive strategy to reduce drug-related harm through a framework based on public health rather than criminal justice. After Spain and Italy, Portugal became the third member of the European Union to follow such a framework. For the past 16 years, Portugal has stayed on this path and, today, has much to share with the world when it comes to drug policy reform. How will the new SG bring these lessons home to the UN?

Read More: António Guterres Is the New UN Secretary-General

Prior to the reform, people who used drugs and others caught in possession with illegal drugs would face imprisonment. Once the law changed and illicit drug use stopped being prosecuted, however, the government hosted so-called “dissuasion commissions” that aimed to inform people and dissuade them from drug use. This new approach was also reflected by placing the commissions under the Ministry of Health, rather than the Ministry of Justice.

“Actions for decreasing drug demand as well as coping with dependence were to be part of health policy and not criminal justice,” according to the Open Society Foundation. With this, the official response toward drug users shifted from viewing them as criminals to treating them as patients.”

Interestingly, dissuasion commissions helped both to relieve the criminal justice system and re-categorize small drug possession as a low-level administrative fault. This led to a reduction in the number of people detained and sent to criminal court for drug offenses, from over 14,000 in year 2000, to in between 5,500 and 6,000 per year once the policy came into force.

More importantly, in our view, are the implications that Guterres’ drug reform had on public health. During over a decade of implementation, Portugal saw the  number of drug-related HIV infections decrease by 99%, and levels of drug use in the country fell below the European average. Moreover, following decriminalization, drug use among adolescents decreased for several years. Aggregate drug use rates declined over a 15 year period, and today the number of deaths because of drug overdose in Portugal is one of the lowest in the European Union.

The success of adopting a public health approach to drugs, as directed by Guterres in Portugal, offers great potential for him, as the new Secretary General, to bring these lessons to the United Nations. The leadership that the SG may show to Member States can, in turn, help shape a new era of smarter and better drug policy, urgent in many countries around the world. Three countries will illustrate why: Sweden, Mexico and the Philippines.

Read More: How Global Citizens Helped Change the Face of the UN

In Sweden, the overarching vision of drug policy is to create a drug-free society. The cornerstones of the policy have been prevention, law-enforcement and abstinence-based treatment. Sweden, previously criticized by the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights for violating the human rights of people who use drugs through its harsh and restrictive approach to drugs and the people who use them, is finally heeding global guidance, evidence, and best-practice.

At the 2016 United Nations General Assembly Special Session (UNGASS) on drugs, Sweden along with other European countries made a statement in support of harm reduction. The national guidelines for opioid substitution therapy (OST) were updated in 2016 and some of the strictest regulations were loosened. This included removing the requirement of one year documented injecting drug use to qualify for treatment and initiating self-management of medication at three months instead of six. Still, this three month rule only applies if the patient is assessed as stable, which means they come every day to pick up their dose at a given time, and does not test positive for any other illicit drug. The availability, accessibility and quality of opioid substitution therapy remains a major challenge, due to the permeation of an ideology of punishment and control.

Another key intervention part of the UN’s recommended comprehensive harm-reduction package are needle and syringe programmes (NSPs). While NSPs are now available in at least eight of Sweden’s cities, there is no programme in Sweden’s second largest city Göteborg. In Sweden, health is decentralized to regional governments. However, in accordance with the law regulating NSP, local government has a right to veto the establishment of NSPs in the municipality, which has been the case in Göteborg. In stark contrast, the NSP programme in Malmö turns 30 next year. Finally in March this year, the local Government, after pressure from the central Government and other actors, decided to allow the establishment of an NSP. But local politicians interviewed after the vote stressed that their position had not changed. They want to offer a way out of drug use, not provide the tools to continue using drugs. All the while, HIV prevalence is estimated at 7% and about 800 people who inject drugs are newly infected with hepatitis-C every year in Sweden. NSPs are a proven prevention intervention for both of these infections.  

Drug-related deaths in Sweden are among the highest in Europe. Yet, Naloxone, a would-be take home prescription-free antidote to drug overdose, is currently only available in hospitals and through emergency services.  In 2014, WHO recommended that “that people who are likely to witness an opioid overdose, including people who use opioids, and their family and friends should be given access to naloxone and training. ” There is a pilot study in the pipeline to distribute the Naloxone nasal spray to people who use drugs and their networks in Malmö and their friends and family to prove effectiveness and there has been a request for a license to supply the drug in Stockholm. But no national programme is planned.

Much more is needed to protect the health and human rights of people who use drugs in Sweden. And while the number of young people who have ever tried to use drugs in Sweden remains low, the key statistic often paraded by the Government as the indicator of success of Swedish drug policy, it cannot justify an approach that continues to cause human rights infringements with the consequence of exceptionally high mortality and morbidity among people who use drugs in Sweden.

Read More: 4 Ways the War on Drugs Disproportionately Affects the World’s Poor

Meanwhile, in Mexico, the worldwide-known case of the Ayotzinapa mass disappearance of 43 students and the massacre in Tlatlaya, which saw a crackdown on drug users as criminals by soldiers, reflect the failures of war as a tactic against drugs. The militarization of Mexico’s approach to drug laws has resulted in violence from illegal drug trading that has caused the deaths of over 100,000 people, 20,000 disappearances, and approximately 50,000 children losing either one or both of their parents.

The approach taken by the Mexican government has overwhelmingly failed to deter young people from using drugs. At the 2000-mile US-Mexico border, Mexican drug cartels recruit numerous young Latinos in Southern California to smuggle drugs and engage in other illicit drug-related activities. As a result, the leading cause of death for young people has been homicide. The war on drugs has also resulted in other negative externalities like enforced disappearance, arbitrary detention, torture, forced internal displacement, and death.

During the armed clashes that took place between 2008-2010 in Mexico, the Federal Police had a fatality rate of 2.6 -that is, in the clashes that involved the police, 2.6 suspects died for each one who was injured. The fatality rate for the Mexican Army is 9.1 and Navy’s is 17 deaths for each wounded.

The rise in the incidence of homicides in Mexico since 2006, when Felipe Calderón decided to use the Mexican Army to fight drug traffickers, is unprecedented for a country that is not in formal war. Indeed, as elaborated in a recent article in The Lancet, the epidemic of violence unleashed by the policy of zero tolerance and drug prohibition has even had a negative impact on the projection of life expectancy. Another study shows that, in the period 2008-2010, the state of Chihuahua in northern Mexico (one of the states most affected by drug - related violence), young men saw their life expectancy reduced by 5 years. As The Lancet concludes, no other country in Latin America -and very few in the world- has experienced so rapid a mortality growth in such a short time.

Lastly, in the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte has waged an all-out campaign against illegal drugs. Since 1 July, over 6,268 people have been killed in the war on drugs, about 2,219 of whom were killed during police operations. Prisons stand at 380% occupancy. Moreover, data on the total number of drug users, the number of users needing treatment, the types of drugs being consumed and the prevalence of drug-related crime is exaggerated or doesn’t exist.

President Duterte has referred to innocent people and children as “collateral damage” in his quest to eradicate drugs. Seldom discussed is the rising rates of HIV among people who inject drugs. Although needle sharing still comprises a small portion of the total number of HIV cases since 1984 (4.5%), 99% of these were detected in the past 6 years alone. In Cebu, one of the few regions where people who inject drugs have accessed HIV testing, HIV prevalence has increased significantly from less than 1% in 2009 to 53.82% in 2011. As Philippine drug laws still criminalize possession of drug paraphernalia, clean needle programs are not possible. An Operations Research was attempted to explore clean needle distribution in 2014, but this was shut down a mere 5 months into its intended 2-year run.

The case of Portugal, in stark contrast to those of Sweden, Mexico and the Philippines, offers an opportunity for the incoming UN Secretary-General Guterres to positively influence and innovate global drug policy. The effective policymaking he guided during his time in the Government of Portugal stands as the persuasive testament that can help shape how UN Member States promote human rights for all, including for people who use drugs.

Mikaela Hildebrand is a member of Harm Reduction Sweden. She has worked some 10 years in global health and has a masters in human rights from the School of Global Studies, Gothenburg University. Together with Niklas Eklund from Stockholm's drug-users union, she is the co-editor of the anthology: Deadly dogma: a new path for Swedish drug policy (2017) to be published this spring by Verbal Förlag in Sweden

Aram Barra is a bachelor in international studies and a masters on public policy and public administration from New York University and University College London. He has completed drug policy and human rights studies at the Central European University. He currently works as an independent consultant on human rights, citizen security and public health in Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, Brazil, Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.

Patrick Louis B. Angeles, Policy & Research at NoBox Philippines, advocates for harm reduction and drug policies that are based on good evidence and human rights in the Philippines. He dreams of a world where he doesn't have to advocate for these anymore, because they're just accepted as best practice.

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Sheryl Sandberg, thank you. We will be proud to deliver your name on March 8, alongside the names of all the women and men speaking out for girls’ education.



Education is everything — but in the poorest countries girls are denied it far more often than boys. If the number of girls who are out of school formed a country, it would be the tenth largest on the planet. 

When girls receive an education, it opens up a life full of choice and opportunity. We must not squander the potential of 130 million girls to cure diseases, end wars, invent brilliant technology or revolutionize an industry — or to bring us closer to an equal world. Girls can't afford to miss out on the opportunities that come with an education, and the world can't afford to miss out on their great ideas. 

As Malala has said, “One child, one book, and one pen can change the world.” We can all come together to ensure that every girl has a chance to go to school and receives a quality education once she's there. That's why I've signed my name toONE's campaign letter which will be delivered to world leaders on International Women's Day this spring. Add yours: http://bit.ly/2ibp0og



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13 Amazing Coming of Age Traditions From Around the World

By Leticia Pfeffer  and  Christina Nuñez| July 21, 2016

Brought to you by: CHIME FOR CHANGE


Flickr-Derek A

Flickr: Derek A., aka i Morpheus

After reading through, join the #showyourselfie campaign today and submit your visual petition for youth onto www.showyourselfie.org.

The transition from childhood to adulthood -- the “coming of age” of boys who become young men and girls who become young women -- is a significant stepping stone in everyone’s life. But the age at which this happens, and how a child celebrates their rite of passage into adolescence, depends entirely on where they live and what culture they grow up in.  Looking back, we'll never forget the majesty that was prom, or the excitement of hitting the dance floor at our friends' co-ed Bar and Bat Mitzvah parties, and why should we? Embarassing or amazing, they were pivotal moments in our lives that deserve remembering. On that note, here are thirteen of it the world’s most diverse coming of age traditions.

1. Jewish Coming of Age Tradition: Bar and Bat Mitzvah


Flickr: Krista Guenin

Around the world, young Jewish boys and girls celebrate their Bar and Bat Mitzvahs at age 13 and 12 in order to demonstrate their commitment to their faith and recognize that they are now responsible for following Jewish law. After the religious ceremony, a reception typically ensues to celebrate the young person’s hard work and accomplishment, as they have often spent weeks learning and preparing for this day.

2. The Sateré-Mawé Coming Of Age Tradition: Bullet Ant Initiation


Infinitus Possibilis

In the Brazilian Amazon, young boys belonging to the indigenous Sateré-Mawé tribe mark their coming of age when they turn 13 in a Bullet and Ant Initiation. The tradition goes as so: they search the jungle for bullet ants which are sedated by a leader who submerges them in an herbal solution. The ants are then weaved into gloves with the stingers pointed inwards. An hour or so later, the ants wake up angrier than ever, and the initiation begins. Each boy has to wear the gloves for ten minutes.

Enduring the pain demonstrates the boys’ readiness for manhood -- so few cry out as doing so would demonstrate weakness. Each boy will eventually wear the gloves 20 times over the span of several months before the initiation is complete.

3. Amish Coming of Age Tradition: Rumspringa


Wikimedia Commons

In Amish tradition, Rumspringa marks the time when youth turn 16 and are finally able to enjoy unsupervised weekends away from family. During this time, they are encouraged to enjoy whatever pleasures they like, be that modern clothing or alcohol. The purpose of this period is to allow Amish youth the opportunity to see and experience the world beyond their culture and upbringing. In this way, returning to their community and way of life thus is entirely their choice. Those who return are then baptized and become committed members of the Amish church and community, marking the end of Rumspringa (but they must do so before turning 26).

4. Hispanic Coming of Age Tradition: Quinceanera


Flickr: Christopher Michael

In many parts of Central and South America, young girls celebrate their Quinceanera when they turn 15 years old. The coming of age tradition typically begins with a Catholic mass where the girl renews her baptismal vows and solidifies her commitment to her family and faith. Immediately following the mass is a fiesta where friends and family eat and dance.

5. American Coming of Age Tradition: Sweet 16


Flickr: Kris Krug

While less rooted in tradition, the 16th birthday is nonetheless an important one for American youth, as it marks the time when they are legally permitted to drive a car (and with driving comes big-time freedom). For some lucky teens the day is celebrated with an over-the-top party and potentially a new car, as documented on the the MTV show My Super Sweet 16.

6. Inuit Coming of Age Tradition: North Baffin Island


Wikimedia Commons

In North Baffin Island, Inuit boys have traditionally gone out to the wilderness with their fathers between the ages of 11 and 12 to test their hunting skills and acclimatise to the harsh arctic weather. As part of the tradition, a shaman would be called to open the lines of communication between men and animals. Nowadays, however, this tradition has been extended to young girls as well, as “outcamps” are established away from the community in order for traditional skills to be passed down and practiced by the young men and women.

7. Khatam Al Koran Coming of Age Tradition: Malaysia


Flickr: CPS Brunei

In Malaysia, 11 is a special birthday for some Muslim girls, as it marks the time when they can celebrate Khatam Al Koran, a prestigious ritual that demonstrates their growing maturity at their local mosque. Girls spend years preparing for this day, reviewing the Koran so they can recite the final chapter before friends and family at the ceremony.

8. Maasai Coming of Age Tradition: Tanzania and Kenya


Wikimedia Commons

The Maasai of Kenya and Tanzania have several rites of passage that carry boys into manhood. Boys between the ages of 10-20 come together to be initiated as the new “warrior class” of the tribe, placed in dozens of houses built for the occasion. The night before the ceremony the boys sleep outside in the forest, and at dawn they return for a day of singing and dancing. They drink a mixture of alcohol, cow’s blood, and milk, while also consuming large portions of meat. After these festivities they are ready to be circumcised, making the official transformation into a man, warrior, and protector. Similar to other rites of passage the boys cannot flinch, because doing so would shame their families and discount their bravery.

For the next 10 years the boys will stay at a warrior’s camp where they learn various skills. After the ceremony takes places, marking their transition from warrior to senior warrior, they are entitled to marry the woman of their choice.

9. Ethiopian Coming of Age Tradition: Hamar Cow Jumping



In Ethiopia, some grooms-to-be have their own “bachelor party” of sorts- a rite of passage they must complete prior to being able to marry. Participants must successfully jump over a castrated, male cow four times while naked, symbolizing the childhood they are leaving behind them. If successful, they will now be considered one of the Maza- other men who passed the test and spend the next few months supervising these events in villages throughout the Hamar territory.

10. Vanuatu Coming of Age Tradition: Land Divers


Wikimedia Commons

Bungee enthusiasts will enjoy this: in Vanuatu, a small island nation in the middle of the South Pacific, young boys come of age by jumping off of a 98-foot-tall tower with a bungee-like vine tied to their ankles, just barely preventing them from hitting the ground. The catch? Unlike a bungee cord, the vine lacks elasticity, and a slight miscalculation in vine length could lead to broken bones or even death.

Boys initially begin jumping at around 7 or 8, although they are permitted to jump from a shorter tower. In their first dives their mother will hold an item representing their childhood, and after the jump the item will be thrown away, symbolizing the end of childhood. As boys grow older they will jump from taller towers, demonstrating their manliness to the crowd.

11. Japanese Coming of Age Tradition: Seijin-no-Hi


Wikimedia Commons

In Japan, the second Monday of January marks a special day- the day in which 20 year olds get to dress up in their finest traditional attire, attend a ceremony in local city offices, receive gifts, and party to their hearts’ content amongst friends and family. It’s their Coming of Age Festival, otherwise known as Seijin-no-Hi.

The tradition started nearly 1200 years ago and recognizes the age when the Japanese believe youth become mature, contributing members of society (it’s also the time when they get to vote and drink).

12. Confucian Coming of Age Traditions: Ji Li and Guan Li



In some parts of China, there has recently been a resurgence of the Confucian-style coming of age ceremonies Ji Li (for girls) and Guan Li (for boys). The ceremonies typically honor youth who have turned 20, and provide a fun opportunity to wear traditional dress. For the girls, this is also an opportunity to follow typical Ji Li practices such as making hair buns, attaching hair pins, and paying tribute to Huangdi, a Chinese ancestor.

13. Apache Coming of Age Tradition: Sunrise Ceremony



There’s no room for shyness among young Apache girls. While this ceremony is rarely practiced today, traditionally all girls were required to complete the sunrise ceremony, also known as Na’ii’ees or the puberty ceremony, during the summer following their first menstruation. During the 4 day ceremony the girls must abide by certain rules, preventing them to wass or touch their skin, or drink from anything other than their drinking tubes. They must also reenact the Apache Origin Myth drawing each female participant closer to the first woman, known as White Painted Woman, Changing Woman, or simply Esdzanadehe. In doing so they obtain her power during this special time.

There are currently 1.8 billion young people around the world. That’s a quarter of our population who is currently making the leap to adulthood. Yet, young people can’t mark their smooth transition to adulthood if they don’t have the opportunities to do so -- such as going to school or seeking employment skills.

We must invest in youth because their human rights matter, because their needs matter, and because unlocking their potential is needed to create a sustainable future. Now is the time for governments everywhere to act to ensure a healthy and prosperous future for all young people.


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Leticia Pfeffer

Written by Leticia Pfeffer

Leticia Pfeffer is the Global Policy and Advocacy Senior Coordinator for Global Citizen. She leads GC's girls & women policy campaigning, including the #LeveltheLaw campaign. Her background in development and international policy has fueled her passion for gender equality and female empowerment. Originally from sunny Miami with Mexican roots, you'll often find her eating spicy food and talking in "Spanglish".

Christina Nuñez

Written by Christina Nuñez

Christina Nuñez is an Editor for Global Citizen. After studying Global Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara, she dabbled in education and later joined the Americorps VISTA program to tackle poverty in the United States. A California girl at heart, she's obsessed with froyo, green juice, and hiking.


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GIRLS & WOMEN Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards: ‘Women’s Need For Healthcare Is Not a Partisan Issue'

By Phineas Rueckert|

 Jan. 13, 2017

It’s been a busy few weeks for Planned Parenthood’s president and chief executive, Cecile Richards.

Two days after revealing to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour that the healthcare organization has seen a 900% increase in women scheduling appointments to get an IUD, she appeared on "The Daily Show" with Trevor Noah Thursday night armed with some dramatic statistics about women’s access to healthcare in the United States. 

“We’re at a 30-year low for unintended pregnancy in America,” Richards said. “We’re at a historic low for teenage pregnancy in America, and that’s largely because women have better access to family planning.” 

Read more: Planned Parenthood: What Will Happen If Congress Slashes Its Funding

Planned Parenthood, according to its website, provides healthcare to 2.5 million people each year at 650 healthcare centers across the country, and 80% of the women who rely on Planned Parenthood for contraceptive and other care live below the federal poverty line, according to The Nation.

Speaker of the House Paul Ryan has said that the Republican Party plans to remove federal funding from the organization. However, this initiative faces conservative opposition in Congress from the likes of Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Susan Collins (R-ME), CNN reports.  

jonathan_butler_2015_planned_parenthood.Image: Wikimedia Commons/Mark Schierbecker

In her Daily Show appearance, Richards stressed that Planned Parenthood offers services to a diverse population of Americans, and not just Democrats. 

“Women’s need for healthcare, it’s not a partisan issue,” she said. “The women who come to Planned Parenthood, they’re Republicans, they’re Democrats, they’re independents. They’re not coming to make a political statement. They’re coming because they need high-quality, affordable health care and that’s what we provide.” 

She went on to speak more broadly about the Republican initiative to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which could leave 20 million people without healthcare coverage

Read more: Republicans Just Voted to Repeal Obamacare In the Middle of the Night

“I think it’s important to understand, it’s not only that they want to end access to Planned Parenthood, they want to end access to care for a lot of folks in this country,” she said. “I believe it’s going to cause a healthcare crisis.” 

Richards, however, is not discouraged. 

“I’m energized,” she told Noah on Thursday. 

As the fight over Planned Parenthood and other healthcare services heats up in Congress, women living in poverty will be most directly affected, and their voices need to be heard now more than ever.

Let’s hope Richards continues to direct her energy to their needs.  


Written by Phineas Rueckert


Phineas Rueckert is a writer at Global Citizen. He graduated from Macalester College with a degree in Political Science and International Studies, and spent the past year teaching English in Toulouse, France. He is originally from Brooklyn, New York.

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83 influential figures have signed on to support girls’ education… and you’re next


January 12 2017  | By: SAMANTHA URBAN
IF YOU CARE, ACT. ADD YOUR NAME TODAY International Womens Day 2017

All children deserve a good education. But because poverty is sexist, 130 million girls across the world are denied this basic right. That’s why ONE is organizing people across the country and around the world to help ensure that girls and women are at the heart of our poverty-fighting strategy by promoting their access to education.

Education is vital for moving out of poverty. Those 130 million girls have the potential to cure diseases or end wars, invent brilliant technology or revolutionize an industry… or simply access opportunity. When girls get an education, they are less likely to become child brides, less likely to contract HIV, and they have greater economic opportunities for the rest of their lives — which is good for everyone.

Join us on calling on world leaders to increase the number of girls in school by millions. It’s an ambitious goal, but it’s one the world needs to strive to reach.

Here’s our open letter:

A letter to leaders—

You couldn’t be where you are today without a good education.

But because poverty is sexist, 130 million girls across the world are denied this basic right. Indeed, if the number of girls out of school formed a country, it would be the tenth largest on the planet – bigger than Japan or Germany.

All children deserve a good education, but in the poorest countries girls are denied it more often than boys. Education is vital for moving out of poverty. Every additional year of school that a girl completes increases her future earnings, which is good for her family, her community and her country.

We cannot afford to squander the potential of 130 million girls to cure diseases or end wars, invent brilliant technology or revolutionize an industry… or simply to access opportunity.

We are coming together and uniting across our divides to get every girl into school and to make sure she gets a quality education once she’s there.

But we need you to do the same.

Your education helped you to get where you are today – and it is in your power to help millions of girls to get theirs. Please act now, with the right policies and the necessary funds.

Show us that politics can work for the people – starting with the people who need it most.

This letter has already been signed by influential figures across a number of fields: business, faith, technology, activism, entertainment, and more. They come from different backgrounds and hold different views, but they all agreed that this issue is vitally important. We sincerely thank each one of them for lending their influence to getting girls around the world the education they deserve:

Afrikan Boy Alice Callahan Thompson Aliko Dangote Alyse Nelson Amena Brown Angelique Kidjo Arianna Huffington Asa Ashley Graham Ashley Judd Banky W Baroness Verma Blake Lively Bob Geldof Bono Bumi Thomas Carey Lowell Cathy Newman Charlize Theron Christina Lamb Cindi Leive Dan Haseltine Danai Gurira David Burtka David Oyelowo Hon. Desmond Elliot Diamond Ertharin Cousin George Stroumboulopoulos Guido Schmidt-Traub Helen Clark Helene Gayle HHP Isla Fisher Jane Mosbacher Morris Jessica Oyelowo Jessica Sipos Joe Cerrell John Green Karen Kornbluh Karen Walrond Kathy Calvin Kobna Holdbrook-Smith Lady Gaga Laura Ling Lauren Bush Lauren Larry Summers Leymah Gbowee Mabel van Oranje Maria Russo Marian Salzman Matt Maher Meghan Markle Michael Gerson Michael W. Smith Michele Sullivan Morton H. Halperin Natalie Portman Montel Williams Moriah Peters Muntu Valdo Neil Patrick Harris Paul Polman Rachel Rudwall Rashida Jones Robin Wright Ryan Reynolds Sacha Baron Cohen Sarah Brown Selmor Mtukudzi Sheryl Sandberg Sheryl WuDunn Steve Taylor Susan Markham Susan Wojcicki Tanya Burr Tina Brown Tom Brady Toolz Vanessa Mdee Victoria Kimani Waje Yemi Alade


… And now it’s your turn. It’s in your power RIGHT NOW to help girls across the globe get access to an education in the next four years. If you care, ACT. Add your name to our letter, and we’ll deliver it in-person to leaders all around the world on International Women’s Day, March 8.


Via ONE, ONE Girls and Women

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AGRICULTURE Is agriculture the way forward for Africa? Professor Juma thinks so.


14 October 2016 2:06PM UTC  | By: ROBYN DETORO
JOIN Join the fight against Extreme Poverty

Calestous Juma is a Professor of the Practice of International Development at Harvard Kennedy School and author who specialises in African agriculture. In 2015 he released the second edition of his book, The New Harvest: Agricultural Innovation in Africa, which posits that Africa can not only feed itself within a generation, but can also become a key player in reducing global food insecurity.

According to Juma, 60% of the world’s arable land is in Africa, 60% of employment on the continent is directly related to agriculture, and almost half of Africa’s gross domestic product (GDP) is related to agriculture, yet roughly 83% of the food consumed in Africa is imported. These statistics clearly demonstrate that Africa has the potential to become food secure AND be an agricultural powerhouse — what can the continent do to make this happen?

Female-farmers-in-the-Uwamwima-Growers-AAs ONE’s 2014 Ripe for Change report showed, increasing agricultural production is not simply a matter of finding a spare tract of land and planting seeds. Any improvements to the agricultural sector will require smart investments and coordination amongst all stakeholders. High level coordination between African leaders and department ministers is one key to developing a sustainable, functioning sector. The large-scale and long-term success of the continent’s agriculture hinges on the ability of leaders and ministers to coordinate development and delivery of the entire food system, from irrigation systems, transportation and infrastructure improvements, to education programmes, food processing facilities, trade partnerships, and technological advancements in key regions across the continent.

For this coordination to be impactful in the long term, subsequent political leaders would need to heed dedicated attention to the sector and ensure that it remains a top priority.

RED_ONE-RWANDA_NIGERIA-863-1024x682.jpgAt a grassroots level, Juma emphasised the importance of providing access for small scale farmers to training that uses specific, localised knowledge in order to produce robust and high-yielding crops saying, ‘land does not produce food, farmers produce food’. Educated farmers, he said, have a better chance of producing increased yields, leading to improved economic and food security because they are empowered and able to make informed decisions when planting, tending to, and harvesting crops.


In addition to how much farmers are producing, what farmers are growing is also of significant importance. Juma writes, ‘Achieving food security depends not only on increasing production but also on improving nutrition,’. Historically, African governments have placed a heavy focus on increasing yields, which can sometimes address hunger, but without additional nutrition benefits. With many Africans subsisting on grain-heavy diets, populations are missing out on the benefits of protein, iron, and other vitamin-rich foods that crop diversification could provide. Good nutrition is especially critical in the first 1,000 days to avoid the permanent mental and physical stunting that is costing up to 16% of GDP through lost potential.  By improving conditions for pastoralists, integrating non-traditional crops, and fortifying current crops, markets and subsistence farmers could gain better access to more nutritious options.


Strengthening and growing Africa’s agricultural sector is an astoundingly large and complex project, but the rewards reaped would be priceless. If the continent could produce a thriving agricultural economy, citizens would benefit from better food security and nutrition levels, not to mention improved buying power and new work opportunities. The establishment of the continent’s agricultural sector may be the turning point for its development as a whole.

A great number of communities across the continent currently struggle with food insecurity due to a litany of factors including climate change, poor infrastructure, low economic statuses, and political instability.

The time for African leaders to come together and deliver on their 2014 Malabo Declaration promises is now. We look forward to the 2017 Malabo progress report.



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CITIZENSHIP Israeli Arabs and Jews told to kiss, what happens next is beautiful

By Joe McCarthy|

 Jan. 13, 2016

Can unconditional love end the Israeli, Palestinian conflict?

In short, yes. Unconditional love would end the conflict. 

But how do enemies summon love of that kind? Love that transcends history and defies cultural learning? 

Not all Israeli Jews hate Arabs and not all Israeli Arabs hate Jews. This is obvious. In fact, the majority of people are not filled with hatred. But hatred is so belligerent that it seems larger than it is and can overwhelm the reasonable.  

In the video above, Time Out Israel tried to counter extreme hatred with extreme love. It was inspired when the Israeli government banned a book--Borderlife by Dorit Rabinyan--depicting a love story between an Israeli translator and a Palestinian artist.

The book was banned because the Ministry of Education thought it might threaten a young person's understanding of assimilation, which is code for: Israeli Arabs and Jews do not belong together. 

This is a false idea. Israeli Arabs and Jews coexist peacefully all over the place and many Israeli Arabs and Jews love one another--nothing is wrong about this. 

So to make this reality clearer, Time Out invited Israeli Arabs and Jews to kiss in protest.

Some of the participants knew one another, others were strangers. 

The set is bare: just woman and man, woman and woman or man and man. 

It's awkward at first, but the couples gradually become comfortable and their interaction blends into something beautiful. The video is a challenge to extremism everywhere. It's a challenge to the idea that only more fighting can end the fighting, that only more bloodshed will work. It's a challenge to the idea that just because you are born in a specific country or into a religion means you have to regard another country or religion with hate. 

And eventually this challenge will win. Because hatred is never natural. It can always be conquered by love.


Written by Joe McCarthy


Joe McCarthy is a Content Creator at Global Citizen. He believes apathy is the biggest threat to creating a more just world and tries his hardest to stay open-minded and curious. Living in New York keeps him aware of how interconnected our world is, how every action has ripples.

Edited by tan_lejos_tan_cerca
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