Media urged to dedicate more time to women empowerment issues

 

A campaign seeking to encourage media outlets in Kenya to give more attention to women empowerment issues has been launched.

Dubbed Wezesha Dada Inua Jamii, the campaign is urging the media to dedicate at least five more minutes every week to tell stories about women’s role in development.

The initiative is funded by USAID and seeks to have women and girls recognized as important pillars of development.

It was inspired by Half the Sky Movement which seeks to put an end to the oppression of women and girls worldwide.

In turn the movement draws its inspiration from Nicholas Kristof and Sheryl WuDunn’s best-selling book Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide.

According to Rosa Kihara, the Wezesha Dada campaign manager, the initiative also includes men and recognises the empowerment of women as a means to development.

She was speaking during the Wezesha Dada gala dinner held at dusitD2 hotel in Nairobi on March 24, 2015.

POST-2015 DEVELOPMENT AGENDA

“As we look beyond the Millennium Development Goals into the post-2015 development agenda, it is critical to ensure that Kenya’s women and girls are not left behind.

“Our future will be bright when we deliberately choose to include women and girls in every stage of the country’s development. To do this, women’s issues must be a centrepiece of the discussion,” said Ms Kihara.

Wezesha Dada Inua Jamii uses the power of storytelling through various media platforms to share the insightful and inspiring stories of fearless women and men who are bringing positive change to the lives of Kenyan women and girls.

The main issues that the initiative seeks to address are economic empowerment, education, gender based violence, reproductive health, and maternal and child health.

GENDER EQUALITY

In her remarks, USAID Deputy Mission Director, Tina Dooley-Jones said that gender equality is one of the most sustainable development solutions.

“Through the Half the Sky Global Engagement Initiative, USAID/Kenya is committed to support innovative approaches to challenge socio-economic and cultural norms and practices that limit gender equality,” she said.

She was speaking during the launch of the Wezesha Dada Inua Jamii campaign.

The campaign has identified the media as the most popular storyteller, and is appealing to broadcasters and journalists to find and report insightful and inspiring stories which have women at the core.

It is hoped that by the end of 2015, the campaign will have had a positive impact on government policies in regard to women and girls in Kenya.

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New York State Strengthens Human Trafficking Law CATW International

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New York State Legislature Passes the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act

The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women Commends the New York State Assembly for Unanimously Passing the TVPJA

New York, March 17, 2015 – The Coalition Against Trafficking in Women (CATW) applauds the New York State Assembly, under Speaker Carl E. Heastie’s leadership, for voting unanimously to pass the Trafficking Victims Protection and Justice Act (TVPJA) on March 16, 2015. Sponsored by Assembly member Amy Paulin and Senator Andrew Lanza, the TVPJA is a comprehensive law that strengthens the 2007 New York State Human Trafficking Act by expanding protections and creating more services for victims, as well as increasing penalties for traffickers and other exploiters.

“We are thrilled that after three years of difficult negotiations we can celebrate the passage of the TVPJA,” said Taina Bien-Aimé, CATW’s executive director, “Of all the powerful voices supporting this bill, those of the survivors were key in educating legislators about the violent crimes perpetrated against them at the hands of their traffickers, pimps and buyers. New York has taken a gigantic step toward understanding, preventing and punishing exploitation.”

Upon the signature of New York’s Governor Andrew Cuomo, the TVPJA will:

  • Increase penalties by making sex trafficking a Class B violent felony and creating the new offense of aggravated labor trafficking. Additionally, in certain cases, the new law will classify labor trafficking as a Class D violent felony.
  • Align the penalties for buying sex from a minor with those for statutory rape; and knowledge – or lack thereof – of the child’s age is not a defense.
  • Establish sex trafficking as an affirmative defense to prostitution.
  • Provide a civil remedy for victims to recover damages and reasonable attorney’s fees from their exploiters.
  • Develop protocols to increase law enforcement’s awareness to better identify and assist human trafficking victims.Eliminate the stigmatizing word “prostitute” used in the New York Penal Code and replace it with the term “person for prostitution.

In addition to the trafficking survivors, a significant number of advocacy and direct services organizations, including Sanctuary for Families, GEMS and the National Organization for Women-New York City and New York State joined efforts to vigorously push for the TVPJA’s successful passage.

“NOW members throughout New York City and the state tirelessly campaigned for the passage of this critical legislation,” said Sonia Ossorio, president of NOW New York. “We thank our members, allies and the New York legislature for advancing the cause.Today New York is in a better position to fight the epidemic of human trafficking.”

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Hay’adda CED oo 40 haween ah tababar ugu soo xirtay.

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Xarunta Horumarinta Waxbarashada ee CED ayaa ugu soo xirtay Muqdisho tababar socday labo maalmood 40-haween ah oo ka socday 20 ururrada haween oo ka howlgala gobolka Banaadir.

Tababbarkan oo ahaa awood-siinta haweenka si ay xuquuqdooda u heli lahaayeen ayaa wuxuu qayb ka yahay barnaamij lagu kordhiyo tayada haweenka oo hay’adda CED ku caawinayso Haweenka Soomaaliyeed, iyadoo tababarkan midkii ka horreeyay loo qabtay illaa 100 haween ah oo ka kala socday 20 urur oo ka dhisan Muqdisho.

Guddoomiye ku-xigeenka ururka Haweenka Qaranka Soomaaliyeed; Canab Xasan Cilmi oo ka hadashay tababarkan ayaa uga mahad-celisay hay’adda CED sida ay isku howshay kor u qaadidda aqoonta haweenka Soomaaliyeed iyo horumarintooda, iyadoo xustay in illaa sannadkii hore ay 20 ururro oo kala duwan u qabteen  tababbaro kor loogu qaadayay aqoontooda.

Sidoo kale, Canab Xasan ayaa ugu baaqday hay’adda CED inay kordhiso tababaradan lagu awood-siinayo haweenka, isla markaana la gaarsiiyo deegaanno ka baxsan Muqdisho, sida gobollada kale ee dalka.

Agaasimaha hay’adda CED, Inj. C/llaahi Cal Xasan ayaa sheegay inuu tababarkan wax badan ka tari doono tayeynta ururrada ka shaqeeya arrima haweenka iyo caruurta, isagoo xusay inay is bedel ku sameynayaan karaan halka ay haatan joogto Soomaaliya; ay gaarsiiyaan meel ka  wanaagsan.

Inj. Cabdullaahi Cali ayaa intaas ku daray in barnaamijkan uu qayb ka yahay in haweenka tayadooda kor loo qaado mid urur iyo mid gaar ahba, wuxuuna raaciyay inuu barnaamijkan awood siinta haweenka ah soconayo muddo labo sanadood ah, isagoo soo billowday bishii Maarso ee sannadkii 2014-kii, kuna eg-yahay bisha Febraayo ee sannadka 2016-ka.

“Sannad ayaa kasoo wareegatay markii aan barnaamijkan billownay, waxaan ku faraxsan-nahay in mirihiisa wax badan laga arkay. Illaa 100 haween ah oo lagu billaabay tababarkan ayaa tayadooda kor loo qaaday,” ayuu yiri Inj. Agaasimaha hay’adda CED.

Guddoomiyaha ururka jilayaasha aan dowliga ahayn; Cabdullaahi Maxamed Shirwac oo isna gunaanadkii tababarka ka hadlay ayaa sheegay inay tahay howl looga mahad-celiyo hay’adda CED in maanta ay tababarto Haweenka Soomaaliyeed, isla markaana 1,000 haween ah la tababbaro, ayna kasoo baxdo hoggaaminta wanaagsan ee bulshada.

Ugu dambeyn, tababarkan ayaa waxaa ka qayb-galayaashii 40-ka haween ahaa waxaa lagu guddoonsiiyay siiyay shahaadooyin, iyagoo ballan-qaaday in wixii ay ka kororsadeen ay gaarsiin doonaan qaybaha kala duwan ee bulshada Soomaaliyeed.

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Michelle Obama Promoting Girls’ Education In Cambodia

 

4444PHOTO: Michelle Obama (centre L) and the Cambodian prime minister’s wife Bun Rany (centre R) are greeted by flag-waving schoolchildren in Siem Reap province. (AFP: Tang Chhin Sothy)

SIEM REAP, Cambodia (AP) — U.S. first lady Michelle Obama traveled Friday from Japan to Cambodia — a journey from one of Asia’s richest countries to one of its poorest — as part of a campaign to help millions of girls around the world stay in school.

Mrs. Obama arrived in the city of Siem Reap, home to Cambodia’s famed Angkor Wat temple complex, where she planned to sightsee following activities Saturday focused on the U.S.-led education initiative “Let Girls Learn.”

The White House has said Mrs. Obama is expected to “share American perspectives about education and good governance” but was unlikely to directly criticize Cambodia’s human rights record.

Mrs. Obama’s trip is the first by a sitting American first lady to Cambodia, whose strongman leader, Prime Minister Hun Sen, has ruled for 30 years with little tolerance for dissent.

She was not expected to meet Hun Sen but will spend Saturday with his wife, Bun Rany, who greeted Mrs. Obama at the airport Friday night.

The two first ladies are to meet Cambodian high school students participating in community-led programs. Mrs. Obama will also deliver a speech to U.S. Peace Corps volunteers and later hold a round-table discussion with those volunteers and others working on projects to support girls’ education in Cambodia.

Earlier this month, she and President Barack Obama launched “Let Girls Learn” to lift barriers that block more than 62 million girls around the world from attending school.

Japan is partnering with the U.S. to promote the campaign and announced during Mrs. Obama’s three-day stay it will devote 42 billion yen ($340 million) to girls’ education projects.

The U.S. has earmarked $250 million in initial funding for the program, which will be run by the Peace Corps and begin in 11 countries – Cambodia, Albania, Benin, Burkina Faso, Georgia, Ghana, Moldova, Mongolia, Mozambique, Togo and Uganda.

The White House said Japan and Cambodia were chosen for Mrs. Obama’s trip because one is a donor country and one is a country in need, and it reflects a U.S. commitment to be more involved in the Asia-Pacific region.

In an online travel journal, Mrs. Obama said the trip felt personal. She shared a story, now familiar to Americans, in the hopes of inspiring children overseas.

“This visit is part of a journey that began decades ago, back when I was a little girl,” wrote Mrs. Obama, a Harvard-educated lawyer, saying she came from a modest background, but worked hard in school and her education transformed her life. “My education is the starting point for every opportunity in my life.”

The trip also allowed the first lady to soak up some of Asia’s rich culture. Before leaving Japan on Friday, Mrs. Obama flew from Tokyo to the ancient capital of Kyoto to visit shrines and temples including Kiyomizu-dera, a Buddhist temple founded in 780. She also tried her hand at taiko drums after watching a rousing performance by students who drummed, jumped and gesticulated with all their might.

“You guys are good!” she said. “That’s good exercise. Wonderful.”

The students then invited Mrs. Obama to join them, and performed a number as she and a student drummed on a big, round taiko drum.

In Cambodia, she will get a first-hand look at the country’s educational challenges.

Cambodia was devastated by the Khmer Rouge in the 1970s. The brutal regime closed schools and executed intellectuals. Foreign aid and investment have helped the economy grow rapidly in the past decade but its education system and overall development remain stunted.

Even today, most Cambodian children drop out of school, according to 2014 government statistics that show 95 percent of children enter primary school but only 20 percent finish secondary school.

Poverty is the main problem, especially in rural areas, where children are pulled out of school to help support their families, according to UNICEF, the U.N. children’s agency.

Cambodia’s problems with child prostitution, child labor and human trafficking also play a role, and often target girls.

In 2012, President Obama became the first U.S. president to visit Cambodia and held a private meeting with Hun Sen that White House officials described as tense. The president privately pressed Hun Sen on a variety of human rights and political issues but made no public comments critical of his host.

Human rights groups hope Mrs. Obama will speak out publicly.

“While it’s welcome that Michelle Obama is taking up the important cause of educating girls, she also needs to recognize that Cambodia is a human rights basket case,” said Phil Robertson, deputy Asia director at Human Rights Watch. He urged her to “speak up about rampant violence against women, impunity of security forces and failure of democratic governance.”

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Empowered Somali Women – After The Event

 

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On the 7th of March this year, Somali young women came together to celebrate one another. It was a day like no other. We shared with you all the vision and plan behind Ladan Takow’s event ‘Empowering SomaliWomen’ in a pervious article. We are now incredibly excited to fill you in on how the event went.

“We don’t need to be empowered – we are.” – Ladan Takow

Ladan’s event was a huge success in its aim to empower women through educating, inspiring, networking and building relationships.

The event started with women taking the stage and sharing their stories. Each speaker told their tale of how they were empowered or how they empower others. The stories told were powerful. We were on a journey with all the speakers; how each woman learnt who they were and found their passions – in turn empowering themselves!

The speakers included;

Idil Hassan a community developer at Midaye Somali Development Network, spoke about the work she does to help Somali communities and other ethnic minorities.

“Women are the core of our community. So empowering the women means the rest of Somalia will be empowered too.” – Idil
Samra Said is a poet, charity aid worker and a fundraiser working in the international development sector. She is currently working for Human Appeal, however she is also known for her work with the Somali Relief and Development Forum (SRDF). Samra spoke about the work she has done in the charity sector. She shared with us; how she was empowered through her understanding of what she felt was important – growing our society.

Another truly inspirational woman was Nadira Mahamoud who was the producer of The Stream (Al Jazeera). She spoke of how she discarded other career ideas like fashion blogging until she truly found the job she loved. She taught us that we could be empowered by understanding what our passion is.

Once the talks came to an end, the evening was still young and the guests took the dance floor and enjoyed a mixture of Somali, and other music. It was a great way to celebrate one another and the evening.
The definition of empowerment we quoted above talks about making yourself stronger, more confident and taking control of your life. The power in the word empowerment is that each individual can empower themselves or others in their own way. There isn’t a set rule or steps to follow. To one woman empowerment may mean knowledge – that education they were previously denied. Another may see it as the true learning of one’s self, and being confident in their own skin and life.
Looking at Ladan’s event it is clear that it is not just a one day event, it is a movement. Us Somali women are empowered and we shall continue to be so.

Looking around the room I was overwhelmed by the turn out. Seeing all these welcoming, open minded and hopeful faces warmed my heart. What better way to connect with your Somali sisters than to make each other rise?
To me? To be empowered is to know who I am, and how I can contribute to what is important to me: the bettering of our world.

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Somali families gather for vaccination education

wwwwSomali families gathered to eat and learn more about the measles vaccine at an informational event hosted by CentraCare Health at Midtown Square Mall Saturday (Photo: Jason Wachter).

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Somali families gathered Saturday afternoon to learn more about the measles vaccine at an event hosted by CentraCare Health at Midtown Square Mall.

The event came about after CentraCare pediatricians and community health worker Amina Ahmed became concerned about the recent measles outbreak in the U.S., and the potential for illness in Central Minnesota.

Data tells them that vaccination rates are dropping, especially in the Somali population.

So Dr. Denise Lenarz and Ahmed collaborated with the St. Cloud Somali Youth Organization to organize the event.

“We feel a need for education,” Ahmed said.

The Measles, Mumps, and Rubella (MMR) vaccine is typically given at age one and again before kindergarten. Children can receive vaccinations at little to no cost because it’s preventative.

Ahmed spoke with families and signed them up to come the event.

SCSYO members handed out fliers and spoke with families, encouraging them to come, said director Farhan Abdi.

“We get a lot of people that really want to come and have an opportunity to ask a doctor one-on-one questions,” he said. “A lot of community members are excited that we had this opportunity.”

Ahmed acknowledge some apprehension as well.

“The community has a lot of fear about autism,” she said, thinking the MMR vaccine, which contains the measles vaccine, is a cause.

A study linking the two, and the doctor who authored it, have been extensively discredited, but the rumor persists.

“We want to give them a clinic point of view,” Ahmed said. “So doctors can answer and have a conversation with the community.”

Lenarz said there’s higher rates of autism among the Somali population, so there is a little more fear among families.

They didn’t do any vaccinations at the event.

“We didn’t want to make the families feel like we were pushing them,” Lenarz said.

“They get to choose at the end of the day,” Ahmed said. “We want to get them the information they need when they consider their decision.”

Ahmed arranged bus transportation, which can be a barrier to accessing health care for Somali families. Abdi said organization members also offered transportation options.

Ahmed connects families with health care soon after they arrive in St. Cloud, as part of her job.

She says she deliberately chooses not to talk about the MMR vaccine in those initial visits, because she doesn’t want to deter families from seeking care.

The two are hoping that they can combat some of the rumors with facts.

“As you know, it’s a tight-knit community, where word of mouth spreads very rapidly. We hope to vaccinate one child and hope that they tell five friends, that they did it and it was fine,” Lenarz said. “That will make us happy.”

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ICC should prosecute Islamic State for Iraq genocide, war crimes: U.N.

Shi'ite fighters known as Hashid Shaabi walk with their weapons as smoke rises from an explosives-laden military vehicle driven by an Islamic State suicide bomber, which exploded during an attack on the southern edge of TikritShi'ite fighters known as Hashid Shaabi walk with their weapons as smoke rises from an explosives-laden military vehicle driven by an Islamic State suicide bomber, which exploded during an attack on the southern edge of TikritShi’ite fighters known as Hashid Shaabi walk with their weapons as smoke rises from an explosives-laden military vehicle driven by an Islamic State suicide bomber, which exploded during an attack on the southern edge of Tikrit March 12, 2015.

(Reuters) – The United Nations said on Thursday Islamic State forces may have committed genocide in trying to wipe out the Yazidi minority in Iraq as well as war crimes against civilians including children.

In a report based on interviews with more than 100 alleged victims and witnesses, the U.N. Human Rights Office urged the U.N. Security Council to refer the issue to the International Criminal Court (ICC) to prosecute perpetrators, including foreign members of the ultra-radical insurgent group.

Iraqi security forces and affiliated militias “may have committed some war crimes” while battling the insurgency, including killings, torture and abductions, the report said.

“Clearly international war crimes and crimes against humanity and possibly genocide appear to have been committed during this conflict. The genocide part relates particularly to the Yazidis,” Hanny Megally, chief of the Asia, Pacific, Middle East and North Africa branch of the U.N. Human Rights Office, told a news briefing in Geneva.

“We are very keen to ensure that even as the conflict continues that evidence is preserved, protected and collected because that will be important for future accountability.”

The U.N. investigators urged the Baghdad government to join the Hague-based ICC or pursue the crimes under domestic law.The U.N. Human Rights Council launched its inquiry in September after Islamic State, also known as ISIS, ISIL or IS, seized large swathes of northern and western Iraq.

There was a “manifest pattern of attacks” by Islamic State on Yazidis, viewed as “pagans” by IS, as well as Christians and other ethnic and religious minorities as its forces laid siege to towns and villages in Iraq, the report said.

“No community has been spared in Iraq from ISIL’s violence….Essentially what we are seeing is the rich ethnic and religious diversity in Iraq that has been shattered completely,” said Suki Nagra, chief U.N. investigator.

A “huge number of foreign fighters” were implicated in the atrocities, largely from neighbouring countries, but also a few Western states, she said, declining to be specific.

Unofficial estimates have put the number of Yazidis killed by IS militants in the hundreds. Nagra gave no figures on this, but said roughly 3,000 women, children and some men remained in IS custody. “This is an area that needs future investigation.”

She added that mass graves were being uncovered in areas recently retaken by Iraqi government forces from Islamic State

Islamic State has treated captured women and children as “spoils of war”, often subjecting them to rape or sexual slavery, the report added.

It said the insurgents’ Islamic sharia courts in Mosul had meted out cruel punishments including stoning and amputation. “Thirteen teenage boys were sentenced to death for watching a football match,” the report said.

(Additional reporting by Isabel Coles in Iraq; Editing by Mark Heinrich)

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