LADY PUG® TOTE BAG
— At the ‘Pug Sunday’ in San Francisco!
— At the ‘Pug Sunday’ in San Francisco!
Fast Company, By Pranav Dixit
Being a woman working in a technology company can be, well, lonely. But recently released data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics is anything to go by, it might not be that way for very long. The tech industry added 60,000 jobs over the last year. Sixty percent (36,000) of these went to women. According to the BLS, 70% to 80% of these new jobs have traditionally gone to men.
The caveat here, as CNN points out, is that these statistics don’t differentiate between different occupations in the tech sector. In other words, they’re being hired, but we don’t know what for. It’s possible the new female hires are being employed in non-engineering positions, which makes these figures less notable.
The tech industry has long been a male bastion. One in 10 Fortune 500 companies still don’t include a single woman on their boards.
Series Id: CES6054150010 (I)
Super Sector: Professional and business services
Industry: Computer systems design and related services
NAICS Code: 5415
Data Type: WOMEN EMPLOYEES, THOUSANDS
Treehugger - By Margaret Badore
California has become an interesting test-case for both approaches to one plastic problem.
Back in 2006, California passed a law that mandated a system for recycling plastic shopping bags. Today, supermarkets and other large stores have receptacles where plastic bags can be returned for recycling.
However, a recent report from the Associated Press found that it’s difficult to measure how successful this program has been. They found that the data collected by the Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery has not been analyzed since 2009, when about 3 percent of bags made to recycling. The department did provide reporters with the raw data:
"Retailers reported purchasing 62.3 million pounds of bags in 2012, down from 107.4 million in 2008. They reported 4 million pounds of bags and 27 million pounds of mixed bags and plastic film were returned for recycling in 2012.
But those figures don’t reveal how many bags were recycled. A study by California State University, Sacramento, which calculated previous recycling rates, showed the store-submitted totals for collected bags often included other materials. Without verifying the stores’ totals, it’s impossible to say how much was from bags, plastic film or general garbage.”
Spokesman Mark Oldfield said the recycling department doesn’t have enough funding to do the proper analysis.
The recycling program stands in contrast to plastic bag bans, which have been passed in over 80 California cities and municipalities. Los Angeles will have a ban going into effect in January.
Eric Bradley, reporting for the Press-Telegram, spoke with Environmental Services Bureau Manager Jim Kuhl about the success of Long Beach’s ban. Kuhl says that the community now has 100 percent compliance, and has only had one infraction since the ban was introduced two years ago.
“There was really no push-back on it,” Kuhl said of the ban that went into effect Aug. 1, 2011, for large retailers and five months later for smaller shops. “I believe the grocers and the retailers realize the public would like to see a reduction in plastic bags.”
It’s unfortunate that we don’t have a quantifiable idea of how well the recycling program is working. On one hand, we should have a system to manage all of the plastic bags that are already out there, and it would be good to keep them out landfills and the landscape. On the other hand, recycling does come with embedded energy costs that can be avoided altogether by choosing a re-usable shopping bag–and bans are proving to be the best way to get everyone on board.
© UNICEF Central African Republic/2013/DuvillierAfter escaping violence the first time, 13-year-old Felicia and her family hid in the bush for weeks before renewed clashes uprooted them again. They now live in a displacement site, where Felicia receives support at a UNICEF child-friendly space.
By Laurent Duvillier
Violence and displacement in the Central African Republic are leaving lasting emotional and mental scars on thousands of children. Giving them space to feel safe and to express themselves is one way to help them find peace.
BOSSANGOA, Central African Republic, 6 November 2013 – Like most children, 13-year-old Felicia loves to draw. But her drawings are not the usual happy scenes of school and family and friends. In vivid colours, she draws a man lying on the ground dead, houses burned down, and men carrying weapons. For a young girl forced to flee for her life several times in recent months, the memories of violence are still fresh.
“We were inside the house with my parents when they broke in with guns. My heart got warm,” Felicia says. “They dumped the dead bodies in front of our house. There were my neighbours. I knew them. It hurts me. When we ran away in panic, we were separated and my uncle was killed.”
We don’t talk about what happened
For weeks, Felicia and her family hid in the bush along a river, but renewed clashes forced them to flee again in September. Since March 2013, when rebels took the capital, Bangui, some 400,000 people have been uprooted by violence and insecurity.
© UNICEF Central African Republic/2013/DuvillierThe space offers psychosocial care, including art classes, for children. Felicia’s drawings, like the one above, reveal lingering scars. “When I think about it, I see images, and I start crying,” she says.
When the family eventually arrived at a site for displaced people, Felicia’s 2-month-old sister was suffering from vomiting and diarrhoea. She died shortly after. Felicia believes that the water they drank in the field made her little sister sick.
“I don’t have nightmares. But when I think about it, I see images and I start crying,” says Felicia, whose clothes are torn and ragged. “When I arrived here, I knew nobody. Then I met educators at the UNICEF tent. Now I consider them as my peers, my friends. I know I can talk to them. I know they listen to me. At home, we don’t talk about what happened.”
The events that Felicia and thousands of children like her have experienced have a lasting and powerful impact. Exposure to extreme violence, displacement, loss of family members and separation from the safety and protection of home – all of these can profoundly affect a child’s emotional well-being and mental development.
Arts and recreational activities such as drawing and sports provide an important outlet for children affected by violence, and can help them express their feelings and cope with the distress they have been through.
Child-friendly spaces for displaced children
Less than two months after the renewed violence, UNICEF teams set up two areas in two displacement sites in Bossangoa where children can play, get involved in recreational activities and get counselling and support in an environment where they can feel safe and protected.
“When the children first come to the UNICEF space, they tend to isolate themselves – some curl up under the mango tree,” says Pelagie, 20, one of eight volunteer educators from NGO Caritas trained by UNICEF. “They look sad and don’t want to interact with other children. Then they start opening up. I play and dance with them. They trust me. I am a child like them – I am also displaced. I have the same stories. We saw the same atrocities.”
© UNICEF Central African Republic/2013/DuvillierChildren at a drawing session in Bossangoa, where two spaces are helping about 600 children. UNICEF is planning to strengthen its interventions by sending more specialists in post-trauma management to affected areas.
Through the UNICEF-supported child-friendly spaces, up to 600 boys and girls who fled their homes in Bossangoa and neighbouring villages are beginning to regain a sense of what it’s like to be a child again. Every child has a right to play and have a childhood free of violence. UNICEF is currently planning to strengthen its interventions by sending more specialists in post-trauma management to affected areas.
“Sadly, children’s drawings suggest they have been deeply affected by the conflict,” says Jean Lokenga, UNICEF’s Chief of Protection in the Central African Republic. “Many displaced children have witnessed violent incidents, and it’s still in their heads. It’s not good to keep these feelings bottled up. If not addressed immediately, the long-term impact of their exposure to traumatic, distressing events can be huge.”
Pelagie, UNICEF-trained educator, adds, “There might be little I can do to bring peace to my country, but there is so much I can do to bring peace in children’s minds.”
By Laurent Duvillier
Water is becoming an increasingly scarce resource, with national water rates rising by an average of 9 percent annually.
Coupled with the billions of dollars needed for infrastructure overhauls over the next 20 years, it is likely these rates will continue to skyrocket. With stricter regulatory and environmental constraints compounding these hurdles, our economic future may depend on how we, as entrepreneurs, manage water resources today.
When was the last time you looked at how much water your organization uses? For many, the answer is never. Yet, that single first step — analyzing consumption and patterns — can accelerate change by saving millions of gallons of freshwater a year, along with millions of dollars. Measuring and understanding water usage paves the way for the most impactful solution: water reclamation and reuse.
While states such as California are in the process of studying water recycling for potable, or drinking, uses, non-potable reuse already is common throughout the country. Nationwide, about 2,000 communities and more than 60 major power plants use reclaimed water for cooling. In addition, hundreds of college campuses reuse graywater and stormwater for irrigation and toilet flushing.
Here are just a few numbers to think about:
• On average, 45 percent of all campus water use is for non-potable demand and can be displaced with alternative sources of clean, safe water.
• In the industrial sector, up to 75 percent of water use is for non-potable demand, including power, heating, cooling and process requirements.
Considering the millions of gallons of potable water flushed into our heating and cooling systems on a daily basis, it is time to start thinking about water as renewable, rather than as consumable. Through water reclamation, universities, businesses and other organizations can harness an untapped resource and transform what was once a waste into an asset, right on campus.
The first stage in the process is the water footprint assessment (WFA), a preliminary water balance. By breaking down overall water use for a campus, manufacturing facility or office park, the WFA helps identify potential conservation opportunities and the viability of on-site water reclamation and reuse.
After an initial WFA is performed, many organizations opt to move on to a detailed feasibility study to develop a water reclamation strategy and examine the overall economic impact of water reuse. Beyond water reclamation, this study helps lay the groundwork for a master water plan, developing near-term conservation opportunities as well as long-term water management strategies.
A unique financing arrangement called the water purchase agreement (WPA) helps qualifying entities make reclamation and reuse possible. Similar to a power purchase arrangement, a WPA is a financing vehicle used to build turn-key water reclamation systems at no capital expense to the end user. Water savings incurred by the project are used to pay off the cost of the facility over time, with the end-user receiving substantial savings beginning in the first year. A WPA can take many forms. It can be set up as a performance contract, a design-build-operate contract or even an operating lease.
Case study: A university in the southeast
A theoretical mid-size university in the southeast, located in a water-stressed urban area, may have seen rates rise dramatically over the past decade, with no end in sight. A total annual water demand of around 400 million gallons — 38 percent of which is made up of utility process water and irrigation — prompts the university to take forward-thinking steps to ensure a lasting, sustainable future for their campus.
Through a WPA, the university can maintain guaranteed pricing for 20 years by installing a reclamation and reuse facility on campus. The innovative ecology-based facility would satisfy nearly all of the university’s non-potable demand, while allowing for growth and providing insulation from rising rates and water availability issues. The benefits extend outside the campus and into surrounding areas as the university works in partnership with community water and sewer authorities, reducing its burden and enabling for growth without increasing reliance on an overtaxed municipal system.
Water reclamation enables clear cost savings linked to discounted water rates, reduced potable water intake and reduced sewer fees. Substantial operational benefits include de-risking operations by localizing an alternative water supply source during drought and protecting against mandatory municipal water conservation programs. There are multiple environmental advantages, such as a decrease in water being diverted from ecosystems, less wastewater discharge and improved net energy efficiency resulting from treating water onsite. On campuses, student engagement is possible at all levels of the study, from awareness to possible internship opportunities.
Above all, assessing the water footprint of a campus or business provides an overall perspective, along with a customized, holistic solution, which can save millions of gallons in a way that is profitable and environmentally responsible.
By Jonathan Lanciani
Animals increasingly are being used to assist patients with mental disorders, as evidence grows that they can help people with autism, PTSD and other conditions function in their everyday lives.
Annie Roeder, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., who has dissociative disorder, says her psychiatric-service dog, Bamboo, helps her when she is having an anxiety attack. Josh Ritchie for The Wall Street Journal
The assistants are usually dogs but sometimes can include miniature horses, chinchillas or other animals.
Some are highly trained psychiatric-service animals that, for example, might help autism patients improve their social skills and interactions.
Others are household pets called emotional-support animals, or ESAs, a fast-growing type, partly because they require no special training, just a doctor’s note saying the pet helps the patient. Some owners of emotional-support animals say having the pets allows them to reduce how much medication they take. But ESAs also have spurred controversy, in part because some airlines and restaurants that typically bar pets will permit entrance to emotional-support animals, a development that is seen to encourage abuse.
There is no national certification program or registration for any type of assistive animal.
Annie Roeder, 29, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., has dissociative disorder, a condition that involves sporadic memory loss, feelings of detachment from oneself and perceptions that people and objects aren’t real. She says her psychiatric-service dog, Bamboo, a basset hound-beagle mix, helps her when she is having an anxiety attack or feels out of touch with reality. The dog alerts Ms. Roeder when the episode is occurring and will lay down on her lap to stabilize her. Ms. Roeder says she doesn’t know whether Bamboo is detecting a change in her actions or something else. “He just knows” when an attack is coming, she says.
Ms. Roeder says she used to be afraid to spend much time in public in case she had a dissociative episode. But since getting Bamboo 2½ years ago she now feels safe to engage in regular activities outside her home.
Identifying health benefits from animal-assisted therapy, as the field is known, comes mostly from observational studies, as the practice doesn’t lend itself to traditional randomized, controlled experiments. And for designations like emotional-support animals, where there isn’t training or regulation, the lack of standards makes it difficult to study the effects on health.
Still, the pool of studies that have been done increasingly suggests that animal-assisted techniques can be beneficial, says James Serpell, director of the Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society at the University of Pennsylvania. He says some research indicates that animal interventions can help encourage social interactions and reduce behavioral outbursts in some children with autism-spectrum disorders as effectively as other conventional treatments, including cognitive-behavioral therapy. However, the animal techniques are less effective than other methods at helping with conditions such as anxiety, depression or fear, the research has shown.
"The balance points to these types of interventions working surprisingly well for some groups," says Dr. Serpell.
A review of animal-assisted interventions on children with autism, published in the Society for Companion Animal Studies Journal in 2009, suggested that an assistive animal in the home can help facilitate daily routines and reduce behavioral outbursts. Dr. Serpell says it isn’t clear why animals appear to enhance social behavior. A possibility is that the animal’s presence induces neurochemical changes, like an increase in oxytocin hormone, which is then thought to improve social interactions.
Psychiatric-service training can take years and the animals may cost as much as thousands of dollars. Dogs have been trained to detect when someone with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, is experiencing a flashback to a traumatic situation. The animals, which possibly detect changes in patients’ motion, routine and body language, help them get out of it by nudging them or laying on them. Other evidence suggests that animals can assist people with schizophrenia who are hallucinating. By looking at the dog’s reaction to outside events, the patient can better distinguish what is real and what is a hallucination.
Research has found that having a pet confers health benefits on most owners, with or without an illness. Studies have shown that being around pets is associated with lower blood pressure and heart rate, and fewer symptoms of anxiety and depression. Therapists and hospital volunteers take advantage of that by using therapy animals to bring comfort and other psychological benefits when visiting patients.
Emotional-support animals are the least studied of the types of assistive animals. These are private pets for which a doctor or other health-care professional writes a letter explaining why the owner needs the animal.
The increase in number of pets deemed to be emotional-support animals concerns experts in the assistive-animal community, who fear that some people are taking advantage of the designation.
"I have a great deal of concern about ESAs of people abusing the categories to take them into restaurants and particularly in airplanes," says Mary Burch, director of the American Kennel Club, a nonprofit dog registry that runs dog shows and has developed the Canine Good Citizen Program, a dog-industry standard for obedience behaviors. "People with disabilities have struggled for public access rights for decades…and they may lose them if we abuse the system."
The biggest concerns are about bad behavior and hygiene, say officials in the service-animal industry, which trains animals to assist psychiatric patients and blind people. Because therapy dogs and emotional-support animals aren’t required to undergo any training, they may react when they see another dog, for instance. In addition, airlines often have caps on the number of animals on a flight, so if an individual who doesn’t have a genuine therapeutic need brings a pet on board labeled as an ESA, other people with legitimate disabilities may be prevented from bringing their dogs.
Carol Maa adopted Bourbon, a King Charles spaniel-dachshund mix, last year at a time her job was creating a lot of stress in her life. She says she struggled with the idea of getting Bourbon recognized as an emotional-support animal, concerned about how other people might react. In the end, her therapist agreed to write a letter designating the dog as her ESA, the only requirement to making a pet an emotional-support animal.
Ms. Maa, who is in her early 30s and lives in Sunnyvale, Calif., says Bourbon flies with her often on her business trips, which helps her control feelings of claustrophobia on the airplane. Ms. Maa says some people choose to take medication to reduce stress. But “for some of us who live our lives otherwise, without drugs, this is a viable alternative,” she says.
UNITED NATIONS: Emphasizing that women are the most vulnerable group in armed conflicts. Pakistan has called for “urgent steps” to stop gender-based sexual violence and end impunity for perpetrators of sexual crimes.
"In conflicts, violence against women is widely used as an instrument of war," Ambassador Masood Khan told the Security Council on Friday as the 15-member body debated "Women, Rule of Law and Transitional Justice."
Noting appreciable progress towards promoting the women, peace and security agenda, the Pakistani envoy said much remained to be done in translating them into more tangible action on the ground.
Pakistan, he said, fully supports the objectives of the women and peace and security agenda. “We have played an important role in advancing these goals as a major participant in UN peacekeeping missions,” he said, citing the service of Pakistani women peacekeepers as police officers, doctors and nurses in missions in Asia, Africa and the Balkans. “Gender-sensitization is a mandatory part of training of our peacekeepers.”
The Security Council’s decisions and direction, he said, were helping women caught in armed conflict situations.
"We believe that the Security Council should continue to address these issues in accordance with its primary responsibility of maintaining international peace and security," Masood Khan said.
He said rule of law is one of the key elements in promoting the women and peace and security agenda. Gender-responsive transitional justice and reform of the justice and security sectors were prerequisites for promoting and protecting women’s rights in conflict and post-conflict situations. Rule of law and transitional justice, he said, should continue to be developed to protect rights of women in conflict and post-conflict situations.
Masood Khan said the emphasis should be on addressing the root causes of conflicts. “Chronic conflicts and relapse into conflicts blight some countries and regions and keep them in a state of perpetual instability,” he said, “Resolution of conflicts therefore is the best way to promote and protect the rights and interests of women in conflict situations.
"We must harness all our resources to prevent and resolve conflicts." Given women’s strong stake in peace, their role as peacemakers and peace builders must be integrated at different stages of peace processes, he said, calling for more investment in capacity-building and in the empowerment of women.
Given women’s strong stakes in peace in how peace is negotiated, kept and consolidated, the role of women as peacemakers and peace-builders needs to be integrated into different stages of engagement, outreach and decision-making.
By: Parvez Jabri
Hong Kong (CNN) — A new report claiming to be the most comprehensive look at global slavery says 30 million people are living as slaves around the world.
The Global Slavery Index, published by the Australia-based Walk Free Foundation, lists India as the country with by far the most slaves, with an estimated nearly 14 million, followed by China (2.9 million) and Pakistan (2.1 million).
The top 10 countries on its list of shame accounted for more than three quarters of the 29.8 million people living in slavery, with Nigeria, Ethiopia, Russia, Thailand, Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar and Bangladesh completing the list.
In terms of countries with the highest of proportion of slaves, Mauritania in West Africa topped the table, with about 4% of its 3.4 million people enslaved, followed by Haiti, Pakistan, India and Nepal.
The index, whose authors claim it contains the most authoritative data on slavery conditions worldwide, is the product of Australian mining magnate and philanthropist Andrew Forrest’s commitment to stamp out global slavery.
Forrest, ranked by Forbes as Australia’s fifth richest man, with an estimated net worth of $5.7 billion, adopted the cause after his daughter volunteered in an orphanage in Nepal in 2008, where she encountered victims of child sex trafficking. Forrest is a signatory to the Giving Pledge started by billionaire investor Warren Buffett, whose members commit to donating at least half their wealth to philanthropic causes.
The index, which draws on 10 years of research into slavery and was produced by a team of 4 authors supported by 22 other experts, is the inaugural edition of what will be an annual report. It ranks 162 countries according to the number of people living in slavery, the risk of enslavement and the robustness of government responses to the problem.
Walk Free policy and research manager Gina Dafalia told CNN the report was intended to shine a spotlight on the issue, and quantify the extent of the problem in different countries before anti-slavery initiatives were launched. So far, she said, Walk Free, along with partners Humanity United and the Legatum Foundation, had pledged a total of $100 million to stamp out the practice.
"When we started working in this area we realized that we didn’t have a good understanding of what exactly the situation of slavery is in the world," she said. "We needed that information before we started doing any interventions."
The index gives a higher estimate of the global number of slaves than other reports — a report by the International Labor Organization last year pegged the number at 20.9 million.
Dafalia said this was a result of the Global Slavery Index using a broader definition of slavery, which included human trafficking, forced labor, as well as practices such as forced marriage, debt bondage and the exploitation of children.
"Our definition of modern slavery includes, for example, forced and servile marriage, a concept not included in the ILO estimate, given the focus on ‘forced labor,’" she said.
The explicit definition used in the report was “the possession and control of a person in such a way as to significantly deprive that person of his or her individual liberty, with the intent of exploiting that person through their use, management, profit, transfer or disposal. Usually this exercise will be achieved through means such as violence or threats of violence, deception and/or coercion.”
Kevin Bales, one of the report’s authors and co-founder of Free the Slaves, said that the global number of slaves was difficult to quantify. But through methods including random sample surveys, researchers were able to arrive at an estimate. “We were able to go to households and say ‘Has anything like this happened to anyone in your family?’” he said.
He believed the index, which he hoped would provide “a bit of a wake-up call” to the world’s governments, had a margin of error of between 5-10%. “We always erred on the conservative side.”
Asked why 30 million continued to live in conditions of slavery in 2013, Dafalia said the reasons varied from country to country, but one constant was that it remained a “hidden problem.”
In some of the worst-hit countries, the report said, the affected parties were citizens ensnared in endemic, culturally-sanctioned forms of slavery — “the chattel slavery of the Haratins in Mauritania, the exploitation of children through the restavek practice in Haiti, the cultural and economic practices of both caste and debt bondage in India and Pakistan, and the exploitation of children through vidomegon in Benin.”
In other examples, including Nepal, Gabon and Moldova, it was migrants who were most vulnerable to exploitation. In many examples, noted the report, child and forced marriage was prevalent and child protection practices weak.
It noted that in India, the country with the most slaves, the risk of enslavement varied markedly from state to state.
The Middle East and North Africa, it said, showed the highest measured level of discrimination against women, with one result being a high level of forced and child marriages within the region, and widespread exploitation of trafficked women as domestic workers and prostitutes. Vulnerable male migrants also frequently found themselves in exploitative working conditions.
In contrast, said Bales, countries like Brazil led the world in anti-slavery efforts. “It has a national plan to eradicate slavery. It has a dirty list where it has every company that’s ever had slavery pollute their products, they have special anti-slavery police squads.”
He rejected the suggestion that the term “slavery” was an overly emotive or misleading way of defining people who were trapped by crushing poverty.
"I spend a lot of time talking to people who have been or are in slavery, and when you talk to them about it, they know what the situation is," he said.
"We’re not talking about bad choices, we’re not talking about crummy jobs in a sweatshop. We’re talking about real life slavery — you can’t walk away, you’re controlled through violence, you’re treated like property."
by Tim Hume
Margaret Chan, Director-General of the World Health Organization (WHO). Photo: PAHO/WHO
The United Nations health agency has approved a new vaccine against Japanese encephalitis (JE), stressing that access to the vaccine will help save the lives of children in developing countries.
The World Health Organization (WHO) added the Chinese-manufactured vaccine to its list of prequalified medicines, meaning that it has given it its stamp of approval in safety and efficacy terms. This is the first Chinese-produced vaccine prequalified by WHO.
“This is a welcome development both in the fight to protect children in developing countries from JE and in the future availability of vaccines more generally, as China is now producing vaccines up to WHO standards,” says WHO Director-General Margaret Chan.
“There is a huge potential for vaccine manufacture in China and we hope to see more and more Chinese vaccines become WHO prequalified. The whole world will benefit.”
The vaccine only needs to be given in one dose, can be used for infants, and is less expensive than other JE vaccines. UN agencies will also be able to source the vaccine.
Japanese encephalitis is a mosquito-borne virus infection that involves inflammation of the brain. It is endemic with seasonal distribution in parts of China, the south-eastern Russia, and South and South-East Asia. As there is no specific treatment for the disease, supportive care in a medical facility is important to reduce the risk of death or disability.
The vaccine is available to the world after several years of collaboration between WHO and the authorities of China on vaccine production standards and regulation.
In March 2011, WHO announced that the national drug regulatory authority of China, the State Food and Drug Administration and affiliated institutions, had met WHO indicators for a functional vaccine regulatory system. This made Chinese vaccine manufacturers eligible to apply for WHO prequalification of vaccines, as long as their vaccines met WHO quality and safety standards.
Girls collect water in the Akpakpa neighbourhood of Benin’s capital Cotonou, November 16, 2011. REUTERS/Finbarr O’Reilly
Access to safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene is the key element of the life. Anyone who travels to countries without running water or goes on a backcountry camping trip becomes painfully aware of water’s importance.
It is the reason plumbers are so valued in wealthy countries. After all, who wants to live without a functioning toilet? Yet for 2.5 billion people, a toilet of any kind is but a dream. And for 768 million people, safe drinking water is out of reach.
Most of these people are women and girls.
Life without these services is a life of poor health, nutrition, education and employment. It is a life of walking long distances to collect water, which takes an estimated 26% of women’s time in rural Africa, 40 billion hours total each year; a life of missing school, work, and playtime because, in many cultures, bringing water home is the only priority for women and girls.
It is a life without a dignified toilet, a life that leads women and girls to spend 97 billion hours each year finding a place to go. It is a life in which fear of attack, and physical and sexual violence comingle with walking for water and seeking a private place to urinate or defecate. According to research conducted in Bhopal, India, 94% of women interviewed said they had faced violence or harassment when going out to defecate and more than one-third had been physically assaulted.
This is the life of women and girls in large part because they are more likely than men and boys to be poor and voiceless. Yet, women also have different needs when it comes to basic services. The reasons for this are both biological and cultural.
Women’s ability to reproduce makes the need for safe water, sanitation and hygiene especially important. When a woman is pregnant, access to safe water, sanitation and hygiene can be a matter of life and death. After all, the moments and days surrounding the birth of a child are fragile for both mom and baby; a lack of water for washing is a risk no one should face. 15% of all maternal deaths are caused by infections in the six weeks after childbirth, mainly due to unhygienic conditions and poor infection control during labor and delivery.
Likewise, neonatal causes account for 44% of all deaths of children under five; these include infections like sepsis, preventable with good hygiene. Imagine the lives that could be saved.
Even if a woman never gets pregnant, they will menstruate. In many places, menstruation is grounds for stigma, discrimination, prohibitions from using shared resources like water taps, and missed school days.
Safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene services and education (WASH) can help women and girls remain active in their daily lives. For example, constructing secure, sex-segregated latrines at schools can give girls a place to manage their menstrual hygiene needs, keeping them clean, providing them dignity, and creating a measure of protection against discriminatory cultural norms, such as purity norms that posit that menstruating women will contaminate food or water pumps. Then, perhaps, they can just be students.
Community-based education about the importance of equal access to WASH can also help reduce discrimination and lack of access to basic services. For example, I recently had the opportunity to join local WaterAid staff in a village in Papua New Guinea, to speak families about WASH. It took some very gentle prodding, but the women in one extended family finally opened up about menstruation, acknowledging that they had never before spoken about it in front of their husbands—while their husbands looked on silently, even curiously, but did not intervene.
These women told me that they leave home when they have their periods, avoiding their community, and aren’t allowed to cook food for men, because of contamination from their impure state. Yet, they also acknowledged that they do not have tools to privately and cleanly manage their periods.
While we weren’t there to solve these problems in a single day, I realized that even this most basic of NGO outreach—asking a family to help us understand their lives—broke new ground on hygiene and menstruation. Imagine the changes if everyone had a clean toilet and everything they need to manage menstruation easily and privately.
These specific needs can seem daunting, making an already huge challenge feel intractable. The good news is that women and girls are really good at identifying solutions to their own challenges. We already have many tools that would change the lives of women and girls forever by providing the kinds of water and sanitation services they most need. What’s missing is political will to make safe drinking water, sanitation and hygiene a reality for everyone—male and female—worldwide.
Recently, the United Nations General Assembly met to discuss progress towards meeting the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and future aims for eradicating poverty everywhere. It is time to stop talking and start accelerating efforts to ensure universal access to safe water, sanitation. Health, education, safety, dignity, and basic survival are on the line.
It’s time for us all to step up, for women and girls.
By Lisa Schechtman
Speaking at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting, President Obama calls human trafficking a “debasement of our common humanity that tears at the social fabric of our communities, distorts markets, endangers public health, and fuels violence and organized crime.”
ONE night last year police received a call from worried residents of a wealthy area of San Salvador, El Salvador’s capital, who thought they had heard a woman being beaten up by her partner. A few minutes later they called back to say they had heard gunshots ring out from the house.
The police were too late. When they arrived at the scene, they found the lifeless body of Lida Maria Huezo with a gunshot to her head. She held the fatal weapon in her hands, but the police believed that her husband, Manuel Gutiérrez, who was drunk and at Huezo’s side, might have put it there to make it seem as though she had committed suicide. The police arrested Mr Gutiérrez, the manager of a successful car dealership. He gave several different stories: that it was an accident, that his wife had committed suicide, that they were arguing when the gun just went off.
When a trial was held earlier this year, a forensic specialist testified that she had found dust from the gun surrounding Huezo’s wound, bruises on her neck and arms, and swelling in her pelvic area. But Mr Gutiérrez was acquitted because of flaws in the prosecution case. The prosecutor did not submit a final autopsy, did not interview the neighbours who reported hearing the incident nor the couple’s children who were supposedly present, and was unable to procure the gun to present as evidence.
Infuriated by the ruling, Vanda Pignat, El Salvador’s first lady, complained that it “strengthened impunity and the dreadful practice of El Salvador’s justice system to favour aggressors and assassins and to punish victims of gender violence.” Perhaps as a result, last month a judge ordered Mr Gutiérrez’s arrest for illegal possession of the gun in the case.
In theory, such crimes should not go unpunished. In 1994 Latin American countries signed the pioneering Convention of Belém, which required them to educate their people about women’s rights, to fight machismo and pass laws to protect women from violence. Most have done so. Brazil’s law on violence against women is widely seen as exemplary. The trouble is that in many cases these laws have made little practical difference.
Unpunished violent crime is a more general problem in the region. Nevertheless, the statistics of violence against women are particularly gruesome. A recent report by UN Women, a UN agency, found that many Latin American countries have a higher-than-average incidence of domestic violence. According to the agency, a woman is assaulted every 15 seconds in São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city. In Colombia attacks in which acid is thrown at women’s faces, disfiguring them, nearly quadrupled between 2011 and 2012. Of the 25 countries in the world that are “high” or “very high” in the UN’s ranking for “femicides” (killings of women that seem to be related to their sex), more than half are in the Americas, with El Salvador the worst in the world.
Activists say the problem is that most cases of violence against women are not investigated, let alone effectively prosecuted. Take El Salvador, which passed a law in 2011. In its first 16 months, only 16 of 63 reported cases were followed up. In the first three months of this year 1,822 rapes were reported in the Brazilian state of Rio de Janeiro; only 70 men were arrested.
Protection for victims is improving in some places: 13 countries have set up specialised police stations for women, according to Andrew Morrison of the Inter-American Development Bank. These aim to make it easier for victims of domestic violence to report crimes, and typically offer them medical care, psychological counselling and legal aid. A study by the UN suggests that, since the introduction of such stations, levels of reporting have indeed increased. Brazil, Uruguay and Venezuela have also established courts dedicated to cases of domestic violence.
National and local governments in Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina have handed out panic buttons to women with restraining orders against abusive former partners. When triggered, the devices use GPS technology to help the police track down the victim quickly.
Three Latin American presidents are women: Cristina Fernández in Argentina, Brazil’s Dilma Rousseff and Laura Chinchilla in Costa Rica. A fourth, Michelle Bachelet, who is a former head of UN Women, is likely to become president of Chile for a second time at an election later this year, according to opinion polls. While their leadership may help to change the image of women in Latin America, that is a slow process.
Machismo has deep cultural roots in the region, and will take decades to disappear. Meanwhile, women have the right to expect that their governments act more vigorously to turn well-intentioned laws into tools to prevent and punish the violence they often face.
By IAN LOVETT
WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif.— This is a small city, a mere 1.9 square miles, with about 36,000 residents. But lawmakers here nonetheless see themselves as national trendsetters.
Early Tuesday morning, the City Council unanimously approved an ordinance that would ban the sale of fur apparel — the first such ban in the nation, city officials believe. A final vote will take place in October before the measure becomes law.
The ordinance is only the latest in an ever-growing list of eye-popping, often symbolic measures that legislators here have passed in hopes of pushing animal rights and other causes onto the national stage. The city was among the first to ban cat declawing, sales of inexpensive handguns sometimes known as Saturday Night Specials, and the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores (though, by that time, no pet stores in the city sold so-called companion animals).
“This is a tiny city, so it’s mostly symbolic,” said Councilman John D’Amico, who sponsored the fur ban. “I think the impact will be heard from here to Fifth Avenue. People will talk about what a fur ban means in a new way.”
Council members acknowledged that shoppers in search of furs can buy as many as they want at boutiques just a few blocks away in Beverly Hills.
But Mr. D’Amico hopes other governments around the country will take notice. After the city banned the sale of cheap handguns, in 1996,many other municipalities followed suit, and eventually the entire state of California cracked down on such guns .
Animals rights advocates called the fur ban a landmark victory. But while many previous animal rights ordinances passed in West Hollywood without much opposition, the fur ban has pitted the city’s animal rights lobby against its powerful high-fashion community.
Genevieve Morrill, president of the West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, said the fur ban — which prohibits the sale of fur clothing, but exempts leather and fur used in furniture — would not change the country’s attitude about fur, but would punish West Hollywood’s retailers.
“It would absolutely diminish the city as a fashion capital,” Ms. Morrill said.
Mr. D’Amico said the city was still awaiting a financial impact study, which council members will consider before the final vote, but he expected the new ordinance’s effect on retailers to be minimal.
But Keith Kaplan, executive director of the Fur Information Council of America, said his group commissioned an economic study, which found that 46 percent of apparel retailers in West Hollywood sold fur, and that more than 7 percent of retailers in the city said they would move out of West Hollywood if the ban passed.
“The animal rights lobby is clearly not having the impact they hope for with customers,” Mr. Kaplan said. “People are still buying fur. If people were not buying it, stores wouldn’t want to sell it. So the animal rights lobby is trying to force through a ban on a legal product.”
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: September 23, 2011
An article on Wednesday about a decision by West Hollywood, Calif., to ban the sale of fur garments referred imprecisely to an ordinance that banned the sale of dogs and cats in pet stores there. While the city was one of the first to ban such sales of dogs and cats, most stores had already quit selling them by the time the ordinance passed. It is not the case that the city passed such an ordinance even “though no pet stores in the city sold so-called companion animals.”