International Day of the Girl 2012

International Day of the Girl 2012 by Pearl Osamudiame

Congratulations on the first ever celebrated #dayofthegirl . It is an event worth celebrating the world over because it is significant progress in the recognition of the challenges of growing up female.
Landmarks like this, give hope for the dream of Gender Equality
The girl child deserves special attention if we truly wish to bridge the gap between the sexes and see more women in significant leadership positions.
We need to socialize our girls to value themselves as significant actors in the political and socio economic spheres of their communities rather than judge their self worth by their capabilities in the home front cooking and caring for children.
We cannot achieve sustainable development if more than half of our human resources are under utilized. Women must look beyond the home and play more significant roles in society.
This can only be possible if the girl of today is focused on and specially groomed to ascend above negative social cultural restrictions and dysfunctional socialization which undervalues her and relegates her to the position of ‘second class citizen’.
No more would we hear of the success of a woman determined by her title of ‘Mrs.’ or how many sons she has borne. Expect more from them and they would expect more from themselves as well.
The change is now and can only be effected by collective effort from all of us.
– How many of us have prevented our daughters from attending extracurricular activities or even school because they need to tend for their younger ones or cook the food?
– How many of us have withdrawn our daughters from school because we think it’s a useless expenditure and waste of useful time?
– How many of us have withdrawn our daughters from school because our financial resources can cater for only one child so the son should go to school even if he is younger than the girl
– How many of us have complained that our daughters are not doing as well as our sons in school without taking into cognizance the fact that she does ‘one million’ chores before going to school and sleeps at 11pm after doing the same chores and hardly has time to rest because she is up at 5am to continue with the household chores?
– How many of us have regretted having female children because of the fear of unwanted pregnancy when we have failed in our responsibility of catering to their sexual and reproductive health rights and needs by giving them true information to enable them make informed choices
– How many of us have said ‘don’t bother you are just a woman’ without giving that girl a chance to excel at math’s and science subjects free of the fear and stereotype that women cannot do well in the sciences?
– How many of us have tried to belittle women who have worked hard to achieve respectable positions by attributing their success to “bottom power”
– Most IMPORTANTLY, how many of us have witnessed these injustices and kept mute?
The list is endless, the best time to plant a tree was 100 years ago but the next best time is now. STOP these discriminatory practices against the girl child and recognize the fact that WE are DIFFERENT but EQUAL.

2012 International Youth Day: Building a Better World by Partnering with Youth

“To unleash the power of young people, we need to partner with them.” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.

Omo Omoregbe  reminds youths of their civic duties:

Omo OmoregbeThe youths are the leaders of tomorrow; the youth should obey all the laws of his/her country, the youth is expected to pay all the taxes due to him as at when due, the youth owes loyalty to the government, his community.and even to himself.

The youth should be prepared to defend his country when it is threatened, the youth should always take good care of public property (whether placed in his custody or not) whenever he comes in contact with them, the youth should be honest, the youth should obey the head of state or government, the youth should obey the national anthem of his country and should not hesitate to serve his nation in any capacity (he is capable of) when called upon to do so.

Lastly, the youth should show respect to the national flag which stands as a symbol of national authority.

According to Chidima Catherine Nwaubani

Youths are the key stone in the society. They set up a lead for their peers and younger siblings, they mark and keep a conscious watch on their every day life and hang on to good ideas which can help them and the society move to greater heights. They distribute new ideas to their peers and colleagues. The youths are the ones mainly recruited into politics and the military, because they are still strong and focused. They harbour possibilities for a bright and ambitious future.

Ehis Omoregbe lists out some other roles the youth can play in societyEhis Omoregbe

  • To ensure the longevity of our planet,
  • to educate children about their rights,
  • To help other young people attain a higher level of intellectual ability,
  • to become qualified adults,
  • to shape the nation’s future,
  • to vote and be voted for,
  • to help the government and private sector in implementation of national policies,
  • to recognise problems and solve them,
  • to aspire for entrepreneurship rather than conventional employment,
  • to teach values and morals to peers and offspring, as well as help them become responsible, productive adults with promising futures.

Edekin Angela

Edekin Angela describes the key role of youth in the society as being:

To renew, refresh and maintain a civilization. The youths are the primary agents of change in the society, the workforce in the society and the society’s backbone. The youth can change the future of the society with their courageous behaviour.

Continue reading

International Day of the World’s Indigenous Peoples

“On this International Day, I pledge the full support of the UN system to cooperate with indigenous peoples, including their media, to promote the full implementation of the Declaration.” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon

2012 Theme: “Indigenous Media, Empowering Indigenous Voices.” Here are some voices from Nigerian teenagers on their ethnic groups!

“What I love about my ethnic group is the unity among us, rich cultural heritage, their tradition, and social beliefs.” – Sharon Iyere

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“An ethnic group is a group of humans, individuals who share a common,  unique self identity. An ethnic group is also called a ”people” or a ”people group.”

Some words used to refer to a group as a seperate ethnic group are: tribe, nation, lineage, family, society, community and heritage.

What I love must about my ethnic group is our tradition and also our dressing. Our tradition and dressing is so unique!

Tradition, by the way, is the transmission of customs or belief from generation to generation. Things that were done in the times of our forefathers are still existing, like the festival that is organised annually for both adults, youth and children.

Our dressing is a very unique one that would make everybody love to be part of the group. I am so interested in the dressing, because people do not wear it everyday. It is worn occassionally by both the youth, adult nd children. The dress code is two wrapper, a blouse, big headtie and beads in both hand and neck.

What I mostly love about my ethnic group is the tradition and dressing, especially the dressing because when we come out with our dressing among other people, it looks so unique and attractive on them!” – Angela Edekin

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I’m from Edo State, my ethnic group is Edo. What i love most is their festival and masquerades;

The Edos have a very rich tradition of festival and masquerades through which the people either appease their various gods and goddesses, initiate men and women into age grades or just as a traditional get together.

The Igue Festival takes preeminence among other festivals which are celebrated in edo state. It is celebrated every December by the Oba of Benin to usher in the new year and as a thanksgiving for the outgoing one. – Omo Omoregbe

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Edo is the name of a place, people and language of an ethnic group, and it happens to be my ethnic group.

Edo speaking ethnic groups include the Esan, Afemai, Isoko and Urhobo.

WHAT I LOVE MOST is our music. Edo State is blessed with a large coterie of nationally and internationally renowned performers e.g Sunny Okosun, Peter King, Felix Duke and many others who have flown the flag of Edo State creditably.

In Edo state, there is no dance or song without satirical connotation or bearing. – Ehis Omoregbe Continue reading

Forbes Top 100 Websites For Women 2012

85 Broads: A members-only international network of 20,000 inspired, empowered and connected women started by female staffers at Goldman Sachs. Nice offering of blogs from members on work-life issues.

Alexandra Levit: A career blog by author and journalist Levit that regularly dispenses wisdom on all things work.

Babble: A community for new parents with advice, recipes, news and resources, plus a witty blog called Strollerderby.

Birds On the Blog: This London blog features career advice and breaking women’s-interest news from 11 resident bloggers (known as “the birds.”) All ad revenue from the site is used to fund the education of 5-year-old Ugandan twin girls, Princess and Perfect.

BlogHer: The premier women’s blog platform is celebrating its sixth year this year–and it’s still going and growing.

TheBloggess: Jenny Lawson blogs about sex, love and motherhood, and whatever else comes to mind.

The Boss Network: A community of entrepreneurial women who support each other through conversation, online and event-based networking.

The Bump: The Bump, from TheKnot, is a community website for expecting and trying-to-conceive couples that offers support, advice and features to women and their partners.

Brazen Careerist: Serial entrepreneur Penelope Trunk writes about work and life for over 40,000 subscribers. Her top piece of advice? Control your professional identity to stay employable.

CafeMom: An online community for moms that hosts parenting forums, games and blogs. Continue reading

“What she said was offensive,” said Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville. “It was so offensive, I don’t even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company.” – regarding Michigan Rep. Lisa Brown’s use of the word “vagina.”

"What she said was offensive," said Rep. Mike Callton, R-Nashville. "It was so offensive, I don't even want to say it in front of women. I would not say that in mixed company." - regarding Michigan Rep. Lisa Brown's use of the word "vagina" while arguing against the state's extreme abortion regulations bill. 

http://www.npr.org/blogs/thetwo-way/2012/06/14/155059849/michigan-state-rep-barred-from-speaking-after-vagina-comments Continue reading

Syria: Sexual Assault in Detention

(Human Rights Watch) – Syrian government forces have used sexual violence to torture men, women, and boys detained during the current conflict. Witnesses and victims also told Human Rights Watch that soldiers and pro-government armed militias have sexually abused women and girls as young as 12 during home raids and military sweeps of residential areas.

Map of the districts of Syria.

Human Rights Watch interviewed 10 former detainees, including two women, who described being sexually abused or witnessing sexual abuse in detention, including rape, penetration with objects, sexual groping, prolonged forced nudity, and electroshock and beatings to genitalia.Many of the former detainees told Human Rights Watch that they were imprisoned because of their political activism, including for attending protests. In other cases, the reason for the detention was unclear but detainees suffered the same abusive tactics.

“Syrian security forces have used sexual violence to humiliate and degrade detainees with complete impunity,” said Sarah Leah Whitson, Middle East director at Human Rights Watch. “The assaults are not limited to detention facilities – government forces and pro-government shabiha militia members have also sexually assaulted women and girls during home raids and residential sweeps.”

Human Rights Watch documented over 20 specific incidents of sexual assault, five of which involved more than one victim, that took place between March 2011 and March 2012 across Syria, including in Daraa, Homs, Idlib, Damascus, and Latakia governorates. The majority of cases were from Homs governorate. Interviewees described a range of sexual abuse by Syrian security forces, the army, and pro-government armed militias referred to locally as shabiha.

Human Rights Watch interviewed eight Syrian victims of sexual violence, including four women, and more than twenty-five other people with a knowledge of sexual abuse – former detainees, defectors from the Syrian security forces and the army, first responders and assistance providers, women’s rights activists, and family members.

The full extent of sexual violence in and outside of detention facilities remains unknown, Human Rights Watch said. The stigma in Syria surrounding sexual violence makes victims reluctant to report abuse. Survivors also may face dangers when they make crimes public, and researchers have had limited access to the country to document abuses. In many cases interviewees told Human Rights Watch that victims did not want their families or others in the community to know about the assault because of fear or shame. In one case, a female rape victim who was willing to be interviewed was not permitted by her husband to speak to Human Rights Watch. Continue reading

Promoting Girls’ Education by Tackling Child Labour

English: 11Rose Biodo, 1216 Annan St., Philade...

From October to May, Jyontna works in the desolate salt pans of western India, where her parents earn their living raking salt crystals from the ground. The cracked, dry seabed stretches endlessly in every direction. Jyontna and her parents arrive when the monsoons end and the waters recede from the vast plain. Her two younger brothers stay behind in their village, a seven- hour walk from the salt pans.

Jyotna dropped out of school at the age of 10 to help her parents. Now 15 years old, she says that her mother could not afford to let all three children study, so she picked her daughter to work with her. As a result, Jyontna can barely read or write. “My brothers, they will study. They can hope for different things,” she says. “What can I be?”

This story will sound familiar to many around the world concerned with girls’ access to education. It also vividly illustrates the interrelated challenges of addressing child labour and promoting the right of all children to education.

The tenth annual World Day Against Child Labour, with the theme ‘Human rights and social justice: Let’s end child labour’, is on 12 June 2012. An important part of the day’s message is that tackling child labour can also be an important step in ensuring children’s access to education – itself a human right.

Around the world, almost 90 million girls are involved in child labour. They work in agriculture, in the manufacturing sector, and in such services as domestic work. Often this work may be hidden from the public eye, which can lead to particular dangers and risks. Girls, of course, also take on unpaid household work for their families, usually much more so than boys. Girls may also have the ‘double burden’ of combining long hours of household chores with some form of economic activity outside the household.

Behind the problem of child labour is a complicated web of challenges that are also very relevant to the world of education. Providing physical access for children to go to school may not ensure effective participation if the economic circumstances or cultural norms mean that families still send children to work instead of to school. In order to deal with the multidimensional challenges that lie behind child labour, efforts to tackle it are increasingly focused on addressing its root causes through an integrated approach. A global conference on child labour held in the Hague in 2010 adopted a road map that sets out four key areas for government action: adopting and enforcing legislation on child labour; extending and improving access to free, compulsory and quality education for all children, with a particular focus on girls; extending social protection polices and programmes, with a focus on hard-to-reach children; and taking action on labour market policy to support the creation of jobs for young people and adults of working age.

This realistic agenda combines a focus on children’s human rights and social justice. Throughout the past decade or so we have seen significant progress in reducing child labour in a number of countries when governments have pursued an integrated approach using social protection measures to support access to education – often alongside initiatives to strengthen legislation and enforcement on child labour. And yet, taken globally, overall progress in reducing child labour remains too slow, as does progress in increasing school enrolment.

As we mark the 2012 World Day Against Child Labour, we hope that many partners will join in helping to raise awareness of the problem and the need for action at global, national and community levels. Whether it is a media release, statement of support, local community action or school-level event, we hope that you will join us in marking the day on June 12.

Patrick Quinn is Senior Technical Specialist in ILO’s International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor. Continue reading

Amnesty International Applauds Re-Introduction of International Violence Against Women Act

Amnesty International

(Amnesty USA, Washington, D.C.) Cristina Finch, policy director for women’s human rights at Amnesty International USA, made the following comments today in response to the re-introduction in the U.S. House of the International Violence Against Women Act:

“Women and girls around the world deserve to live free from fear and harm. This legislation is key to achieving that goal. The International Violence Against Women Act would coordinate and improve the U.S. government’s efforts to stop this global scourge by making it a priority in diplomatic and foreign assistance initiatives. This will help to ensure that the United States lives up to its international responsibility to end violence against women and girls. We applaud reintroduction of the legislation and urge Congress to show its commitment to the human rights of women and girls by passing the bill.”

IVAWA would create a comprehensive, integrated approach to protect and support survivors of violence, hold perpetrators accountable, and support efforts to change public attitudes that condone violence. The bill would create a five-year strategy and fund programs to prevent and combat violence and incorporate new ways to combat violence in programs that currently exist. The bill would enable the U.S. government to develop a faster and more efficient response to violence against women in humanitarian emergencies and conflict-related situations.

Living free from violence is a human right, yet millions of women and girls suffer disproportionately from violence, both in times of peace and in times of war, at the hands of the state and in their communities and homes. Around the world at least one woman in every three has been beaten, coerced into sex, or otherwise abused in her lifetime; often with impunity. States have the obligation to prevent, protect against and punish violence against women. Yet such violence is often ignored and rarely punished. Too often no one is held accountable for these crimes.

Whether combating sexual violence against Indigenous women in the United States or supporting the right of girls in Afghanistan to be educated free from violence, Amnesty International works to hold all states and perpetrators accountable and put an end to violence against women.

Amnesty International is a Nobel Peace Prize-winning grassroots activist organization with more than 3 million supporters, activists and volunteers in more than 150 countries campaigning for human rights worldwide. The organization investigates and exposes abuses, educates and mobilizes the public, and works to protect people wherever justice, freedom, truth and dignity are denied. Continue reading

Afghan girls poisoned in second anti-school attack

(Reuters) – More than 120 schoolgirls and three teachers have been poisoned in the second attack in as many months blamed on conservative radicals in the country’s north, Afghan police and education officials said on Wednesday.

Districts of Takhar Province

The attack occurred in Takhar province where police said that radicals opposed to education of women and girls had used an unidentified toxic powder to contaminate the air in classrooms. Scores of students were left unconscious.

Afghanistan‘s intelligence agency, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), says the Taliban appear intent on closing schools ahead of a 2014 withdrawal by foreign combat troops.

“A part of their Al Farooq spring offensive operation is … to close schools. By poisoning girls they want to create fear. They try to make families not send their children to school,” NDS spokesman Lutfullah Mashal said.

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Education said last week that 550 schools in 11 provinces where the Taliban have strong support had been closed down by insurgents.

Last month, 150 schoolgirls were poisoned in Takhar province after they drank contaminated water.

Since 2001 when the Taliban were toppled from power by U.S.-backed Afghan forces, females have returned to schools, especially in the capital Kabul. They were previously banned from work and education.

But there are still periodic attacks against students, teachers and school buildings, usually in the more conservative south and east of the country, from where the Taliban insurgency draws most of its support. Continue reading

United Nations adopts landmark resolution on adolescents and youth

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Late Friday at the 45th Session of the United Nations Commission on Population and Development (CPD), member states issued a bold resolution in support of young people’s sexual and reproductive health and human rights.

This victory comes on the heels of a UNICEF report released this week highlighting the challenges the largest-ever generation of young people face — including HIV/AIDS, violence and unintended pregnancy — and reaffirms international agreements including the 1994 United Nations International Conference on Population and Development Programme of Action (ICPD).

“This CPD is one of the most important events to take place – to talk about young people, for young people and with young people,” said Kgomotso Papo, speaking on behalf of the South African Delegation during the closing plenary. “We must remove all barriers that compromise the health, well-being and development of youth; and ensure the right of every individual to autonomous decision making in regards to their bodies, their health and their sexual relationships. On these points, there can be no compromise.”

Key points of the final resolution include:

• The right of young people to decide on all matters related to their sexuality
• Access to sexual and reproductive health services, including safe abortion where legal, that respect confidentiality and do not discriminate
• The right of youth to comprehensive sexuality education
• Protection and promotion of young people’s right to control their sexuality free from violence, discrimination and coercion

Much has changed since the landmark ICPD conference. Shifting global health funding, a maturing HIV epidemic, and the rise of the largest-ever generation of youth have all impacted the current sexual and reproductive health and rights landscape. Similarly, several key global processes—a twenty year review of global sustainable development goals (Rio +20), a twenty-year review of progress towards achieving the Cairo Programme of Action (ICPD+20), and a review of the Millennium Development Goals—are happening within the next few years, all with implications on the future of the global sexual and reproductive health and rights agenda.

The International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) supported youth advocates from Asia, Africa, Latin America and Europe to attend the CPD and advocate with their governments for supportive policies and programs, and helped facilitate a pre-conference strategy session. During the CPD, IPPF also held several educational events in conjunction with colleague organizations and governments, including panels on the importance of comprehensive sexuality education and youth rights.

“At this time of global uncertainty, there is no more important investment to be made,” said IPPF Director-General Tewodros Melesse. “Only healthy young people whose human rights are protected can be fully productive workers and effective participants in their country’s political processes. Only when young people are healthy and empowered can they contribute to building strong communities and vibrant nations. At IPPF, we are committed to working at the individual, community, regional and international levels to secure the health and rights of the largest-ever generation of youth.”

In closing the session, Commission Chairperson Ambassador Hasan Kleib (Indonesia) called on member states to realize these agreements at the national level, stating that “we now have to walk the walk.” Continue reading