Women Advocates for Harvesting Rainwater in Salinity-Affected Coastal Bangladesh

Asia-Pacific, Climate Change, Development & Aid, Editors’ Choice, Environment, Featured, Headlines, Humanitarian Emergencies, Innovation, Natural Resources, TerraViva United Nations

Humanitarian Emergencies

Lalita Roy now has access to clean water and also provides a service to her community by working as a pani apa (water sister), looking after the community's rainwater harvesting plants. Credit: Rafiqul Islam/IPS

Lalita Roy now has access to clean water and also provides a service to her community by working as a pani apa (water sister), looking after the community’s rainwater harvesting plants. Credit: Rafiqul Islam/IPS

KHULNA, Bangladesh, Sep 23 2022 (IPS) – Like many other women in Bangladesh’s salinity-prone coastal region, Lalita Roy had to travel a long distance every day to collect drinking water as there was no fresh water source nearby her locality.


“In the past, there was a scarcity of drinking water. I had to travel one to two kilometers distance each day to bring water,” Roy, a resident of Bajua Union under Dakope Upazila in Khulna, told IPS.

She had to collect water standing in a queue; one water pitcher was not enough to meet her daily household demand.

“We require two pitchers of drinking water per day. I had to spend two hours each day collecting water. So, there were various problems. I had health complications, and I was unable to do household work for lack of time,” she said.

After getting a rainwater harvesting plant from the Gender-response Climate Adaptation (GCA) Project, which is being implemented by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Roy is now collecting drinking water using the rainwater harvesting plant, which makes her life easier.

“I am getting the facilities, and now I can give two more hours to my family… that’s why I benefited,” she added.

Shymoli Boiragi, another beneficiary of Shaheber Abad village under Dakope Upazila, said women in her locality suffered a lot in collecting drinking water in the past because they had to walk one to three kilometers every day to collect water.

“We lost both time and household work. After getting rainwater harvesting plants, we benefited. Now we need not go a long distance to collect water so that we can do more household work,” Boiragi said.

Shymoli revealed that coastal people suffered from various health problems caused by consuming saline water and spent money on collecting the water too.

“But now we are conserving rainwater during the ongoing monsoon and will drink it for the rest of the year,” she added.

THE ROLE OF PANI APAS

With support from the project, rainwater harvesting plants were installed at about 13,300 households under 39 union parishads in Khunla and Satkhira. One pani apa (water sister) has been deployed in every union from the beneficiaries.

Roy, now deployed as a pani apa, said the GCA project conducted a survey on the households needing water plants and selected her as a pani apa for two wards.

“As a pani apa, I have been given various tools. I go to every household two times per month. I clean up their water tanks (rainwater plants) and repair those, if necessary,” he added.

Roy said she provides services for 80 households having rainwater harvesting plants, and if they have any problem with their water tanks, she goes to their houses to repair plants.

“I go to 67 households, which have water plants, one to two times per month to provide maintenance services. If they call me over the cellphone, I also go to their houses,” said Ullashini Roy, another pani apa from Shaheber Abad village.

She said a household gives her Taka 20 per month for her maintenance services while she gets Taka 1,340 (US$ 15) from 67 households, which helps her with family expenses.

Ahoke Kumar Adhikary, regional project manager of the Gender-Response Climate Adaptation Project, said it supported installing rainwater harvesting plants at 13,300 households. Each plant will store 2,000 liters of rainwater in each tank for the dry season.

The water plants need maintenance, which is why the project has employed pani apas for each union parishad (ward or council). They work at a community level on maintenance.

“They provide some services, and we call them pani apas. The work of pani apas is to go to every household and provide the services,” Adhikary said.

He said the pani apas get Taka 20 from every household per month for providing their services, and if they need to replace taps or filters of the water plants, they replace those.

The pani apas charge for the replacements of equipment of the water plants, he added.

NO WATER TO DRINK

The coastal belt of Bangladesh is one of the most vulnerable areas to climate change as it is hit hard by cyclones, floods, and storm surges every year, destroying its freshwater sources. The freshwater aquifer is also being affected by salinity due to rising sea levels.

Ullashini Roy said freshwater was unavailable in the coastal region, and people drinking water was scarce.

“The water you are looking at is saline. The underground water is also salty. The people of the region cannot use saline water for drinking and household purposes,” Adhikary said.

Ahmmed Zulfiqar Rahaman, hydrologist and climate change expert at Dhaka-based think-tank Center for Environmental and Geographic Information Services (CEGIS), said if the sea level rises by 50 centimeters by 2050, the surface salinity will reach Gopalganj and Jhalokati districts – 50 km inside the mainland from the coastal belt, accelerating drinking water crisis there.

PUBLIC HEALTH AT RISK

According to a 2019 study, people consuming saline water suffer from various physical problems, including acidity, stomach problems, skin diseases, psychological problems, and hypertension.

It is even being blamed for early marriages because salinity gradually changes girls’ skin color from light to gray.

“There is no sweet water around us. After drinking saline water, we suffered from various waterborne diseases like diarrhea and cholera,” Ullashini said.

Hypertension and high blood pressure are common among coastal people. The study also showed people feel psychological stress caused by having to constantly collect fresh water.

Shymoli said when the stored drinking water runs out in any family; the family members get worried because it’s not easy to collect in the coastal region.

SOLUTIONS TO SALINITY

Rahaman said river water flows rapidly decline in Bangladesh during the dry season, but a solution needs to be found for the coastal area.

The hydrologist suggested a possible solution is building more freshwater reservoirs in the coastal region through proper management of ponds at a community level.

Rahaman said low-cost rainwater harvesting technology should be transferred to the community level so that coastal people can reserve rainwater during the monsoon and use this during the dry season.

He added that the government should provide subsidies for desalinization plants since desalinizing salt water is costly.

IPS UN Bureau Report

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Multi-Faith Team Urges Repeal of Blasphemy Laws– in the Name of Religious Freedom

Civil Society, Crime & Justice, Featured, Global, Headlines, IPS UN: Inside the Glasshouse, TerraViva United Nations

Opinion

Independent UN human rights experts condemned the death sentence of a university lecturer charged with blasphemy in Pakistan, calling the ruling “a travesty of justice”. December 2019. Credit: UNICEF/Josh Estey

NEW YORK, Sep 12 2022 (IPS) – In nations lacking certain religious freedoms, the bold multi-faith membership of the International Religious Freedom Roundtable’s Campaign to Eliminate Apostasy and Blasphemy Laws, would be forbidden.


This archaic, and at times, violent fact is driving a biblical justice authority, an international activist and a team of culturally and religiously diverse advocates to raise their voices with member states, just before world leaders arrive for the high-level segment of the 77th UN General Assembly session which commences in New York City September 20.

The trip will highlight the twelve nations currently imposing the death penalty for apostasy and blasphemy charges, calling for its immediate repeal.

Freedom of religion or belief is universally regarded as fundamental human right and is protected by international covenants and national constitutions alike.

However, courts continue to mete out unjustifiably long prison sentences and even death sentences to individuals for non-violent, victimless conduct such as committing blasphemy or apostasy.

Recently, Nigerian humanist Mubarak Bala was sentenced to an unimaginable 24 years’ imprisonment for an allegedly blasphemous Facebook post he made expressing his disbelief in an afterlife.

Though the death penalty is not actually imposed upon a convicted individual in a vast majority of cases, the sentence itself relegates convicts to years and decades of prolonged imprisonment on death row, denial of medical care while in prison, withholding of legal counsel, and endless interrogation.

Pakistanis rally in support of Mumtaz Qadri who was convicted and executed for a blasphemy-motivated killing of a former governor, in Lahore, Pakistan, Feb. 2016. Credit: Voice of America

Previously, Asia Bibi, a Pakistani woman, languished on death row for eight years on charges of blasphemy simply for drinking water from a canteen while picking berries with a group of Muslim women.

After her release and acquittal in 2019, Asia was forced to flee her home country in fear of reprisal attacks by radical Islamists.

In 2014, a pregnant Sudanese woman Mariam Ibrahim – who was imprisoned on apostasy charges for her marriage to a Christian man, and as a woman born to a Muslim father – was forced to give birth to her second child while her legs remained shackled to the cell floor.

As a Christ follower, I am reminded of times when God revealed his heart for justice through stories like that of Esther, whom was strengthened to boldly intercede for an oppressed group of religious minorities.

The time is now for United Nations Member States to do the same, through their set own of convictions, in an effort to create communities of human flourishing and safety for those who are persecuted for freedom of religion or belief.

Speaking on Islam’s position on blasphemy, there is much evidence that Prophet Muhammad pardoned his worst critics. Blasphemy laws and inhumane punishments for blasphemy have no legitimacy in the Quran.

The Quran does not command Muslims to kill blasphemers.
Surah (verse) 4:140 of the Quran states – “If you hear people denying and ridiculing God’s revelation, do not sit with them unless they start to talk of other things…”

There is no reference to killing and or issuing fatwas.

Even where moratoriums on the death penalty exist, faith minorities and individuals who express views and perspectives deviating from those prescribed by the majority religion can be in tremendous danger.

Mauritania, which has upheld a moratorium on the death sentence since 1987, convicted blogger Mohamed Cheikh Ould Mkhaitir of apostasy and sentenced him to death as recently as 2014 for an article he wrote criticizing the use of Islam to justify the caste system in his country. Fortunately, Mkhaitir was released from prison in 2019.

In Pakistan, where the death sentence is often issued to perceived blasphemers – most often Christian and Ahmadi Muslim minorities – but not carried out– laws criminalizing apostasy and blasphemy embolden state and non-state actors alike to commit acts of violence against innocent civilians.

In July 2021, a police constable slashed and killed a man named Muhammad Waqas who had been previously acquitted of blasphemy charges; the perpetrator explicitly stated perceived blasphemy as the crimes’ impetus.

A few months later, in December 2021, a Sri Lankan national Priyantha Kumara was lynched by a mob and had his body burned by an angry mob in the Pakistani city of Sialkot.

Kumara was a garment factory manager who had been accused of committing blasphemy after removing an Islamic poster from the factory’s walls to prepare for a renovation project.

These non-state actors, fortified by lackluster laws, pose a serious obstacle to human rights, free speech and dignity, creating a system where sometimes even state supported religious leaders call for the death penalty and other inhumane punishments.

A more recent and equally horrific incident occurred in Sokoto Nigeria, when young Christian college student Deborah Samuel Yakubu was stoned to death and set on fire by her very own Muslim classmates.

Days prior, Yakubu had angered the perpetrators by questioning why her school course’s WhatsApp chat was being used to discuss contentious religious affairs rather than focusing on academic issues.

Currently, twelve nations that maintain the death penalty for apostasy, blasphemy, or both; these include Afghanistan, Brunei, Iran, Maldives, Mauritania, Nigeria, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, United Arab Emirates, and Yemen. * [New Penal Code implemented in 2022 in UAE removes hudud punishments – including apostasy from the penal code]

Additionally, approximately 40% of UN Member States – some of them holding seats in the Human Rights Council – criminalize apostasy and blasphemy, despite their lack of the death sentence for such ‘crimes’.

However, it is not without criticism and attention by human rights and religious freedom activists and even representatives of the United Nations who have emphasized the inhumanity of apostasy and blasphemy laws and called for their repeal.

This includes the UN General Assembly, the UN Secretary-General, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, the Human Rights Council, and the Special Rapporteurs on freedom of religion or belief, and on extrajudicial killings, respectively.

Now, civil society is taking matters into its own hands.

Efforts to work toward the abolition of the death penalty for apostasy and blasphemy have been a bottom-up grassroots approach. Next week, a delegation of human rights and religious freedom advocates will travel to the United Nations to meet with representatives from the missions of numerous UN Member States, including Luxembourg, Canada, Nigeria, Sri Lanka, Niger, and Australia.

Their goal is to increase support among UN Member States for the insertion of language in the UNGA Resolution on Extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions stating that “the death penalty should never be imposed as a sanction for apostasy, blasphemy, or other perceived religious offense.

As a capstone to the multifaith, multicultural and multidisciplinary United Nations advocacy fly-in, the group will host an issue briefing pointing to the critical proposed resolution language, calling for the immediate repeal of the death penalty for apostasy and blasphemy charges.

The briefing, which is open to the press, will spotlight survivors in their own voice. The development of pluralistic resilient communities which uphold basic human rights and allow for human flourishing amongst inevitable interdependent globalized societies depend on the undaunted actions those in power.

We call upon all Member States to join us in this fight toward international religious freedom by supporting the IRF Campaign’s resolution language today.” More info here.

Dr. Christine M. Sequenzia, MDiv. is Co-Chair, International Religious Freedom Roundtable Campaign to Eliminate Blasphemy and Apostasy Laws

Soraya Marikar Deen, is a Lawyer, Community Organizer, International Activist; HumanRights & Gender Equity Advocate. She is also Co-chair Women’s Working Group @ Int. Religious Freedom Roundtable and Founder MuslimWomenSpeakers

IPS UN Bureau

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Racism Hurts People and Democracy in Peru

Civil Society, Democracy, Editors’ Choice, Featured, Headlines, Human Rights, Indigenous Rights, TerraViva United Nations

Human Rights

A family from Sachac, a Quechua farming community in the Andes highlands region of Cuzco in southeastern Peru, where Quechua is still the predominant language and where ancestral customs are preserved. When members of these native families move to the cities, they face different forms of racism, despite the fact that 60 percent of the Peruvian population identifies as ‘mestizo’ or mixed-race and 25 percent as a member of an indigenous people. CREDIT: Mariela Jara/IPS

A family from Sachac, a Quechua farming community in the Andes highlands region of Cuzco in southeastern Peru, where Quechua is still the predominant language and where ancestral customs are preserved. When members of these native families move to the cities, they face different forms of racism, despite the fact that 60 percent of the Peruvian population identifies as ‘mestizo’ or mixed-race and 25 percent as a member of an indigenous people. CREDIT: Mariela Jara/IPS

LIMA, Sep 1 2022 (IPS) – Banning the use of the same bathroom, insults and calling people animals are just a few of the daily forms of racism experienced by people in Peru, a multicultural, multiethnic and multilingual country where various forms of discrimination are intertwined.


“In the houses where I have worked, they have always told me: ‘Teresa, this is the service bathroom, the one you have to use,’ as if they were disgusted that I might use their toilets,” Teresa Mestanza, 56, who has worked as a domestic in Lima since she was a teenager, told IPS.

She was born in a coastal town in the northern department of Lambayeque, where her parents moved from the impoverished neighboring region of Cajamarca, the homeland of current President Pedro Castillo, a rural teacher and trade unionist with indigenous features.

With Quechua indigenous roots, she considers herself to be “mestiza” or mixed-race and believes that her employers treat her differently, making her feel inferior because of the color of her skin.

Sixty percent of the population of this South American country of 33 million people describe themselves as “mestizo”, according to the 2017 National Census, the last one carried out in Peru.

For the first time, the census included questions on ethnic self-identification to provide official data on the indigenous and Afro-Peruvian population in order to develop public policies aimed at closing the inequality gap that affects their rights.

A study by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) ranks Peru as the country with the third largest indigenous population in the region, after Bolivia and Guatemala.

Teresa Mestanza has experienced discriminatory, if not outright humiliating, treatment because of the color of her skin, as a domestic worker in Lima since she arrived as a teenager from a Quechua community in northern coastal Peru. She defines herself as ‘mestiza’ or mixed-race and believes that this is the reason why some of her employers try to "make me feel less of a person." CREDIT: Mariela Jara/IPS

Teresa Mestanza has experienced discriminatory, if not outright humiliating, treatment because of the color of her skin, as a domestic worker in Lima since she arrived as a teenager from a Quechua community in northern coastal Peru. She defines herself as ‘mestiza’ or mixed-race and believes that this is the reason why some of her employers try to “make me feel less of a person.” CREDIT: Mariela Jara/IPS

Before the invasion by the Spaniards, several native peoples lived in what is now Peru, where the Tahuantinsuyo, the great Inca empire, emerged. At present, there are officially 55 different indigenous peoples, 51 from the Amazon rainforest region and four from the Andes highlands, which preserve their own languages, identities, customs and forms of social organization.

According to the census, a quarter of the population self-identified as indigenous: 22 percent Quechua, two percent Aymara and one percent Amazonian indigenous, while four percent self-identified as Afro-descendant or black.

During the Spanish colonial period, slaves were brought from Africa to do hard labor or work in domestic service. It was not until three decades after independence was declared that the country abolished slavery, in 1854.

Indigenous and Afro-Peruvian populations are historically discriminated against in Peru, in a country with traditionally highly segmented classes. Their needs and demands have not been met by the State despite legal frameworks that seek to guarantee equality and non-discrimination and specific rights for indigenous peoples.

This situation is reflected on a daily level in routine racism, a problem recognized by more than half of the population (52 percent) but assumed as such by only eight percent, according to a national survey conducted by the Ministry of Culture in 2018.

Sofia Carrillo is a journalist, activist and anti-racist feminist and Afro-Peruvian proud of her roots, who has faced racism since childhood and despite this made Forbes Peru's list of the most influential women in the country this year. CREDIT: Amnesty International

Sofia Carrillo is a journalist, activist and anti-racist feminist and Afro-Peruvian proud of her roots, who has faced racism since childhood and despite this made Forbes Peru’s list of the most influential women in the country this year. CREDIT: Amnesty International

“Racism is hushed up because it hurts less”

A journalist, activist, and radio and television host who was chosen by Forbes Peru magazine as one of the 50 most powerful women in the country this year, Sofia Carrillo is an Afro-Peruvian proud of her roots who has faced many obstacles and “no’s” since childhood.

“It was not seen as possible, for example, for me to be a studious girl because I was of African descent, and black people were not seen as intelligent. And that was represented on television and generated a great sense of rebellion in me,” she told IPS in Lima.

Faced with these messages she had only two options. “Either you believe it or you confront the situation and use it as a possibility to show that it is not true. I shouldn’t have to prove myself more than other people, but in a country as racist and as sexist as this one, that was the challenge I took on and what motivated me throughout all the stages of my life,” she said.

In her home racism was not a taboo subject, and was discussed. But this was not the case in the extended family of cousins and aunts and uncles “because it’s better not to be aware of the situation, so it hurts less; it’s a way to protect yourself,” Carrillo said.

“It is not uncommon for people of African descent to even say that they do not feel affected by racism or discrimination, because we have also been taught this in our families: that it will affect you if you identify it, but if you pretend it does not happen, then it is much easier to deal with,” she said.

Her experience as a black woman has included receiving insults since she was a child and sexual harassment in public spaces, in transportation, on the street, “to be looked at as a sexual object, to be dehumanized,” she said.

She has also had to deal with prejudices about her abilities in the workplace. And although she has never stopped raising her voice in protest, it has affected her.

“Now I can admit that it affected my mental health, it led to periods of deep depression. I did not understand why, what the reasons were, because you also try to hide it, you try to bury it deep inside. But I understood that one way to heal was to talk about my own experiences,” Carrillo said.

Enrique Anpay is 24 years old and finished his university studies in Lima last year, where he experienced episodes of racism that still hurt him to remember. In the picture he is seen carrying one of his grandmother's lambs in the Quechua farming community of Pomacocha, where he is from, in the central Andean region of Peru. CREDIT: Courtesy of Enrique Anpay

Enrique Anpay is 24 years old and finished his university studies in Lima last year, where he experienced episodes of racism that still hurt him to remember. In the picture he is seen carrying one of his grandmother’s lambs in the Quechua farming community of Pomacocha, where he is from, in the central Andean region of Peru. CREDIT: Courtesy of Enrique Anpay

Racism to the point of calling people animals

Enrique Anpay Laupa, 24, studied psychology at a university in Lima, thanks to the government scholarship program Beca 18, which helps high-achieving students living in poverty or extreme poverty.

Originally from the rural community of Pomacocha, made up of some 90 native Quechua families in the central Andes highlands region of Apurimac, he still finds it difficult to talk about the racism he endured during his time in Lima, until he graduated last year.

He spoke to IPS from the town of Andahuaylas, in Apurímac, where he now lives and practices as a psychologist. “In 2017 we were 200 scholarship holders entering the university, more than other years, and we noticed discomfort among the students from Lima,” he said.

“They said that since we arrived the bathrooms were dirtier, things were getting lost, like laptops…I was quite shocked, it was a question of skin color,” he said.

During a group project, a student from the capital even told him “shut up, llama” when he made a comment. (The llama is a domesticated South American camelid native to the Andes region of Peru.)

“I kept silent and no one else said anything either,” Anpay said. Although he preferred not to go into more details, the experience of what he went through kept him from encouraging his younger brother to apply for Beca 18 and to push him to study instead at the public university in Andahuaylas.

Afro-Peruvian women participate in a festive demonstration demanding respect for their rights, on the streets of Lima on International Women's Day, March 8, 2022. CREDIT: Courtesy of Lupita Sanchez

Afro-Peruvian women participate in a festive demonstration demanding respect for their rights, on the streets of Lima on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2022. CREDIT: Courtesy of Lupita Sanchez

Racism affects the whole country

Racism is felt as a personal experience but affects whole communities and the entire country.

Carrillo said: “We can see this in the levels of impoverishment: the last census, from 2017, indicates that 16 percent of people who self-identify as ‘white’ and ‘mestizo’ live in poverty as opposed to the Afro-Peruvian population, where poverty stands at around 30 percent, the Amazonian indigenous population (40 percent) and the Andean indigenous population (30 percent).”

A study by the National Institute of Statistics and Informatics on the evolution of poverty between 2010 and 2021 showed that it affected to the greatest extent the population who spoke a native mother tongue, i.e. indigenous people.

The percentage of this segment of the population living in poverty and extreme poverty was 32 percent – eight percentage points higher than the 24 percent recorded for the population whose mother tongue is Spanish.

Carrillo considered it essential to recognize the existence of institutional racism, to understand it as a public problem that affects individuals and peoples who have been historically discriminated against and excluded, who have the right to share all spaces and to fully realize themselves, based on the principles of equality and non-discrimination.

She criticized the authorities for thinking about racism only in terms of punitive actions instead of considering a comprehensive policy based on prevention to stop it from being reproduced and handed down from generation to generation, which would include an anti-racist education that values the contribution made by each of the different peoples in the construction of Peru.

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Monster Monsoon: “Pakistan and Its People Are Paying the Costs of What They Are Not Responsible For.”

Aid, Asia-Pacific, Civil Society, Climate Action, Climate Change, Development & Aid, Economy & Trade, Environment, Headlines, Inequality, TerraViva United Nations

Opinion

Credit: Pakistan Development Alliance

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan, Sep 1 2022 (IPS) – Pakistan has been going through the worst time of its recent history due to unprecedented colossal monsoon rains and devastating floods. The current floods would have been expected less than once a century, but climate experts claim that what we are seeing today is just a trailer of what’s in store for us if we don’t pay heed to climate change. More than 112 districts are currently afffected and around 30 million people; their property and land are totally devastated. Across the country, where hundreds of thousands of cattle died due to the Lumpy Skin Disease, now more than 727,000 have perished due to floods and rains. The number is increasing rapidly.


We were in the countryside conducting a study on the rights of women farm workers, when the Monster monsoon hit the country. We had to cut our field mission short and we are now relatively “safe” here in Islamabad, busy organising emergency relief and rescue operations.

Pakistan and its people are paying the costs of what they are not responsible for. For the past 20 years, Pakistan has consistently ranked among the top 10 most vulnerable countries on the Climate Risk Index. We are facing such climate change aggression and devastation while contributing only 0.8% of greenhouse carbon emissions to global warming. We are squeezed, geographically situtated between titans China and India, who are the top two emitters of greenhouse gases. This impacts the glaciers of the Himalaya. In Pakistan, our 7253 glaciers – more glaciers than almost anywhere on Earth – are melting faster than ice-cream in the sun due to climate change. Since the whole country is situated in the downstream of the Hamalaya, heavy floods have become the norm. To this scenario, you need to add flawed developement interventions, absence of rule of law and the lack of policy priorities towards the management of “everyday” disasters. This results in risks being left undone instead of being treated as full-fledged national security emergencies.

Today, the horrific scale of the floods are not in doubt, but the catastrophe is still unfolding. Rehabilitation and reconstruction activities need to be initiated immediately. Pakistan is already facing food insecurity due to this manmade disaster. In the long run, this crisis will increase poverty, inequality and economic instability in the country if we – supported by the world at large – fail to respond quickly.

Being part of a civil society network I see with my own eyes how civil society is vehementally engaged in rescue, relief and emergency activities through local resources and philanthropic initiatives. The international community and INGOs have not yet initiated their field operations. Although the government has officially appealed for the support of the international community and has levereged restrictions, the intensive regulatory frameworks are still working against rights based NGOs.

I have a message for the international community. Please support flood affected communities as early as possible. Local civil society needs to be strengthened and financed as well, as they are on the frontlines, they are the first reaching affected communities. In the future, there needs to be serious investments on addressing the impacts of climate change, particularly in vulnerable countries such as Pakistan, where climate change adaptation mechanism and infrastructure support should be mainstreamed. Now they are at the periphery, and it shows.

IPS UN Bureau

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Kofi Time: The Podcast

Armed Conflicts, Civil Society, Climate Change, Food and Agriculture, Health, Multimedia, Peace, Podcast

Aug 24 2022 –  

About the Podcast

Regarded as one of the modern world’s icons of diplomacy, what is Kofi Annan’s legacy today? What can we learn from him, and how can we prepare for tomorrow, based on his vision for a better world?

In this exclusive 10-part podcast, Ahmad Fawzi, one of Kofi Annan’s former spokespersons and communication Advisor, will examine how Kofi Annan tackled a specific crisis and its relevance to today’s world and challenges.

Kofi Annan’s call to bring all stakeholders around the table — including the private sector, local authorities, civil society organisations, academia, and scientists — resonates now more than ever with so many, who understand that governments alone cannot shape our future.

Join us on a journey of discovery as Ahmad Fawzi interviews some of Kofi Annan’s closest advisors and colleagues including Dr Peter Piot, Christiane Amanpour, Mark Malloch-Brown, Michael Møller and more.

Listen and follow us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and SoundCloud

Brought to you by the Kofi Annan Foundation and the United Nations Information Service.


Kofi Time: The Official Trailer

Join us as we take a journey of discovery about Kofi Annan’s leadership style and what makes it so relevant and important today.


Multilateralism: Then & Now | Kofi Time with Lord Mark Malloch-Brown | Episode 1

In this episode, Lord Malloch Brown shares insights with podcast host Ahmad Fawzi on how Kofi Annan strengthened the United Nations through careful diplomacy and bold reforms, and how significant advances were made during his tenure as Secretary-General. He comments on the state of multilateralism today, as the organization is buffeted by the crisis in Ukraine and the paralysis of the Security Council.


Making Peace: Then & Now | Kofi Time with Christiane Amanpour | Episode 2

In this episode of Kofi Time, host Ahmad Fawzi interviews renowned journalist Christiane Amanpour. Together, they discuss a world in turmoil, and what would Kofi Annan – who did so much for peace – do today?

Christiane shares her thoughts on the ‘Kofi Annan way’, the difficult job mediators and peacebuilders face, and the courage they must show. With Ahmad, they deliberate whether there is a type of ‘calling’ for those who work in this field.


Health Crises: Then & Now | Kofi Time with Dr Peter Piot | Episode 3

In this episode of Kofi Time, our special guest is Dr Peter Piot. Dr Piot discusses how he and Kofi Annan worked together to reverse the HIV/AIDs tide that swept through Africa in the 1990s, through patient but bold diplomacy, innovative partnerships and an inclusive approach that brought to the table previously marginalized communities. Dr Piot and podcast host Ahmad Fawzi discuss whether this approach be replicated today as the world enters the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic and must prepare for future heath emergencies.


Fighting Hunger: Then & Now | Kofi Time with Catherine Bertini | Episode 4

In episode 4 of Kofi Time, our special guest is Catherine Bertini. Ms. Bertini discusses how she worked with Kofi Annan to fight hunger and malnutrition around the world. Not only is access to food far from universal, but it is also severely impacted by conflicts and climate change. As food prices increase and access becomes even more challenging, how can we replicate Kofi Annan’s approach to improving food systems to make sure no one gets lefts behind on the path to food security globally?


Leadership: Then & Now | Kofi Time with Michael Møller | Episode 5

In episode 5 of Kofi Time, host Ahmad Fawzi interviews diplomat Michael Møller on Kofi Annan’s special kind of leadership. A respected leader among his peers and the public, Kofi Annan served the people of the world with courage, vision and empathy. Embodying moral steadfastness and an acute political acumen, his leadership was one of a kind. What drove him, and how can we emulate his leadership style to face today’s global challenges?


Human Rights: Then & Now | Kofi Time with Zeid Raad Al Hussein | Episode 6

In episode 6 of Kofi Time, our special guest is Zeid Raad Al Hussein. Zeid discusses his friendship with Kofi Annan and how they worked together to protect human dignity and promote human rights. Through the creation of the Human Rights Council and International Criminal Court, Kofi Annan played a critical role in establishing the mechanisms that we have today to protect human rights and fight impunity. How can we uphold Kofi Annan’s legacy and ensure that respect for human rights is not just an abstract concept but a reality?


Podcast Host & Guests


 

Ahmad Fawzi Kofi

Time Podcast Host

Mr Fawzi is the former head of News and Media at the United Nations. He worked closely with Kofi Annan both during his time as Secretary-General and afterwards, on crises including Iraq and Syria. Before joining the United Nations, he worked for many years in broadcast journalism, as a news editor, reporter and regional news operations manager. From 1991 to 1992, he was the News Operations Manager for the Americas for Visnews — now Reuters Television. Also with Reuters Television, Mr Fawzi served as Regional News Manager for Eastern Europe, based in Prague, from 1989 to 1991 — a time of tumultuous political change in that region. Concurrently with his assignment in Prague, he coordinated coverage of the Gulf war, managing the war desk in Riyadh, as well as the production centre in Dahran, Saudi Arabia. In 1989, Mr Fawzi was Reuters Television Bureau Chief for the Middle East, based in Cairo. Prior to that, he worked in London as News and Assignments Editor for Reuters Television. Previously, he was Editor and Anchor for the nightly news on Egyptian Television.


 

Lord Mark Malloch-Brown

Episode 1 Guest

Mark Malloch‐Brown is the president of the Open Society Foundations. He has worked in various senior positions in government and international organizations for more than four decades to advance development, human rights and justice. He was UN Deputy Secretary‐General and chief of staff under Kofi Annan. He previously Co-Chaired the UN Foundation Board. Malloch-Brown has worked to advance human rights and justice through working in international affairs for more than four decades. He was UN deputy secretary‐general and chief of staff under Kofi Annan. Before this, he was administrator of the UNDP, where he led global development efforts. He covered Africa and Asia as minister of state in the United Kingdom’s Foreign Office. Other positions have included World Bank vice president, lead international partner in a political consulting firm, vice-chair of the World Economic Forum, and senior advisor at Eurasia Group. He began his career as a journalist at the Economist and as an international refugee worker. He was knighted for his contribution to international affairs and is currently on leave from the British House of Lords. Malloch-Brown is a Distinguished Practitioner at Oxford University’s Blavatnik School of Government, an adjunct fellow at Chatham House’s Queen Elizabeth Program, and has been a visiting distinguished fellow at the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization.


 

Christiane Amanpour

Episode 2 Guest

Christiane Amanpour is a renowned journalist, whose illustrious career has taken her from CNN where she was Chief international correspondent for many years, to ABC as a Global Affairs Anchor, PBS and back to CNN International for the global affairs interview program named after her. She has received countless prestigious awards, including four Peabody Awards, for her international reporting and her achievements in broadcast journalism. She served as a member of the board of directors of the Committee to Protect Journalists and a UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador for Freedom of Expression and Journalist Safety. She is also an honorary citizen of Sarajevo and was made a Commander of the British Empire in 2007 by Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth.


 

Dr Peter Piot

Episode 3 Guest

Dr Peter Piot co-discovered the Ebola virus in Zaire in 1976. He has led research on HIV/AIDS, sexually transmitted diseases, and women’s health, mostly in sub-Saharan Africa. Peter Piot was the founding Executive Director of UNAIDS and Under-Secretary-General of the United Nations from 1995 until 2008. Under his leadership, UNAIDS has become the chief advocate for worldwide action against AIDS. It has brought together ten organizations of the United Nations system around a common agenda on AIDS, spearheading UN reform Peter Piot was the Director of the Institute for Global Health at Imperial College; London and he held the 2009/2010 “Knowledge against poverty” Chair at the College de France in Paris. He is a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences and was elected a foreign member of the National Academy of Medicine of the US National Academy of Sciences.


 

Catherine Bertini

Episode 4 Guest

An accomplished leader in food security, international organization reform and a powerful advocate for women and girls, Catherine Bertini has had a distinguished career improving the efficiency and operations of organizations serving poor and hungry people in the United States and around the world. She has highlighted and supported the roles of women and girls in influencing change. She was named the 2003 World Food Prize Laureate for her transformational leadership at the World Food Programme (WFP), which she led for ten years, and for the positive impact she had on the lives of women. While in the US government, she expanded the electronic benefit transfer options for food stamp beneficiaries, created the food package for breastfeeding mothers, presented the first effort to picture healthy diets, and expanded education and training opportunities for poor women. As a United Nations Under-Secretary-General, and at the head of the World Food Programme for ten years (1992 to 2002), she led UN humanitarian missions to the Horn of Africa and to Gaza, the West Bank, and Israel. During her time serving with WFP, Catherine Bertini was responsible for the leadership and management of emergency, refugee, and development food aid operations, reaching people in great need in over 100 countries, as well as advocacy campaigns to end hunger and to raise financial resources. With her World Food Prize, she created the Catherine Bertini Trust Fund for Girls’ Education to support programs to increase opportunities for girls and women to attend school. At the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs at Syracuse University, where she is now professor emeritus, she taught graduate courses in humanitarian action, post-conflict reconstruction, girls’ education, UN management, food security, international organizations, and leadership. She served as a senior fellow at the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation early in its new agricultural development program. Bertini is now the chair of the board of the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN). Concurrently, she is a Distinguished Fellow at the Chicago Council on Global Affairs. She has been named a Champion of the 2021 United Nations Food Systems Summit. She is a professor emeritus at Syracuse University.


 

Michael Møller

Episode 5 Guest

Mr Møller has over 40 years of experience as an international civil servant in the United Nations. He began his career in 1979 with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and worked for the United Nations in different capacities in New York, Mexico, Iran, Haiti, Cyprus and Geneva. He worked very closely with Kofi Annan as Director for Political, Peacekeeping and Humanitarian Affairs in the Office of the Secretary-General between 2001 and 2006, while serving concurrently as Deputy Chef de Cabinet of the Secretary-General for the last two years of that period. Mr Møller also served as the Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Cyprus from 2006 to 2008 and was the Executive Director of the Kofi Annan Foundation from 2008 to 2011. From 2013 to 2019, Mr Møller served as Director-General of the United Nations Office at Geneva as well as Personal Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General to the Conference of Disarmament. He currently is Chairman of the Diplomacy Forum of Geneva Science and Diplomacy Anticipator. A Danish citizen, Mr Møller earned a Master’s degree in International Relations from Johns Hopkins University, and a Bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the University of Sussex, in the United Kingdom.


 

Zeid Raad Al Hussein

Episode 6 Guest

Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein is IPI’s President and Chief Executive Officer. Previously, Zeid served as the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights from 2014 to 2018 after a long career as a Jordanian diplomat, including as his country’s Permanent Representative to the UN (2000-2007 & 2010-2014) and Ambassador to the United States (2007-2010). He served on the UN Security Council, was a configuration chair for the UN Peace-Building Commission, and began his career as a UN Peacekeeper in the former Yugoslavia. Zeid has also represented his country twice before the International Court of Justice, served as the President of the Assembly of State Parties to the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court from 2002-2005, and in 2005, authored the first comprehensive strategy for the elimination of Sexual Exploitation and Abuse in UN Peacekeeping Operations while serving as an advisor to Secretary-General Kofi Annan. Zeid is also a member of The Elders, an independent group of global leaders working together for peace, justice and human rights, founded by Nelson Mandela. Zeid holds a PhD from Cambridge University and is currently a Professor of Practice at the University of Pennsylvania.


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Gender Equality & Women’s Rights Wiped out Under the Taliban

Armed Conflicts, Asia-Pacific, Civil Society, Featured, Gender, Gender Violence, Headlines, IPS UN: Inside the Glasshouse, Peace, TerraViva United Nations

Opinion

The writer is UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women

Women receive food rations at a food distribution site in Herat, Afghanistan. Credit: UNICEF/Sayed Bidel

NEW YORK, Aug 15 2022 (IPS) – In the year that has passed since the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan we have seen daily and continuous deterioration in the situation of Afghan women and girls. This has spanned every aspect of their human rights, from living standards to social and political status.


It has been a year of increasing disrespect for their right to live free and equal lives, denying them opportunity to livelihoods, access to health care and education, and escape from situations of violence.

The Taliban’s meticulously constructed policies of inequality set Afghanistan apart. It is the only country in the world where girls are banned from going to high school. There are no women in the Taliban’s cabinet, no Ministry of Women’s Affairs, thereby effectively removing women’s right to political participation.

Women are, for the most part, also restricted from working outside the home, and are required to cover their faces in public and to have a male chaperone when they travel. Furthermore, they continue to be subjected to multiple forms of Gender Based Violence.

This deliberate slew of measures of discrimination against Afghanistan’s women and girls is also a terrible act of self-sabotage for a country experiencing huge challenges including from climate-related and natural disasters to exposure to global economic headwinds that leave some 25 million Afghan people in poverty and many hungry.

The exclusion of women from all aspects of life robs the people of Afghanistan of half their talent and energies. It prevents women from leading efforts to build resilient communities and shrinks Afghanistan’s ability to recover from crisis.

There is a clear lesson from humanity’s all too extensive experience of crisis. Without the full participation of women and girls in all aspects of public life there is little chance of achieving lasting peace, stability and economic development.

That is why we urge the de facto authorities to open schools for all girls, to remove constraints on women’s employment and their participation in the politics of their nation, and to revoke all decisions and policies that strip women of their rights. We call for ending all forms of violence against women and girls.

We urge the de facto authorities to ensure that women journalists, human rights defenders, and civil society actors enjoy freedom of expression, have access to information and can work freely and independently, without fear of reprisal or attack.

The international community’s support for women’s rights and its investment in women themselves are more important than ever: in services for women, in jobs and women-led businesses, and in women leaders and women’s organizations.

This includes not only support to the provision of humanitarian assistance but also continued and unceasing efforts at the political level to bring about change.

UN Women has remained in country throughout this crisis and will continue to do so. We are steadfast in our support to Afghan women and girls alongside our partners and donors.

We are scaling up the provision of life-saving services for women, by women, to meet overwhelming needs. We are supporting women-led businesses and employment opportunities across all sectors to help lift the country out of poverty.

We are also investing in women-led civil society organizations to support the rebuilding of the women’s movement. As everywhere in the world, civil society is a key driver of progress and accountability on women’s rights and gender equality.

Every day, we advocate for restoring, protecting, and promoting the full spectrum of women’s and girls’ rights. We are also creating spaces for Afghan women themselves to advocate for their right to live free and equal lives.

One year on, with women’s visibility so diminished and rights so severely impacted, it is vital to direct targeted, substantial, and systematic funding to address and reverse this situation and to facilitate women’s meaningful participation in all stakeholder engagement on Afghanistan, including in delegations that meet with Taliban officials.

Decades of progress on gender equality and women’s rights have been wiped out in mere months. We must continue to act together, united in our insistence on guarantees of respect for the full spectrum of women’s rights, including to education, work, and participation in public and political life.

We must continue to make a collective and continuous call on the Taliban leadership to fully comply with the binding obligations under international treaties to which Afghanistan is a party.

And we must continue to elevate the voices of Afghan women and girls who are fighting every day for their right to live free and equal lives. Their fight is our fight. What happens to women and girls in Afghanistan is our global responsibility.

IPS UN Bureau

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