You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘Human Rights and Social Justice’ category.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 18, 2010
Press Office: 202-712-4320
Public Information: 202-712-4810
www.usaid.gov


WASHINGTON, DC The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has embarked on an ambitious reform effort, USAID FORWARD, to change the way the Agency does business-with new partnerships, an emphasis on innovation and a relentless focus on results. It gives USAID the opportunity to transform its agency and unleash its full potential to achieve high-impact development.

Announced by USAID Administrator Dr. Rajiv Shah, USAID FORWARD is critical to achieving President Obama’s vision of the United States as the global leader in international development. This initiative is an early outcome of the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) led by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, and will help modernize and strengthen USAID so that it can meet the most pressing development challenges and work more efficiently towards its ultimate goal-creating the conditions where its work is no longer needed.

USAID FORWARD is a comprehensive package of reforms in seven key areas:

1. Implementation and Procurement Reform: USAID will change its business processes-contracting with and providing grants to more and varied local partners, and creating true partnerships to create the conditions where aid is no longer necessary in the countries where the Agency works. To achieve this, USAID is streamlining its processes, increasing the use of small businesses, building metrics into its implementation agreements to achieve capacity building objectives and using host country systems where it makes sense.

2. Talent Management: USAID will explore ways to leverage the enormous talent that lies within the broader USAID family of foreign and civil service officers, and Foreign Service Nationals. To solve the world’s biggest development challenges, it will improve and streamline processes so it can quickly align its resources to support the Agency’s strategic initiatives, with better hiring and training tools as well as incentives. USAID must attract and retain the best people who reflect global diversity and who share the ability to be innovative problem-solvers.

3. Rebuilding Policy Capacity: To make smart, informed decisions, USAID has created a new Bureau of Policy, Planning and Learning (PPL) that will serve as the intellectual nerve center for the Agency. PPL will promulgate cutting-edge creative and evidence-based development policies-leveraging USAID’s relationships with other donors, utilizing its strength in science and technology, and reintroducing a culture of research, knowledge-sharing and evaluation.

4. Strengthening Monitoring and Evaluation: Learning by measuring progress is critical for high impact, sustainable development and therefore must be an integral part of USAID’s thought process from the onset of its activities. That requires USAID to do a much better job of systematically monitoring its performance and evaluating its impact. USAID will be introducing an improved monitoring and evaluation process as part of these reform efforts, and it will link those efforts to its program design, budgeting and strategy work.

5. Rebuilding Budget Management: USAID is rebuilding our budget capacity to allow for increased responsibilities and capacity to manage constrained budget resources and ensure the Agency will be able to align resources against country strategies, make difficult trade-offs, and re-deploy resources toward programs that are demonstrating meaningful results. In consultation with the Department of State, USAID has created an Office of Budget and Resource Management in the Office of the Administrator that will provide increased responsibilities over execution of its budget. With these increased responsibilities, USAID will have to propose difficult funding tradeoffs in order to continue robust funding of key operational and program priorities.

6. Science and Technology: USAID has a proud history of transforming development through science & technology (S&T), from the successful use of oral rehydration therapies to the green revolution. As part of these reform efforts, USAID will upgrade its internal S&T capabilities, supporting the expansion of technical expertise and improving access to analytical tools like Geospatial Information Systems. It will also develop a set of Grand Challenges for Development, a framework to focus the Agency and development community on key scientific and technical barriers that limit breakthrough development progress. Finally, USAID will build S&T capacity in developing countries through cooperative research grants, improved access to scientific knowledge, and higher education and training opportunities.

7. Innovation: USAID is putting into place a structure for fostering innovative development solutions that have a broad impact on people, wherever they may arise. As part of these reform efforts, USAID is creating opportunities to connect its staff to leading innovators in the private sector and academia, and it has created the Development Innovation Ventures Fund-where creative solutions can be funded, piloted and brought to scale.

For more information about USAID’s programs, please visit: usaid.gov.

The Development, US MDG and Foreign Aid community has been waiting on Sec. Clinton’s much touted Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR) for months now, and got a taste of it yesterday when a draft was made available. Easily explore it online here courtesy the Washington Post document reader.

The QDDR serves as a “scheduled review of development aid — and how to integrate it with U.S. diplomatic efforts”, in an effort to keep development projects relevant and “fresh” (WaPo, 2010)

Policy and administration folk who are keen to see increased accountability and a greater awareness of need-based/locally-owned development will be anxious to see how the final decisions regarding USAID’s operation and goals play out. We’ll keep you posted on this.

The QDDR will hopefully serve as a key map in navigating Congressional discussions on US development commitments and new spending priorities. Here at AIDemocracy, we will be monitoring this story closely, with help from our friends at MFAN and USGLC— Look for action moments from our side soon!

The G20 meetings are publicly recognized for being the arena of two repeating themes: citizen protest against unfair trade policies that affect communities across the world, and world leaders flexing their muscles to see who walks away as top dog.

The G20 meeting in Seoul, South Korea was burdened with a third theme– that of finding solutions to the ongoing global economic crisis and the fast approaching threat of protectionism. Why is protectionism an issue? In the context of the US economy, it could mean lower foreign investment, which would lower the value of the dollar. In the context of social justice, this could have far-reaching adverse effects on local and international unemployment and worker rights as well as on US government spending on social services.

The US came under pressure for the Quantitative Easing (QE2) decision taken by the Federal Reserve Board. What’s all the noise about, and did the rest of the G20’s argument against the US decision make any sense? Nice analysis of the situation (and some groovy Economics 101!) here.

But really, the only thing we’re asking each other right now is, why should we care about what is discussed or decided on at the G20?

Simple answer? International Aid Reform. The G20 meetings are a significant platform for world leaders to discuss global approaches to the issue of misdirected foreign aid and unmet aid targets.

Read the rest of this entry »

Targeting: The Governor of KS, The KS State Senate, The KS State House, see more…
Started by: Kristen Tebow, RC – Kansas/Missouri

Some people say that slavery ended with the Emancipation Proclamation. The truth is that there are more slaves in America in modern times, than during the Civil War. Modern slavery has a new name. That name is human trafficking.

Human trafficking is defined by the Trafficking Protocol of 2000 as “a criminal activity in which people are recruited, harboured, transported, bought, or kidnapped to serve an exploitative purpose, such as sexual slavery, forced labor, or child soldiery.” As one can see, there are many different faces of human trafficking. The most prevalent cases of human trafficking that exist in America are sex trafficking cases. Most of these cases involve young girls involved in prostitution.

Contrary to popular belief, there are cases of trafficking that happen in the heartland of the United States. A lot of these cases are never brought to justice. However, in 2009, the U.S. Attorney’s Office launched a sting operation calledOperation Guardian Angel and there were several cases that took place in Kansas so it is obvious that a task force would be a need for a task force in Kansas.

Also in the same article, it was mentioned that there is no official task force like there are in other states in the U.S. where human trafficking is prevalent such asColoradoCaliforniaFlorida,IllinoisOhio, and Texas. There are many arguments that can be made about population sizes of the cities in these states compared to Kansas, but I can counter each argument with Craigslist Trafficking that happens all over Kansas and the long stretch of I-70 that runs through Kansas. Also, since the overall population of Kansas is low, Kansas is arguably a terrific place for human trafficking because of the remoteness of the state.

There should be a task force in Kansas. Where is a more perfect place to start a task force than Manhattan, KS? We have four student organizations at Kansas State University who are active in the movement. We have over 25 individuals dedicated to the issue and professors who have done research on trafficking on a local, national, and global level. This petition will prove that the community wants Kansas to get involved in ending the most hideous of crimes committed in the world.

Another reason you should care: All of us, even Kansans, contribute to human trafficking by buying consumer goods that are made by underpaid workers who are often maltreated. Most of the time these workers are children.

Most importantly and the reason you all should care: We had a student at Kansas State University who was kidnapped, gang-raped, and trafficked at Fort Riley. I think that this alone should warrant a prevention movement.

The task force would provide prevention educational programs, research on the issue, awareness event-planning, community action and outreach, and it would provide jobs for the community. There are many benefits for launching something like this in our town!

Please help us join the fight and show that Kansas cares!

http://humantrafficking.change.org/petitions/view/start_a_task_force_for_human_trafficking_in_kansas_-_manhattan#

by Kristen Tebow, RC Kansas/Missouri

Since we have just celebrated a holiday that greatly measures success on costume and candy sales, I would like to take this time to talk about the dark side of Halloween.

We all go trick or treating on Halloween or take our children trick or treating. When I was growing up, I remember the competitions that my friends and I had while we were trick or treating. Whoever filled up the bag of candy first had bragging rights until the next Halloween. What I don’t remember from the early days is wondering where the chocolate in these candy bags came from. Now that I am old enough, I think about where everything comes from.

Here are a few things that were done in the few weeks leading up to Halloween, and also a few ideas that you can do for next year.

 

The International Labor Rights Forum, along with Global Exchange, Green America and Oasis USA, organized screenings of The Dark Side of Chocolate all across the country. This new documentary exposed the ongoing use of child labor, forced labor and trafficking in the cocoa industry in West Africa. It is a great resources for increasing awareness of this critical labor rights issue. 

As part of the Raise the Bar Hershey campaign, they asked concerned individuals to host screenings in their communities throughout October 2010, especially during a national week of action from October 25 through October 31.

For more information, please contact Tim Newman at Tim.Newman@ILRF.org or 202-347-4100

Reverse Trick-or-Treating
Ten to twenty thousand groups of children, college students, and activists (including myself) handed chocolate back to adults during their regular neighborhood trick-or-treating rounds this Halloween. They distributed Fair Trade certified chocolate attached to a card explaining the labor and environmental problems in the cocoa industry globally and how Fair Trade provides a solution. The event, Reverse Trick-or-Treating, was launched to raise awareness of the pervasive problem of child labor, forced labor and trafficking in the cocoa fields, to empower consumers to press the chocolate industry for more fair cocoa sourcing policies, to shift the industry toward sourcing Fair Trade certified cocoa, and to inform consumers about Fair Trade companies that are leading the way to industry reform. Fair Trade standards prohibit the use of abusive child labor, contain extensive environmental sustainability protections, and enable farmers to escape poverty.

This semester has been exceedingly progressive at Kansas State University with new advocates and activists coming out of the woodwork. In September, I collaborated with other local shelters and organizations to put on a very successful “Take Back the Night” event in Lawrence, KS.

http://www.nbcactionnews.com/dpp/news/local_news/abuse-victims-rally-awareness-in-lawrence

October was a busy month! We supported a fellow organization on campus, Coalition, who put on a Rave to Save to raise money for Zindagi Trust, an organization working to aid refugees affected by the flooding in Pakistan. Together, with other organizations on campus, including members of KSUAID, they raised over $700 for the cause.

Also this month, we put on our CARE 2010 MDG event. We showed the short film “Baht” and invited a fellow professor, Nadia Shapkina, from KSU to speak on the issue of Global Gender Inequality and how it prevents women from entering into the workforce in their own countries forcing them to find jobs in other countries and makes them 10 times more vulnerable to human trafficking situations. It was a very successful event with no spending and we had many students, community members, and even students from other campuses (and even Missouri and Florida) attend the event. The official headcount was 83 people in attendance. By the end of the film, we had people leave before questions, but it was a very interactive audience with numerous questions. Pictures are coming soon!

We are currently planning two major events, as well as several fundraisers for these events. These events will be happening on K-State’s campus in Manhattan, KS.

For the first event, we are planning on showing the film “Blood Diamonds” and providing alternative options for buying Read the rest of this entry »

By Michaela Maynard, Global Health Issue Analyst

For each minute that it takes you to read this post, a woman is dying in labor, and for every birthing death, twenty more women are left suffering from disability. Obstetric fistula is the most devastating of all pregnancy-related disabilities. Worldwide, the condition affects over two million women. Obstetric fistula results from prolonged, obstructed labor without access to timely medical care, typically a caesarean section.  During prolonged labor, the positioning of the baby and the pressure of the infant’s head can result in damage to the organs of a women’s pelvis. In almost 90% of fistula cases the infant is stillborn or dies within the first week of birth and if the mother survives, she may be left with a fistula or hole between the vagina and the bladder or the vagina and the rectum, causing her to constantly leak urine or feces.

Women suffering from fistula are incapable of carrying out their normal workload, and they rely heavily on others for support.  In many instances, women report being divorced from their husbands, ostracized from their families, and forced out of their communities as a result of fistula. The constant leaking of urine and the smell that follows them is stigmatizing; they become outcasts and are pushed deeper into poverty and destitution.

Obstetric fistula is not a third-world anomaly. For centuries, women all over the world have been faced with prolonged, obstructed labor and obstetric fistula. In fact, the first fistula hospital was located in New York City on the site of what is now the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel. In the U.S., the availability of timely obstetric care has helped to eradicate fistula, yet women in Africa, South Asia, and other developing countries of the world still suffer from this preventable and treatable condition.

Surgery can treat the fistula, but the cost of surgical treatment and the lack of trained surgeons prevent women from receiving care. In countries of civil unrest, healthcare services are often depleted, roadways accessible to hospitals and clinics are Read the rest of this entry »

By David Klayton, Environment Issue Analyst for Water

In today’s rapidly globalizing world, a common debate persists as to whether water should be considered a human right or a commodity. Personally, I firmly believe that water is a human right, as it is necessary for humans to live. However, I will not deny that there is legitimate reason to argue the opposite, that water is a commodity. Instead of putting my opinion up against others’ in this difficult debate, I’d like to take a brief look at how the privatization, and thus the commodification of water goes against its ultimate theoretical goals.

The dominant economic model for the past three decades has been neoliberalism, and the dominant ideal of neoliberalism is privatization. Within the context of neoliberalism, privatization takes on several different goals, from the shrinking of the state’s role in society to the expansion of the free market. While many argue that neoliberal economics support only the upper class and big business, a major tenet of neoliberal theory is that state-shrinking will lead to a significant decrease in taxation, and this decrease in taxation enables the lower class to have more money to spend in the free market as consumers.

However, with such a strong emphasis on the free market under neoliberal economic theory, privatization leads to large corporations owning the rights to utilities and natural resources—water, for one. A major goal of the free market economy is to increase competition, which in turn should decrease costs, but it is not uncommon in a neoliberal economy for single corporations to obtain monopolies on resources. And when a monopoly is reached, the profit-oriented corporations are free to jack up their prices, as their consumers have no other method available to attain the resource in question.

Read the rest of this entry »

By Marshall Kirby.

Marshall is one of AIDemocracy’s 2010-2011 Issue Analysts. Find out more about Marshall below or take a look at the Student Issue Analysts.

The author with John Perkins

On Thursday October 14th, 2010 I had the honor of attending a speech given by John Perkins in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Perkins is the author of the bestselling books: Confessions of an Economic Hitman, The Secret History of the American Empire, and Hoodwinked. As you might expect, the talk was very interesting and inspiring at the same time.

Perkins’ main points of discussion were about the history of the economic collapse, what brought us there, and where we can go from here to build a more sustainable and just global economic system. All of these I will discuss below.

How did we get here?

Perkins gives us his take on a much longer journey back through history. Prior to the rise of modern states, global power derived out of religious empires. With the rise of modern nation states, the religious structure in which global power was concentrated was displaced. Then, he said, something changed – power started shifting from sovereign states towards global corporations. Through lobbying, the power of money, and corruption, some corporations have been able to thwart democratic practices in certain thriving democracies. This has produced the economic system of today and the current crisis. Perkins’ explains that this was no fluke – it was inevitable.

Read the rest of this entry »

Every fall as the trees shed their colorful leaves I get a little nostalgic. When I see the children in my neighborhood setting pumpkins on their doorsteps and frolicking in leaves, I feel a pang of jealousy. With all the stresses of ‘adult life’ and grad school, I miss the carefree days of my childhood. Then I think about how lucky I was to have that experience, when so many children across the globe have their childhood cut short because of poverty, cultural expectations, and shockingly, as they are forced into marriage.

Think of a young girl in your life.  Think of your sibling, niece, cousin, neighbor, daughter or even a memory of yourself as a child. Now think of 60 million girls just like her married across the globe. Imagine them pressured by families and communities to enter into adulthood at the age of 16, 12 or even 7. Imagine them being forced to marry, often a much older man, and assume the role of a wife and mother.

The emotional, social, and health consequences of this are enormous. These girls are often forced to move far away from their families to be with their husbands. Once they are married they can no longer pursue their education. Since they are so young, they have no say within the family. They are expected to immediately fulfill their roles as wives by becoming sexually active. Most have no sexual and reproductive health education, and no idea of how to protect themselves from STIs or unwanted pregnancies. Furthermore, the girls face pressure to prove their fertility as soon as they are married.

Sexual activity and pregnancy at a young age both bear dangerous health consequences. A young, undeveloped body is often not ready for the physical strain of pregnancy and childbirth. In many of the countries in which child marriage is prevalent, Read the rest of this entry »

Calendar

August 2017
M T W T F S S
« Dec    
 123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031  

Twitter Posts

%d bloggers like this: