London: Malala Yousafzai, who emerged as a global icon for women's rights after being shot at by Taliban for advocating girl's education in Pakistan, will give her first public speech in New York on her 16th birthday on July 12, a day that would now be marked as 'Malala Day'. UN Special Envoy and former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown announced on Friday that Malala is determined to continue campaigning for girls' education and will speak to a specially convened meeting of young people from around the world at the United Nations.
Her first public address is being organised by UN Special Envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown along with the President of the UN General Assembly Vuk Jeremic. Some 4,000 young people from across the globe are likely to attend the launch of a youth campaign to secure universal primary education.
A petition signed by one million children, who are denied schooling, will be handed over to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon on the same day, with an aim to pass a resolution at the UN to end all forms of child slavery, labour, marriage and discrimination against girls. Brown said that just as the Arab Spring had brought young people to the centre stage demanding change, so too was a new wave of protest from millions of children demanding their rights to education.
"We are seeing in the Indian subcontinent a wave of protests from boys and girls, not dissimilar to those by teenagers and students that marked the Arab Spring," Brown said in a meeting in London on Friday. Currently, 61 million children go without a single day of primary school.
"Malala is a true inspiration and a shining beacon for girls education around the world. I am full of admiration for her courage and determination in the journey she is on, and am sure that she can become a real leader in the campaign for a school place for every girl - and every boy," said Brown.
Malala, who has made a remarkable recovery and has since returned to school, is yet to make a public speech. A passionate campaigner for a long-time for the right of every girl to attend school, Malala will be making the case that the voice of young people is essential in the fight for education.
The Malala Day meeting will close with a youth resolution to make education for all a reality by the end of 2015, as was promised in the second Millennium Development Goal in 2000. Brown's announcement was made during the 'Learning for All Ministerial' meeting, co-hosted with Jim Kim of the World Bank and Ban at the World Bank in Washington.
The meeting, one of a series of events as part of an education summit, examined how to put in place education for all in eight countries which represent around half of the world's out-of-school children. The petition that will submitted to Ban, has been organised by young people of Pakistan to protest against their exclusion from education.
The petition comes at a time when fifty national and international children's organisations have agreed to form a new coalition against child slavery and for universal education in Washington. "This petition is another demonstration of the growing new force in the debate on universal education. Young people are outraged at the denial of their basic rights particularly the right of girls to education. They will no longer allow threats, intimidation and violence to stand in the way of attaining those rights," said Brown.
In a series of meetings on global education,concluding in Washington, the main focus will be how young people have become empowered in their campaign to secure education. A session on child slavery will focus on child labour and child-trafficking, and the immediate measures that can be taken to put an end to these practises.
The meetings are driven by civil society groups, from international organisations such as the Global March Against Child Labour, Walk Free and Plan International, to campaigning organisations from around the world. "What is needed is a comprehensive plan that deals with each injustice that is preventing children going to school," Brown said.
"I am confident that this unprecedented meeting of civil society will yield a concrete plan and agreed actions to put an end to the twin blights of child marriage and child labour, which keep so many children out of school," he added. "Young people, connected through technology and social media, are more aware than ever before of the rights enjoyed by their contemporaries in other countries," said Brown.
Read the original article on IBNLive.
On Wednesday, 17 April, my attention was drawn to a very tragic story in the Times of India, under the headline, “Early motherhood forcing young brides to bury aspirations.” It is about an 18-year-old girl who killed her two-day-old son in India as she feared that motherhood might end her dreams of pursuing education. The story filled me with even stronger resolve to speak up on this issue.
It also reminded me of another story, in Kabul, where 15-year-old Freshta escaped marriage to a man more than twice her age. "I am educated, that is why I could refuse my parents' decision. But my sister is only 13 years old, and they will marry her to an old man," said Freshta with tears in her eyes, worrying about the fate of her sister. Freshta is living at a secret shelter for women in Kabul; a place she was referred to by the police after being beaten by her family and expelled from home for rebelling against her family's wishes.
Afghan law forbids marriage below the age of 16, but many girls end up being married even at 13. Getting reliable data on child marriages is difficult, but estimates show that about 40 percent of Afghani women are married by the age of 18.
Harmful practices such as child marriage are not a challenge only in Afghanistan. Overall, one in three girls in most low- and middle-income countries will marry before the age of 18 and one in nine girls will marry before 15. This amounts to 14.2 million child marriages each year or 39,000 girls married each day before their 18th birthday. Child marriage is prevalent primarily in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, but it also takes place in several countries in Latin America, the Middle East and eastern Europe. Girls living in poverty and in rural areas face a higher risk of being married at an early age, and girls in humanitarian crises are particularly vulnerable.
Child marriage can also have fatal health consequences for young girls. When married, girls are often expected to prove their fertility by getting pregnant. Each year, 16 million girls aged 15-19 give birth, 90 percent of them within marriage. However, girls are often not fully developed physiologically and for many reasons face barriers in seeking timely, appropriate care, putting them at an increased risk of experiencing complications during pregnancy or delivery.
Such complications can result in death or in long-term illnesses and injuries including obstetric fistula—a childbirth injury that results in a tear between the birth canal and the bladder or rectum, causing the girl to leak urine and/or human waste. About 300 million girls and women are living today with maternal illnesses and injuries.
Moreover, the married girls are often taken out of school and have very limited life opportunities. Meanwhile, girls who are able to finish school and maybe even to get a secondary education have much better possibilities to earn a living, to decide themselves when and whom to marry, when to become mothers, to invest in their children’s future and ultimately to help themselves and their families out of poverty. This will ultimately contribute to the prosperity of their communities and countries.
Preventing child marriage will also help reduce the risk of girls being subjected to violence and social isolation, which is often a result of young girls marrying into families they don’t know. Hence, the prevention of child marriage has manifold benefits for girls’ well-being, health, education, childhood and their basic rights to determine their own future.
UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund, together with its partners, works to end child marriage and other harmful practices, including gender-biased sex selection and female genital mutilation/cutting. In addition to being a goal in itself, this is also an important first step towards enabling girls to realize their full potential, educate themselves, contribute more to the labour market and, eventually, to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty for their own sake, as well as for their communities’ and countries’ development.
UNFPA supports national governments and civil society in improving and enforcing national legislation against child marriage and supports information-sharing with local communities on girls’ rights and the negative consequences of child marriages. We invest in programmes that create safe spaces for girls to avoid child marriage, build up their education, economic and health assets. On a global scale, UNFPA works with many governments and other partners to ensure that girls’ rights to determine their future and to obtain sexual and reproductive health are anchored strongly in the post-2015 development agenda and become a policy priority both in developing and fragile countries, such as Afghanistan.
Our hope is that, through common efforts, we can ensure that not only Freshta, but also her younger sister and all other girls in the world, can escape harmful practices and enjoy the right to be girls.
When they enjoy this right, they can consequently enjoy other human and civil rights, such as education as well as economic, social and political participation and decision-making. When they exercise all of these rights, they can fulfil their own and humanity’s potential: to eliminate poverty, eradicate maternal death and propel economic development.
Read the original article on Trust.org
Progress shows that stunting in children can be defeated – UNICEF
DUBLIN, 15 April 2013 – A new UNICEF report issued today offers evidence that real progress is being made in the fight against stunted growth – the hidden face of poverty for 165 million children under the age of five. The report shows that accelerated progress is both possible and necessary.
Improving Child Nutrition: The achievable imperative for global progress confirms that a key to success against stunting is focusing attention on pregnancy and the first two years of a child’s life. Stunting in a child is not only about being too short for his or her age. It can also mean suffering from stunted development of the brain and cognitive capacity.
“Stunting can kill opportunities in life for a child and kill opportunities for development of a nation,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake. “Our evidence of the progress that is being achieved shows that now is the time to accelerate it.”
One in four of all under-5 children globally is stunted because of chronic undernutrition in crucial periods of growth. An estimated 80 per cent of the world’s stunted children live in just 14 countries.
The UNICEF report highlights successes in scaling up nutrition and improving policies, programmes and behaviour change in 11 countries: Ethiopia, Haiti, India, Nepal, Peru, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sri Lanka, Kyrgyzstan, the United Republic of Tanzania and Viet Nam.
The damage done to a child’s body and brain by stunting is irreversible. It drags down performance at school and future earnings. It is an injustice often passed from generation to generation that cuts away at national development. Stunted children are also at a higher risk of dying from infectious diseases than other children.
But in parts of India – home to 61 million stunted children – progress is still being made. In Maharashtra, the country's wealthiest state and second most populous, 39 per cent of children under two were stunted in 2005-2006. That however dropped to 23 per cent by 2012, according to a state-wide nutritional survey, largely by supporting frontline workers improving child nutrition.
In Peru, stunting fell by a third between 2006 and 2011 following a Child Malnutrition Initiative that lobbied political candidates to sign a ‘5 by 5 by 5’ commitment to reduce stunting in children under 5 by 5 per cent in 5 years and to lessen inequities between urban and rural areas. Peru drew on its experience of successful smaller projects and integrated nutrition with other programmes. It also focused on the most disadvantaged children and women and decentralized government structures.
Ethiopia cut stunting from 57 per cent to 44 per cent and under-5 mortality from 139 deaths per 1,000 live births to 77 per 1,000 between 2000 and 2011. Key steps included a national nutrition programme, providing a safety net in the poorest areas and boosting nutrition assistance through communities.
Stunting and other forms of undernutrition are reduced through a series of simple and proven steps such as improving women’s nutrition, early and exclusive breastfeeding, providing additional vitamins and minerals as well as appropriate food – especially in pregnancy and the first two years of a child’s life.
The report says that existing solutions and the work of new partnerships, including the Scaling Up Nutrition movement, create an unprecedented opportunity to address child undernutrition through countries accelerating progress through coordinated projects with donor support and measurable targets.
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UNICEF works in more than 190 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments. For more information about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org
In June 2012, the Governments of Ethiopia, India and the United States with UNICEF launched a global roadmap to end preventable deaths of children under the age of five. Since then, under the banner of Committing to Child Survival: A Promise Renewed, more than 170 countries have signed up and renewed their commitment to child survival.
2013 Templeton Prize has been awarded to Desmond Tutu, the former Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, South Africa. The award recognizes his lifelong work in advancing spiritual and liberating principles such as love and forgiveness around the world.
Tutu became a globally recognized figure as a result of his longstanding and principled opposition to South Africa's apartheid regime. Then, after the election of Nelson Mandela in 1994 as president in the country's first multi-ethnic elections, Tutu chaired the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Employing a revolutionary and relentless policy of confession, forgiveness, and resolution, the commission helped move the nation from institutionalized racial repression toward egalitarian democracy.
The Christian belief that all human beings are shaped in the image of God, Imago Dei, is one vital point of reference for Tutu, alongside the traditional African concept of Ubuntu, which holds that only through others do people become fully human. In a 1990 essay, "My Credo," he explained that the source of his hope in the face of suffering is "the indomitable resilience of the human spirit, which [does] not seem to know that it [is] unequal to the struggle and should by rights have long ago thrown in the towel."
"By embracing such universal concepts of the image of God within each person, Desmond Tutu also demonstrates how the innate humanity within each of us is intrinsically tied to the humanity between all peoples," said Dr. Jack Templeton in a video statement online. Dr. Templeton, president and chairman of the John Templeton Foundation, noted that "Desmond Tutu calls upon all of us to recognize that each and every human being is unique in all of history and, in doing so, to embrace our own vast potential to be agents for spiritual progress and positive change. Not only does he teach this idea, he lives it."
The award was widely reported in the world's press. The BBC noted that Tutu received the prize in a "representative capacity," as he was keen to acknowledge all those who have worked with him over the years. The Economistdeveloped this theme by describing how Tutu "boldly articulated the pain of black South Africans while always insisting that there might, after all, be a peaceful future for all races." His role was confirmed by Sowetan Live, which said that "Tutu spoke out vigorously against apartheid during the years when Nelson Mandela was in prison."
The religious dimension inherent in Tutu's work was also recognized. Agence France Press reported Tutu's "deep faith and commitment to prayer and worship" and The Washington Post described Tutu as "a true entrepreneur of the spirit."
The Templeton Prize, worth £1.1 million (about $1.7 million or €1.3 million), is the world's largest annual monetary award honoring a living person who has made exceptional contributions to affirming life's spiritual dimension. Tutu becomes the third Templeton Prize Laureate who has also won the Nobel Peace Prize, alongside Mother Teresa, the first winner of the Templeton Prize, and the Dalai Lama, last year's winner. In recent years, the award has also gone to academics who work at the interface of science and religion, as well as other leading spiritual and humanitarian figures.
The 2013 Templeton Prize will be presented to Desmond Tutu at a ceremony at the Guildhall in London on the afternoon of Tuesday, May 21, 2013. A celebration was held on Thursday, April 11, in Cape Town at St. George's Cathedral, the church that became known as "the people's cathedral" for its role in the fight against apartheid when Tutu served there as archbishop from 1986 to 1996. Video highlights are available online.
From Tutu's video statement:
"When you are in a crowd and you stand out from the crowd, it's usually because you are being carried on the shoulders of others... I would want to acknowledge all the wonderful people who accepted me as their leader at home and so to accept this prize... in a representative capacity. But thank you very much for identifying me as this year's laureate."
Other videos in which Desmond Tutu offers his answers to several Big Questions are also available online.
Nominations for the 2014 Templeton Prize are now open and must be submitted no later than July 1, 2013.
By Li-mei Hoang
- LONDON | Wed Apr 10, 2013 5:33am EDT
(Reuters) - Most victims of sexual violence in conflict zones are children who are suffering rape and abuse at an appalling rate, said campaigners who described the attacks as the "hidden horrors of war".
In the worst-affected countries, such as Liberia and Sierra Leone, children made up more than 70 percent of victims, said a report by charity Save the Children published on Wednesday.
The study contained harrowing stories of children being killed after being raped and of others who were abducted and abused by armed forces and groups. It also said children as young as two were being attacked by opportunistic predators including teachers, religious leaders and peacekeepers.
Many survivors were cast out from society after the attacks.
"It is shocking that in conflict zones around the world, children are being raped and abused at such an appalling rate," said Save the Children chief executive Justin Forsyth.
"Sexual violence is one of those hidden horrors of war and the damage it wreaks ruins lives."
British Foreign Secretary William Hague has been campaigning to raise awareness of the issue and recently met victims in Democratic Republic ofCongo with actress and U.N. special envoy Angelina Jolie. The issue will be on the agenda at a meeting of G8 countries' foreign ministers hosted by Hague in London on Wednesday and Thursday.
Save the Children found more than half of victims of sexual violence in conflict zones were children. It cited a study in Liberia, still recovering from a civil war that ended a decade ago, which found more than 80 percent of victims in 2011-12 were younger than 17. Almost all were raped.
In post-conflict Sierra Leone, more than 70 percent of the sexual violence cases seen by the International Rescue Committee were girls under 18, and more than a fifth of those were under 11, the report said. In Democratic Republic of the Congo nearly two-thirds of sexual violence cases recorded by the United Nations in 2008 involved children, mostly adolescent girls.
Save the Children spoke to a girl named Pamela, in Democratic Republic of Congo, who was attacked and raped near a refugee camp where she had fled after her village was attacked.
"I'd been in the camp for three days. I'd gone to collect water, and as I was leaving the water point I met three boys. They grabbed me. One took my legs and the other took my hands. I tried to fight them off.
"After the rape I wanted to leave the house and return home. But the people told my mother and she said I had to stay there. I didn't want a husband because I was still a girl."
Rejected by her community, Pamela was forced to stay with her attacker and become his wife. He abandoned her when she was seven months' pregnant.
(Editing by Pravin Char)