FEATURED PHOTOS AND STORIES

Wednesday:  December 17, 2014

When Will Chile's Post Office's Re-open? 

(PHOTO: Workers set up camp at Santiago's Rio Mapocho/Mason Bryan, The Santiago Times)Chile nears 1 month without mail service as postal worker protests continue. This week local branches of the 5 unions representing Correos de Chile voted on whether to continue their strike into a 2nd month, rejecting the union's offer. For a week the workers have set up camp on the banks of Santiago's Río Mapocho displaying banners outlining their demands; framing the issue as a division of the rich & the poor. The strike’s main slogan? “Si tocan a uno, nos tocan a todos,” it reads - if it affects 1 of us, it affects all of us. (Read more at The Santiago Times)

WHO convenes emergency talks on MERS virus

 

(PHOTO: Saudi men walk to the King Fahad hospital in the city of Hofuf, east of the capital Riyadh on June 16, 2013/Fayez Nureldine)The World Health Organization announced Friday it had convened emergency talks on the enigmatic, deadly MERS virus, which is striking hardest in Saudi Arabia. The move comes amid concern about the potential impact of October's Islamic hajj pilgrimage, when millions of people from around the globe will head to & from Saudi Arabia.  WHO health security chief Keiji Fukuda said the MERS meeting would take place Tuesday as a telephone conference & he  told reporters it was a "proactive move".  The meeting could decide whether to label MERS an international health emergency, he added.  The first recorded MERS death was in June 2012 in Saudi Arabia & the number of infections has ticked up, with almost 20 per month in April, May & June taking it to 79.  (Read more at Xinhua)

LINKS TO OTHER STORIES

                                

Dreams and nightmares - Chinese leaders have come to realize the country should become a great paladin of the free market & democracy & embrace them strongly, just as the West is rejecting them because it's realizing they're backfiring. This is the "Chinese Dream" - working better than the American dream.  Or is it just too fanciful?  By Francesco Sisci

Baby step towards democracy in Myanmar  - While the sweeping wins Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy has projected in Sunday's by-elections haven't been confirmed, it is certain that the surging grassroots support on display has put Myanmar's military-backed ruling party on notice. By Brian McCartan

The South: Busy at the polls - South Korea's parliamentary polls will indicate how potent a national backlash is against President Lee Myung-bak's conservatism, perceived cronyism & pro-conglomerate policies, while offering insight into December's presidential vote. Desire for change in the macho milieu of politics in Seoul can be seen in a proliferation of female candidates.  By Aidan Foster-Carter  

Pakistan climbs 'wind' league - Pakistan is turning to wind power to help ease its desperate shortage of energy,& the country could soon be among the world's top 20 producers. Workers & farmers, their land taken for the turbine towers, may be the last to benefit.  By Zofeen Ebrahim

Turkey cuts Iran oil imports - Turkey is to slash its Iranian oil imports as it seeks exemptions from United States penalties linked to sanctions against Tehran. Less noticed, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, in the Iranian capital last week, signed deals aimed at doubling trade between the two countries.  By Robert M. Cutler

HUM HUMOR

"CLIMATE CHANGE: EVERYWHERE"

CARTOON: Peter Broelman, Australia/BROELMAN.com.au) "HILLARY ROUND THE WORLD"

(CARTOON: Taylor Jones/Politicalcartoons.com)

"HOW THE MIGHTY FALL"

(CARTOON: Michael Ramirez/Weekly Standard)

COUNTRIES AND TERRITORIES
WORLD CLOCKS
   
San Marino     Mongolia
   
Vancouver     Ghana
"THE GIRL EFFECT" - VIDEO

Advertisement

 

HUM SEARCH
@HUMNEWS ON TWITTER

`SUPPORT-A-REPORTER'

 Follow Me on Pinterest  Folo us on Pinterest.

Read some exciting news about our founder and FFI, here: http://bit.ly/12GJyXs

Are you a Global Citizen?Join us on GlobalCitizen.org to help end extreme poverty.

TRANSLATE HUMNEWS

THE HUM - OUR DAILY EMAIL OF WORLD HEADLINES
MY HUMPLANET

Do you have your eye on the world? Help us expand the global perspective and tell the stories that shape it.  SHARE what's happening locally, globally wherever you are, however you can. Upload your news, videos, pictures & articles HERE & we'll post them on  MY HUM PLANET CONNECT.  Learn something NEWS every day! THX

Advertisement

HUM BOOKS: Focus on FRIENDSHIP
  • Friendship in an Age of Economics: Resisting the Forces of Neoliberalism
    Friendship in an Age of Economics: Resisting the Forces of Neoliberalism
    by Todd May
  • Friends to the End: The True Value of Friendship
    Friends to the End: The True Value of Friendship
    by Bradley Trevor Greive
  • Friendship as a Way of Life: Foucault, AIDS, and the Politics of Shared Estrangement
    Friendship as a Way of Life: Foucault, AIDS, and the Politics of Shared Estrangement
    by Tom Roach
HUM SOCIAL GOOD

Learn more and join us here!

HUMNEWS SOCIAL MEDIA

  Look for HUMNEWS in the News Section of PULSE @www.pulse.me. For iPad, iPhone & Android-recently launched on deck for Samsung’s Galaxy tab.

Advertisement

HUM TWITTER FEEDS
10000 Women 9/11 9-11 92Y ABC News Abdel Futuh Abdoulaye Wade abductions Abidjan Abuja abyei Acapulco ACS Action Against Hunger ADB Adivasi Adjara adolescents Afghanistan Africa Africa Fashion Week Africa Human Development Report African Wax AFRICOM agriculture agrochemical Ahmad Ashkar Ai Weiwei aid Aid Effectiveness aid work aid workers AIDS Air Canada Air France airlines Aisha Gaddafi Alain Juppe Alan Fisher Alassane Ouattara Albania Albanians Alexandria Algeria Alina Vrejoiu Alliance of Small Island States al-Qaeda Amama Mbaba Amazon American Samoa Americas Amina Filali Amnesty International Amr Moussa ANC Andaman Islands Andes Andorra Angelina Jolie angola Anguilla Anna Hazare Ansar Dine Antarctica Antigua & Barbuda Antonio Guterres Antonio Patriota apartheid Apple Arab Spring Aral Sea Arctic Argentina Armenia Art Aruba ascetism ASEAN ASEM Asia Asia Pacific Asia Society Asian Development Bank Asylum Asylum-seekers Augusto Pinochet Aung San Suu Kyi Aurora Borealis Australia Autism Azawad Azerbaijan baby trafficking Baghdad Bahamas Bahrain Balkans Balthasar Garzon Baluchistan Ban Ki-moon Bangalore Bangkok BANGLADESH Barack Obama Barbados Bashar Assad Bashir Bashir al-Assad bats Beijing belarus Belgium BELIZE Belo Monte Benghazi Benin Berlusconi Bermuda Bettina Borgfeld Beyonce Bhutan Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation BILL GATES Bill McKibben bio fuel Bishkek Bitter Seeds black jails Boko Haram Bolivia Bono books Bosco Ntaganda Bosnia Bosnia-Herzegovina Botswana Bouthaina Kamel BRAC Brazil Brazilian government Brian Williams BRICS Britain British Indian Ocean Territory British Indian Territory British Virgin Islands broadband Bron Villet Bruce Springsteen Brunei Brunei Darussalam Bruno Pellaud Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burma Burundi Business Cairo Cambodia Cameroon Campesino Campesinos sin Terra Canada cancer Cape Town Cape Verde Carbon CARE Caribbean CARICOM Carlos Enrigue Garcia Gonzalez Carlos Travassos Cartagena Casablanca Catherine Ashton Catholic Relief Services Cayman Islands CBS Central Africa Central African Republic Central America Central Asia CGI Chad Charles Feeney Chernobyl Child Labor child labour child marriage child soldiers Children chile China China's Communist Party Chinese farmers Chocolate cholera Cholpan Nogoibaeva Christiane Amanpour Christianity Christmas Island CIDA CItigroup Citizen Ciudad Jarez climate climate change Clinton CLMV Countries cluster munitions CNN Cocos Island coffee Colombia Columbia University Commission for Africa Committee on World Food Security Committee To Protect Journalists commodities Commonwealth community-based organizations Comoros conflict Congo Congolese conservation consumer Contas River Contraception Cook Islands COP17 corruption Costa Rica Cote D'Ivoire cotton Council on Foreign Relations coup Cover The Night CPJ credit Crime Crimes Against Humanity crisis Croatia Cuba culture cyclone Cyprus Dadaab Dakar Damon Runyon Dan Lashof Dan Toole Darfur David Bernet David Von Kittelberger DDenmark Dear Kara Delhi democracy Democratic Republic of Congo demonstrations Dengue Fever Denmark dennis fentie Department of State depression Deraa Desmond Tutu developing countries development Diabetes Dilma Rousseff Disaster Risk disasters discrimination disease Diwali Djibouti Doctors without Borders Dominica Dominican Republic Dominique Strauss-Kahn DPKO DPRK Dr. Judy Dr. Judy Kuriansky Dr. Mark Welch Dr. William Gray DRC DRINKS drought Drug war Drugs Dubai Duncan McCargo Earth Hour Earthquake East Africa East Timor Easter Island Eastern Europe ECHO economy ECOSOC ECOWAS Ecuador Education Egypt Eid Eirene El Alto EL SALVADOR El Trabajo de Crecer Election elections electricity Elizabeth Okoro Ellen Johnson SIrleaf Emerging emerging markets energy Energy4All enough project environment Environmental Defense Fund equality Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia ethnic cleansing EU Eurasia EurasiaNet Europe European Union expats explosion Facebook Falkland Islands famine FAO FARC farmers Farming Faroe Islands FASHION Father Wismick Jean Charles Federated States of Micronesia Feeding America Felipe Calderon Femicide Fernando Lugo Festival FGM FIFA Fiji Fiji Islands Films finance Finland flood floods food food crisis food security Forbes Ford Foundation foreign aid foreign assistance foreign correspondents club of China Foreign Policy Forest Whitaker Foxconn France FRENCH GUIANA French Polynesia fuel Future G20 G8 Gabon Gabriel Elizondo Gaddafi Gambia Gandhi Ganges River Gangs Gao Gauteng Gaza Gbagbo GCC GDP Geena Davis Gender Genetically Modified Food Geneva Genocide George Clooney Georgia Germany Ghana Giants of Broadcasting Gibraltar Girl Effect Girls Giving Pledge Gladstone Harbour Glenn Ashton Global Compact Global Digital Solidarity Fund global food prices Global Fund Global Health Global Malaria Program Globalhealth Globalization GMO's GMO's India Golden Globes Goma Good Samaritan Center Goodluck Jonathan Google grassroots organizations Greece Greed Greenland Greg Mortenson Grenada GRIST GRULAC Guadeloupe Guam Guantanamo Guarani Guatemala Gucci Guinea Gulf of Aden GUYANA Habitat For Humanity Haiti Half the Sky Halloween Hamadoun-Toure Hamid Karzai Happiness Haze health Heglig Helen Wang Hershey hhuman rights Hillary Clinton Hindu HIV HIV/AIDS HIVAIDS Hoffman Hollywood Hollywood Foreign Press Association homosexuality Honduras hookah Horn of Africa Hotel Housing HSBC Hu Jintao Hubble Telescope Hugo Chavez Hult Global Case Challenge HUM Human Impact Institute human rights Human Rights Watch Human Rights Watch Film Festival human trafficking Human Unlimited Media Humanitarian humanitarian work HUMmingbirdz Hunger hurricane Hurricane Rina IAEA IAVI Ibrahim Azim ICC Iceland ICG ICRC IHL ILO IMF immigrants Immigration improved cook stoves Imran Garda India Indian Ocean Indians Indigenous Indonesia inequality information infrastructure Innocence of Muslims Innovation INSI International Aid international community International Criminal Court International Crisis Group international development International Human Rights Day International Labour Organization International Maritime Board International Red Cross Internet Internews Interpol investing investment Invisible Children IO IOC IOM IPad IPhone Iran Iraq IRC Ireland irrigation Islam Islamabad Islamic Broadcasting Union Islamic Republic of Iran Islamists Islamophobia Islands Israel Italy ITC ITU Ivory Coast IWD Jamaica Japan Jarvis Island Jason Russell Je Yang Camp Jerusalem Jerusalem Post Jezebel Jim Rogers Jody Williams Johannesburg John McCain John Prendergast JOIDES Resolution Jordan Jose Carlos Meirelles Jose Graziano Da Silva Joseph Kabila Joseph Kony journalism journalists Joyce Banda Jr Judy Kuriansky Julia Gillard Kachin State Kah Walla Kaingang Kano Karachi Karen Attiah Karl Marx Kashmir Kazakhstan kenya Kenya Airways kgb Khaled Said Kidal Kigali Kim Jong-il King Mswati Kiribati Koror Kosovo Kurdistan Workers' Party Kurds Kuwait Kyoto Treaty Kyrgyzstan La Nina Labuje camp Lagos landmines Laos Las Vegas latin america Latvia Laurent Gbagbo Laurie Garrett LDCs Lebanon Leslie Lane Lesotho Lesser Antilles Leyla Qasim LGBT Liberia Libya Liechtenstein Literacy Liu Changlong Liuxiazhuang London London Stock Exchange Louise Arbour LRA LTTE lukasenka LUNCH Luxembourg lybia M23 Macau Macedonia Madagascar Maggie Padlewska Maha Kumbh Mela Mahatma Gandhi Mahmoud Abbas Mahmoud Ahmadinejad malaria Malawi Malaysia maldives Mali malnutrition Malvinas Islands Manuel Zelaya Margaret Chan Marie Claire Marina Cue marine Mark Fitzpatrick Marrakesh Marshall Islands Martin Indyk Martin Luther King Martinique Marwan Bishara Mary Robinson MASERU Mashable Mastercard Foundation maternal health mauritania Mauritius Max Frisch Mayotte MDG Summit MDGs MDG's media Melanesia Melanesian Spearhead Group Memorial Day Memphis Mental Health Mercy Corps Mexican Red Cross mexico Mia Farrow Micha Peled Michael Bociurkiw Michelle Funk Micronesia micronutrient initiative micronutrients Middle East migrants migration Mike Hanna millennium development goals Mine Ban Treaty mining Misogyny Misrata Miss Universe Mississippi river Miyagi MLK Mogadishu Mohamed Cheikh Biadilah Mohammad Nasheed Mohammad Waheed Hassan Moldova Money Mongolia Mongolian Stock Exchange Monsanto Montenegro MONTSERRAT Morocco Mothers Mozambique Mr. Gay World MSF Mswati Mt. Merapi Muammar Gaddafi Mubarak Muhammed Munduruku Murder Musharraf Muslim Brotherhood Mustapha Erramid Myanmar MYUGANDA NAB Nahru Nairobi Namibia NASA Natalie Billon national congress party National Congress Party (NCP) National Democratic Force National Science Foundation NATO Natural Resources Defense Fund Nauru NBC News Nelson Mandella NEMA Nepal Netherlands Antilles Nevada New Caledonia New Jersey New York New Zealand NGO nicaragua Nicholas Kristof Nick Popow Niergai Nigel Fisher Niger Nigeria Nigerian elections Nike Nike Foundation Niue Nobel Nobel Women's Initiative Nokia Non-Aligned Movement North Africa North Kivu North Korea Northern Mexico Norway not on our watch Nuclear nuclear power plant Nutrition NYC OAS Obama OccupyNigeria Ocean Ocean Health Index oceans OCED OCHA OECD OHCHR Ohrid Framework Agreement OIC Oil Olena Sullivan OLPC Olympics Oman Omar al-Bashir Omar Suleiman One Laptop Per Child One Village Planet-Women's Development Initiative Oprah Organization of American States Organization of Islamic Countries Osama bin Laden OSCE Ouattara OXFAM Oxi P-5 Pacific Pacific Institute of Public Policy Pacific Island Forum Pacific Small Island Developing States Pakistan Palau Palestine Palestinian Liberation Organization Palestinians Palocci Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Parana Park Won Soon Paul Giannone Paul Kagame Paul Martin PDP Peace Peacekeepers Peacekeeping PEACEMEAL PEPFAR Perspective Peru philanthropy Philippines Pilay Piracy Pirates Pitcairn PKK PNG Pokuaa Busumru-Banson polio politics pollution Pope Benedict population Pork Port-au-Prince Porto Alegre Portugal poverty President Asif Zardari President Bingu wa Mutharika President Joseph Kabila President Karzai President Lee Myung-bak President Thein Sein Press Freedom Prime Minister Nikola Gruevski Prime Minister Shekh Hasina Wajed Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani Prince Zeid protests Proview Puerto Rico Putin Qatar Quetta rainforest Ramadan rape Rarotonga Ray Chambers RC Palmer Red Cross Reduction referendum refugees religion remittances Reporters Without Borders Reproductive Rights Republic of Congo Republic of South Sudan Reunion Island Richard Branson Richard Parsons Richard Pithouse Richmond Rick Steves Rio Branco Rio de Janeiro Rio Grande do Sul RIO+20 Robert Mugabe Robinah Alambuya Romania Ronit Avi Room to Read Rousseff Rowan Jacobsen Roxy Marosa Royal Air Maroc Russell Daisey Russia Rwanda S-5 SACMEQ sacsis Sahel Sahel NOW Saint Helena Island Salafists Saliem Fakir Salva Kiir Salvador Dali Samoa San Marino sanctions Sanitation Saudi Arabia Save the Children Savvy Traveller Scenarios From the Sahel ScenariosUSA security Security Council Senegal Senetable Seoul Serbia Sergio Vieira de Mello Seth Berkley sex trafficking Sexism sexual abuse Seychelles Sharia Sharks Shashi Tharoor Shirley Wessels shisha Shreeya Sinha Shrein Dewani Sierra Leone Sindh Singapore Skype Slovakia Slovenia smoking Social Good Summit social development social media Solar Solar Panels SolarAid Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South America South China Sea South Kordofan South Korea South Pacific South Sudan Southeast Asia Southern Kordofan Southern Sudan South-South cooperation South-Sudan Southwest Farm Press Soweto Soya Spain SPLA sports Sri Lanka St . Vincent & The Grenadines St Lucia St. Kitts and Nevis St. Maarten St. Vincent and the Grenadines Stand Up For Peace Project starvation statelessness steel StopRape Students Sub-Saharan Africa sudan sudan people's liberation movement Summitt of the Americas Superstorm Sandy Surfing SURINAME Sustainable development Svalbard Svalbard & Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syria Tahiti Taiwan Tajikistan Taliban Tanzania technology Ted Turner Tehran Terena terror Thailand Thaksin The Arab Spring The Bahamas The Caribbean The Carter Center The Elders The Enough Project The Gambia The Hunger Games The Marshall Islands the Middle East The Netherlands The Ocean Project the Philippines The Republic of South Sudan The Surfrider Foundation The Whistleblower theatre Thein Sein Themrise Khan Three Cups of Tea Tibet Tiger Tigers Tikki Pang Tim Hetherington Timbuktu Timor-Leste Tobacco Togo Toilets Tokelau Tom Schelling Tonga Tony Lake Toronto tourism trade Trademarks trafficking travel Trinidad & Tobago Trinidad and Tobago Tripoli tsunami Tuareg Tuberculosis Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks & Caicos Tuvalu Twitter Typhoon Bopha Typhoon Pablo UAE Uganda UK Ukraine UN UN Clean Development Mechanism UN Food and Agriculture Organization UN Foundation UN Peacekeepers UN Security Council un techo para mi pais UN Women UNAIDS UNCTAD UNDP UNEP UNESCO UNFCC UNFPA UNHabitat UNHCR unicef Union Solidarity and Development Party UNISDR United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United Nations United States United to End Genocide University of South Florida UNOCI UNRWA urbanization Uruguay US US Peace Corps US Supreme Court US Troops USA Uzbekistan Vancouver Vandana Shiva Vanuatu Vanuatu. Fiji Venezuela Vestergaard Vice President Joyce Banda Victoria Hazou Vidal Vega Vietnam Vii VIIPhotography Viktor Yanukovych Vladimir Putin Vladivostok Vlisco Vodafone volcano Walmart War Water West Africa West Bank Western Sahara WFP WHO wimax Wine Woman Women Women's Economic Opportunity World World AIDS Day World Bank World Cup World Economic Forum World Food Day World Food Prize World Food Programme World Health Assembly world hunger World Refugee Day WorldCup WTO WWF Xi Jinping Xingu Yemen Youssou N'dour Youth Youth Olympics YouTube Yoweri Museveni Yukon Yulia Tymoshenko Zambia Zimbabwe Zuma

HUM QR CODE

Entries in Children (10)

Monday
Dec172012

Philippines Passes Controversial Reproductive Health Bill - (REPORT) 

(Video: Kabayan LA)

(HN, December 17, 2012) - Today in the Philippines both the Senate and the House of Representatives backed a bill that has been debated for 13 years, and defied the powerful Roman Catholic Church to vote in favor of state-funded contraception.  Many women and supporters celebrated as news of the bill became known, though the two chambers passed slightly different versions of the bill, and they need to agree on a common version to put before President Benigno Aquino, who hopes to sign it into law by the end of the year.

This was the fourth attempt to pass a bill dealing with family planning issues in the heavily Catholic island nation with more than 80% of the population, 'religious'.  The last three bills were blocked by the Church and its political allies - including revered boxer-turned-congressman Manny Pacquiao - who say the law could corrupt `moral values'. They say they will continue to oppose the new bill.  

Supporters say it is a vital human rights measure in the impoverished country with one of the highest mortality rates in the region.  Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago, a key backer of the law, said that, despite the Church's opposition, "there is no force more powerful than an idea whose time has come".

Opposers such as Bishop Gabriel Reyes say, "What the Church will do is to continue instructing our people, telling them the evils of contraceptives".  "They should not accept it because contraceptives are not pro-poor. It's not pro-children or pro-family. It is harmful against women, children and family."

A government health survey in 2011 found that the maternal mortality rate had risen by 36% between 2006 and 2010. Many maternity hospitals are struggling to cope with the number of births - and the UN appealed to the Philippines earlier this year to pass the bill.

"An idea whose time has come" - (PERSPECTIVE)

 (PHOTO: Mothers stay with their babies at a ward of Jose Fabella maternity hospital in Manila, Sept 12, 2012/NewStraitsTimes)By Manila Times Today

What transpired in Congress on Monday showed us that our lawmakers can get something done if they really want to.

At the House of Representatives, the reproductive health bill was passed on third reading through a vote of 133 in favor, 79 against, with seven abstentions.

The Catholic bishops had vowed to put up a strong fight after their defeat - by a slimmer margin - last week, when 113 House members said yes to the RH bill and 104 said no. Over the weekend, letters were read to the Catholic faithful from their Church leaders who reiterated that the measure was intrinsically evil.  But no, the margin got even wider.

The bishops also hoped that the rabid opponents of the bill at the Senate would be able to sway their colleagues to block it upon second reading, also on Monday.  The public was treated to a last-ditch showcase of tired arguments, the usual  sanctimony and silly hairsplitting about sex having to be safe but not satisfying. There were also funny moments – like when a senator claimed to be the voice of the unborn child.

Nonetheless, the bill passed both second and third reading by a vote of  13-8.

Those belonging to the losing bloc insist that President Aquino dangled incentives to those who would vote in favor of the bill, or that the lawmakers who said yes to it were motivated by political gains.

They refused to acknowledge that support for the bill grew because of its own merit, not because of politics. Lawmakers crossed party lines in expressing their support or opposition to the bill.

Even the President was hesitant to show full support for the measure at the onset.  He tried to change its name to responsible parenthood and to forge a dialogue with the Catholic bishops.  He was not sure he could afford to alienate the men in robes who were his late mother’s staunchest allies.

(PHOTO: People rally outside congress in Manila on August 6, 2012 to press for the passage of the bill/Jay Directo)The battle has been noisy.  It has been put on the table and discussed in the public sphere. Filipinos listened, thought for themselves, formed their own opinion and made their voices heard by the lawmakers they elected to represent them.

The Catholic leaders say it is not over and they will bring the fight to other fora.  Their arrogance and self-righteousness have doomed them to downfall.

In the end, Senator Miriam Santiago, author of the Senate version of the measure, summed it up well when she quoted Victor Hugo, who said: “There is no force more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”

The struggle has been long. Monday’s vote is as historic as it has been overdue. Next on the agenda is making sure the RH Law’s lofty objectives are not frustrated by bungled implementation.

"Church unfazed, will fight up to Supreme Court" - (PERSPECTIVE)

(PHOTO: There has been angry campaigning from the Catholic church in the nation of 100 million, where 80% of the population are followers/AFP)By Vito Barcelo with Maricel V. Cruz

The Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines on Monday said its fight against the Reproductive Health bill was not yet over despite the bill’s approval on third and final reading in the House of Representatives on a vote of 133-79 with seven abstentions.

And voting 13-8, the Senators also approved the same bill, which had been certified as urgent by President Benigno Aquino III, on third and final reading. The RH bill aims to guarantee universal access to the methods of contraception, fertility control, sexual education and maternal health care.

“We will continue the fight in other fora, to the Supreme Court and in the level of individual conscience,” Malolos Bishop Jose Oliveros said.  “We have many allies at the Senate and we believe that their conscience will be their guiding principle in rejecting the RH bill”. He said they would be issuing a pastoral letter on Tuesday to be read in all the parishes nationwide.

“The RH bill is a major attack on authentic human values and on Filipino cultural values regarding human life that all of us have cherished since time immemorial,” Olivers said.

“Our position stands firmly on two of the core principles commonly shared by all who believe in God. As religious leaders we must proclaim this truth fearlessly in season and out of season.”

House Minority Leader Danilo Suarez and Batangas Rep. Mark Leandro Mendoza, both critics of the RH bill, said many of their colleagues “had succumbed to the pressure by Malacañang.”

(PHOTO: Nuns protesting in Manila/CatholicTimes)Legazpi Bishop Joel Baylon said the 104 congressmen who initially voted No to the RH bill on December 12 during its second reading were “witnesses in This Year of Faith.” 

“They voted according to the dictate of their faith; we can verily recognize them as witnesses in this Year of Faith.”  Pope Benedict XVI declared Oct. 11, 2012 to Nov. 24, 2013 as the Year of Faith.

Saranggani Rep. Manny Pacquiao said his crushing boxing defeat to Juan Manuel Marquez two days before the vote on the RH bill strengthened his opposition to it.

On Monday, Catholic youth groups questioned President Benigno Aquino’s anti-corruption campaign because of his support for the RH bill. “The bill contains excellent provisions, but it is rather like a cold soft drink with a drop of poison,” the groups said. “That poison is its provision on contraception. The RH bill seeks to subsidize the enjoyment of sex without the corresponding responsibilities that it entails.”

- These reports are assembled from The Straits Times, The Manila Standard, Catholic News and the BBC.

Tuesday
Aug212012

Bolivia's Children Face Harsh Work in Young Lives (REPORT) 

(Video: Bolivia children work long days in mines/UNICEF)

(8/21/21) - "I have worked as long as I can remember," says Felix Mamani Mayta, a 14-year-old whose life story illustrates an everyday reality for 850,000 children and adolescents in Bolivia.

Felix, who is still in school, began with small jobs in retail and later as a bicycle delivery boy for his family's business, a combination ice cream shop and meat and poultry distributor.

Witty and full of energy, Felix is a board member of the Union of Boys and Girl Workers of Bolivia, an advocacy group that lobbies Congress and municipal councils for legal protections for children.

The group lobbies "so that working girls and boys have a place in society, so that all children and adolescents are taken into account, so that we are listened to as children," he told AFP.

(PHOTO: El Alto, Bolivia/Wikipedia) Franz Rios Apaza is 13 years old and sells cigarettes in the streets of El Alto, a city bordering La Paz and one of the poorest in the country.

"I began working when I was seven," he said. He worked as a bus driver's assistant, and shined shoes, and any other work he could find.

"I don't have a father, only a mother, and we are three brothers," he said. "I am in school. I go in at seven in the evening and get out at 10 at night, and from there I go sell cigarettes until two or three in the morning."

"I earn 50 bolivianos (about seven dollars) on Fridays and Saturday, when I make more money."

Child labor "is a problem of poverty, not only in Bolivia, but in developing countries," said UNICEF's representative in La Paz, Marco Luigi Corsi, adding that there are no easy solutions.

The United Nations Children's Fund estimates that 850,000 children between the ages of five and 17 in Bolivia work and believes that it puts them at physical and psychological risk.

UNICEF, the Bolivian government and non-governmental organizations have identified 23 categories of child labor that all agree are dangerous.

They include work harvesting sugar cane and chestnuts in the lowlands and the Amazon basin, and mining in the Andean highlands.

In a country of 10 million people "there are about 300,000 who are dedicated full time to some form of child labor and between 40 and 60 percent in Bolivia are likely involved in the worst forms of child labor," says UNICEF spokesman Wolfgang Friedl.

"Bolivia is in a worrying situation, but there is recognition among legislators and government officials that the international laws and conventions to eradicate child labor must be fulfilled," he said.

(PHOTO: Jose Gonzales, 14, pushes a wheelbarrow with silver ore along a shaft in a mine in Bolivia in 2010/AFP)Marco de Gaetano, coordinator of an NGO called El Trabajo de Crecer, which operates in Bolivia and Peru, says the goal is to end all forms of exploitation of minors.

"We are betting on the dignity of labor and the elimination of the worst forms of labor," he said.

Despite this, many child workers in Bolivia, especially those involved in commerce, believe they have been strengthened by their experience.

"Most people think that work is something bad, but on the contrary, for us it was a source of experience," said Felix, who said that as a bus driver's assistant he needed to know fractions to make change.

Tania Nava, head of the local municipality's child welfare office, is skeptical of the benefits. "There is an unresolved debate over whether children should work or not," she said.

"Families, for reasons of poverty, are obliged to have all their members work," she said. However there is unanimous agreement that children deserve access to health, education, dignity and to be protected against exploitation and the worst forms of child labor.

-- This article first appeared on France 24.

Sunday
Apr082012

No money no summer camps for Gaza kids (REPORT) 

(PHOTO: UNRWAThe United Nations agency for Palestinian refugees is cancelling its annual summer camps for children in the Gaza Strip, saying it has failed to raise enough money.

"It was decided to stop the Summer Games programme in the Gaza Strip for 2012 due to not having received sufficient funding from donors, that is $9.9 million (7.5 million euros)," said Adnan Abu Hasna, spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA), in Gaza.

He said that UNRWA had received pledges of $3.3 million, "but that's not enough to cover expenses. That's why we decided to allocate these funds to basic humanitarian services and resume the games in 2013 if we get the necessary financial support," he said.

UNRWA's "Summer Games" programme caters to around 250,000 children at 1,200 sites in the Gaza Strip during six weeks of summer holidays.

Last year and in 2010 campsites were vandalised by unknown attackers but activities still carried on.

The attacks were blamed on Muslim extremists who view the camps as a symbol of Western corruption because boys and girls mingle freely.

Abu Hasna said that the cancellation of this year's events was a blow to the children and to around 9,000 older Palestinian youths who would have had summer jobs helping to run the camps.

UNRWA cares for nearly five million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, including more than one million in Hamas-ruled Gaza.

- This article originally appeared in Middle East Online

Tuesday
Feb072012

Sweeter Kisses? Hershey Commits to Fair Trade, Responsible Cocoa, Uses Innovative Technology 

(HN, 2/7/2012) -- Last week The Hershey Company announced it was expanding its programs to improve living standards and supply chain efficiencies for cocoa producing communities in West Africa by investing $10 million over the next five years.  By 2017, the Company says its public and private partnerships will directly benefit 750,000 African cocoa farmers and over two million people in cocoa communities across the region by focusing on two important groups – cocoa farmers and those they say who `love Hershey’s products’.

HUMNEWS spoke with Andy McCormick, VP of Public Affairs for The Hershey Company about the investment and what it would mean to Hershey’s farmers.  McCormick, who grew up in Pennsylvania and now leads Communications, PR and Corporate Social Responsibility efforts for the Company has also worked in Ghana as a U.S. Peace Corps volunteer and knows West Africa well.  He calls his tenure at Hershey’s a `happy coincidence’.   McCormick also serves on the boards of the World Cocoa Foundation and the International Cocoa Initiative – both global bodies designed to regulate and offer solutions in cocoa production.

Hershey’s announcement comes 10 years since major international chocolate companies, including Hershey, committed to ending child labor, forced labor and trafficking in their cocoa supply chain by signing the Harkin-Engel Protocol, commonly known as the Cocoa Protocol in September 2001.  A decade later, although both Hershey and its public and private partners have invested in developing new agricultural practices that are helping West African farmers double the yield on their cocoa farms, which in turn increases their family’s income - hundreds of thousands of children continue to labor in hazardous conditions in West Africa, particularly in the Ivory Coast and Ghana.

The US Department of Labor has also noted five West African nations which may still be producing cocoa tainted by forced and/or child labor. To address the problem they’ve created a partnership which includes Hershey as well as other partners include USAID, USDA, Cote d’Ivoire Cocoa Committee, numerous local and global NGOs, and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, called the Framework of Action to significantly reduce the worst forms of child labor in Ghana and the Ivory Coast by 2020.  

(PHOTO: A female cocoa farmer/SOURCETRUST)By making its pledge last week, Hershey is following on other initiatives in recent years that it and other major cocoa producers have committed to in order to clean up the cocoa industry.  UNICEF estimates 600,000 children work on cocoa farms in Ivory Coast and that 35,000 are victims of trafficking;  children carrying machetes or pesticide equipment used in cocoa work has been widely reported on.

McCormick acknowledges that, We are a growing global business and we have had criticism in the past. But, we try to listen constructively and are working to strike a balance between our business strategy and our values, and we keep learning.”  He goes on to say, “At Hershey we’ve already been working to address child labor issues in West Africa, and we all recognize that more needs to be done.”  

The Company has formed partnerships with the Rainforest Alliance, UTZ Certified, and Fair Trade Certified and commits to production of `certified cocoa’, which Eric Servat of the Rainforest Alliance’s cocoa program says, “Is almost doubling every year”.   

“Certified cocoa is currently under 2% of the market,” says Andy McCormick, “But it’s growing by a large margin and we believe that by 2020 that will increase to about 15-20% of market share”. 

All of the certification partners require farmers to comply with International Labor Organization standards, which includes a ban on child labor.

In fact, chocolate is big business and accounts for an annual $83 billion in global sales.  Certified cocoa is actually worth more and growers can make $0.10 more per kilogram for certified cocoa, but it’s just a start for poor farmers who often don’t have enough money to even send their children to school.

(PHOTO: A cocoa farmer in Ghana using Cocoalink/Hershey) Hershey, a 100 year old company and one of the world’s leading chocolate companies, has worked with farmers and development organizations for more than 50 years and Andy McCormick says, “Because cocoa farms are family farms where on average 5 family members work and live, improving farming methods to be more modern, sustainable and safe will increase West African cocoa output by 50%; increasing family income.  In turn, doing so will increase school attendance and improve community health”.

Addressing the needs of cocoa farmers and the chocolate producing supply chain is becoming not just a humanitarian issue but also is necessary action due to the impact of climate change on growers.  Global cocoa production is primarily done by the 10 member countries of COPAL (The Cocoa Producers Alliance) - namely Brazil, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Dominican Republic, Gabon, Ghana, Malaysia, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe and Togo who account for approximately 75% of total world cocoa production; almost 70% in West Africa alone grown on 2 million small family farms.  The crop is labor-intensive and only grows in equatorial climates.

Hershey’s Andy McCormick says that, “Climate change has been causing desertification in parts of West Africa where cocoa is grown, and as the desert squeezes out fertile lands – in Ghana in particular – that’s starting to have an impact on harvests. We are talking with the farmers about this and about varieties of cocoa which grow more efficiently by instituting new programs”.  He adds, “Weekly rainfall moves the cocoa market right now”.  

Cocoa prices have risen since the start of the year by almost 15% with some of the highest prices seen since 1977, as the annual weather phenomenon called the `Harmattan’ - which brings a dry, dusty and cold trade wind in West Africa from the Sahara desert to the Gulf of Guinea from the end of November to the middle of March - has been most severe this year.  Though, meteorological forecasts show that the Harmattan will dissipate shortly and the rainy season will begin.

(PHOTO: Cocoa farmers in Ghana/Hershey)One such innovative program aimed at addressing farmer’s growth needs is CocoaLink. Started in 2011 in Ghana by Hershey, the World Cocoa Foundation, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD), the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG), Dream Oval and World Education, CocoaLink leverages Ghana's mobile phone infrastructure (almost 80% saturation) to connect more than 8,000 cocoa farmers and community members in 15 villages with practical agricultural and social information that will help them increase their incomes and improve their livelihoods. The program has the potential to reach more than 100,000 by 2014.

Farmers and community leaders receive, at no charge, voice and SMS text messages that include information on improving farming practices, farm safety, child labor, health, crop disease prevention, post-harvest production and crop marketing.  Farmers can also share their own information and receive answers to specific cocoa-farming questions from peers and experts.

In October of last year Hershey said it would enhance CocoaLink to include information about disease prevention and would provide cell phones and solar chargers for women farmers in rural villages by partnering with the nonprofit organization Malaria No More to leverage CocoaLink to help save lives and decrease malaria deaths in Africa by 2015.   The Company instituted an internal smart phone recycling program, collecting more than 500 smart phones no longer being used by Hershey’s U.S. employees and redeployed them to women across Ghanaian cocoa communities.  Ghana accounts for about 20% of world cocoa production, making it the country’s single largest non-oil foreign exchange earner beside oil.

Last week in making its announcement Hershey said it would expand the CocoaLink program to farmers in the Ivory Coast to further grow crop yields, provide education and support to farmers, their families and communities.  The Ivory Coast is the source of more than 1/3 of the world's cocoa supply and has approximately 600,000 cocoa farmers; industry data indicates that about half are already using mobile phones.  Cocoa makes up 15% of Ivory Coast’s GDP and 40% of its export revenues. Hershey’s initiative adds to the eight-month-old government's plan to overhaul the cocoa industry in the country and is a condition for debt relief from the International Monetary Fund.

In its latest output report on the sector, Marex Spectron a London based analyst group said that world 2011-2012 cocoa output will be short 94,000 tons, which is a change from its November estimate of a small global surplus.  Not all of this impact is due to climate change however, though Marex noted weather conditions in December and January in Ivory Coast and Ghana were dry compared to a much wetter 2010-2011 season which saw a record cocoa surplus of 417,000 tons.  Much higher cocoa demand globally is also driving production needs – and inevitably will increase costs for chocolate products.  Hershey has said its own costs should remain higher in 2012 and recently raised prices on its candies.

(PHOTO: Learning about cocoa farming/Hershey) The International Cocoa Organization estimates that Asian demand for chocolate would grow 10% in 2012, with strong growth in China, Indonesia and India; with Europe remaining the world’s largest cocoa buyer.

This is why in making its announcement last week, Hershey also established the `Hershey Learn to Grow’ farm program along with its partner Source Trust. Launching in Ghana the initiative will provide local farmers with information on best practices in sustainable cocoa farming as growth in demand intensifies, and consumers call for more responsible growing standards.  For example by supplying farmers with technologies such as high-yield seedlings, better planting and pruning practices, organic fertilization and biocontrol of insect pests, farmers can increase output and therefore, income – even while climate change takes hold.  

Additionally, the effort will create a farmer and family development center in the heart of Ghana’s central cocoa region where during the day the schoolchildren will use the computer lab for learning and in the evening the farmers will use the lab for cocoa learning. Hershey is also working with technology partner Cisco to use `telepresence’ for distance education purposes.

The initiative will involve more than 5,000 cocoa community members, more than 1,000 farm families, establish 25 community-based farmer organizations and will build technology centers that will be used to teach improved agricultural, environmental, social and business practices; provide access to planting materials as well as finance for farm inputs; and support GPS mapping of farm acreage so that farmers will use the right amount of fertilizers and pesticides for maximum yield and sustainability - with the goal to double productivity yield and farm income over four years.

(PHOTO: Cocoa farming/Hershey) By doing this Hershey hopes to assist the Government of Ghana to meet the goals of Ghana’s 2009-2015 National Plan of Action for the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labor (WFCL), associated with achieving the international Millennium Development Goals by 2015. 

“Creating sustainability throughout our supply chain is our goal,” says Andy McCormick. “Milton Hershey was a master of building business and we know that you’re only as successful as the communities you’re in.  Our future is intimately connected to the growing regions and people we work with. Our scientists and farmers are excited to be working on the ground together to make things better.”

Further says McCormick, “The issue of rural youth and their job prospects-we think our interaction with farmers, school systems and young people to `skill build’ can really make a long term positive contribution to kids’ lives and we’re very excited about playing a constructive role”.

Consumers win too as Hershey will address their demands to bring to market for the first time, 100% Rainforest Alliance certified chocolate products later this year.  The first sweet treats will be the Hershey’s Bliss® chocolate bar available in the United States; and later Latin America and Africa where the Company is working with the Rainforest Alliance to source cocoa from certified farms for Hershey’s premium brand, Dagoba®.

Rainforest Alliance Certified farms have met comprehensive sustainability standards that protect the environment and ensure the safety and well-being of workers, their families and communities. Additionally, Rainforest Alliance inspectors will monitor and audit practices on farms supplying certified beans to Hershey, to include instances of unsafe or illegal child labor and use training programs to increase school attendance. These programs will be coordinated with industry and government initiatives.

Hershey made their investment announcement just days before a planned protest group which included the The International Labor Rights Forum and was started last year by Change.org called the `Raise the Bar, Hershey! Campaign’ which was to run a high profile commercial challenging Hershey’s labor practices during the US Super Bowl Game after collecting over 100,000 petition signatures.

In a statement, the group said, `This commitment is a welcome first step for Hershey to improve its supply chain accountability. This commitment also demonstrates that The Hershey Company acknowledges the severity of the labor abuses that taint the West African cocoa sector and the members of the Raise the Bar, Hershey! Campaign congratulate Hershey on this first step to achieve greater supply chain accountability and hope that it will be the beginning of comprehensive supply chain traceability and certified child-labor free Hershey chocolate products.’

In making the commitment to better global cocoa standards Hershey Company President and CEO, J.P. Bilbrey, said, “Hershey is extending our commitment with new programs to drive long-term change in cocoa villages where families will benefit from our investments in education, health and economic opportunities. Our global consumers want The Hershey Company to be a leader in responsible business practices and in finding smart ways to benefit cocoa communities. We are excited and humbled by this opportunity to create positive change in West Africa”.

Hershey says it will regularly update its progress on these programs through its Corporate Social Responsibility public reporting.   

Will all of this mean sweeter `Kisses’? Stay tuned…..

----Joy DiBenedetto, HUMNEWS

Thursday
Feb022012

Children put their mark on the drafting of Turkey`s new constitution

By Lely Djuhari

(PHOTO: UNICEF Regional Director, UNICEF Turkey Representative at the children consultation/UNICEF Turkey-Oktay Ustun)ANKARA, Turkey 1 February, 2012 — Turkey is at pivotal point in the country`s history. Parliamentarians are poised to make fundamental changes to their constitution and children will have a rare chance to leave their stamp on it.

A two-day consultation, Children`s Opinion on the Process for a New Consultation,  began this week bringing together 162 children from child rights committees from all provinces, organized by the Ministry of Family and Social Policy, the Parliament and UNICEF Turkey.

The new constitution will influence the country`s future as a thriving democracy. Amendments could pave the way to greater freedom of expression. It will change the relationship between the judiciary and political parties. It will also allow the president and parliament to have a say in the composition of the constitutional court - the final port of call when challenging laws in a country.

Academics, non-governmental organizations, disadvantaged groups have already submitted their opinions in the process which started last year. This inclusive dialogue did not occur the previous time the charter was drawn up.

Sevval Lafçi and Mirkan Özdemir, child committee representatives, will present on Thursday the results of the children`s discussions to Cemil Çiçek, Speaker of the Turkish Parliament.

In doing so, Turkey will be one of the few countries in the world where children were consulted in the drafting of a constitution, the basis of all national and sub-national laws.

“We want the government to set their policy with child rights at the centre,” 16-year-old Sevval said. “Getting child rights into the Constitution will make it easier to for us to advocate for children`s right in laws and making sure that resources are given.”

Turkey is a country of 74 million people, of which slightly less than a third is under the age of 18. With a vibrant economy, it is a nation eager to influence regional and global affairs.

“We need to have a constitution that includes the voices of all people. In the past, our constitutions were drafted during times of hardship. This is the first time that we are able to do it during peacetime. We need to capture the spirit of these new times,” said Fatma Şahin, Minister of Family and Social Policies, whose office is responsible for facilitating child participation.

(PHOTO: UNICEF Reg. Dir. Marie-Pierre Poirier speaking. Child rights advocates, Sevval Lafçi & Mirkan Özdemir, stand behind her/UNICEF Turkey-Oktay Ustun)Speaking at her first public event as the new UNICEF Regional Director for Central and Eastern Europe and Commonwealth of Independent States, Marie-Pierre Poirier, said: “In every part of the world, UNICEF supports legislative reforms that are geared to bringing domestic law in alignment with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.”

She outlined the importance of incorporating the Convention of the Rights of the Child, particularly its four basic principles: non-discrimination, the best interest of the child, the right to live, survival and development and respect of the views of the child.

 “I extend my wholehearted congratulations to the Government of Turkey for having accomplished this invaluable work. The lesson I take from today is inspirational. I will take this as an example to the Governments of Europe and Central Asia of what can be achieved through children participating in the future,” she said.

UNICEF Turkey has been working to empower youth to take on a more active role as citizens. Child rights committees, which meet at least one or several times a year at the province and national level, have been established since 2000 to help young people fight for the rights of the most vulnerable children.

Some children - especially poorer children in rural and eastern areas - are still missing out on the health, nutrition and education enjoyed by others. Tens of thousands of children of primary school age are still out of school, partly due to late starting. Hundreds of thousands are frequently absent and – particularly in the case of girls - may be in danger of dropping out. In remote, predominantly rural areas and fast-growing urban districts, the education and health services may be inadequately equipped and staffed.

Berkay Saygin, another child advocate familiar with these issues, is trying to help others understand how important the constitution is for children.

“Many of my friends don`t understand what child rights are, let alone why a constitution is important for them,” he said with a grin. He recounted the many times he was branded as “uncool and boring” when he brought up the subject during class breaks or lunch times.  “It`s exciting to see this issue on TV and in the newspapers,” he added. “The more I learn about it, the more I want to understand how it impacts my life.”

“Many adults, even some teachers, ask me why am I getting involved in this? I am `just` a child. Getting these principles into the constitution, that children can give their opinion on things which matter to us, gives me the power to answer back. It`s a starting point,” he said.

-- Lely Djuhari is a UNICEF communications specialist whose focus is on child rights in Eastern Europe, South Caucaus and Central Asia.  You can follow her on Twitter at @LelyDjuhari.

Thursday
Jun162011

On Their Annual Day African Children Remain Extremely Vulnerable (NEWS BRIEF)

A young boy in Burundi. CREDIT: HUMNEWS(HN, June 16, 2011) As the Day of the African Child is commemorated across the continent today, millions of young people face deadly threats, ranging from pneumonia and malaria to HIV and AIDS and domestic violence.

There are thousands of children under 18 languishing in jails from Nigeria to Burundi - either housed with adults or incarcerated without trial or proper legal representation.

The best laid plans of donors and governments have, in some instances, have failed to reach targets.

For example, despite the distribution of millions of bed nets, for example, in many African countries - including Nigeria and Burundi - malaria will be far from eradication by the UN goal of 2015.

In countries such as Lesotho, almost one in four people are living with HIV and an estimated 17 percent are aged 15-24.

In Africa, sexual violence is a daily reality for girls. A recent Swaziland study documents that about one third of adolescent girls under the age of 18 have stated that they have been victims of sexual violence by boyfriends, husbands and/or male relatives. Most of the violence takes place in the home, or close by in neighborhoods or at school.

There are bright spots on this day that deserve acknowledgement. The incredible efforts of such institutions as the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has translated into the near eradication of polio in the four remaining endemic countries: Nigeria, India, Pakistan and Afghanistan.

And across the continent, more children are receiving free primary education than ever before.

In Burundi, a visionary project operated by CARE and funded by the Nike Foundation has provided micro credit, small business grants to adolescent girls who have fallen into poverty due to early pregnancy and other reasons.

- HUMNEWS correspondent in East Africa

Friday
Feb252011

Adolescents Neglected and Vulnerable Group - UNICEF (Report)

(HN, February 25, 2011) - While the world has seen impressive gains for young children, there have been too few gains in areas critically affecting adolescents.'The State of the World's Children 2011,' which is dedicated to investing in the development of adolescents to help break the cycles of poverty and inequity

More than seventy million adolescents of lower secondary age are currently out of school, and on a global level girls still lag behind boys in secondary school participation.

The findings are contained in the State of the World's Children Report (SOWC) - the flagship publication of the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) released today. There are currently 1.2-billion adolescents - which the UN defines as anyone 10-19 years old - in the world today, and most are in Africa.

The demographic group has become much more visible due to the "youth bulge" in most regions - especially the Middle East and North Africa. Many find that by the time they reach working age, there are no jobs or few opportunities for waiting for them.

In fact, the continent has the largest proportion of children, adolescents and young people in the world. Almost half its population is younger than 18 years and almost two-thirds are younger than 25 years.

In Nairobi, UNICEF's regional director for eastern and southern Africa, Elhadj As Sy, said: "As the gap between rich and poor, men and women, urban and rural keeps widening, and inequality generates a 'nothing to lose' generation, paying more attention to adolescents and young people is especially critical for the African nations. ."

The report argues that without education, adolescents cannot develop the knowledge and skills they need to navigate the risks of exploitation, abuse and violence that are at height during the second decade of life.

In Brazil for example, UNICEF says the lives of 26,000 children under one were saved between 1998 and 2008, leading to a sharp decrease in infant mortality. In the same decade 81,000 Brazilian adolescents aged 15-19 were murdered.

“We need to focus more attention now on reaching adolescents -- especially adolescent girls -- investing in education, health and other measures to engage them in the process of improving their own lives," said UNICEF Executive Director Tony Lake.

The vast majority of today’s adolescents (88 per cent) live in developing countries. Many face a unique set of challenges. Although adolescents around the world are generally healthier today than in the past, many  health risks remain significant, including injuries, eating disorders, substance abuse and mental health issues; it is estimated that around 1 in every 5 adolescents suffers from a mental health or behavioural problem, according to the SOWC.

With 81 million young people out of work globally in 2009, youth unemployment remains a concern in almost every country. An increasingly technological labour market requires skills that many young people do not possess. This not only results in a waste of young people’s talents, but also in a lost opportunity for the communities in which they live, UNICEF says. In many countries large teenage populations are a unique demographic asset that is often overlooked. By investing in adolescent education and training, countries can reap a large and productive workforce, contributing significantly to the growth of national economies.

Adolescents face numerous global challenges both today and in the future, among them the current bout of economic turmoil, climate change and environmental degradation, explosive urbanization and migration, aging societies, the rising costs of healthcare, and escalating humanitarian crises.

“Adolescence is a pivot point – an opportunity to consolidate the gains we have made in early childhood or risk seeing those gains wiped out,” said Lake.

The choice of adolescents for this year's SOWC is a departue from UNICEF's long-standing focus on child survival - child and maternal health. UNICEF argues impressive gains have been made in that phase of the life cycle. UNICEF says there has been a 33% drop in the global under-five mortality rate.

"This shows that many more young lives have been saved, in most of the world ‘s regions girls are almost as likely as boys to go to primary school, and millions of children now benefit from improved access to safe water and critical medicines such as routine vaccinations."

Adolescents face numerous global challenges both today and in the future, UNICEF says, among them the current bout of economic turmoil, climate change and environmental degradation, explosive urbanization and migration, aging societies, the rising costs of healthcare, and escalating humanitarian crises.

To enable adolescents to effectively deal with these challenges, targeted investments in the following key areas are necessary:

  • Improving data collection to increase the understanding of adolescents’ situation and meet their rights;
  • Investing in education and training so that adolescents have the means to lift themselves out of poverty and contribute to their national economies;
  • Expanding opportunities for youth to participate and voice their opinion, for example in national youth councils, youth forums, community service initiatives, online activism and other avenues which enable adolescents to make their voices heard.
  • Promoting laws, policies and programs that protect the rights of  adolescents and enable them to overcome barriers  to essential services;
  • Stepping up the fight again poverty and inequity through child sensitive programs to prevent adolescents from being prematurely catapulted into adulthood.

- HUMNEWS staff, UNICEF

Tuesday
Oct192010

LUNCH: The Film 

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsfree video player

(HN, October 19, 2010) – Wrapping up our look at hunger and malnutrition in honor of World Food Day, HUMNEWS’ presents, “LUNCH: The Film”.  Produced by Filmmaker Avis Richards, Founder of Bird’s Nest Productions and the Bird’s Nest Foundation, LUNCH explores the pervasively unhealthy food which the US school lunch program provides to children in the public school system.  This lack of quality can lead to malnourishment and disease, even if children are stuffed full of empty calories.  Healthy food is the right of all the world’s population. 

About LUNCH

As nation-wide funding for school cafeterias rapidly decreases and high-calorie, low-nutrient meals have become order of the day, our nation's children are being afflicted by a slew of diet-based diseases from high-blood pressure and cholesterol to diabetes and obesity. In LUNCH, a revealing documentary short, director Avis Richards investigates the causes and the consequences of “growing up in a junk-food culture.” Through numerous on-site interviews with food workers, doctors, educators, and students, LUNCH provides a candid, penetrating, and disturbing account of the National School Lunch Program's failure to promote the proper dietary habits to ensure our youth's physical, social, and psychological well-being. The documentary also explores viable alternatives to the hamburger hegemony, talking with farmers and other community leaders about their efforts to put locally-grown, whole foods back on the menu and make diet and nutrition a core part of every school's educational model. LUNCH serves up an eye-opening account of a national crisis and its potential solutions, a film that should interest anyone concerned about the future of our students and our society.

Storyline

LUNCH is a short documentary exploring the effects of the National School Lunch Program on America’s children today in schools and seeks to shed light on the current situation through candid interviews with doctors, teachers, farmers and various specialists.

The National School Lunch Program feeds some 28 Million children who eat 1 and sometimes 2 meals a day at school. Sadly the food that is served to them too often resembles fast food. The effects are far reaching.

Statistics have shown that kids today will have a lower life expectancy than their parents. Many doctors have had no training in diagnosing adult onset diabetes in younger patients. In 2007 the total cost of diabetes treatment was $174 Billion and that is only expected to rise as more and more people are diagnosed everyday.

One of the major problems is that parents, students, and even school administrators do not pay attention to poor food quality. Ironically even fast food chains have to supply information on what they are serving. So why isn’t that the case with our schools?

With a school system underfunded and a school food surplus sold in bulk and “on the cheap”, the results have been the downsizing of proper kitchen in school cafeterias to the point where pre-made fast food style lunches are the only meals available. This is a recipe for disaster and it is having an adverse effect not only on kid’s health, but it is teaching kids to identify food as being fast food and the result goes beyond heath and weight issues but to self-esteem and abilities to function properly in classrooms. From healthcare to national test average scores, everything is tied to what we eat.

The most common argument that children will not eat healthy food however many in the field disagree with this statement and say its simply a matter of making nutritional food available to them. The film explores how some schools, dubbing themselves as “Green Schools” such as Hamstead Hill Academy in Baltimore, have made nutrition a core part of their educational model. From school garden to cooking classes these schools have taught children to make healthy choices by including them in the preparation of their own meals.

The film also targets a broader range of social issues beyond school and healthcare touching on economics where the importance of locally grown produce in the Baltimore school system has lead to a partnership with Great Kids Farm. Not only does this farm supply produce for the school system but it also educates kids on where their food comes from and offers affordable alternatives to the expensive national distribution plan current in existence. Farms like Great Kids Farm not only create jobs locally but studies have shown that small farms, which use their soil to grow a variety of multiple produce are far more effective than their larger monocropping farm counterparts.

There is a national movement in the US to build a real connection to the food we eat starting with local farmers and schools all the way to Michelle Obama’s white House garden all to show that people don’t need a big farm to have a positive impact on each other and on America.

Production Notes

The idea for LUNCH was born when producer and director Avis Richards realized that our country’s National School Lunch Program was not working and decided to do something about it. With Earth Day Network's input, Avis embarked on a year-long research process. Once she analyzed and understood the issue, she decided to share her findings in a film that would not only expose the problem but also recommend solutions.

Traveling from Boston to New York to Washington D.C. to Baltimore, Avis and her team interviewed medical doctors, teachers, chefs, school directors, food producers, volunteers, and others from various walks of life to ensure that documentary would feature various opinions.

As they compiled interviews, their passion for the subject grew stronger and they became motivated to create a piece that would create impact both the general public and policy makers, so that children across the country may have access to healthy meals on a daily basis, and more importantly, that they can learn the importance of a healthy diet, a lesson that will last a lifetime.

SOME STATISTICS:

■  The US Child Nutrition Act, which supplies breakfast and lunch to some 31 million students = $12 billion annually.

■  The US elementary school lunches average 821 calories per lunch.

■  80% of US schools do not meet the USDA standards for fat composition.

■  Children who consume US school lunches are about 2% more likely to be obese than those who brown bag their lunches.

■  Soda vending machines are present in 43% of elementary schools, 74% of middle schools and nearly all of high schools.”

■  Nutrition requirements for school lunches: “Current regulations require schools to meet the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which recommend that no more than 30 percent of an individual's calories come from fat, and less than 10 percent from saturated fat. Regulations also establish a standard for school meals to provide one-third of the Recommended Daily Allowances of protein, Vitamin A, Vitamin C, iron, calcium, and calories.”

■  “The National School Lunch Program gets about 15 to 20 percent of its food from the federal government each year, the paper says, with beef and chicken making up a big portion of the largess. But the meat received from the USDA receives far less testing for contamination than it would be by fast-food outlets that have had past troubles.”

■  “Most public schools offer students a government-subsidized lunch that is supposed to adhere to certain fat, caloric and nutritional standards. 20% of schools also sell branded fast foods such as Pizza Hut and Little Caesars pizza or McDonald's burgers and fries, according to a 2000 study of school health policies and programs by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

■  According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 16 percent of children (over 9 million) 6-19 years old are overweight or obese -- a number that has tripled since 1980.
For children born in the United States in 2000, the lifetime risk of being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes at some point in their lives is estimated to be about 30 percent for boys and 40 percent for girls. ("Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance, 2005," Institute of Medicine.)

■  In case reports limited to the 1990s, Type 2 diabetes accounted for 8 to 45 percent of all new pediatric cases of diabetes, in contrast with fewer than 4 percent before the 1990s.  ("Preventing Childhood Obesity: Health in the Balance, 2005," Institute of Medicine.)

■  By as early as 7 years of age, being obese may raise a child's risk of future heart disease and stroke, even in the absence of other cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, according to a new study accepted for publication in The Endocrine Society's Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism (JCEM).

■  “The likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes and hypertension rises steeply with increasing body fatness. Confined to older adults for most of the 20th century, this disease now affects obese children even before puberty. Approximately 85% of people with diabetes are type 2, and of these, 90% are obese or overweight…Raised BMI also increases the risks of cancer of the breast, colon, prostate, endometroium, kidney and gallbladder.” (World Health Organization)

■  The CDC reviewed the discharge records of hospitals nationwide from 1979 to 1999, specifically of children ranging in age from 6 to 17 years and analyzed the results for all obesity-related illnesses. The researchers found that the incidence of:

•  Diabetes had nearly doubled
•  Obesity and gallbladder disease tripled
•  Sleep apnea increased five-fold

■  More than 70% obese adolescents retain their overweight and obese condition even during their adulthood.

■  As the percentages of obese children raises, so does the percentage of those affected with juvenile diabetes at nearly the same rate.

 ---HUMNEWS wishes to thank Avis Richards and her production team for sharing LUNCH with our audience.

Thursday
Oct072010

(News Brief) UN gathering urges global cooperation to fight human trafficking

(HN, October 7, 2010) --- With human trafficking knowing no borders, anti-trafficking experts from regional and sub-regional organizations have met for the first time in a United Nations-backed forum to discuss how to join forces to counter the scourge.

“Effective coordination of the various anti-trafficking initiatives and enhanced cooperation among all actors involved in combating trafficking is essential to maximize available resources, minimize duplication and address States’ fatigue vis-à-vis the number of demands they are required to attend to,” said Joy Ngozi Ezeilo, Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children.

She led the two-day gathering in Dakar, Senegal, which wrapped up on Tuesday and drew experts from around the world to confer on how to prevent trafficking, protect victims, and frameworks set up to address the problem in all regions.

“Assistance to and protection of victims must be non-conditional, responsive to the needs, and respectful of the human rights of trafficked victims,” the Rapporteur stressed, calling for regional and sub-regional groups to ensure that their policies are appropriate to victims’ ages and sensitive to gender aspects.

She highlighted the unique position that regional mechanisms are in to combat what she called a “modern day slavery, growing in scale and in terms of human rights repercussions” due to their expertise and knowledge of local realities.

Presenting her annual report to the Geneva-based Human Rights Council in June, Ms. Ezeilo characterized human trafficking as “one of the most appalling forms of human rights violations” and said that it remains one of the world’s fastest growing criminal activities in the world.

- UN News

Saturday
Sep182010

(REPORT) Child Mortality Rate Drops by a Third Since 1990 

Fewer children are dying before they reach their fifth birthdays, with the total number of under-five deaths falling by one third in the past two decades, according to fresh estimates by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). Between 1990 and 2009, the number of children below the age of five who died annually fell from 12.4 million to 8.1 million. The global under-five mortality rate dipped from 89 deaths per 1,000 live births to 60 during that period. “The good news is that these estimates suggest that 12,000 fewer children are dying each day around the world compared to 1990,” UNICEF said in a press release accompanying the data, issued ahead of next week’s UN-hosted world leaders’ summit in New York on the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). However, the agency stressed, “the tragedy of preventable child deaths continues.” Some 22,000 children under the age of five continue to die every day, with 70 per cent of these deaths occurring within their first year of life. Under-five mortality increasingly becoming concentrated in a few countries, with half of all deaths of children below five occurring in just five countries in 2009: India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Pakistan and China. Sub-Saharan Africa – where one in eight children do not live to see their fifth birthday – continues to be home to the highest rates of child mortality. That is nearly 20 times the average for developed regions. UNICEF cautioned that although the pace of decline of child mortality has picked up in the past decade, it is still not enough to meet the MDG target of a two-thirds decline between 1990 and 2015. The new figures were published in this year’s Levels & Trends in Child Mortality, issued by the UN Inter-agency Group for Child Mortality Estimation, bringing together several UN entities, The estimates are developed with oversight and advice from independent experts from academic institutions. Earlier this week, a new report by UNICEF, the World Health Organization (WHO), the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the World Bank found that the number of women dying due to complications during pregnancy and childbirth has decreased by 34 per cent from an estimated 546,000 in 1990 to 358,000 in 2008. While the progress is notable, the annual rate of decline is less than half of what is needed to achieve the MDG target of reducing the maternal mortality ratio by 75 per cent between 1990 and 2015, the publication stressed.

- UN News, UNICEF