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Thursday:  November 20, 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

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Entries in equality (2)

Tuesday
May012012

Sexual Abuse Keeps Girls Away From School in Papua New Guinea (REPORT) 

(PHOTO: Teenage girls in Papua New Guinea/WorldBank)By Catherine Wilson

(Goroka, Papua New Guinea) - Sexual harassment of school going girls may prevent Papua New Guinea from achieving the Millennium Development Goal of eliminating gender disparity in education by 2015.

Papua New Guinea’s new free education policy has dramatically increased school enrollment, and a gross enrollment rate of 80 percent is within reach by 2015. But the United Nations’ eight MDGs pertaining to girls’ education remain elusive.

While PNG’s constitution promotes equal participation by men and women in national development, political, cultural, social and infrastructural factors inhibit girls staying in the school system, reflecting a wider lack of women in the formal workforce, governance and decision-making roles.

The United Nations Development Program rates the nation at 153 out of 187 countries in gender equality. The education department reports the average educational attainment of girls is grade 10. On average boys complete high school, reaching grade 12.

However, the nation’s cultural and social diversity means there is geographical variance.

(PHOTO: Teenage girls in Papua New Guinea/MISSIONNET)“The state of school infrastructure, particularly in rural areas, is a significant hindrance to the achievement of equitable education outcomes,” said Arnold Kukari, leader of the universal basic education research program at the National Research Institute.

Betty Hinamunimo, field officer with CARE International, a nongovernmental organization that works in partnership with the education department, said factors impeding girls’ education included “distance and cultural and social barriers, such as the fear families have of sending girls to urban centers where their safety is not guaranteed.”

Girls in PNG are at high risk of domestic and sexual violence, sexual harassment in schools, commercial exploitation and HIV, which pose serious threats to their health and education.

Ume Wainetti at the Family Sexual Violence Action Center said, “When FSVAC conducted the study on violence against children in 2005, young girls in rural schools said they get harassed by teachers and by male students, especially when they are going to school or going home.”

Wainetti said many of the young girls interviewed by FSVAC, based in the capital of Port Moresby, were already mothers.

Cultural and social barriers to education include the burden placed on girls of family care, domestic responsibilities and customary marriage, which happens as early as 12 years old. The International Center for Research on Women estimates a third of girls in the developing world are married before 18 years old and have children before they reach 20.

The education department’s plan for decreasing the disparity stresses training staff in gender sensitization and sexual violence awareness.

Philip Afuti, president of the PNG teachers’ association, Eastern Highlands, and head teacher of North Goroka primary school, is committed to gender equality. Eighty percent of teachers are female, while the school has 630 male and 523 female students.

“We want to see the girls have an equal opportunity as boys in the education system,” Afuti declared. “They should be able to build this nation in partnership. We want to see that. PNG will only develop when both males and females are educated.”

This year, the national government rolled out a free and subsidized education policy, which has impacted female enrolment.

“We have increased the numbers of females enrolling,” Afuti verified. “Some who left a few years ago have also come back.”

But there are also inadequate mechanisms of support for school-going girls suffering from sexual abuse.

“If there are avenues for redress to such offences, these are not made known to students and parents,”  Wainetti said.

It is unfortunate that many teachers will not do anything about these abuses until the parents of the girl or boy turn up at the school to beat up the students who have been harassing their child,”  Wainetti said.

 -- This article originally appeared in The Jakarta Globe

Saturday
Sep182010

South African Media Gets Low Marks on Reporting on the Economy and the Poor

The media panel held on Friday in Johannesburg CREDIT: M. Bociurkiw/HUMNEWS(HN, September 18, 2010) - The South African media do a generally poor job of covering crucial business stories, often ignoring news that affects the poor.

 “We wake up once people start burning tires,” said Mondli Makhanya, Editor-in-Chief of Avusa Media - South Africa’s largest newspaper group - told a media roundtable Friday in Johannesburg.

The panel of media proprietors, academics and civil society leaders said that, amid the global economic crisis - which has hit southern Africa hard - print publications have tended to focus on the “same old talking heads,” using outdated rhetoric and stale economic propositions.

“We are pretty bad at covering the economy,” said Nic Dawes, editor of the Mail and Guardian, one of the most respected weekly in the country. “And we are not fundamentally good at examining the lives of the poor.” He added that an impediment for newspaper proprietors is that they rarely have serious economists on the newsroom floor to tap when a good business story presents itself.

Said Dawes: “Those who are serious economists are quickly picked up by the wire services or the banks.”

Representatives of civil society said that, even though they have many good story ideas and access to content and data, they feel roundly shut-out from the country’s newsrooms. There was general agreement that in this day and age, journalists are resorting to “desk-top journalism” - rarely leaving the comfort of their buildings, instead using the telephone to tap the wisdom of a closed circle of sources.

To be sure, there is no lack of selection when it comes to the print landscape in South Africa. The country supports at least 655 consumer magazines, 700 business-to-business publications, 470 community papers, 21 daily papers and 24 major weeklies.

Some outlets, like the Mail Guardian, only have 65 staff members - including cleaners and receptionists, and yet manage to do a fairly decent job reporting. Dawes said that, even after deep cuts, the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times have 800 and 1200 staff members respectively.

In media, size doesn't matter said one editor. The state-run South Africa Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) has more than 1000 staff members and “no one can remember the last time they broke a story.”

An example of a series on the marginalized run by the Cape TimesAt least two newspaper representatives said that aside from opening up their opinion pages to more sophisticated debate, town hall meetings have proven to be a satisfactory way to draw ordinary voices into the discourse on the economy. The editor of the Cape Times, Alide Dasnois, said her Cape Town-based newspaper has devoted hundreds of column inches to probing economic stories, many of which focus on the poor. Some papers are even partnering with NGOs in order to get marginalized voices heard.

As in other economic forums in the region, speakers agreed that there are many good stories of entrepreneurialism on the continent, but that few get covered. One that was concerned a shoe factory in Durban where employees re-engineered the manufacturing process to stay competitive with China.

Most panelists agreed that South African print media tend to be obsessed with reporting on political stories, and that when it comes to economic stories, the easiest ones are those dealing with companies.

One speaker said there is a tendency among media to “celebrate wealth” - by running rich lists and other special on the economic elite.

Some of the comments from women in the audience raised the issue of a contradiction around the issue of rich lists, saying they deflects attention away from the have nots.

Said one audience member after the panel: “The rich lists set up a false dream that everybody buys into, and diverts attention from communalism. The question is: how do we redistribute wealth. This wealth reporting diverts attention away from it and screws up the morale obligation of the state to take care of the have-nots.”

The entrenched media practitioners conceded they have much room for improvement. Said Makhanya: “There is a huge economic story in South Africa we could be covering better - and that story is corruption.” He added that while investigative political reporting is made easier by the plethora of whistle blowers in government, the same does not hold true on corporate stories.

Media chiefs said what also hurts good economic reporting is poor handling of data, especially desegregated numbers that show who the poor are and where. The data speaks and tells the stories.

What under-analyzed data hides is inequality gaps and inequality is what is breeding social instability and crime in the country, said one of the panelists.

Concern was also voiced about the quality of foreign media reporting on South Africa. One panelist said that while super growth economies like Brazil and Malaysia get positive stories, South Africa is often seen through a critical, narrow lens.

The media roundtable was organized by the non-profit news agency, The South African Civil Society Information Service (SACSIS) and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

Reporting by Nadira Omarjee and Michael Bociurkiw in Johannesburg