Archive for October 11th, 2017

Access to Quality Health Care, Education Vital for Improving Children’s Well-Being, Speakers Stress as Third Committee Concludes Debate

Governments around the world were focused on improving access to quality education and health care for children and adolescents to ensure they reached their full potential, speakers told the Third Committee (Social, Humanitarian and Cultural) as they concluded discussion on children’s rights.

Indeed, children’s fundamental freedoms could be best protected by ensuring their education and health care needs were met, said Bangladesh’s delegate, who noted that children at all educational levels in his country were provided free textbooks on New Year’s Day, the world’s largest such distribution that had seen 360 million textbooks handed out this year.  The education system also had been enhanced by the introduction of information and communications technology in school curricula.

Similarly, Bhutan’s delegate said children were provided free education up to the tenth grade, while in Ukraine, a law on inclusive education ensured all Ukrainian children had access to high-quality education, said that country’s representative.

Efforts to boost education had borne fruit, several said, with South Africa’s delegate noting that 98 per cent of girls were enrolled in school.  Rwanda’s delegate said primary school enrolment had risen to 95.4 per cent, with girls’ 96.5 per cent rate higher than the 94.2 per cent rate for boys.  Overall, primary school completion in Rwanda was 76 per cent.  In Indonesia, said that country’s delegate, a Child Labour Reduction Program focused on education and vocational training had led to 49 children returning to school.

In terms of child health, there had also been gains.  El Salvador’s representative said a comprehensive child health care policy had fostered a 42 per cent decrease in chronic malnutrition and reduced parent-to-child transmission of HIV and AIDS.  In Thailand, meanwhile, particular attention had been paid to achieving universal health coverage, said that country’s delegate, with a grant introduced to help poor families with new-born children.  Libya’s representative likewise stressed that, despite instability, his country was determined to provide children with free education and healthcare services, including vaccinations.

Speakers also underscored that education and health care policies must be inclusive to meet children’s varying needs.  The Dominican Republic’s delegate highlighted the establishment of a centre for children with conditions such as autism and Down’s Syndrome.  “We know that investing in the rights of children means investing in our future,” he said.  Echoing this sentiment, Tonga’s delegate added that every child, including those with disabilities, had the right to education. 

Children also deserved access to social services regardless of their nationality, speakers noted.  The representative of the United Arab Emirates said immunizations were offered to Yemeni children who had been affected by conflict.  Spain’s delegate added that child migrants were accorded the same rights as Spanish citizens.

However, the Republic of Korea’s delegate pointed out, girls often lacked access to healthcare and education.  Adolescent girls left school much earlier than their male counterparts.  Girls also suffered disproportionate violence, and lacked access to health care and nutrition.  It was well documented that societies which empowered girls through education achieved better results in every area of development, she observed.

Also speaking were representatives of Botswana, Qatar, Sri Lanka, Iceland, Kazakhstan, China, Georgia, Kuwait, Turkey, Nigeria, Maldives, Pakistan,

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FEATURE: A woman’s strength is unlimited, says award-winning UN peacekeeper

11 October 2017 &#150 “Being a girl child, I dreamt of occupying a powerful position to influence and create change in the community. It was the segregation of women that I experienced in my childhood that gave me the strength to add my voice in everything I did.”

These are the words of Annah Chota, who last month was honoured as International Female Police Peacekeeper for her service and achievements with the United Nations Interim Security Force for Abyei (UNISFA).

Growing up in Harare, Zimbabwe, Ms. Chota’s awareness of the inequalities that existed between girls and boys began at an early age. The way society groomed boys for professional careers and steered girls towards domestic chores led her to start dreaming of a more equal world.

“My father had originally been disappointed by having only girl children [the four daughters were later followed by sons], but then he began to appreciate us more through the discipline and tenacity to succeed displayed by myself and my sisters. At the time of his death in 2007, he had sacrificed all to ensure that we were educated and, as he used to say, we did not need to depend on a man for survival,” she told UN News.

Through her life, Ms. Chota fought to “remove the fixed stereotype on the limitations of women and girls.” She left Zimbabwe to study accounting in South Africa, but had to drop out of university at the end of her second year because her father could no longer afford the fees. She was then encouraged to join the Zimbabwe Republic Police by her brother-in-law, because that would give her the opportunity to work and fund her education.

Since 2006, Ms. Chota has been developing her passion for policing. In 2014, having graduated with a degree in Business Administration, she started leaning towards gender mainstreaming. And in November 2016, she was deployed to Sudan, where she was appointed as head of the Gender and Children Affairs Unit in the police component of UNISFA.

Annah Chota (holding flag) with the UN Police Delegation during the parade of nations at the International Women and Law Enforcement Conference in Cairns, Australia, on 18 September. Photo: UNPOL

“When I arrived, there was no institutions or a government that would make the work of advancing gender equality easier, so we had to look for initiatives that would allow us to have the support of the communities, not only to promote gender equality but also to help us with prevention and protection of women from gender-based violence,” she recalled.

Through training workshops and campaigns with local communities, Ms. Chota contributed to a shift in how communities deal with rape, domestic violence, child marriage and forced marriage, by recognising marital rape as a criminal offence.

“The biggest obstacle for gender equality is the absence of laws because it doesn’t give women the support they need to report cases of gender-based violence,” she said.

The biggest obstacle for gender equality is the absence of laws because it doesn’t give women the support they need to report cases of gender-based violence.

That was the reality confronting Assistant Inspector of Police Annah Chota when she got to Abyei to take up her post. In response, she helped to start a new network that would allow women to speak out. The idea of creating that network came with Ms. Chota from Zimbabwe, where “women also had to find a way of disseminating the message of equality.”

Since she arrived in the field, her main concern was always to protect women and girls and that is what motivated her to start lobbying to find support. “We needed to create a space for women to speak to their leaders. We needed to empower them, through community dialogues, to report and record the crimes,” she added.

Today more women are reporting gender-based violence, and in the absence of a police service, community protection committees can now record and recognise sexual and gender-based crimes.

“The success story of Abyei is that community policing models such as the problem-oriented approach and involvement of the community in policing have really helped to build confidence in the society to report cases of sexual and gender-based violence.”

Ms. Chota was recognised for her key contributions towards restoring the public’s trust in the police and encouraging children, women and men to become partners in preventing and detecting crime.

Assistant Inspector of Police Annah Chota with Abyei Central Women's Network Leaders. Photo: UNPOL/UNISFA/Mthokozisi

Assistant Inspector of Police Annah Chota speaks with students in Abyei, Sudan, as part of a campagin against sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV). Photo: UNPOL/UNISFA/Mthokozisi Makeka

Assistant Inspector of Police Annah Chota assisting the community protection committee with follow-up in a rape case in Abyei, Sudan. Photo: UNPOL/UNISFA/Mthokozisi Makeka

Assistant Inspector of Police Annah Chota engages with the community in Abyei, Sudan. Photo: UNPOL/UNISFA/Mthokozisi Makeka

Assistant Inspector of Police Annah Chota speaks with the community in Abyei, Sudan. Photo: UNPOL/UNISFA/Mthokozisi Makeka

Assistant Inspector of Police Annah Chota training the community protection committees on policing SGBV.Photo: UNPOL/UNISFA/Mthokozisi Makeka

In her opinion, gender equality is not an issue that only Abyei has to deal with. “Issues of gender equality are global. The world at large is male dominated, and without empowering women, gender inequality remains solidified in the society.”

Ms. Chota is the first police officer from Zimbabwe to receive the award, which recognises the outstanding accomplishments of female police officers serving with the UN and has been bestowed annually since 2011.

“To be honest, representing my country is a dream,” she said. “When people watch athletes or world leaders representing their nations, they have this feeling that they want to also do something to raise the flag of their country high. I aspired to do it.”

Upon receiving the award, Ms. Chota said that it underscores “the value of hard work, professionalism, teamwork and discipline, which every peacekeeper must exhibit.”

The UN is working to attract more policewomen to join the 1,098 female police officers from 69 countries, who are currently serving in UN peacekeeping missions. In 2009, the world body launched the “Global Effort” and has worked with Member States and national police services to recruit more female police officers into UN operations. The goal is to reach 20 per cent women in the UN Police by 2020.

AUDIO: Annah Chota, UN Police Officer serving with UNISFA talks about life as an International Female Police Peacekeeper.

Zimbabwe provides 85 police officers to UN operations in Abyei, South Sudan (UNMISS), Sudan (UNAMID), and Guinea-Bissau (UNIOGBIS), 31 per cent of whom are women.

Ms. Chota called on other women to join her in the fight for gender equality. “Strength within women is unlimited. As women, we already play multiple roles, which indicates that also in peacekeeping we can do it and we can do more. What’s important is to believe in yourself, because if we advance women, everyone will succeed.”

“Peacekeeping gives unmeasurable feelings of joy when you are able to put a smile on the face of someone whose life was ravaged by war, abuse and poverty,” she added, noting that this is what keeps her going when she misses her husband and two small boys.

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CMIG Drawin Launches Its First Prefabricated Construction Project in South Africa

Prefabricated project improves local conditions with world-leading construction technology EKURHULENI, South Africa, Oct. 11, 2017 /PRNewswire/ – China Minsheng Drawin Technology Group (CMIG Drawin), a unit of investment conglomerate China Minsheng Investment Group, has launched the John Dude New City project in South Africa’s Gauteng province, marking its initial entry into Africa’s affordable housing market, […]
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New €45 million initiative seeks to curb unsustainable wildlife hunting, conserve biodiversity and improve food security

Photo: ©FAO/Steve Maines

Wildlife migration to one of the few remaining waterholes in the southeast of Senegal - one of the 12 countries participating in the project.

10 October 2017, Rome - A €45 million multi-partner programme launched today at FAO seeks to help African, Caribbean and Pacific countries halt unsustainable wildlife hunting, conserve their natural heritage and strengthen people's livelihoods and food security.

Funded by the European Commission, the seven-year programme is an initiative of the African Caribbean and Pacific Group of States (ACP).  Led by FAO, it will also rely on the expertise of the Centre for International Forestry Research (CIFOR), the French Agricultural Research Centre for International Development (CIRAD) and the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS).   

The programme will contribute to the conservation and sustainable use of wildlife in forests, savannas and wetlands by regulating wildlife hunting, strengthening the management capacities of indigenous and rural communities and increasing the supply of sustainably produced meat products and farmed fish. This will help to avert a looming protein deficit for poor rural families and meet the growing rural and urban demand for food.

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva speaking at today's launch said: "Wildlife has ecological, social and economic value. It is important for rural development, land-use planning, food supply, tourism, scientific research and cultural heritage. This programme will protect wildlife species, conserve biodiversity, and maintain the essential ecological roles of wildlife. It will also help to secure the stocks and ecosystems services that are essential to the livelihoods of the poorest communities on the planet".

"This is the first time we have tackled these two issues - conservation and food security - hand-in-hand," said Neven Mimica, European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development at the launch ceremony. "This kind of collective effort and comprehensive approach is essential for meeting our dual aims of protecting the biodiversity of forests and savannahs, while ensuring the food security of some of the most vulnerable and politically marginalised people on the planet".

 "The challenges this initiative seeks to address are significant and numerous, including health and nutrition, economic development and biodiversity," reminded Patrick I. Gomes, Secretary-General of the ACP Group of States. "None of these challenges can be solved by a single intervention, so that is why this new partnership of FAO, CIFOR, CIRAD and WCS is well positioned to provide the multi-sector solutions we desperately need."

Participating countries in the project include Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gabon, Guyana, Madagascar, Mali, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Congo, Senegal, Sudan, Zambia and Zimbabwe.   

"Wildmeat crisis"

The level of hunting and fishing in the target countries is often unsustainable, affecting wild animal populations in forests and savannas.

Many countries are already facing a "wildmeat crisis". The programme estimates that, for example, in the Congo Basin, some 4.6 million tonnes of wildmeat are consumed annually, an equivalent of approximately half of the beef produced in the European Union.

If hunting wildlife for food is not reduced to sustainable levels, not only will biodiversity be lost, but also countless numbers of families, whose livelihoods depend on natural resources, will suffer soaring levels of food insecurity and debilitating child malnutrition.    

Shifting from wildmeat to other sources of animal protein

The Sustainable Wildlife Management programme will work closely with national authorities to provide rural communities with alternative protein sources such as chicken, livestock or farmed fish. Doing so will help deter hunting of endangered species, support recovery of their populations and reduce food safety risks that can be associated with the consumption of wild meat.   

In places where production of livestock is limited due to unfavourable climate conditions, or where imported meat is unavailable or unaffordable, people will continue relying on wild animals to feed their families. However, measures like recognition of people's customary tenure rights may encourage them to engage more in wildlife conservation on their land and avoid unnecessary hunting. 

In contrast, in large urban areas, wild meat is sold and consumed less as a nutritional necessity, but more as a luxury item. Although the proportion of city dwellers consuming wild meat is often low, net demand can be enormous. In such cases, restrictions on wild meat consumption need to be put in place.

Improving wildlife management

The programme aims to help governments develop proactive policies and strengthen legal frameworks to reduce wildmeat consumption to sustainable levels without compromising food security of people who depend on wildlife hunting for their livelihoods and nutritional needs.  

The initiative also focuses on creating jobs in the farming sector, empowering women, and securing the rights of indigenous and traditional people to access the natural resources their livelihoods and cultures depend upon.   

The programme contributes to several targets of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) related to food security, sustainable land management and biodiversity conservation, specifically supporting SDG15, this year's review of which notes that "poaching and trafficking of wildlife remain serious concerns". 

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Liberia’s Presidential and Legislative Elections

As a longstanding friend, the United States applauds the people of Liberia for exercising their democratic right to vote in the historic presidential and legislative elections. This is an important step toward achieving Liberia's first peaceful transfe...
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