Inspired by Malala

We Must Make School Accessible to the World’s Children

When Malala Yousafzai was targeted and shot by the Taliban in Pakistan on October 9th, simply for wanting to go to school, the whole world of education was changed forever.

Globally, 32 million girls do not yet go to primary school and since October 9th, thousands of children have demonstrated, signed petitions and registered their demand that Malala and girls like her should be able to go to school free of fear and intimidation.

Elsewhere in South Asia, children have started to assert their rights to schooling. In Bangladesh, a new movement led by girls and boys is demanding an end to child marriage. In district after district ‘child marriage free zones’ are being declared as children themselves assert their right not to be sold into loveless marriages they did not choose.

In India this weekend a 300 kilometer march of children started from Assam province, calling for a ban on child labor. Led by 100 child laborers rescued from trafficking, they will demand their right to be at school.

So long as there are children denied the chance of school, Malala will be the standard bearer for their rights. Now and for every day until all young children have the chance to go to school, ‘I am Malala’ will be the banner under which millions of girls throughout the world will demand their right to education.

Today we embark on a new stage in our global campaign to secure education for every one of the 32 million girls who do not go to school. We set out the next stages in our plan to match in-country action with international support from governments, UN organizations and the general public.

Some girls are in bonded labor, forced to work in factories, farms and as domestic laborers and we estimate more than five million girls are completely denied any education because they are working.

Some 10 million girls each year are sold or handed over into forced marriages they did not choose. Some girls are just 9, others 10, many 11, 12 and 13 — all of them too young to make life-changing decisions that remove them from education and the chance of an independent life.

And then there are girls who are trafficked into prostitution, thousands of whom end up in the street brothels of some of the world’s best-known cities.

Many girls can’t go to school because we are short of two million teachers and four million classrooms. Even where classrooms exist, the schools are often ill-equipped and insanitary. In many cases girls who go to school are not being fed, denied school meals we could so easily provide.

In KPK, the province in Pakistan where Malala lives, 700,000 children are still not at primary school — and 600,000 of them are girls, whose chances of education are a fraction of those of boys. In Pakistan overall, 60 percent of the out-of-school children are girls, despite the desire expressed by girls in the ‘I am Malala’ campaign to attend classes.

Around the world 32 million of the 61 million out-of-school children are girls. They need champions like Malala to stand up for their rights.

The plan for action we set out today will be handed to the UN secretary-general to end the scourge of girls’ illiteracy and the denial of their right to education.

First, public pressure must be kept up. We will continue to add to our petition that calls on not just the Pakistani government but also the United Nations to ensure we invest the resources – in some cases only 100 dollars per year per child — to get girls to school. The petitions have already secured two million signatures around the world.

We will soon have an additional million signatures from the children of Pakistan alone which will be presented to the president of Pakistan and the United Nations. It is still possible for any member of the public to join us by signing up today on the website

I can also announce that after consultation with Malala’s family there will be on July 12th next year, Malala’s own birthday, a day of action and we will invite children to assemble, walk, march, demonstrate, petition and pray for children’s education to be delivered worldwide.

Second, we are asking countries that are off-track in meeting the 2015 target of universal girls’ education to sign up to a new process, to accelerate achievement of the Millennium Development Goals. Countries as big as Nigeria and India and as small as Timor Leste and South Sudan will be asked to draw up the plans that will ensure education for all girls and boys will be delivered by the end of 2015.

Third, we will hold a summit in Washington on April 19th to be hosted by the secretary-general, the president of the World Bank, Jim Kim, and myself. At that summit we will agree urgent measures to get children into school by end of 2015, offering the support of international organizations to back up the efforts of off-track countries that are ready to do more.

Fourth we will launch an international campaign for public subscriptions by companies, foundations and individuals to raise one billion dollars to show governments and international organizations that the public wants us to ensure every child is at school. We will soon offer citizens a unique chance to contribute directly, free of any administrative costs, to teachers, classrooms, books and nutrition for millions of children who want to go to school.

Education alone can break the vicious cycle of poverty that is transmitted today from generation to generation. To help in this endeavor, Ziauddin Yousafzai, Malala’s father, will become my special adviser on global education. His unique qualities — a teacher and headteacher as well as a parent who has had to struggle against opposition to girls’ education and the closing of schools — makes him ideally suited to leading in our educational effort to get all to school.

We wish Malala a speedy recovery from the terrible injuries inflicted on her in the attempted assassination. In time Malala herself is determined to join the campaign for every girl’s right to education and when she has recovered she will do so, becoming one of the leaders of that campaign.

With today’s announcements we show that as a result of Malala’s courage and her inspiration the whole world is now on a bolder and more urgent path for change. Before she was shot Malala was advocating the cause of girls’ education, faced with a Taliban that had closed down and destroyed 600 schools.

We now know that when the group of girls she was with on a school bus was assailed by a gunman asking ‘where is Malala?’, a fearless and defiant Malala did not scream and she did not cry but simply replied ‘I am Malala.’ Bravely she held the hand of her friend as she received what the Taliban considered her ‘punishment’ for the ‘crime’ of wanting education.

If the Taliban sought to silence her voice once and for all, they failed. For today her dream and her insistent demand that children should go to school echoes all round the world as girl after girl, each wanting all girls to have the right to go to school, identifies with Malala, repeating the words she used — ‘I am Malala.’

Source: Gordon Brown, Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom; UN Special Envoy for Global Education

The Huffington Post –

Social Media, a Powerful Means to Condemn GBV

Harare, Zimbabwe — Twitter and Facebook are popular social media platforms, with Facebook being the more popular of the two. As popular as they are, social media platforms can be tools for change or can give more opportunities for the vulnerable to be further victimised, exploited or harassed.

Tinopona Katsande, a performer and disc jockey based in Zimbabwe used Twitter to name and shame her boyfriend, Brian Munjodzi, who bashed her for asking him to do the dishes. She went on to post photos of her bruised face and vowed that she wanted to speak out about abuse and educate other abused women to emulate her brave stance. The case is before the courts and whatever verdict the magistrate comes up with, Munjodzi’s reputation will never be the same.

Katsande’s twitter posts sent social and online media sites abuzz in Zimbabwe and the diaspora. Katsande has 1371 followers on Twitter. Three images were posted on the NewsDay, a daily independent newspaper, facebook page, two of Katsande’s swollen face and one of Munjodzi, the perpetrator. The first picture of Katsande attracted 630 comments, 272 likes and 79 shares. The second picture of Katsande had 664 comments, 117 likes and 63 shares. Munjodzi’s picture received 325 comments, 35 shares and 53 likes.

Katsande’s outcry on twitter ironically became a site for contesting discourses of patriarchy and gender equality which continue to play out in a country which appears less than ready to promote an equitable society. Zimbabwe is a polarised and conservative nation and the majority of citizens who said their views about Katsande’s ordeal blamed the “victim” for the abuse rather than empathising with her.

One male commented, “Calm down about these equal rights. We are in Africa, you Zimbabwean. Do not adopt the European ways of living. You are not the first one to be disciplined. You have learnt from your mistakes…”

GBV is still rampant in Zimbabwe and preliminary findings from a research carried out by Gender Links in 2012 show that 69% of women in the country have experienced intimate partner violence in their lifetime. Thirty three percent women said that they have been physically abuse by their intimate partner in their lifetime. Despite these daring statistics, the attitudes of Zimbabweans towards GBV leave a lot to be desired.

From the comments made on Katsande’s case society can disclaim a utopian concept that the Internet is an unproblematic environment. For some, the Internet has provided a platform for abusers to exploit and harass women.

The fact that the Internet is uncontrolled means that readers can post comments some of which do not challenge the status quo.

Throughout the discussions women and men on the platform insinuate that Katsande may have done something more than asking her boyfriend to do the dishes to be beaten. However, even if there is a story behind, it cannot be justification for Katsande to be beaten. Comments on Munjodzi’s picture praised him for beating Katsande because she is “loud mouthed” and must be disciplined.

Women who commented on the issue didn’t sympathise with her. One woman said, “You [Katsande] should keep quiet about some of these things. How many women are being beaten in their homes but do not take to Facebook? If I were your man I would leave you because you are just telling everyone your business.” These comments demonstrate that women have normalised gender violence, are convinced that it is the way things are supposed to be and it cannot be changed. Further, GBV is still relegated to the realms of the household and perceived as a sensitive issue that women should not speak to anyone about.

There is also a misunderstanding about what gender equality means. Suggestions by the public are that gender equality is a foreign agenda that has come to erode African ideals, in particular patriarchal values. A male reader commented that, “if this is what your aunts taught you, to make a man do the dishes, you shall forever be battered. Leave this equal rights business. If they preach equal rights, they should also give you the balls.”

However, human rights and indeed women’s rights are universal and should be enjoyed by all women no matter which context women find themselves in.

In this case, government and civil society need to restrategise their efforts on educating citizens about gender equality. What has surfaced from this case is that people are still ignorant about gender issues.

It is high time women realise that there is nothing right about being abused and perpetrators should be brought to book. The power is in speaking out and setting an example for other women not to suffer in silence.

Social media can facilitate the speaking out process for women who have been abused. It is a participatory public sphere where discussions are more inclusive and interactive. Citizens share ideas and these technologies provide information and extend the role of the public in the social arena. Social media is therefore a powerful tool that must also be used to get citizens to openly debate pertinent issues. Activists should engage in these discussions and use them to educate citizens about gender equality and most of all about GBV, which has become a cancer in our society.

Katsande is a brave and courageous woman who chose to speak out, and educate “elite” women who have the means and access to social media, that violence knows no class, religion nor tribe. Few women from the middle-class speak out about abuse. They can use social media to speak out and share their stories of abuse.

Tarisai Nyamweda is the Media Programme Officer at Gender Links. This article is part of the GL Opinion and Commentary Service series for the Sixteen Days of Activism Against Gender Violence.


Recycling generates 26‚000 jobs

Recycling PET‚ the plastic used to manufacture beverage bottles and food containers‚ has helped generate almost 26‚000 indirect jobs‚ and the plastics recycling industry can reduce poverty across SA and contribute to GDP growth‚ says PETCO CEO Cheri Scholtz.

PETCO is the industry organisation responsible for PET recycling in SA.

Addressing the SA National Bottled Water Association’s Conference in Midrand on Tuesday‚ Scholtz said that PETCO and its recycling initiatives had become a global benchmark for extended producer responsibility because of its success to bale by bale‚ year by year‚ reduce the volume of post-consumer PET plastic in the waste stream.

Working with collectors‚ recyclers‚ converters and packaging designers to ensure the successful growth of the PET recycling industry‚ PETCO is well on the way to achieving its challenging target of recycling 50% of all beverage PET by 2015.

Extrupet’s Chief Operating Officer Chandru Wadhwani told the conference that the dilemma for bottle converters to meet challenging customer demands for “marketing friendly” packaging while at the same time meeting the demands of the Waste Act to be responsible producers’ was an ever growing one.

“No longer is it sufficient for packaging to just be ‘recyclable’‚ it must be able to demonstrate that it is in fact being recycled. Designing packaging with recycling in mind from the offset is critical in determining its final recyclability as recyclers are ever cautious about which ‘packs’ they will accept‚ and which they will not.

“Ultimately‚ there is a ‘win/win’ approach that can be achieved from pro-active engagement between the designers of packaging and recyclers so we can all ultimately achieve a ‘cradle to cradle’ solution for packaging‚” Wadhwani said.

Source: IOL Business Report

The war on men through the degradation of woman

This was originally posted in Sinous Magazine, and was definitely worth sharing!

After slaying critics in defense of her daughter Willow, outspoken actress and activist Jada Pinkett-Smith took to Facebook today to drop some knowledge on how the degradation of women has resulted in problems for both sexes.

As we look at societies where the women are lost, struggling for education and otherwise disregarded, versus those who consider women the center of their communities, Jada‘s words ring all the more truer. Read what she has to say below:

How is man to recognize his full self, his full power through the eye’s of an incomplete woman? The woman who has been stripped of Goddess recognition and diminished to a big ass and full breast for physical comfort only.

The woman who has been silenced so she may forget her spiritual essence because her words stir too much thought outside of the pleasure space. The woman who has been diminished to covering all that rots inside of her with weaves and red bottom shoes.

I am sure the men, who restructured our societies from cultures that honored woman, had no idea of the outcome. They had no idea that eventually, even men would render themselves empty and longing for meaning, depth and connection.

There is a deep sadness when I witness a man that can’t recognize the emptiness he feels when he objectifies himself as a bank and truly believes he can buy love with things and status. It is painful to witness the betrayal when a woman takes him up on that offer.

He doesn’t recognize that the [creation] of a half woman has contributed to his repressed anger and frustration of feeling he is not enough. He then may love no woman or keep many half women as his prize.

He doesn’t recognize that it’s his submersion in the imbalanced warrior culture, where violence is the means of getting respect and power, as the reason he can break the face of the woman who bore him four children.

When woman is lost, so is man. The truth is, woman is the window to a man’s heart and a man’s heart is the gateway to his soul.

Power and control will NEVER out weigh love.

May we all find our way.

One woman’s culinary adventure

This is a post from Flava of Africa, originally posted in Lesotho Times.

“Tell me what you eat and I will tell you what you are.”  Brillat-Savarin

On Tuesday night, I attended the launch of “Cuisine of the Mountain Kingdom, Cooking in Lesotho”, a new book by Ska Mirriam Moteane. Through her company, Ska’s Kitchen Consultancy, she has established herself as a business leader in the local food industry.

The book was officially launched by Her Majesty Queen ’Masenate Mohato Seeiso who shared the above thought — provoking quote during her speech. The event brought to life several positive aspects of women and entrepreneurship.

Follow your heart

Cuisine of Mountain Kingdom, Cooking in Lesotho
© Meri Hyoky Photography

After completing her studies at the National University of Lesotho, Ska decided to enrol in a culinary school, in pursuance of her passion for food. Many of her family members advised her against it. They were worried that she wouldn’t make a living from it and would “be wasting time studying cooking.” In those days Ska was a young woman who, in the words of her uncle Ntate Matjato Moteane, showed “independence of thought” and a “tempestuous personality”. Although misinterpreted at the time, these characteristics stood her in good stead because she ignored the warnings and followed her heart.

Create something

Taking the time to create something is not easy. This became apparent as Ska recounted some of the things she had to do during the three years the book was in the making.

There were many trips to outlying villages in Lesotho where she learnt how different women cooked various dishes and some cooked the same dish differently. Furthermore their units of measurement were not the sort that could go into a recipe book. This meant she had to go back into her kitchen to standardise the recipes and be accurate in terms of the ingredient amounts. The book also has colourful pictures which involved commissioning a professional photographer and taking her out to the various places.

A source of passive income

Any consultant, trainer or chef will tell you that one of the challenges of running a business is that they have to be physically present for the business to generate an income. This is where the concept of passive income comes in. By writing this book, Ska has introduced into her business, a product which can generate income even when she is sitting at home. Not only that but it serves as a marketing tool for her business and can reach people that she would never have known. This is something that could benefit similar types of businesses.

A trainer can develop materials on CD or workbooks which companies can use during in-house training. With advancements in technology, there are new ways of doing business which can be cost-effective to the corporates and the businessperson.

Partnering for success

Cuisine of Mountain Kingdom, Cooking in Lesotho
© Meri Hyoky Photography

Many people abandon an idea because they want answers about the future before they implement it. Who will buy the product and where will the money for printing come from? I am sure these questions must have gone through Ska’s mind too but she carried on even though she didn’t have those answers.

When the time came to cross that bridge she was pleasantly surprised at how willing people were to assist her. A number of corporates sponsored the book printing and launch.  Another gave her accommodation at their lodge when she was in the field. It would be much easier to undertake a project once all the commitments for support have been secured but life rarely works that way. It takes faith and courage to work on something even when there are many unanswered questions.

When talent meets opportunity

Ska talked about how she looked around and realised there was “a vacuum in terms of Basotho cuisine”. There were no books which document Basotho recipes and the Basotho way of life with regard to food. She then decided to “resuscitate dishes that have almost disappeared” and she filled the gap by writing this book. In the process she came up with over a hundred recipes which could not be accommodated in one book. So one thing she promised guests is that they can expect a second and even a third book from her.