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Proof that one voice can have an impact | Irish Examiner

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Proof that one voice can have an impact | Irish Examiner.

These were the concluding remarks made by Pakistani schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai in her historic address to the UN General Assembly last week.

That a teenager from the mountainous Swat Valley region of Pakistan should be delivering a speech in one of the world’s most venerated and renowned seats of power might, under normal circumstances, be deemed significant in itself. That is was the day of her 16th birthday might also be considered momentous.

In truth, however, the most significant aspect of this whole occasion was that Malala was alive and in a position to deliver her powerful speech at all.

Malala first came to some prominence in late 2008 when she started to write a blog for the BBC under an assumed name about the difficulties in accessing education under Taliban rule.

At this time, the Taliban had imposed a ban on girls’ education throughout Malala’s homeland. It became so popular that the blog, initially written in Urdu, was translated into English.

Her writings were non-political but clearly reflected her desire for female education. They mostly talked about her school, studies, life at home, and friends…

 

Building gender equality into Sierra Leone’s potential – The Irish Times – Mon, Jul 15, 2013

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Building gender equality into Sierra Leone’s potential – The Irish Times – Mon, Jul 15, 2013

via Building gender equality into Sierra Leone’s potential – The Irish Times – Mon, Jul 15, 2013.

Imagine starting a country from scratch. That’s what it feels like everyone is doing in Sierra Leone, a country now 10 years out of a civil war, but still struggling to restore infrastructure to pre-war levels.

It’s not a disaster zone and it’s not like countries such as Brazil or Nigeria with extremes of wealth and poverty, luxury living and slums. Almost everyone – eight out of 10 – in Sierra Leone is poor according to the UN development index.

That said, the country is bursting with energy and optimism. “Sierra Leone is not going backwards,” says Dr Mohamed Yilla, an obstetrician and country director for Evidence 4 Action, a programme funded by British aid aimed at reducing maternal and baby mortality.

“With the windfall taxes coming from the mines, the potential for improvement is enormous,” he says…

Dealing with bullies – Political News | Irish & International Politics | The Irish Times – Fri, Jul 12, 2013

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Dealing with bullies – Political News | Irish & International Politics | The Irish Times – Fri, Jul 12, 2013.

At a time of rising concern over the effects of cyberbullying, new proposals by the Government’s special rapporteur on child protection to criminalise this kind of abusive behaviour are a welcome step in the right direction. Research suggests almost one in five secondary school students have felt bullied or abused online. But pupils, parents and teachers often feel powerless to tackle the problem. Legal difficulties in proving harassment on social networking websites mean there have been relatively few prosecutions to date. The report by Dr Geoffrey Shannon recommends amending existing laws used to combat harassment – the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act – to provide for a specific offence of cyberbullying. Significantly, it also proposes that homophobic bullying in schools should be classified as a child protection issue. This would require schools to address these issues and report them to social services, if necessary…

Gamcotrap takes another giant step in stopping FGM – The Point Newspaper, Banjul, The Gambia

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Gamcotrap takes another giant step in stopping FGM – The Point Newspaper, Banjul, The Gambia

via Gamcotrap takes another giant step in stopping FGM – The Point Newspaper, Banjul, The Gambia.

The Gambia Committee on Traditional Practices Affecting the Health of women and children (GAMCOTRAP) on 6 July 2013 took yet another bold step towards the fight against Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) in the country by sensitizing the District of Kombo East, West Coast Region, on the harmfulness of FGM.

The day, which brought together more than hundred participants from villages all over Kombo East District, included community leaders, Imams, alkalos, ward councillors, and the chief of the district.

The occasion also addressed the effects of FGM, the right of children and women among other issues.

Speaking on the occasion, Gamcotrap Executive Director Isatou Touray commended the community of Kombo East for sparing time from their farm work to attend the occasion, and prayed for a fruitful rainy season.

Dr Touray said they had not conducted the occasion to force anyone to abandon FGM, nor were they out to fight religion, culture or tradition. They were instead in to raise awareness on the harmfulness of some traditional practices as well as to promote and protect the rights of women and children, she said.

She emphasised the importance of dialogue and respect for different and divergent opinions…

Modern life means children miss out on pleasures of reading a good book | Books | The Observer

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Modern life means children miss out on pleasures of reading a good book | Books | The Observer

via Modern life means children miss out on pleasures of reading a good book | Books | The Observer.

Hulton Getty

Reading for pleasure is declining among primary-age pupils, and increasing numbers of “time poor” parents are dropping the ritual of sharing bedtime stories with their children once they start school.

Research presented to the Children’s Media Conference in Sheffield last week found that, while parents read to pre-schoolers, this later tails off, and by the final year of primary school only around 2% read to their children every day. Once children can read competently, parents tend to step back, and this usually happens at the age of seven or eight.

The report, entitled Is Children’s Reading a Casualty of Modern Life?, also found that 82% of teachers blame the government’s “target-driven” education policies for the fact that fewer children are reading for pleasure…

The false God of 0.7: understanding the Aid Business – By Richard Thomas | African Arguments

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The false God of 0.7: understanding the Aid Business – By Richard Thomas | African Arguments

via The false God of 0.7: understanding the Aid Business – By Richard Thomas | African Arguments.

The debate about the UK aid programme has been heating up over the last few months. There is general agreement that we should respond to humanitarian disasters, such as famine or tsunamis, but the debate has now focused on whether we, the UK, should give 0.7% of our GDP towards our aid programme and whether this should be enshrined in law. The argument for an aid programme is strong, for reasons of self interest as well as morality, but the doubters are not short of powerful facts and difficult questions.

We will give £220m a year to the DRC in 2013-4, not a country with which we have close links, and one which according to Richard Dowden, has a government which is ‘unpopular, corrupt, rapacious and incapable of establishing effective institutions’. Other governments are not much better from the point of view of the poor.  For example, why should we double our aid to Pakistan in the next two years when they do not bother to collect tax from the rich or give money to India when they have a space programme?

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