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Wednesday, April 29, 2015

UN_Women_English_No_Tag_Blue"Progress of the World's Women 2015-2016: Transforming Economies, Realizing Rights" launches in seven cities
A major report from UN Women, released today in seven locations globally, brings together human rights and economic policymaking to call for far-reaching changes to the global policy agenda that will transform economies and make women's rights, and equality, a reality. It takes an in-depth look at what the economy would look like if it truly worked for women, for the benefit of all.
Progress makes the case that the alternative economic agenda it outlines would not only create fairer societies, it would also create new sectors of employment, for instance in the care economy.
The report is being published as the international community comes together to define a transformative new agenda for sustainable development and 20 years after the landmark Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing, China, which set out an ambitious agenda to advance gender equality.
Since the Beijing Conference, significant advances have been made by many societies, particularly in advancing women's legal rights. However, as Progress shows, in an era of unprecedented global wealth, millions of women are still consigned to work in low paid, poor quality jobs, denied even basic levels of health care, without access to clean water and decent sanitation.
Globally, only half of women participate in the labour force, compared to three quarters of men. In developing regions, up to 95 per cent of women's employment is informal, in jobs that are unprotected by labour laws and lack social protection.
Women still carry the burden of unpaid care work, which austerity policies and cutbacks have only intensified. To build fairer, more sustainable economies which work for women and men, a future comprising more of the same will no longer do.
"Our public resources are not flowing in the directions where they are most needed: for example, to provide safe water and sanitation, quality health care, and decent child- and elderly-care services. Where there are no public services, the deficit is borne by women and girls," said UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka.
"This is a care penalty that unfairly punishes women for stepping in when the State does not provide resources and it affects billions of women the world over. We need policies that make it possible for both women and men to care for their loved ones without having to forego their own economic security and independence," she added.
Through solid, in-depth analysis and data, this evidence-based report provides ten key recommendations for actions that governments and others can take in order to move towards an economy that truly works for women, to the benefit of all.
Progress sets out a vision of a global economy fit for women, where they have equal access to productive resources and social protection, which provides them with sufficient income to support an adequate standard of living. In such an economy, the work that women do would be respected and valued; stereotypes about what women and men can and should do would be eliminated; and women would be able to work and live their lives free from violence and sexual harassment.
The reality, however, is very different.
The report reveals that globally, on average, women are paid 24 per cent less than men. The gaps for women with children are even wider: In South Asia, for example, the gender pay gap is 35 per cent for women with children (compared to 14 per cent for those without). Lower rates of labour force participation, gender pay gaps and lower access to pensions add up to a huge care penalty for women. In France and Sweden, over their lifetime, women can expect to earn 31 per cent less than men; in Germany 49 per cent less than men; and in Turkey, an average woman can expect to earn a staggering 75 per cent less than an average man over her lifetime.
Women are clustered into a limited set of under-valued occupations. For example, 83 per cent of domestic workers worldwide are women and almost half of them are not entitled to the minimum wage. Even when women succeed in the workplace, they encounter obstacles not generally faced by their male counterparts. For example, in the EU, 75 per cent of women in management and higher professional positions and 61 per cent of women in service sector occupations have experienced some form of sexual harassment in the workplace in their lifetimes.
An economy designed with women's needs in mind would give them an equal voice in economic decision-making: from the way in which time and money are spent in their households, to the ways in which resources are raised and allocated at the national level, to how broader economic parameters are set by global institutions.
Women are still under-represented in economic leadership positions, from trade unions to corporate boards, from finance ministries to international financial institutions. Women's membership in trade unions is growing in some countries, but they rarely reach top leadership positions. In 2014, across six of the most influential global economic institutions, women's representation on their boards ranged from 4 to 20 per cent.
Through case studies and concrete examples of change from Bolivia to Botswana, Progress calls for a paradigm shift in the way governments, financial institutions, businesses and civil society approach economic policy thinking and human rights, to bring about an alternative economic agenda which places women and their rights at its centre.
"The new economic agenda that UN Women is advocating for is not a pipe dream. Many countries, including low-income developing countries, are already implementing elements of this agenda," said Shahra Razavi, Chief of UN Women's Research and Data Section and lead author of the report. "The kind of change we need is far-reaching, but it can be done."
In its key recommendations, Progress underlines that with the right mix of economic and social policies, governments can generate decent jobs for women (and men) and ensure that the unpaid care work that goes into sustaining all economies is recognized and supported. Well-designed social services (e.g. health, care services) and social protection measures (e.g. pensions) can enhance women's income security, from birth to old age, and enhance their capacity to seize economic opportunities and expand their life options.
Macroeconomic policies can and should support the realization of women's rights, by creating dynamic and stable economies, by generating decent work and by mobilizing resources to finance vital public services. Governments need to go beyond the old metrics of GDP growth and low inflation, and instead measure success in terms of the realization of human rights.
Women's economic and social rights - the right to a decent job, to health care and a life free from violence and discrimination - are guaranteed in human rights treaties, which almost all governments in the world have signed. Governments are ultimately responsible for delivering these rights, but they cannot do it alone. International financial institutions and the private sector are among the key players that shape the economy. They all need to be held accountable by civil society and the public, to play their part.
The changes proposed in the report will not only make the economy work for women, but also benefit the majority of men for whom the economy is not working either. The report argues that progress for women is progress for all.
EthiopiaNestled in the turbulent Horn of Africa, Ethiopia is Africa’s oldest independent modern nation-state and second most populous. Discourse on Ethiopia has traditionally revolved around poverty, conflict, disease, and famine, yet in recent years it has experienced considerable economic growth, making it amongst “Africa’s top performing economies,” and the country has also made significant progress on several of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals. Furthermore, regional political maneuvers and ambitions have seen Ethiopia touted as “Africa’s Next Hegemon.” Although these developments are widely heralded within the new Ethiopian narrative, other critical issues have often been overlooked.
For example, while Ethiopia’s economic “miracle” has been much celebrated, it remains the second poorest country in the world according to the United Nations Development Programme and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative’sMultidimensional Poverty Index, the country continues to rank extremely low upon various socio-economic, governance, and development indicators, it still receives significant amounts of military, economic, and food aid, is plagued by considerable regional and ethnolinguistic-based inequalities (many arising through government cronyism), and it is also burdened by significantly high levels of unemployment (partly fueling mass migration).
Problematically, Ethiopia’s state-led development strategy is riddled with pervasive, systematic human rights abuses. Since the beginning of work on Ethiopia’s Gibe III Dam project in 2006, international human rights groups have repeatedly accused the regime in Addis Ababa of forcibly driving indigenous minority ethnic groups out of the Lower Omo Valley and endangering the indigenous Turkana community. Survival International, a UK-based rights group, has warned that the “Kwegu people of southwest Ethiopia are facing a food crisis, severe hunger, and the loss of their water and fish supplies due to the destruction of surrounding forests and the drying up of the river on which their livelihoods depend.”
The brutality characterizing the Gibe III Dam project is mirrored by the violence and repression accompanying Ethiopia’s “villagization” program, a vital component of the state’s agricultural development strategy. Dating back to the days of the murderous Dergue regime, and condemned by a spate of international rights groups, villagization entails the forcible relocation of indigenous communities from locations reserved for large foreign-owned plantations. Reports by rights groups list a plethora of human rights violations including beatings, killings, rapes, imprisonment, intimidation, and political coercion by the government and authorities. The program has also led to greater food insecurity, a destruction of livelihoods, and the loss of cultural heritage of ethnic groups. The deleterious effects of villagization are displayed in a report (based on first-person testimony) recently released by the Oakland Institute (OI), an international rights, advocacy, and environmental group. OI’s report vividly describes how, via “strongarm tactics reminiscent of apartheid South Africa, the Ethiopian regime has moved tens of thousands of people against their will to purpose-built communes that have inadequate food and lack health and education facilities to make way for large, foreign-owned commercial agriculture projects.”
In essence, Ethiopia’s socio-political climate is characterized by torture, oppression, and crackdowns on any perceived signs of dissent. Reports “detailing the arbitrary detention, beatings, and torture of journalists, bloggers, youth, and governmental opponents are widespread, including Ethiopia’s use of surveillance equipment to monitor the speech and interactions of the Ethiopian diaspora.”
Last year, documents released by renowned international journalist Glenn Greenwald also revealed that Ethiopia’s state surveillance activities were partly underwritten by the NSA.
However, there are signs that long-simmering grievances and tensions may boil over.Disenchantment and disillusionment, marked by claims of “repression, inequality and unemployment” have inspired large, frequent protests against the regime over the last few years. Last year, mass protests by Oromo civilians, especially students, were brutally crushed by Ethiopian authorities, while last week, a government organized rally, arranged in the aftermath of ISIS’ brutal murder of Ethiopian migrants in Libya, witnessed numerous arrests, injuries, and widespread clashes between security forces and protesters. During the rally, the government trumpeted political slogans, with an eye on upcoming elections, while government spokespersons urged potential migrants not to risk their lives by using dangerous exit routes. Demonstrators erupted in anger, denouncing the government as “thieves” and condemning the fact that Ethiopian migrants were only in Libya due to the deplorable conditions in Ethiopia.
With national “elections” on the near horizon, periods historically marked by boycotts, corruption and vote-rigging, violence, and repression, Ethiopia’s internal socio-political dynamics merit attention and should not be overlooked, particularly due to potential domestic and regional humanitarian and security implications. The migrant tragedy in Libya and the regime’s ongoing crackdowns display clearly that the “African Lion” is unwell. Moreover, they could augur that additional instability, upheaval, uprisings, and even a long-sought socio-political change are to come.
An Ethiopian skater, part of the Ethioskate organization, performs in the Bole area of Addis Ababa on March 27, 2015. Swerving around potholes and speeding through chaotic traffic makes skateboarding the crowded streets of Ethiopia's capital a risky game. Yet this sport once unknown in Addis Ababa is attracting fans and the support of skateboarders worldwide.  AFP PHOTO / ZACHARIAS ABUBEKERSWERVING around potholes and speeding through chaotic traffic makes skateboarding the crowded streets of Ethiopia’s capital a risky game.
Yet, growing numbers of fans are taking up this once unknown sport in Addis Ababa and attracting the support of skateboarders worldwide.
In the bustling market district of Shiro Meda, gangs of children rattle down the hills, flipping boards painted in the colours of Ethiopia — green, yellow and red — as they show off the latest tricks they’ve learnt.
It’s a tough area and skateboarding offers moments of fun and escape for the young people living here.
“There’s nothing for the kids in the neighbourhood, nothing to inspire them,” said Israel Dejene, founder of a local skateboarding group, who said he was inspired by watching children slide down the pavements with bits of plastic fixed to the bottom of their shoes for fun.
“These skate sessions are the only positive thing they can do,” added Israel, who named his Megabiskate project after the Ethiopian word “megabi“, meaning someone who “gives life to others”.
The group aims to use the sport to help the children, as “a tool to engage the kids, to develop self-esteem, confidence and an alternative lifestyle to the troubles” on the streets.
“Skateboarding creates a positive community, it teaches them to teach each other tricks and promotes a good self-image,” added the dreadlocked Rastafarian musician, who discovered the sport during a visit to Sweden, where he was fascinated by “this board that seemed attached to the feet in the air”.
The project has won international admirers: American professional skateboarders Tony Hawk and Nyjah Huston visited in February bringing with them dozens of boards.
Their visit was excitedly reported on social media, putting the spotlight on Ethiopia’s small but growing community of skateboarders and inspiring still more to join.
City of hills -
The highland city of hills and steep roads is a good place to learn, despite its streets being sometimes crowded with livestock or trucks feeding its building boom.
“I live on the top of the mountain, when I leave my house I’m going down for miles of hills at high speed. Addis Ababa is huge for skating,” said Yared Gobeze, a young skater.
Yared joined Ethiopia Skate, a group of skateboarders who meet several times a week in the streets of the capital, doing tricks on boards mostly donated by skaters in Austria and the United States.
“As soon as people see a new sport that they cannot picture in Africa they’re amazed and happy to see it there. It’s amazing,” Yared said.
Some 200 skaters take part, with large and cheering crowds gathering to watch them as they jump curbs, fly down stairs and often fall hard on the ground without any protection.
“We just try to use whatever there is in Addis — even if the spots are pretty bad we just make the best out of it,” said Abenezer Temesgen, one of Ethiopia’s skate pioneers.
Some even block the flow of cars to skate across or down the road, as stunned motorists watch the youngsters speed past, flipping up onto curbs on battered boards.
Well-dressed young women snap photographs of the stunts with their mobile phones, while raggedy children plead for a board, and their turn to try.
“Skating is growing — now we’ve got hundreds of kids skating,” Abenezer said, noting that the emergence of skateboarding in Ethiopia also reflects a yearning for normality, to be like other nations and other young people.
“We’ve been known for being poor, but Ethiopia is bigger than that,” he added.
“You can’t represent Ethiopia just by being poor. Coming here skating with the kids makes me love my country.”
Media captionRelief for these migrants as they are freed after 48 hours hiding in a hay-bale truck
By a checkpoint outside the Libyan city of Misrata, a truck full of hay-bales is opened by border guards and a badly-kept secret is revealed.
Inside are women and children, and men too. Fifty people, migrants, in each truck, smuggled across the desert.
They had been inside for two days without food or water, some almost suffocated.
Abdul Rahim thought he would die. He has since been transferred to a Libyan jail.
Abdul Rahim
Abdul Rahim says he was treated like cargo
"I paid 3,570 Libyan dinar (£1,700; $2,600) to be smuggled," he told me. "We were treated like cargo, the smugglers took a cut at every step."
People smugglers don't take too kindly to enquiries about their business but, after weeks of searching, one agreed to speak to me if he could remain anonymous.
He's grown rich out of the trade.
"The amount of money is phenomenal," he said.
"A fishing boat worth 40,000 dinar, (£20,000) can be sold for smuggling for £100,000. It's an unimaginable amount of money.
"The boats are brought in from Egypt, they're bad quality and you load it with 90 or 100 people, and some of them get there and others will die."
Parts of Libya, he said, are under the control of smugglers.
They run a state in Sabratha and Zuwarah, west of Tripoli near the Tunisian border. They use the official sea ports for smuggling immigrants, not through back roads and hidden ways, but they load people from the port docks.
Map showing migrant routes
I asked the smuggler about those who died.
"The immigrants are told everything before they get on board. If what you pay is only 700 dinar you get on a small boat. If you pay better you get on a better boat."
There's evidence of the boom in the trafficking trade everywhere in Misrata.
Ramadan Rajab, who has been in charge of the city's morgue for about 15 years, says he lost his sense of smell shortly after he started.
The smell here is overwhelming.
Ramadan Rajab
Ramadan Rajab says he lost his sense of smell while working at Misrata's morgue
There is not enough room inside the refrigerated mortuary, so the bodies are lying outside - putrifying in the hot Libyan sun.
"Last week we buried more than 20 bodies we collected from the sea, sometimes it takes a month to collect them all. The numbers always increase," he said.
In the Sahara the smugglers use hidden trails.
Sometimes they abandon their cargo, the migrants, right out in the middle of the desert. They tell them "follow these power lines and eventually, you'll reach a city".
Many don't make it.
Even though the migrants are poor, their numbers are so large that fortunes are being made out here in the sand.
Behind the trade is a complex criminal and tribal network - and almost nothing is being done to stop it.
It's a business worth more than £100m a year, according to a recent conservative UN estimate.
And every day fresh cargo arrives.
In a detention centre, it's roll call as a new truckload arrives.
The men stand as their country is called. Today, most are from Niger.
Alexander is from Ghana. He took a month and a half to get this far.
"The smugglers are Libyan people," he said. "It's them, they are doing this work. With pick-ups, the way they use to take us... They even kidnap you. It's not easy. They kidnap us."
The migrants are captured, pay bribes to get free, and are captured again. Families back home transfer money, and are left in debt.
Libya doesn't function as a country now. But at trafficking, it is untouchable. It's Africa's and the world's smuggler state.
save imageWithin a week, Ethiopians were hit with a quadruple whammy. On April 19, the Libyan branch of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) released a shocking video purporting to show the killings and beheadings of Ethiopian Christians attempting to cross to Europe through Libya. This came only days after an anti-immigrant mob in South Africa killed at least three Ethiopian immigrants and wounded many others. Al Jazeera America reported thatthousands of Ethiopian nationals were stranded in war-torn Yemen. And in the town of Robe in Oromia and its surroundings alone, scores of people were reportedly grieving over the loss of family members at sea aboard a fateful Europe-bound boat that sank April 19 off the coast of Libya with close to 900 aboard.
These tragedies may have temporarily united Ethiopians of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds. But they have also raised questions about what kind of desperation drove these migrants to leave their country and risk journeys through sun-scorched deserts and via chancy boats.
The crisis comes at a time when Ethiopia’s economic transformation in the last decade is being hailed as nothing short of a miracle, with some comparing it to the feat achieved by the Asian “tigers” in the 1970s. Why would thousands of young men and women flee their country, whose economy is the fastest growing in Africa and whose democracy is supposedly blossoming? And when will the exodus end?
After the spate of sad news, government spokesman Redwan Hussein said the tragedy “will be a warning to people who wish to risk and travel to Europe through the dangerous route.” Warned or not, many youths simply do not see their dreams for a better life realized in Ethiopia. Observers cite massive poverty, rising costs of living, fast-climbing youth unemployment, lack of economic opportunities for the less politically connected, the economy’s overreliance on the service sector and the requirement of party membership as a condition for employment as the drivers behind the exodus.
A 2012 study by the London-based International Growth Center noted (PDF) widespread urban unemployment amid growing youth landlessness and insignificant job creation in rural areas. “There have been significant increases in educational attainment. However, there has not been as much job creation to provide employment opportunities to the newly educated job seekers,” the report said.
One of the few ISIL victims identified thus far was expelled from Saudi Arabia in 2013. (Saudi deported more than 100,000 Ethiopian domestic workers during a visa crackdown.) A friend, who worked as a technician for the state-run Ethiopian Electricity Agency, joined him on this fateful trek to Libya. At least a handful of the victims who have been identified thus far were said to be college graduates.
Given the depth of poverty, Ethiopia’s much-celebrated economic growth is nowhere close to accommodating the country’s young and expanding population, one of the largest youth cohorts in Africa. Government remains the main employer in Ethiopia after agriculture and commerce. However, as Human Rights Watch noted in 2011, “access to seeds, fertilizers, tools and loans … public sector jobs, educational opportunities and even food assistance” is often contingent on support for the ruling party.
Still, unemployment and lack of economic opportunities are not the only reasons for the excessive outward migration. These conditions are compounded by the fact that youths, ever more censored and denied access to the Internet and alternative sources of information, simply do not trust the government enough to heed Hussein’s warnings. Furthermore, the vast majority of Ethiopian migrants are political refugees fleeing persecution. There are nearly 7,000 registered Ethiopian refugees in Yemen, Kenya has more than 20,000, and Egypt and Somalia have nearly 3,000 each, according to the United Nations refugee agency.
As long as Ethiopia focuses on security, the door is left wide open for further exodus and potential social unrest from an increasingly despondent populace. 
Ethiopians will head to the polls in a few weeks. Typically, elections are occasions to make important choices and vent anger at the incumbent. But on May 24, Ethiopians will be able to do neither. In the last decade, authorities have systematically closed the political space through a series of anti-terrorism, press and civil society laws. Ethiopia’s ruling party, now in power for close to 24 years, won the last four elections. The government has systematically weakened the opposition and does not tolerate any form of dissent.
The heightened crackdown on freedom of expression has earned Ethiopia the distinction of being the world’sfourth-most-censored country and the second leading jailer of journalists in Africa, behind only its archrival, Eritrea, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
There is little hope that the 2015 elections would be fundamentally different from the 2010 polls, in which the ruling party won all but two of the 547 seats in the rubber-stamp national parliament. The ruling party maintains a monopoly over the media. Authorities have shown little interest in opening up the political space for a more robust electoral contest. This was exemplified by the exclusion of key opposition parties from the race, continuing repression of those running and Leenco Lata’s recent failed attempt to return home to pursue peaceful political struggle after two decades of exile. (Lata is the founder of the outlawed Oromo Liberation Front, fighting since 1973 for the rights of the Oromo, Ethiopia’s marginalized majority population, and the president of the Oromo Democratic Front.)
A few faces from the fragmented and embittered opposition maybe elected to parliament in next month’s lackluster elections. But far from healing Ethiopia’s gashing wounds, the vote is likely to ratchet up tensions. In fact, a sea of youth, many too young to vote, breaking police barriers to join opposition rallies bespeaks not of a country ready for elections but one ripe for a revolution with unpredictable consequences.
Despite these mounting challenges, Ethiopia’s relative stability — compared with its deeply troubled neighbors Somalia, South Sudan, Eritrea and Djibouti — is beyond contention. Even looking further afield, across the Red Sea, where Yemen is unraveling, one finds few examples of relative stability. This dynamic and Ethiopia’s role in the “war on terrorism” explains Washington’s and other donors’ failure to push Ethiopia toward political liberalization.
However, Ethiopia’s modicum of stability is illusory and bought at a hefty price: erosion of political freedoms, gross human rights violations and ever-growing discontent. This bodes ill for a country split by religious, ethnic and political cleavages. While at loggerheads with each other, Ethiopia’s two largest ethnic groups — the Oromo (40 percent) and the Amhara (30 percent) — are increasingly incensed by continuing domination by Tigreans (6 percent).
Ethiopian Muslims (a third of the country’s population of 94 million) have been staging protests throughout the country since 2011. Christian-Muslim relations, historically cordial, are being tested by religious-inspired violence and religious revivalism around the world. Ethiopia faces rising pressures to choose among three paths fraught with risks: the distasteful status quo; increased devolution of power, which risks balkanization; and more centralization, which promises even further resistance and turmoil.
It is unlikely that the soul searching from recent tragedies will prompt the authorities to make a course adjustment. If the country’s history of missed opportunities for all-inclusive political and economic transformation is any guide, Ethiopians might be in for a spate of more sad news. As long as the answer to these questions focuses on security, the door is left wide open for further exodus and potential social unrest from an increasingly despondent populace.