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Welcoming Men as Caretakers Can Help Close the Gender Pay Gap
By: Elsa Marie D'silva, Huffingtonpost.com
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Two important elections have been making headlines in the international arena: the American Presidency and the United Nations Secretary General. Neither position has ever been held by a woman. In the first, there is clearly a frontrunner woman candidate in former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, and in the second, there are at least four women among those vying for the position. But it seems like an uphill task to get people to consider a woman for these jobs even if she is the best person for it. We see this kind of questioning of women’s capabilities every day globally as women are routinely treated as second-class citizens. As the annual Global Gender Gap report shows, overall compared with men, women have limited rights, access to education, finance and health facilities. Further, they receive lower pay and compensation for the work they do. It is quite depressing that the new report released by the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee (JEC) indicates that the gender pay gap will not close in the U.S. until 2059. Though there’s been a lot of progress since the 1960s when women started entering the workforce in large numbers, the current 21% gap amounts to at least half a million dollars difference across a person’s career. The gender pay gap is a global problem. At the end of 2015, data suggested that women made a global average of $11,000 compared with $20,500 for men. This gap is caused by many factors, including women traditionally being seen solely as “home makers” and “mothers” who take time off from work to have babies and look after them. They are seen as “primary caregivers” but “secondary workers” who are not fully available to contribute to a formal career. As a result, they are often passed over for important assignments, promotions and significant roles in their career. Further, if there is no affordable childcare, they may opt to just stay out of the workforce while their children are young. Alarmingly, while women’s workforce participation is increasing in many countries, it’s not in all. In my country India, women’s participation in the labor force fell from just over 37 per cent in 2004-05 to 29 per cent in 2009-10. Though the number of women graduating has increased 116% between 2001 and 2011, almost half the women chose to drop out of work by mid-career to stay at home because of systemic social discrimination issues and the proverbial glass ceiling. Carolyn B. Maloney (D-N.Y.), ranking member of the U.S. Congress Joint Economic Committee says, “In many ways, the pay gap is due to obsolete social norms and inequitable workplace policies that make women pay a steep price for becoming mothers and caring for their children.” In order to change the social norms, we must first begin by breaking down stereotypical roles of parents and ensure that both parents are equal caregivers. Both parents must avail of parental leave thus sharing the burden of not only caring for the new-born child and adjusting to the change in family but also the time away from work which can be extremely agonizing for working women. In Sweden for example, parents are entitled to 480 days of parental leave of which 240 days must be taken by each of the parents. Parental leave can be taken up until a child turns eight. The leave entitlement applies to each child (except in the case of multiple births), so parents can accumulate leave from several children. Should a father — or a mother for that matter — decide not to take them, they cannot be transferred to the partner. This is a great incentive to promote gender equality and breakdown stereotypes. In 2014, fathers took a quarter of their leave to be with their children. This in turn has a positive impact on how children view traditional roles of parents, they have a closer bonding with their fathers and mothers and a well-rounded upbringing As fathers would go through the same anxiety as mothers when they re-enter the workforce after taking leave for parental responsibilities, it might encourage male managers and supervisors to be more sensitive to the needs of new parents at the workplace and understand the need for greater flexibility in adjusting work-life integration. A new McKinsey Global Institute report finds that $12 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 by advancing women’s equality but the public, private, and social sectors will need to act to close gender gaps in work and society. If India can increase women’s labor force participation by 10 percentage points (68 million more women) by 2025, India could increase its GDP 16 percent. To be sure, many more men are opting to take paternity leave and look after their children, an example that Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg tried to set by taking two months of paternity leave recently, but they often are in a minority. This can make it challenging for them when many childcare efforts are geared toward women. We need to do more to welcome men as caretakers. Viewing the gender gap as not just as a female issue but as a societal issue can help ensure a more equitable society where both men and women are able to exercise their rights fully to work and family without feeling shortchanged or discriminated against.

Americans are divided over which public bathrooms transgender people should use...
By: Michael Lipka, http://www.pewresearch.org/
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As the visibility of transgender Americans has increased in recent years, it has been accompanied by a contentious political debate over the rights of the estimated 0.6% of U.S. adults who identify as transgender – in particular, which public restrooms they should legally be allowed to enter. Earlier this year, North Carolina became the focus for much of this debate when it enacted a law prohibiting people from using public bathrooms that do not match their biological sex. The law has prompted a backlash from some businesses, large organizations and others, including the National Basketball Association and the National Collegiate Athletic Association. It is currently being challenged in court by the Obama administration. About half of U.S. adults (51%) say transgender individuals should be allowed to use public restrooms that correspond with the gender they currently identify with, according to a new Pew Research Center survey. But nearly as many (46%) take the opposite position – on the side of the North Carolina law – and say transgender people should be required to use bathrooms that match the gender they were born into. Religion, age, gender and politics are all connected with views on this issue. For instance, a majority of Americans who say they attend religious services at least weekly – especially white evangelicals – say transgender people should be required to use bathrooms of their gender at birth, while most of those who attend services less often (particularly people who do not identify with any religion) take the more liberal position that such individuals should be allowed to use bathrooms that correspond to their gender identity. Also, more women than men take the liberal stance (55% vs. 45%) as do young adults when compared with older Americans (67% of those ages 18 to 29, compared with about half or fewer in older age groups). In addition, those who are Democrats or who lean Democratic are far more likely than Republicans and GOP leaners (68% vs. 30%) to say transgender people should be able to use the bathroom that fits their gender identity. In addition, people who say they personally know someone who is transgender are more likely than those who do not to say transgender people should be allowed to use public bathrooms that match their current gender identity (60% vs. 47%). But only 30% of U.S. adults say they know someone who is transgender – far lower than the share of Americans who know someone who is gay (87%). Finally, only about one-in-five Americans (18%) say they sympathize at least somewhat with both perspectives on the use of public restrooms by transgender people, giving the issue at least the appearance of fitting into the broader pattern of political polarization in America. Indeed, roughly six-in-ten say they sympathize only with one side or the other. An additional one-in-five (19%) sympathize with neither side.

UN Appoints First Expert To Protect LGBT People From Discrimination
By: Lin Taylor, Reuters
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LONDON (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - The U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday appointed its first independent investigator to help protect homosexual and transgender people worldwide from violence and discrimination. The United Nations expert Vitit Muntarbhorn will have a three-year mandate to investigate abuses against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) people. Muntarbhorn is an international law professor at the Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand, and has served on several U.N. bodies, including inquiries on Syria and as a special rapporteur on North Korea. The U.N. agreed on the new role in June, after the 47-member council overcame strong objections by Saudi Arabia and other Muslim countries to adopt a Western-backed resolution by a vote of 23 states in favor and 18 against with six abstentions. Human Rights Watch welcomed Friday’s appointment, saying the U.N. council “made history.” “This critical mandate will bring much-needed attention to human rights violations against LGBT people in all regions of the world,” John Fisher, the group’s director in Geneva, said in a statement. The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA) said the newly created role was critical to give justice to LGBTI people who have been attacked, abused or discriminated against. “Never has there been a more urgent need to safeguard the human rights of LGBTI persons around the world,” executive director of ILGA, Renato Sabbadini, said in a statement to the Thomson Reuters Foundation. Hundreds of LGBTI people have been killed and thousands injured in recent years, in violence that included knife attacks, anal rape and genital mutilation, as well as stoning and dismemberment, the U.N. said in a report last year. More than 2,000 transgender and gender diverse people were murdered in 65 countries between 2008 and 2015, according to The Trans Murder Monitoring project, which is coordinated by LGBT rights group Transgender Europe. In 2011, the U.N. rights body declared there should be no discrimination or violence against people based on their sexual orientation.

Pope Calls Teaching Children About Gender Diversity ‘Against Nature’
By: Philip Pullella, Reuters
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Pope Francis said on Sunday that homosexuals and transsexuals should be treated with respect but that teaching gender theory is unacceptable “indoctrination” of young people. “When a person (who is gay) arrives before Jesus, Jesus certainly will not say, ‘Go away because you are homosexual,’” Francis said. The pope made his comments in the latest wide-ranging and freewheeling conversation with reporters aboard the plane returning from a foreign trip. The pope, who made headlines on his first trip in 2013 when he uttered his now-famous phrase “Who am I to judge?” about homosexuals, spoke in answer to a question about a comment he made in Georgia about various threats to marriage. He said that as a priest, bishop and even now pope, he had ministered to people with homosexual tendencies as well as some who were not able to remain chaste, as the Church asks them to be. “I accompanied them, I brought them closer to the Lord,” he said. “Some were not able (to obey Church teachings), but I accompanied them and I never abandoned one of them. That is a fact. People must be accompanied just like Jesus accompanies them.” During his trip to Georgia and Azerbaijan, he told priests and nuns that teaching gender theory in schools was part of a “global war” against marriage. Gender theory is broadly the concept that while people may be biologically male or female, they have the right to identify themselves as male, female, both or neither. “What I was talking about was the nastiness that is present today in indoctrinating people in gender theory,” he said when asked to elaborate on his earlier comments in Georgia. “IDEOLOGICAL COLONIZATION” He said gender theory being taught in schools “is against natural things.” “It is one thing for a person to have this tendency, this option, and even change sex,” he said. “But it is another thing to teach it, gender theory, in schools along these lines in order to change mentality. I call this ideological colonization.” The pope has used the phrase “ideological colonization” in the past to denounce what he says are attempts by rich countries to link development aid to the acceptance of social policies such as allowing gay marriage and contraception. Francis told the story of a Spanish person he met who told him of how much he had suffered because he felt like a boy in a girl’s body. The person later had a sex change operation and married a woman. The person told Francis in a letter how much the couple suffered when a local priest shouted to them: “You will go to hell.” Francis invited them to the Vatican to talk, and the couple were pleased that they were treated with dignity. “Life is life, and things should be taken as they come,” the pope said. “Sin is sin, but tendencies or hormonal imbalances ... can cause many problems and we have to be careful. “But each case must be welcomed, accompanied, studied, discerned and integrated. This is what Jesus would do today.” He then joked: “Please don’t write that the pope will sanctify transsexuals. I can see the front pages of papers now. But no, it is a moral question. It is a human question, and it must be resolved as best as possible, always with the mercy of God, the truth ... always with an open heart.”

The first openly gay bishop is a huge step forward – but it’s not enough
By: Vicky Beeching
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The Church of England is changing. Belatedly, yes, but better late than never. Last year the first female bishop, the Right Rev Libby Lane, was consecrated. Other women have followed, so when a female bishop is appointed now, it makes little impact on the news agenda. There’s no need to report it as – thank goodness – it has finally become the new normal. Last week the Church of England crossed another rubicon: Nicholas Chamberlain, the bishop of Grantham, became the first of its bishops to publicly state that he’s gay. The archbishop of Canterbury has subsequently declared Chamberlain’s sexuality to be “completely irrelevant” to his role and that his orientation was known about when he was appointed. However, this is less progressive than it first sounds. Only celibate same-sex relationships are permitted for priests and bishops. They can enter a civil partnership but are banned from getting married, and within the civil partnership there can be no “genital acts” (yes, the language in their guidelines really gets that granular). Thankfully the church is not installing CCTV on bedroom walls to monitor this, but verbal assent is required. The result is a quasi “don’t ask, don’t tell” culture generating fear, shame, and secrecy instead of the love and security that should be the right of any couple. Celibacy holds a hallowed place within Christian tradition; Saint Paul promoted it as a deeply spiritual way of life. The key element, however, is that Paul describes celibacy as a calling and a “gift”. Some are given this gift by God, Paul teaches, but many are not. So, nowhere in the Bible is there a precedent for an enforced vocation of celibacy. Although it’s a huge step forward to see a gay bishop come out, the ongoing problem is that only some gay couples are acceptable to the Church of England. Namely, those who enter civil partnerships, not marriages, and commit to being completely celibate. This requirement utterly demeans gay relationships. For many, it is a cruel and unhealthy strain on their partnership that straight clergy couples don’t have to face. I came out as gay in 2014 and still carry the scars. It detonated my former life into pieces; I was a well-known Christian speaker and singer in the UK and US, and after announcing my sexuality I was no longer able to continue with many aspects of that career. My sense of welcome in the evangelical wing of the Church of England, which had felt like home since I was born, abruptly changed. But somehow my faith withstood all the turmoil and Christianity is still a crucial aspect of who I am. Academic theology – the study of religion – is also very important to me. My doctoral research at Durham University focuses on the complex relationship between the church and rights. However, despite all my theological training, leadership experience and numerous invitations from senior church leaders, I’ve never taken the leap and become a priest. Why not? One major reason is the current climate around gay clergy. For me, as an openly gay Christian who disagrees with enforced celibacy and believes priests should be able to marry, I fear I’d simply be opening myself up to further damage, discrimination, and heartache. It’s a lot to weigh up. Some 25% of clergy are set to retire in the next five to 10 years. That statistic rises to 40% in some areas of the UK, showing the urgent need for new priests to fill these roles. Younger applicants are especially needed, as just 13% of clergy are aged 40 or under. It’s a shame that myself, and many others known to me, feel held back from priesthood by the current rules around sexuality. We are passionate about our faith, eager to serve, would bring energy and enthusiasm to the church, yet we’re stuck in a confusing gridlock of whether it would be safe for our own basic wellbeing. Younger friends of mine in their late teens have already completely dismissed the idea of working for the church. For them, LGBT equality is a basic essential for any employer. I worry that we are losing young people not just from future clergy roles, but from even from sitting in the pews, due to our slow progress on matters of equality. On coming out, Chamberlain said: “People know I’m gay, but it’s not the first thing I’d say to anyone. Sexuality is part of who I am, but it’s my ministry that I want to focus on.” This resonates with me wholeheartedly. If the church wants to keep its current priests, and attract a new wave of recruits, we need urgent progress so that gay people feel safe within its walls.

US military to allow transgender men and women to serve openly
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WASHINGTON—The Pentagon on Thursday lifted a long-standing ban against transgender men and women serving openly in the military, removing one of its last discriminatory hurdles and placing gender identity on a par with race, religion, color, sex and sexual orientation. The announcement by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter is part of a fundamental shift in the straight-laced, male-dominated US military, which in 2011 ended discrimination against gays and lesbians. More recently, it opened all combat positions to women and appointed the first openly gay secretary of the army, Eric K. Fanning. “Our mission is to defend this country, and we don’t want barriers unrelated to a person’s qualification to serve preventing us from recruiting or retaining the soldier, sailor, airman or Marine who can best accomplish the mission,” Carter said. “We have to have access to 100 percent of America’s population for our all-volunteer force to be able to recruit from among them the most highly qualified—and to retain them.” Ending the transgender ban, which followed an extensive one-year review, will affect a small fraction of individuals serving in the armed forces, or about 0.1 percent of the approximately 2 million active and reserve members in the US military. Still the social and political ramifications are likely to be felt more broadly. The military has often been a trailblazer in taking steps against discrimination, most notably ending segregation of African-Americans in the 1940s. The move also comes as conservative states like North Carolina and others are moving to pass laws aimed at transgender men and women, such as those requiring them to use public bathrooms based on the gender stated on their birth certificates. Critics in Congress were quick to respond. Rep. Mac Thornberry, a Texas Republican and chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said in a statement that the decision was “the latest example of the Pentagon and the president prioritizing politics over policy.” Privately, some senior military leaders believe the Pentagon is moving too fast and has not yet resolved issues related to implementation of the plan. In recent weeks, Carter has met with military chiefs to hear concerns and suggestions to ease the process. Gen. Joseph Dunford, former Marine commandant and now chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was noticeably absent during Carter’s announcement. Officials said he was hosting a general’s retirement party. “This is my decision,” Carter said, when asked about Dunford’s absence. “However, we have arrived at it together, the senior leadership of the department.” The move came nearly five years after the formal end of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” a 17-year-old policy that barred gays and lesbians from serving openly in the military. Under that policy, thousands of men and women in uniform were expelled due to sexual orientation. Openly gay civilian employees at the Defense Department faced similar discrimination until 1995, because they often could not obtain security clearances needed to work in national security agencies. The Pentagon took its first significant step toward lifting the ban on transgender service members in July, when Carter announced a six-month study designed to examine what it would take to make the change.Under the old rule, the Pentagon banned transgender troops from openly serving. If they revealed their transgender identity, they could be kicked out or denied reenlistment solely on that basis. The new plan will be phased in over a one-year period, but transgender service members currently on duty will be able to immediately serve openly. Carter gave the armed services until October 1 to create medical and training plans and until July 1, 2017, for full implementation. The Pentagon does not have a precise count of how many transgender men and women are in the services now because they face discharge if they reveal their identities. Out of an estimated 1.3 million active service members, there are as many as 6,630 transgender men and women who will be affected by the decision, according to a study by RAND Corp., a Santa Monica, California-based think tank. “Only a small portion of service members would likely seek gender transition-related medical treatments that would affect their deployability or health-care costs,” said Agnes Gereben Schaefer, lead author of the study and a senior political scientist at RAND. The study, commissioned by the Pentagon, estimates that between 30 and 140 new hormone treatments a year could be initiated by transgender service members. In addition, there may be 25 to 130 gender transition-related surgeries utilized a year among active service members. As a result, US military health-care costs are expected to increase between $2.4 million and $8.4 million—or a 0.13-percent increase. Carter said gender reassignment surgery and other treatment deemed “medically necessary” by a physician might be covered in as soon as 90 days. Transgender men and women seeking to join the military would be required to wait 18 months after transitioning before being accepted. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) groups applauded the Pentagon for opening the door to equality for transgender soldiers. Aaron Belkin, director of The Palm Center, an LGBT research institute based in San Francisco, said the ban against transgender men and women “crumbled with record speed” in comparison to the protracted battles involving race-, gender- and sexual orientation-based discrimination. “With the repeal of ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and the elimination of the combat exclusion rule on women, today’s historic step to end transgender discrimination completes the Obama administration’s successful effort to strengthen our armed forces by ensuring that service is based on people’s merit and not their personal identity,” he said. The Palm Center estimates that there are about 12,600 transgender members of the US military, making the Defense Department the largest employer of transgender people in America. Questions remain about how the department will handle cases of service members who transition after joining the military, such as determining which bathrooms they would use or where they would shower and sleep during the process.

UN body creates post on sexual orientation, gender identity
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GENEVA — The UN’s top human rights body on Thursday decided to appoint an expert to monitor violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity, a move applauded by LGBT groups. In a narrow 23-18 vote with six abstentions, the Human Rights Council called for the creation of a three-year position for an independent expert to look into wrongdoing against gays, lesbians and transgender people. The expert is expected to be appointed at the next meeting of the 47-member, Geneva-based body in September. “This is truly momentous,” said Micah Grzywnowicz of the Swedish Federation for LGBTQ Rights in a statement. “This is our opportunity to bring international attention to specific violations and challenges faced by transgender and gender non-conforming persons in all regions.” The resolution benefited from strong support from Latin America and the West, while many African and Middle Eastern countries joined China voting against it. The expert’s duties will include assessing international human rights laws, raising awareness of violence based on sexual orientation, and engaging in dialogue with member states and other stakeholders. “This will be a hard job,” US Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said in a statement. “In more than 70 countries around the world, same-sex activity or relationships are still criminalized. In some countries, LGBTI persons are harassed and even killed for who they are. In the United States, we witnessed the human cost of this horrifying threat during the June 12 terrorist attack in Orlando.” The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association hailed the decision as a “turning point” that will boost international scrutiny of wrongdoing against people for their sexual orientation and gender identity. Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/793642/un-body-creates-post-on-sexual-orientation-gender-identity#ixzz4IyglPRg4 Follow us: @inquirerdotnet on Twitter | inquirerdotnet on Facebook

It's time to do something about sexual harassment
By: Anonymous
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Pardon our sarcasm, but the only person who doesn’t seem to be aware of the ongoing sexual harassment problem in the Legislature is Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver. The latest revelation of sordid and unsavory behavior by our state’s lawmakers was reported by The New York Times in Wednesday’s editions. In the Times report, Manhattan Assemblyman Michael Kellner was accused of having a flirtatious and inappropriate online communication with a young female staffer in 2009. The accusation, including 15 pages of transcribed online chats, was reported to longtime Assembly lawyer Bill Collins, who promptly forgot to advance the accusation to the Ethics Committee as required by Assembly policy. And according to Silver, Collins failed to tell him, too. Oddly enough, it was Silver who forgot to advance a sexual harassment complaint against former Assemblyman Vito Lopez earlier this year. Instead, he had Assembly lawyers negotiate a cash settlement with two women who had filed a complaint against Lopez. In an Associated Press story Wednesday, former Assemblyman Michael Benjamin said legislative staff had sexual harassment training after past scandals, so it should have been clear about the reporting procedure. He also told The Associated Press it was not plausible Silver did not know about the case. Considering the power Speaker Silver holds over political careers, we also find it suspect. On Thursday, the Times-Union reported Senate Democratic Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, said in a radio interview that sexual harassment against women in the Legislature was disturbing and intolerable and also a long-standing problem. A 10-part bill that expanded sexual harassment protections for women did not pass in the Legislature this spring because of an anti-abortion component. The reality is that we are at this point now that there is an awareness that behavior like this is intolerable, Stewart-Cousins said in the radio interview. They won’t be tolerated. It’s not acceptable. This culture cannot continue to exist. It can’t be said any better than that. We’re just waiting for someone to finally do something about it. Local editorials represent the opinion of The Post-Star editorial board, which consists of Publisher Rick Emanuel, Editor Ken Tingley, Projects Editor Will Doolittle and citizen representative Ted Mirczak.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month provides reminder of need for year-round vigilance
By: Journal editorial board
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You can’t control your race. You have no say over your gene pool, and you definitely couldn’t keep your mother from taking certain drugs when she was pregnant with you. But when you consider the risk factors for breast cancer – and there are many, sadly – there is a key element over which you do have agency, and that is early detection. The world is tinted pink in observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Pink mugs, pink ribbons on football helmets, pink gym socks, cars and boxes of spaghetti – even the pages of the newspaper you’re reading right now. The goal of the color barrage is straightforward: To remind people that awareness is one of the most potent tools in their arsenal when it comes to combating the second most common cancer among American women after skin cancer. About one in 8 women in the United States will develop invasive breast cancer in the course of a lifetime. About 40,000 women will die. (Men are not immune, but the American Cancer Society estimates that the disease is about 100 times less common in men than in women. By the end of this year, about 232,670 women will hear the diagnosis they’ve been dreading. But the news is not uniformly grim. Female death rates from breast cancer have been steadily dropping for the past quarter century, due largely to a decline in use of hormone therapy after menopause, improved treatment – and early detection. Today, there are more than 2.8 million breast cancer survivors in the United States, individuals who are still undergoing treatment and those who have finished. That number was unimaginable before the 21st Century. There are always scoffers: people who say Enough already with the pink. But if turning the lights across the George Washington Bridge the color of cotton candy reminds women to schedule a mammogram or examine themselves for a lump – we’ll take it. Gladly. In conjunction with our advertisers, The Times of Trenton will donate proceeds from specially designed ads to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation® to help muster the best medical and scientific minds in pursuit of a cure and a path to prevention. Ongoing research has given us much cause for hope where before there was none. Just this week came word that a drug called Perjeta, used to treat the disease in its advanced states, is having what scientists dare to call - unprecedented success in prolonging lives. A diagnosis of breast cancer is no longer an automatic death sentence, as those 2.8 million survivors can attest. But the need for vigilance and knowledge remains as strong as ever.

Almas Jiwani Helps Put Gender Equality Onto the Post 2015 Development Agenda
By: Paola Grenier
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LOWELL, MASSACHUSETTS--(Marketwired - Nov. 19, 2014) - Almas Jiwani, President of UN Women National Committee Canada contributes her viewpoint to the Post-2015 Consensus Projects, facilitated by the Copenhagen Consensus Center. The Post-2015 Consensus Projects brings together the world's top economists, non-governmental organizations, international agencies and businesses to identify key action items in the post-Millennium Development Goals (MDG's). Almas Jiwani's contribution highlights the importance of gender issues in the post-2015 debates. It is essential that plans are implemented to continue the conversation on how to empower women and girls after 2015, in the post MDG era. This project strategically aligns with our goals to ensure these issues do not fade into the background, but rather continue to be presented as main agents for change, says Almas Jiwani. I am proud to be working, aiding, and advising the post-2015 consensus projects on potential mechanisms for the empowerment of women and girls globally. Almas Jiwani offers real depth of experience and leadership in addressing women's right and gender equality around the world. Her contribution to the post-205 consensus project adds a campaigning voice to the economic analysis we commissioned, and challenges us to think seriously about the practical significance of the proposed targets on the lives of women and society more widely, stated PAOLA GRENIER, Senior Project Manager, Copenhagen Consensus Center.

Violence Against Women & Children in the Philippines On the Rise; WeDpro Calls for Collective Action
By: Igor Dela Pena
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More and more women in the Philippines are being abused and subjected to acts of violence, with one in five women aged 15 to 49 found to have experienced physical violence, while one in ten women have experienced sexual violence. This finding, a result of the National Statistics Office’s National Demographic and Health Survey (NDHS), was shared by WeDpro in the end-of-project conference for The Red AVP (Anti-Violence Project), short for Private and Public Faces of Violence Against Women: Addressing Domestic Violence and Trafficking In the Urban Poor Communities and Entertainment Centers of Angeles City and Olongapo City. WeDpro noted that cases of violence against women and children have risen over the years, despite the passage of Republic Act (R.A.) 9208 in 2003, which sought to eliminate and punish human trafficking and established the necessary institutional mechanisms for the protection and support of trafficked persons, as well as R.A. 9262, the Anti-Violence Against Women and Their Children Act of 2004, which granted the government the right to intervene in case of household violence or abuse against women and children. Because of these alarming data, WeDpro, with the support of the European Union, embarked on The Red AVP, which identified factors constraining the effective implementation of anti-trafficking and anti-violence against women and children (VAWC) laws in Angeles City and Olongapo City. The project also endeavored to build the capacities of stakeholders to address the identified factors hindering the protection and fulfillment of the right against trafficking and violence. “The implementation gap in this country continues to remain particularly glaring,” noted Lila Ramos Shahani, Assistant Secretary of the National Anti-Poverty Commission. “Violence against women and trafficking are overt manifestations of gender inequality in the Philippines and its prevalence in our patriarchal culture.” WeDpro’s research report “Surviving Violence and Trafficking: Stories of Women & Youth of Angeles & Olangapo Cities”, a result of The Red AVP, determined factors that have hindered the implementation of anti-violence and trafficking laws. Among these are the lack of support mechanisms, both material and human resources, in barangays and LGUs; the lack of fiscals in Family Courts and the ensuing inefficiency of the government’s prosecution service; political constraints such as the change of leadership in LGUs and lack of women’s organizations that sustain anti-VAWC programs; and beliefs and attitudes that perpetuate violence such as the community’s view that abused and trafficked survivors are “willing” victims. To hurdle these challenges, WeDpro determined that that barangays, local government units (LGUs), civil society groups, the media and the community must all work together to stop violence against women and children. Commission on Human Rights (CHR) Chairperson Loretta Ann “Etta” Rosales declared her support for WeDpro, saying, “My priorities include revitalizing the Philippine human rights infrastructure, nurturing a strong human rights culture, and building strong partnerships with the civil society and NGOs. These include further strengthening our centers on women and children. We should all work together to protect, respect and fulfill the human rights of every single Filipino” Angeles Mayor Edgardo Pamintuan echoed the need for different stakeholders to cooperate and collaborate. “The problem is just too big, its roots too deep, for us to defeat alone. We need the support of civil society organizations, the national government, and the international community…Trafficking and violence against women and children are related to many other issues and social problems, especially poverty, lack of education, law enforcement, corruption and many others. In other words, only a holistic approach could contain it,” he said.

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