Author: Liz Fortier

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SDG 7: Access To Energy Can Lead To Gender Equity

At this time last year, the progress of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) was being analyzed as their 15-year stretch was coming to a close. As I contribute to the Girls’ Globe coverage of the launch of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) this year, I think back on an article I wrote about MDG 4: Reduction of child mortality. ​The MDGs were launched in 2000, and projected to be accomplished by 2015. Last year, I wrote about how we failed to meet the targets for MDG 4 . The UN update on MDG 4 explained that, “Despite determined global progress in reducing child deaths, an increasing proportion of child deaths are in sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia. Four out of every five deaths of children under age five occur in these regions.” A few questions arose for me upon hearing about the roll out of the SDGs: “Are we just throwing the MDGs by the wayside?” and “Will the SDGs be treated in the same way; if they fail, they will be forgotten in 2030?” Through reading …

FXBVillage Toolkit

It Takes A Village

All of our heartstrings feel a tug when we find ourselves staring into the face of poverty. We see a malnourished child’s face on a brochure from a far away place, hear news stories of migrants fleeing war, and those who have survived natural disasters. I think we all want to help. More often than not, we go on with our lives and forget the stories which briefly captured our attention. I suppose it’s natural to look away from that kind of pain and uncertainty, but sadly, even our world leaders can not agree about how to reduce poverty and tackle other issues. 1.2 billion people currently live in extreme poverty, living on or under $1.25 a day. When her son, a search and rescue pilot, died in 1986 at the age of 24, Albina du Boisrouvray made a decision to continue his legacy by helping the world’s poor. Albina developed FXB in his honor. After 26 years of “successfully disrupting the cycle of extreme poverty,” Albina has made her experiences available to policy makers, non-profits, NGOs, governments, and …

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‘Create our future by design, not by accident!’

Last night, I attended the UNGA event, Leader’s Forum on Women Leading the Way: Raising Ambition for Climate Action, hosted by UN Women and the Mary Robinson Foundation. Ban Ki-moon, UN Secretary-General, addressed the attendees through video, and called on the group, on the eve of the Climate Summit, to forge a new agenda with bold and transformative action, and listen to the voices of women when creating a universal climate agreement for 2015. The discussion from the event will be presented at the Climate Summit today. Executive Director of UN Women, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, opened the discussion by remarking that women are ‘bearing the brunt of climate change’. Women, who are the farmers and fishers, and who rely on the land for their livelihood, become more vulnerable with climate change. The keynote speaker Michelle Bachelet, President of Chile, mentioned that women are 14 times more likely to be affected by natural disasters and, post disaster, women become more vulnerable to abuse and violence. In times of natural disasters, women are the care givers leaving themselves …

Photo Credit: Liz Fortier

International Day of Peace 2014

In Martin Luther King’s Nobel Peace Prize lecture, he compared the tremendous scientific achievements the world had made by the 1960s to the values we held as a society. We have learned to fly the air like birds and swim the sea like fish, but we have not learned the simple art of living together as brothers. He went on to say, ‘This problem of spiritual and moral lag…expresses itself in three larger problems…Each of these problems, while appearing to be separate and isolated, is inextricably bound to the other. I refer to racial injustice, poverty, and war.’ This year’s International Day of Peace takes place when peace looks impossible to reach. Lately, the news has been discouraging. News of war, famine, violence and disease can be seen daily and for me, and I am sure for others, the news is frightening. Last week, Pope Francis remarked that the world’s many conflicts amount to piecemeal World War Three. I think Martin Luther King’s words sadly ring true 40 years later. The recent headlines include some of the most …

Photo Credit: sean dreilinger's Flickr Account

Newborn health: How do we care for the most vulnerable in our society?

When the UN millennium development goals (MDGs) were established in 2000, the reduction of child mortality was named as MDG 4. The target of MDG 4 is to reduce by two-thirds, between 1990 and 2015, the under-five mortality rate. The indicators that are used to track progress against MDG 4 are under-five mortality rate, the infant mortality rate, and the proportion of 1 year-old children immunized against measles. Since 1990, the global infant mortality rate has decreased by almost half. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), in Europe in 2013, the lifetime risk of dying during pregnancy and childbirth was 1 in 3300, and the chance of an infant dying before her first birthday was 10 per 1000 live births. Of course, we could do better, but these numbers don’t paint such a bad picture. Most of us in the developing world do not fear the risks involved with childbirth or worry about our child dying in the first year of life. For us, having a baby is a celebration with little fear. Let’s change the setting. …

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Malala Day 2014: What are you #StrongerThan?

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world. – Nelson Mandela Today marks the second annual Malala Day. Malala Yousafzai and two of her classmates were shot by Taliban gunman on their way to school in Pakistan in October 2012 (for being girls and for wanting to get an education). After surviving the traumatic encounter, Malala did not fear school, but instead has become a global icon for promoting pacifism and everyone’s right to education. Malala says that the extremists fear the power of education, and courageously asks, “Let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty and terrorism. Let us pick up our books and our pens, and let us shield ourselves with unity and togetherness.” According to UNESCO, global literacy rates are on the rise, however, currently two-thirds of illiterate adults (493 million) are women. Among the 123 million illiterate youth, 76 million are female. Even though the size of the global illiterate population is shrinking, the female proportion has remained virtually steady at 63% to 64%. …

Featured image. Photo Credit: ILO/ Livingston Armytage

Why You Should Care

Gladys Kalibbala, an award-winning journalist from Uganda, was a panelist last night, along with Jessica Yu, Academy Award winning film maker, and Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, Head of UN Women, at the UN Foundation event, Why We Care: Stories of Reproductive Health and discussion of the film Misconception. Gladys left Africa for the first time to attend the premiere of the film she was featured in at the Tribeca Film Festival on Thursday night, and to be a panelist at the event last night. Gladys developed the column, Lost (and Abandoned) Children, for Vision Group in Uganda. Gladys writes the stories of abandoned children to shed light on the issue and to make an attempt at reconnecting them with their families. In her community, children are often left at schools, in taxis, and at hospitals because their parents are desperate, and cannot provide for them. At the discussion last night, Gladys was able to solve a common reproductive health debate, in an instant, through a powerful and heart-wrenching story. At population or reproductive health conferences, and in policy-making debates, opposing camps cannot come …

Image c/o Flickr Creative Commons

Are You Rising?

Last year V-Day, a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls, initiated their largest campaign on the organization’s 15th anniversary. V-Day established One Billion Rising based on the statistic that 1 out of 3 women will experience violence in her lifetime, and therefore one billion women on this planet will be impacted by violence. By raising awareness to the issues of rape, battery, incest, female genital mutilation (FGM), sex slavery, and more, One Billion Rising aims to break the silence surrounding violence against women and to give survivors a chance to tell their stories through any medium they choose including art, dance, music, speeches, stories, and more. After last year’s One Billion Rising events successfully brought hope to survivors and awareness to others, this year’s One Billion Rising Day plans to do the same. Tomorrow, V-Day invites YOU to join the one billion people who are walking out, dancing, rising and demanding an end to violence. V-Day explains that patriarchal systems have minimized, altered and buried individuals’ stories of sexual violence. One Billion Rising provides the …

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Disruptive Voices: Breaking Gender Barriers in South Korea

Disruptive Voices is a South Korean Facebook group, that not only functions as an online social network, but actually organizes in-person discussions about gender in Korea, which I think is awesome. Disruptive Voices is an offshoot of Varyd, a clothing line launched in June 2013. The founders of Varyd, Rydia, a Korean National, and Vanessa, a Korean-American, both survivors of physical and sexual violence, market their clothes using models of different shapes, sizes, colors, and age, to remind us that we are all beautiful.  Varyd has been featured on CNN, The Wall Street Journal, Korea Herald, DaeguCompass, Groove Korea, and Korean Buddhism.  While working on their clothing line with the aim of improving their community, they established Disruptive Voices, ..a community/movement to help support, empower, validate, and further raise awareness (about gender issues) especially in Korea. In an interview with the founders, Vanessa explained, “we are survivors and know there is a lack of communicative and safe support for people to come together (on this issue).” Through her own experience, Vanessa realized that psychological support …

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Why do women still earn 77 cents for every dollar men do?

While women are making strides toward gender equality in the US and across the world, it is well documented that women still earn less than men for the same work, even when their educational backgrounds are comparable. Non-Hispanic white women in the US earn 77 cents for every dollar that white males earn, African American women earn 64 cents for every dollar, and Hispanic women 55 cents for every dollar.  This gap is not proving to narrow with time. Not only do women make less than men in similar occupations, women are more often employed in low-income careers compared to men. Statistics show that women in the US tend to choose careers that are historically “female” – and coincidentally these positions tend to pay less too. A recent New York Times article indicated that this past December all employment gains in the US went to women, however, all of those jobs were “concentrated in low-wage sectors”.  This is due to various factors, but the following information may provide some insight. An article published in the journal Organization Science explores …