RSS

Monthly Archives: March 2013

JAMAICA NEWSWEEKLY For the week ending March 29th, 2013

—————————————-
THIS WEEK”S SUMMARY
—————————————-

JAMAICAN PILOTS REFUSED PERMITS IN TRINIDAD, SAY UNION—03/23/13
According to the Bustamante Industrial Trade Union (BITU), three pilots working for Caribbean Airlines (CAL), which is based in Trinidad, were refused work permits and made to leave the country. The union has asked for the help of Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller and has questioned the commitment of nations in the region to the free movement initiative of CARICOM.

GOLDING RETURN EYED BY JLP—03/24/13
Supporters of the Jamaica Labor Party (JLP) are suggesting that former Prime Minister Bruce Golding reconsider his plans not to return to politics. JLP supporters say Golding is looking increasingly attractive as a candidate to “retake the leadership” of the party instead of Andrew Holness. Recent remarks by Golding appeal to many JLP members, who say that the former leader’s comments sound better than anything else coming from the party since its defeat in the last elections.

GOVERNMENT CALLING FOR “CALM” IN FACE OF BUDGET CUTS—03/25/13
Jamaica’s government is trying to instill calm in the population in the midst of an economic crisis by assuring that the country will soon recover. The concern stems from the required budget cuts imposed by an agreement with the international Monetary Fund (IMF). Peter Phillips, Minister of Finance and Planning, said no one should “fear” the budget, while acknowledging that Jamaica will face difficult times. The IMF is providing a loan of $750 million, subject to measures designed to reduce the country’s high debt.

DOING BUSINESS WITH GOVERNMENT SHOULD BE EASIER, SAYS PRIME MINISTER—03/26/13
Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller has called on members of her Cabinet to make it easier for Jamaicans to do business with the government and not focus all their energy on foreign businesses. Members of the executive branch support her position, and at least one tax expert has questioned the plans of the government to grant tax waivers to overseas businesses without imposing conditions of any kind.

FIREFIGHTERS RESCUE MAN BARRICADED IN CLOCK TOWER—03/27/13
Firefighters in Jamaica rescued a man from inside the Half-Way-Tree clock tower where he had barricaded himself. No one could say what had provoked attacks on the mentally challenged man, who had taken shelter in the tower to protect himself from further violence. Witnesses reported that the man had run into the tower and barred the door after being doused with water by a group of men. The man hit the bell in the tower repeatedly beginning at about two in the morning. Firefighters were called to the scene and took him safely from the tower. He was then taken to Bellevue Hospital by police.

GOVERNMENT PLANS TO SUE TEACHERS FOR BROKEN BOND ARRANGEMENT—03/27/13
Jamaica’s Attorney General’s department will bring legal action against over 200 teachers who have broken a bond arrangement and owe the government over $400 million in total. The teachers do not currently have the support of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) because the organization’s president, Clayton Hall, wants to government to pursue the delinquents and/or their guarantors, who were also government employees, to obtain the outstanding monies.

JACKSON RESIGNS FROM DISASTER PREPAREDNESS OFFICE—03/28/13
Ronald Jackson has resigned as the director general of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency. He will take a new position as executive director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. His new job begins on April 3, 2013. Jackson has served as director general since August 2006.

MAJOR POLICE OPERATIONS CONDUCTED IN MONTEGO BAY—03/29/13
Two prominent residents of Montego Bay were arrested, and police seized a number of luxury vehicles, computers and documents during a 12-hour operation. The operation was headed by the Major Organized Crime and Anti-Corruption Task Force (MOCA). Nine people were arrested and will be charged with a variety of offenses. Police declined to state the nature of the charges.

———————————————
JAMAICAN DIASPORA NEWS
———————————————

JAMAICAN WOMAN SENTENCED TO LIFE IN PRISON IN THE U.S.—03/23/13
Jean Brown, 43, described as a “gangster” and “drug kingpin,” received a life sentence in a United States Court on charges of murder, kidnapping, and racketeering. Brown was one of the leaders of the Brown Organization, a criminal gang responsible for distributing narcotics in Maryland, Pennsylvania, New York, Arizona, California, and Jamaica. Authorities have been investigating Brown since 2009 and seized some 100 pounds of marijuana, over $850,000 in cash and bank accounts, and six firearms from co-conspirators.

JAMAICAN TEACHERS IN TURKS AND CAICOS COULD LOSE JOBS—03/24/13
Over 200 Jamaican teachers working in Turks and Caicos could lose their jobs. The government of that nation is considering a proposal to eliminate the Caribbean Examination Council (CXC) curriculum. If the public approves the court’s action, Jamaican teachers, who represent about 70 percent of the teachers in the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) will have to leave.

MOURNERS PAY RESPECTS TO TEEN KILLED BY POLICE IN NEW YORK—03/25/13
Hundreds of people gathered to pay their respects to Kimani “Kiki” Gray, 16, who was shot and killed by New York City police March 9, 2013. Kimani, who is of Jamaican and Guyanese parentage, was killed when he allegedly pulled a gun on two plainclothes police officers who approached him. Eyewitnesses have disputed this characterization of the crime, however, and residents in the Brooklyn neighborhood where the incident occurred held week-long protests against what they say are aggressive tactics by police, who may stop and search young black men at random and without good reasons.

JAMAICAN FARM WORKERS IN WASHINGTON CONTRIBUTE TO RETIREMENT HOME—03/26/13
About 400 seasonal Jamaican farm workers at Gebbers Farms in Brewster, Washington, have made a contribution to the Golden Age Home in Kingston totaling J$250,000. Jamaica’s Minister of Labor and Social Security Derrick Keiller took part in a ceremony presenting the check to the retirement home. He praised the workers benevolence and their willingness to improve the lives of people back home.

————————————————-
CARIBBEAN NEWS SUMMARY provided by Caribbeantopnews.com
————————————————-

ELEVEN NATIONS IN CARIBBEAN DISCUSS FREEDOM OF INFORMATION LAWS—03/23/13

GILCHRIST JOINS CARIBBEAN PREMIER LEAGUE—03/24/13

AIDE TO HAITI PRIME MINISTER KILLED IN DRIVE-BY SHOOTING—03/25/13

CARIBBEAN SPENDS US$321 MILLION YEARLY TO FIGHT DENGUE FEVER—03/26/13

PNDER TOUTS EPA AS BASIS FOR INTER-CARIBBEAN TRADE—03/27/13

GRENADA TO REINSTATE PROGRAM TO SELL CITIZENSHIP TO FOREIGN INVESTORS—03/28/13
———————————————
BUSINESS NEWS SUMMARY
———————————————

IMF LOAN UNLIKELY TO BE APPROVED BEFORE END OF MARCH 2013—03/25/13
Jamaicans are concerned about whether the International Monetary Fund will make time in its schedule to approve a $750 million loan for the country before the end of March 2013. According to former Prime Minister Bruce Golding, replacing Jamaica with the Philippines in a scheduled meeting on the IMF executive board calendar for March 29 raised a “matter of concern” about whether Jamaica will receive an answer in March, since the date is Good Friday, which is a holiday in Jamaica, and the last two days of the month fall on a weekend.

JPS THE BIDDING FOR NEW POWER PLANT CONSTRUCTION—03/27/13
The Jamaica Public Service (JPS) announced it is one of a number of bidders that offered proposals to the Office of Utilities Regulations (OUR) for the construction of new power plants on March 15, 2013. Kelly Tomblin, president and CEO of JPS, said the chief goal in the proposals is to sustain lower electricity costs and ensure fuel diversification that will reduce Jamaica’s dependence on oil. The JPS proposals are for building 360MW of new electricity generation capacity, or a portion of that capacity, via combined cycle technology and combining fuel sources.

PHILLIPS SAYS IMF DELAYS HURT JAMAICA—03/28/13
Dr. Peter Phillips, Minister of Finance, believes that the delay in securing an agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) for a loan is having a negative impact on Jamaica. Phillips noted that Jamaica would not meet a deadline for security an agreement by the end of March and said that issues being addressed are related to funding support for Jamaica’s program. The IMF agreement is critical in stopping the depreciation of Jamaica’s dollar, said Governor Brian Wynter of Central Bank.

ENERGY PROBLEM IN JAMAICA NEEDS IMMEDIATE ATTENTION—03/29/13
J. Paul Morgan, previous head of the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), believes it is time for Jamaica’s government to step in and present a clear energy policy. Stakeholders are split between the use of coal or liquefied natural gas (LNG). A general agreement between the government and OUR states that fuel oil is not an option for generating power on the island. While interests have argued about coal versus LNG for years, Jamaica has done nothing in regard to fuel diversification since the 1970s when it experienced its first energy crisis, Morgan said.

———————————————————————-
CARIBBEAN TECHNOLOGY NEWS SUMMARY provided by Caribbeantopnews.com
———————————————————————–

JAMAICAN WINS TOP U.S. ENERGY INDUSTRY AWARD—03/23/13

INTER-MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE ON BIOSPHERE RESERVES HELD IN ST.KITTS—03/26/13

LIME MAKES SEVEN-YEAR DEAL WITH ERICSSON—03/27/13

JAMAICA COULD SEE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS FROM LOCAL FORESTS—03/28/13

—————————————————–
ENTERTAINMENT
—————————————————–

GREEK-JAMAICAN SINGER POPULAR IN U.S.—03/23/13
Lianne La Havas, a Greek-Jamaican singer, is taking the United States market by storm during her first tour of the U.S. Her album “Is Your Love Big Enough” was named Album of the Year on iTunes for 2012. The singer’s Jamaican mother introduced her to artists like Jill Scott and Mary J. Blige, while her Greek father, an instrumentalist, taught her to play many instruments, including piano and guitar.

LOCAL FILMMAKER TAKES HUMOROUS VIEW OF JAMAICAN TRAGEDY—03/24/13
Michael “Ras Tingle” Tingling, local Jamaican filmmaker, has taken a humorous view of one of Jamaican history’s great tragedies in his film “Parish Bull.” The short film was featured at the Kingston Book Festival in New Kingston. The comedic film is based on the Kendal train crash in Manchester on September 1, 1957, which left almost 200 people dead and more than 700 injured.

TIVOLI, CORAL GARDENS HOLD MARCH—03/28/13
One year after independence and two years before Jamaica celebrated its 50th anniversary, Jamaica experienced some high profile conflicts. In 1963, the Coral Gardens Incident marked the origin point of repression against Rastafari. In 2010, the so-called Tivoli Incursion, in which over 70 citizens were killed according to a widely disputed official count, took place. A march and motorcade in 2013 have linked the two incidents, connecting them in a protest of the treatment of Jamaican citizens by the state, by moving from downtown Kingston to Half-Way Tree. Poet and broadcaster Mutabaruka focused on the links between the two incidents, despite the fact that they are separated by 47 years.

PERFORMERS IN SANKOFA PLAY TOTALLY INVOLVED IN ROLES—03/29/13
Shanique Brown, lead actress in the Sankofa production of “Red and Brown Water,” by American playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney, became so emotionally involved in her role that she had to be help off the stage at the Pantry Playhouse. The director, Fabian Thomas, said the same thing happened on the previous night and that he was pleased that all of his cast members became so immersed in their roles. The play only ran for two weekends, causing many to miss the experience, but the players will offer the second part of the McCraney trilogy, providing another chance to enjoy the theater’s efforts.
——————
SPORTS
——————

JAMAICAN RUGBY TEAMS OVERCOME HARDSHIP TO MAKE SEVENS PROGRESS—03/24/13
Jamaican rugby players must often play in dangerous neighborhoods where local gangs rule and bullets fly, where their fields are less than optimal, and where they have no opportunity for extensive training. The poor playing and training facilities represents just two of the obstacles facing Jamaica’s rugby organization, but the sport has continued to grow. Now the team has obtained a spot in the sixth leg of the International Rugby sevens to make its debut in the 38th annual tournament in Hong Kong. Rugby sevens uses seven players on a side instead of the traditional 15. It has grown from an amateur sport to a fully professional competition. Over 20 countries now compete in the tournament and organizers hope to have a place in the 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

BOLT, FRASER-PRYCE, BLAKE LOSE AT UWI—03/27/13
Both Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake, champion Jamaican runners, had to settle for runners-up in the 400-meter competition at the UWI Invitational meet at the Usain Bolt/UWI Track.  Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce took fifth place in the women’s 400 meters at the meet.

BOLT, BLAKE TO RUN AT JAMAICA INTERNATIONAL; CAMPBELL-BROWN, FELIX TOO—03/28/13
While both Usain Bolt and Yohan Blake will run at the Jamaica International Invitational Meet, the renewed rivalry between American Allyson Felix and Jamaica’s Veronica Campbell-Brown in the 100-meters is expected to garner the most attention. Campbell-Brown has two Olympic titles and one World Championship, while Felix has three Worlds and one Olympic. The events for Bolt and Blake have yet to be confirmed.

TRACK STARS BOOKED FOR JAMAICA INVITATIONAL—03/29/13
Jamaica’s major sprint and running champions will compete at the 10th annual Jamaica International Invitational scheduled for May 4, 2013 at National Stadium. Usain Bolt, Yohan Blake, Veronica Campbell-Brown, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, and American Allyson Felix will participate. The staging of the meet has not been easy, however, due to financial problems in Jamaica and most local firms having entered into a second National Debt Exchange (NDX) program with the island’s government. Many potential sponsors expressed concerns about the NDX initially.

—————————
JAMAICAN JOBS
—————————

– ACCOUNTING CLERK

– RESTAURANT MANAGERS & SUPERVISORS

– SENIOR INVESTMENT ADVISOR

– MANAGER

– CUSTOMER SERVICE REPRESENTATIVE – EMAIL CHAT AGENT
Visit JAMAICAN JOBS.

Advertisements
 

Tags: , ,

CARIBBEAN NEWS SUMMARY for the week ending March 29th, 2013

ELEVEN NATIONS IN CARIBBEAN DISCUSS FREEDOM OF INFORMATION LAWS—03/23/13
Representatives of governments and civilians in the Caribbean region have joined to discuss freedom of information, public participation in governance, and access to justice. These topics were addressed at the Regional Conference on Freedom of Information in the Caribbean: Improving Management for the Environment,” which was held in Kingston, Jamaica. The meeting resulted in a plan to launch a network of freedom of information in the Caribbean and to support ways to improve standards for accessing information in the area.

GILCHRIST JOINS CARIBBEAN PREMIER LEAGUE—03/24/13
Former Australian wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist is the second international franchise player to sign on with the newly formed Caribbean Premier League (CPL). The league is to begin July 29, 2013 and end on August 26, 2013. The tournament will include six franchise nations: Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Guyana, Jamaica, St. Lucia, and Trinidad and Tobago. Gilchrist said he was excited to be joining the league, which features some of the best cricketers in the world.

AIDE TO HAITI PRIME MINISTER KILLED IN DRIVE-BY SHOOTING—03/25/13
Georges Henry Honorat, an aide to the Prime Minister of Haiti, was killed near his home in the Delmas district of Port-au-Prince, the victim of a drive-by shooting. Honorat, 55, was shot twice as men drove by and died at the scene. Honorat worked as editor in chief for the weekly newspaper Haiti Progres and was secretary general of the Popular National Party. According to reports, Honorat had received constant threats from anonymous people.

CARIBBEAN SPENDS US$321 MILLION YEARLY TO FIGHT DENGUE FEVER—03/26/13
Countries in the Caribbean are spending US$321 million every year to battle dengue fever, which is spread by a particular breed of mosquito. According to Professor Christine Carrington, who works with using molecular genetic methods to find ways to reconstruct the history of the dengue virus populations in Trinidad and throughout the Americas, said the total did not include indirect costs, such as lost time due to sickness or premature death.

PNDER TOUTS EPA AS BASIS FOR INTER-CARIBBEAN TRADE—03/27/13
Ryan Pinder, Minister of Financial Services, is urging nations in the Caribbean to pursue regional trade integration via the Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) Regional Preferences Article, using the EPA as the basis for regional integration. Without creating economic opportunities for people in the Caribbean such as jobs and the chance to build careers, there can be no successful integration.

GRENADA TO REINSTATE PROGRAM TO SELL CITIZENSHIP TO FOREIGN INVESTORS—03/28/13
Grenada has decided to bring back a program designed to permit foreign investors to purchase citizenship in the country. Carlyle Glean, governor general of Grenada, said the plan represents a portion of an overall strategy to increase revenue on the island. Grenada will join St. Kitts, Dominica, and Antigua in allowing the purchase of citizenship in return for significant contributions or investments.

FIREFIGHTERS RESCUE MAN BARRICADED IN CLOCK TOWER—03/27/13
Firefighters in Jamaica rescued a man from inside the Half-Way-Tree clock tower where he had barricaded himself. No one could say what had provoked attacks on the mentally challenged man, who had taken shelter in the tower to protect himself from further violence. Witnesses reported that the man had run into the tower and barred the door after being doused with water by a group of men. The man hit the bell in the tower repeatedly beginning at about two in the morning. Firefighters were called to the scene and took him safely from the tower. He was then taken to Bellevue Hospital by police.

GOVERNMENT PLANS TO SUE TEACHERS FOR BROKEN BOND ARRANGEMENT—03/27/13
Jamaica’s Attorney General’s department will bring legal action against over 200 teachers who have broken a bond arrangement and owe the government over $400 million in total. The teachers do not currently have the support of the Jamaica Teachers’ Association (JTA) because the organization’s president, Clayton Hall, wants to government to pursue the delinquents and/or their guarantors, who were also government employees, to obtain the outstanding monies.

JACKSON RESIGNS FROM DISASTER PREPAREDNESS OFFICE—03/28/13
Ronald Jackson has resigned as the director general of the Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency. He will take a new position as executive director of the Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency. His new job begins on April 3, 2013. Jackson has served as director general since August 2006.

MAJOR POLICE OPERATIONS CONDUCTED IN MONTEGO BAY—03/29/13
Two prominent residents of Montego Bay were arrested, and police seized a number of luxury vehicles, computers and documents during a 12-hour operation. The operation was headed by the Major Organized Crime and Anti-Corruption Task Force (MOCA). Nine people were arrested and will be charged with a variety of offenses. Police declined to state the nature of the charges.

 

Tags:

CARIBBEAN TECHNOLOGY NEWS SUMMARY for the week ending March 29th, 2013

JAMAICAN WINS TOP U.S. ENERGY INDUSTRY AWARD—03/23/13
Paul Richardson has been named a winner of the Technology Transfer Award from the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI), a national energy research organization. Richardson, who is working in the U.S. energy industry, won the award for his work on a safety project that makes it possible for utility workers to discover stray voltage using a smart phone or tablet computer. He worked with two other Con Edison employees to research the use of smart phones and tablets for detecting voltage on the street.

INTER-MINISTERIAL CONFERENCE ON BIOSPHERE RESERVES HELD IN ST.KITTS—03/26/13
Environmental experts and government ministers met in St. Kitts for the two-day conference on Biosphere Reserves in the Caribbean. The conference focused on transforming an action plan for Caribbean biosphere reserves into reality. Telca Wallace of the National Man and the Biosphere (MAB) Committee made a presentation concerning St. Mary’s Biosphere Reserve on St. Kitts, emphasizing efforts to save the nesting area of sea turtles at Keys Beach and preserving local caves and waterways in the mountains.

LIME MAKES SEVEN-YEAR DEAL WITH ERICSSON—03/27/13
LIME Jamaica has decided to outsource all of its external installation and maintenance operations to Ericsson, a global firm, in an agreement that covers seven years. The agreement will go into effect on May 20, 2013, and provides for Ericsson to manage, install, and repair the fixed, mobile, Internet, and data networks of LIME. The action will result in an undisclosed number of job losses at LIME, although affected workers will be given a chance to reapply for jobs with Ericsson.

JAMAICA COULD SEE BILLIONS OF DOLLARS FROM LOCAL FORESTS—03/28/13
Dr. Arun Kashyap, resident representative of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), believes that there is a potential for Jamaica to earn as much as US$30 billion through its forest resources. The money could be realized under the Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation program sponsored by the UN. Dr. Kashyap noted that the economic potential of forests is often ignored by countries that have such resources. Sustainable management could result in practical solutions that could minimize the impact of adverse weather conditions like drought on Jamaica’s economy, Kashyap stated.

 

Tags: ,

Future Choices II

by Jessica Arons and Liz Chen
Guadalupe Benitez, Joanne Clark, Gabriel Clark Benitez,SOURCE: AP/Denis PoroyGuadalupe Benitez, right, walks with her partner Joanne Clark, left, and their son Gabriel Clark-Benitez, center, after a news conference held at the Hall of Justice in downtown San Diego, Monday, August 18, 2008. The California Supreme Court ruled that Benitez, a lesbian, was unfairly denied a common infertility treatment by doctors at the North Coast Women’s Care Medical Group based on their religious beliefs.

Endnotes and citations are available in the PDF version of this report.

In 2007 the Center for American Progress released its report “Future Choices: Assisted Reproductive Technologies and the Law,” which described a range of assisted reproductive technologies and their legal and regulatory background. The report also examined the policy implications of the largely unregulated field of reproductive technology, especially in the context of traditional feminist positions on reproductive rights. If a woman has the ultimate right to decide whether or not to bear a child when she is pregnant, for instance, does that principle hold true when she would like to become pregnant with the use of specific embryos? Is surrogacy a noble pursuit undertaken by autonomous, well-informed, and altruistic women, or is it a practice that exploits the low-income and vulnerable?

These questions have not gotten any easier to answer in the intervening years. Indeed, advances in reproductive technologies have continued to outpace the development of the laws that might govern them. At the same time, more and more people who would have been unable to procreate or become parents in past generations have been able to bring a child into their home or build a family of their choosing, including those who have historically been deemed “infertile” for social reasons such as their sexual orientation, gender identity, or unmarried status. When things do not go as planned, however, the law’s failure to prescribe clear guidelines for resolving the disputes that inevitably arise can lead to real confusion and hardship for families. And all the while, the questions keep coming.

The landscape of assisted reproductive technologies has continued to evolve since our 2007 report, and new questions have arisen as a result. Case in point: In 2010 President Barack Obama signed the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Should fertility treatments be considered essential health benefits that must be required in every health plan, and what are the implications of including or excluding these services?

As assisted reproductive technologies become increasingly common and accessible, other questions demand answers: How should states define family relationships? Should the government support children created after the death of a parent as it does the children of deceased parents created when that parent was alive? Should religiously affiliated employers be allowed to discriminate against employees who use assisted reproductive technologies with which the employers disagree? How do we address the rise in international surrogacy and other forms of reproductive tourism as world economies become increasingly globalized? What are the parameters for establishing citizenship for such children born abroad?

While some court opinions offer new clarity to a handful of unresolved issues, many court decisions only further muddle the landscape. We find that despite the increasing popularity of assisted reproductive technologies, the rights and responsibilities surrounding those who take part in these processes are still largely undefined.

As with the first “Future Choices,” this report examines the three primary areas in which legislatures and courts have spoken—health insurance coverage, embryo disposition, and parentage determinations—as well as additional areas where significant developments in the laws governing assisted reproductive technologies have occurred.

Jessica Arons is the Director of the Women’s Health and Rights Program at the Center for American Progress. Elizabeth Chen is a Policy Analyst for the Women’s Health and Rights Program at the Center.

 
 

Tags: , ,

Continuing Former Secretary of State Clinton’s Efforts to Elevate the Global Status of Women and Girls Is a Must

by Peter Juul and Arpita Bhattacharyya
Hillary Clinton and John KerrySOURCE: AP/Manuel Balce CenetaThen-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, right, accompanied by then-Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. John Kerry (D-MA), left, talks about the START Treaty on Capitol Hill in Washington, November 17, 2010.During her four years as secretary of state, Hillary Clinton was a global advocate for women’s rights and championed the security, health, and empowerment of women and girls throughout her record-breaking number of trips and meetings with world leaders and communities around the world. Her leadership and well-known personal interest in these issues dismantled silos and integrated women’s and girls’ issues across programs and offices at the State Department. But the promotion of international women’s issues as a key component of U.S. diplomatic and development efforts cannot begin and end with Secretary Clinton’s personal interest and hard work.

Newly appointed Secretary of State John Kerry can ensure that the initiatives and funding for women’s and girls’ issues championed by former Secretary Clinton continue over the next four years. Kerry’s record as a senator and his past statements on international women’s issues are promising, and the institutional framework established by former Secretary Clinton is sturdy. Moving forward, Secretary Kerry will have the opportunity to further integrate international women’s issues into effective diplomatic and development strategies that recognize the direct importance of women’s empowerment to global economic progress and stability.

Looking back

Advocating for equal rights and opportunities for women is not only morally aligned with American values, but it is the right path forward for successful societies. Research shows that communities are prosperous when they promote women’s health, security, and economic, social, and political empowerment, both in the United Statesand around the world. Secretary Clinton took this as a guiding principle in her work at the State Department and paved the way for women’s issues to be a central component in U.S. development and diplomacy, stating that “The United States must be an unequivocal and unwavering voice in support of women’s rights in every country, on every continent.”  The first-ever Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review and the creation of the Office of Global Women’s Issues were two of the former secretary’s early moves toward a comprehensive approach to women’s issues.

Secretary Clinton tapped Melanne Verveer to lead the effort as the first-ever ambassador-at-large for Global Women’s issues, tasked with the job of integrating women’s issues into U.S. foreign policy. Under Ambassador Verveer’s leadership, the Office of Global Women’s Issues oversaw the development of two women’s security strategies—the Strategy to Prevent and Respond to Gender-based Violence Globally and the Implementation Plan of the National Action Plan on Women, Peace, and Security. The broad frameworks provide U.S. government agencies, embassies, and consulates guidance on protecting women around the world. The two strategies recognize that women cannot progress politically or economically unless they are safe and protected from violence and conflict.

Moreover, the Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review commissioned by Secretary Clinton stated that women should be central to U.S. development and diplomacy and listed six specific areas in which women should be a key consideration, including sustainable economic growth, food security, global health, climate change, democracy and governance, and humanitarian assistance.

In addition to these overarching institutional directives, the State Department established various partnerships with both nongovernmental organizations and private companies to promote women’s economic empowerment. Secretary Clinton began the International Council on Women’s Business Leadership to discuss the advancement of women in international business and economic policy globally with American and foreign leaders of both private and public organizations. She also championed for the inclusion of women in economic growth in multiple meetings of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum, asserting that “We need the economic engine that women can provide in every one of our countries, and I pledge that the United States will continue to work with you as a partner as we make progress together.”

The Women’s Entrepreneurship in Americas, or WEAmericas, which works with public and private partners to train women entrepreneurs and help them launch small- and medium-sized enterprises throughout Latin America and the Caribbean, is an example of the United States’ commitment to women’s economic empowerment. TheTechwomen program also provides support for emerging women leaders in science, technology, engineering, and math from the Middle East and Africa for a professional mentorship and exchange program with women in the United States. This initiative is coordinated by the State Department’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, demonstrating that women’s issues have diffused across departments and do not stay solely within the Office of Global Women’s Issues.

More recently, Secretary Clinton launched several initiatives in October 2012 on the eve of the first International Day of the Girl Child to protect girls from child marriage and promote education, including a pilot program in Bangladesh to address child marriage and ensuring schooling for thousands of adolescent girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Along with the Empowering Women and Girls Through Sports Initiative and theTechie Exchange Program for Teenage Girls, the State Department has shown its commitment to girls as well as women.

The cross-cutting nature of women’s issues in the State Department’s overall work is perhaps the most important legacy that Secretary Clinton leaves behind—more than one standout program or initiative amongmany. The Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review highlighted the need for greater integration of women’s issues across development and diplomacy programs and there is evidence that this is happening. From the U.S. Agency for International Development, or USAID , to the various bureaus, the action plans and programs across the State Department reveal awareness that men and women are affected differently in U.S. foreign policy and development initiatives, and we must actively engage with women and girls to promote the progress of women globally. The further institutionalization of women’s issues at the State Department is the task for Secretary Kerry.

Looking forward

While Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Verveer—now heading Georgetown’s Institute on Women, Peace, and Security—have left office, they leave behind a legacy of institutionalizing the importance of international women’s issues in American diplomacy and development policy. On January 30, Secretary Clinton’s penultimate day in office, President Barack Obama signed a memorandum on the “Coordination of Policies and Programs to Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women and Girls Globally.” This memorandum plays a key role in promoting the institutionalization of international women’s issue going forward by directing the secretary of state to appoint a coordinator with the rank of ambassador-at-large to run the Office of Global Women’s Issues—providing an enduring upgrade in status to the position formerly held by Ambassador Verveer. The next ambassador heading the Office of Global Women’s Issues will continue to report directly to Secretary Kerry as well.

Moreover, the memo enhances the institutionalization of international women’s issues across the foreign policy apparatus. It also orders USAID to maintain a senior coordinator for Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment to “provide guidance to the USAID administrator in identifying, developing, and advancing key opportunities for U.S. development assistance.” What’s more, the memo directs the National Security staff to work with the White House Council on Women and Girls and the ambassador-at-large for global women’s issues to form an interagency working group that will “develop and coordinate Government-wide implementation of policies to promote gender equality and advance the status of women and girls internationally.” This group will include “senior representatives” of major cabinet agencies, including the State and Defense Departments, the intelligence community, and development agencies such as USAID, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, and the Peace Corps.

Secretary Kerry therefore has clear presidential guidance to continue the work begun by Secretary Clinton, and he has vowed to maintain “the momentum Secretary Clinton and Ambassador Verveer have built through their innovative office and laser-like focus.” But as with any endeavor, vigorous implementation will be critical to maintaining and increasing that momentum. Secretary Kerry’s Senate record, however, gives hope that implementation will not be lacking going forward.

As chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary Kerry sponsored and led the passage of the International Violence Against Women Act of 2010 out of his committee. In addition to codifying programmatic and emergency response plans to violence against women abroad, this legislation would have written into law many of the provisions institutionalizing international women’s issues in government agencies contained in President Obama’s executive memorandum. Unfortunately, then-Sen. Kerry’s international violence against women legislation failed to receive a vote in the full Senate. But Secretary Kerry now has an equally important opportunity to implement and further institutionalize many of the goals he pushed for in that legislation as head of the State Department.

In addition to this important, albeit failed, piece of legislation, Senator Kerry supported moves upgrading the importance of women’s issues in international forums and American foreign policy. He issued statements supporting the creation of a consolidated U.N. Agency for Womencondemning attacks against girls in Afghanistan, and applauding additional funding to combat gender-based violence through the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief, or PEPFAR, program. As Planned Parenthood recognized when his nomination was announced, “Senator Kerry has been a consistent supporter of women and their access to health care here in the U.S. and around the world.”

Since becoming secretary of state, Kerry has maintained the rhetorical commitment to international women’s empowerment established by Secretary Clinton. In major public remarks at the University of Virginia, for example, he noted “that countries are, in fact, more peaceful and prosperous when women and girls are afforded full rights and equal opportunity.” Similarly, speaking at USAID, Kerry said that in Afghanistan “we can be proud that even as we’re engaging the government and working to build their capacity of governance, we are also building it around a set of principles that are our values about those opportunities women ought to have.”

In the near term there are some important issues to watch that will indicate whether Secretary Kerry is following through on the institutional legacy of Secretary Clinton. First and likely most visible will be the implementation of President Obama’s memorandum, especially the appointment of a replacement for Ambassador Verveer as head of the Office of Global Women’s Issues. The formation of the interagency working group on international women’s issues will also be a critical signal of continued forward momentum. On more specific policy issues, further international initiatives on violence against women and, in particular, efforts to maintain the status of women in Afghanistan amid the withdrawal of U.S. military forces and negotiations for a political settlement will serve as important indicators.

Secretary Kerry faces a daunting array of issues in his first weeks and months as America’s chief diplomat, from Iran’s nuclear program to Syria’s civil war and fortifying relations with Europe while increasing attention to Asia and the Pacific. But these challenges do not obviate the imperative of building on the institutional and programmatic legacy on international women’s issues left by Secretary Clinton. This legacy serves as a sturdy foundation on which Secretary Kerry can build and strengthen the role international women’s issues play in American diplomacy and development policy.

 
 

Tags:

Ex-Felons Seek Greater Voting Rights In Virginia

By Paul Shepard

 

Ex-Felons Voting Rights

Michael Edwards, a community leader in southern Virginia, spent eight years in prison for a marijuana-trafficking conviction in the 1970s.

But he said he feels like he was punished for more than 30 years — the time it took for him to regain his voting rights in Virginia.

That won’t happen to any other ex-felons in Virginia if a group of civil rights organizations are successful in their campaign to push Gov. Robert McDonnell to provide an easier path to voting for ex-felons who have served their time.

“These people live and work and pay taxes but don’t have a voice on this issue,” said Edgardo Cortes of the Advancement Project, a voting rights group based in Washington, D.C., during a national telephone press conference Wednesday. “The governor has shown leadership on this issue but now is the time for him to take additional action.”

In Virginia and three other states, a felony conviction means the automatic loss of many civil rights — chief among them being the right to vote — even after the criminal serves their time in prison.

But the civil rights groups are pushing McDonnell to bypass the state legislature and automatically restore voting rights for ex-felons by executive order.

While the civil rights groups and Gov. McDonnell agree ex-felons should have their voting rights restored automatically after paying their debt to society, the sticking point is how to achieve it.

McDonnell, a Republican, wants the state legislature to act but Cortes says McDonnell has the power to act on his own, which he has been reluctant to do.

In January, the Republican-led Virginia House blocked a measure to expand voting rights for ex-felons,even though McDonnell had given a speech in support of it days earlier.

Tram Nguyen, a director of Virginia New Majority, a voting rights group, said not only would ex-felons benefit from expanded voting rights but it would help the general population through lower crime rates.

Nguyen cited a study, showing that ex-felons are less likely to commit new crimes if they have their civil rights, such as voting, restored after serving their sentences.

“This is based on the ideas of forgiveness, rehabilitation, and community involvement,” Nguyen said.

Edwards agreed.

He said that after being denied by Virginia authorities three times in his efforts to get his voting rights back, he won’t be giving them up anytime soon.

“I can’t see me doing anything to ever lose that right [to vote] again,” Edwards said.

Cortes said Florida, Kentucky, and Iowa also take away voting rights for ex-felons and require their respective governors to restore them. He said that civil rights groups are hoping that automatic voting rights restoration in Virginia could help ignite greater action in the other three states.

 
 

Tags: ,

Report Documents Seven Years of Humanitarian Media Assistance to the Darfur Refugee Crisis in Chad

 

Two men listen to a portable radio

Refugees who have fled Darfur for eastern Chad rely on the radio to meet their local information needs. (credit: Meridith Kohut/Internews)

“I listen to the radio all day,” says eighteen year-old Rahma Mohamed Ibed. “In the afternoons to Radio Sila when it comes on air at 4pm, and then the rest of the time I listen to BBC on shortwave or Sudanese radio.”

“Radio Sila promotes friendship between the journalists, the people in Goz Beida and the refugees. If you have a question and you don’t know the answer, you can call them or text them and they will reply,” he says. “I would really love to be a journalist one day because I see what an important service they provide in the community.”

Rahma lives in the Djabal Darfur refugee camp in eastern Chad where Internews has built three humanitarian radio stations, starting in 2005, to help those fleeing the violence in Darfur to receive the critical news and information they needed to survive.

Seven years after the first station went on air, Internews has left eastern Chad as funding to international agencies has significantly reduced. Internews has spent the past year preparing the stations for independence, including establishing rent-free premises, community governing boards and marketing strategies.

Journalist Celeste Hicks and photographer Meredith Kohut spent a month with the stations in July 2012 to document the past seven years – and what the future holds as these enormously popular stations strike out on their own. Their report – Chad and the Darfur Refugee Crisis – profiles each station, the dedicated journalists who work at them and what it means for the listeners to have access to this valuable resource.

Internews’ work in Eastern Chad has been funded over the years by: UNHCR; The US Department of State, Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (BPRM); USAID Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI); USAID; the US Department of State Bureau of Democracy, Rights and Labor (DRL); UKAid; and several private foundations and individuals.

Read or download the report, Chad and the Darfur Refugee Crisis.

 
Leave a comment

Posted by on March 27, 2013 in African News

 

Tags: ,

 
%d bloggers like this: