All posts by Stephanie

EBOLA’S IMPACT ON THE WOMEN OF LIBERIA

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To mark International Women’s Day, we pay tribute to Liberia, which just five days ago announced itself free of all new cases of Ebola. Notwithstanding, in order for the Ebola crisis to be declared over, World Health Organization protocol requires no new Ebola cases in the country for 42 days.  Despite 37 more days of waiting before Liberia can declare itself Ebola free, it’s remarkable to reflect on the impact that Ebola has had on the country, not only from a mortality perspective, but the impact the disease has had on the economy, social structures, and individual family units.

Notably, statistics illustrate the effects that the disease has had on women. Since its outbreak, the World Health Organization reports there have been a total of 2828 women with confirmed and probable cases of Ebola in Liberia. The statistic is shocking in the aggregate and even more disturbing when you look at individual cases such as the village of Joeblow, where the lives of all young mothers in the village were claimed by the disease.
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Death of ISIS Hostage Kayla Jean Meull

This week, we received the unfortunate news of Kayla Jean Meull’s death. It’s the fourth murder of a U.S. hostage by the hands of ISIS.  The three others, journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and aid worker Peter Kassig, were beheaded by the group last year. There have, of course, been others– Jordanian military pilot, First Lt. Muath al-Kasasbeh and Japanese journalist Kenji Goto, among others.

For those who work in conflict zones, each of these casualties has been unnerving and Kayla Jean Muell’s shouldn’t be any different. But, to me, it feels different.  For me, Kayla’s death is a wake-up call—a reminder of the increasing number of attacks on humanitarian workers, with 296 workers killed or kidnapped in 2013, compared to 94 in 2003.  It’s a reminder that we cannot become immunized by the ever increasing twitter feed, live stream, You Tube showings of the horrific methods employed by the Islamic State on U.S. and other hostages.

Kayla Jean Muell spent a year and a half as a prisoner of the Islamic State and died at the early age of 26. According to statements made by Mueller’s family, she had been working with Support to Life and Danish Relief Council, two aid organizations working on the Turkey-Syrian border with Syrian refugees and felt this was her calling.

There will be others like Kayla Jean Muell. With attacks against aid workers in fragile states, where such violence is predominately driven by civil conflict (Afghanistan, Syria, South Sudan, Somalia, Pakistan, among others), there will certainly be others. The statistics assure us that. But for today, we remember Kayla Jean Muell as a person, not a statistic, and her will—as told by her parents—to make a difference.

 

A DAY TO RECOGNIZE HEROES

In the spirit of Martin Luther King Day, Two Views is highlighting 5 activists working to secure equal rights and social justice around the world.  Here is our list of 5 tireless advocates who have dared to speak up in the hope of making our lives better:

  1. Fatima Jibrell

 0702jibrellIn a country that lacked a central government for nearly two decades, the fate of Somalia’s environment  would seem nearly futile.  Fatima Jibrell, however, persevered  as an environmental activist working to empower local communities to conserve and  manage their natural resources.  In the wake of Somalia’s 1991 civil war, she co-founded the non-profit organization Adeso (previously called the Horn of Africa Relief and Develop Organization). In recognition of her advocacy of community-driven environmental consciousness, Jibrell was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 2002 and the National Geographic/Buffet Award for Leadership in African Conservation in 2007.  Most recently in November 2014, she became Somalia’s first Champion of the Earth, the United Nations top environment award.

  1. Emily Stanger

In 2012, emilyForbes Magazine named Emily Stanger to its Top 30 Under 30 list.  Since then, Stanger has been working in Liberia and Sierra Leone to enhance economic opportunities for women in West Africa.  In early 2014, when many were fleeing Sierra Leone during the peak of the Ebola outbreak, Emily redirected her efforts and became an advisor in the Office of the President in Sierra Leone to combat the rapid spread of the ebola virus. One of Stanger’s many contributions to organizing Sierra Leone’s ebola response was spearheading the transformation of a local hotline into a high capacity call center that answered and responded to more than 2,000 ebola-related calls daily. Stanger continues to work tirelessly with the hope that Sierra Leone will be ebola-free in the very near future.

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Opinions Diverge on Need for a Binding Agreement on Human Rights & Business

This week, the United Nations held the 3rd annual Forum on Human Rights and Business in Geneva (Forum). The Forum is intended to provide a global platform for the implementation of the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, a set of principles endorsed by the United Nations Human Rights Council in 2011 that establish a framework of standards on the “responsibilities of States and businesses for preventing and addressing business-related human rights abuse.” The Guidelines include a set of thirty-one principles that are underpinned by three interrelated pillars:

  • the State duty to protect human rights,
  • the corporate responsibility to respect human rights, and
  • the right of victims to access an effective remedy.

At the closing session of the Forum, panelists highlighted areas of achievements and also noted that implementation challenges of the Guiding Principles persist.  The Forum reported on a growing number of states taking real steps to implement the Guiding Principles, including through the development of National Implementation Plans on business and human rights; identified how corporations and business actors are taking practical steps to respect human rights; and noted that the Guiding Principles have been adopted by the World Bank and OECD, among others.

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Four Compelling Reasons To Be Hopeful About The U.S.-China Climate Accord

Four compelling reasons to be hopeful about the U.S. China Climate Agreement

It is no secret that the United States and China, the two largest national emitters of global carbon emissions, have fallen short in their efforts to address climate change over the past decade. Things, however, just got interesting. Only one week after the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its daunting report, leaders of the U.S. and China announced a breakthrough, non-binding bilateral agreement aimed at decreasing carbon emissions over the next several decades. While some critics have been quick to dismiss the importance of the deal, the possible implications of the effort cannot be underestimated. Borrowing from Obama’s quintessential campaign phrase—change—here are four reasons the accord may spur change in the global climate change arena:

The non-binding agreement is a symbolic commitment that illustrates that climate change is a priority issue

In the agreement, among other commitments, the U.S. aims to reduce U.S. emissions by 26%-28% of its 2005 level by 2025. Likewise, China intends to peaks its emissions by 2030. According to scientists and critics alike, these targets merely go a bit beyond or reinstate previously announced targets made domestically by the two leaders. Nevertheless, even if the commitments recycle or marginally exceed existing commitments the US and China have made domestically, the effort is symbolic of the two powers willingness to move the ball forward and find commonalties that were not previously known.

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