Tag Archives: Governance & Rule of Law

Women: Healthier, Better Educated, but Not Safe from Violence

 Co-Authored with guest blogger Alys Willman.


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women: Healthier, Better Educated, but Not Safe from Violence


On International Women’s Day, as we reflect on progress toward gender equality, there is cause for some celebration. In several important ways, women’s lives are changing for the better. There have no doubt been gains in women’s empowerment - such as increasing life expectancy, declining fertility rates and a growing number of girls enrolled in primary school.

But in many other ways women around the world remain vulnerable in a fundamental way- to the risk of violence and abuse.

  • Up to 70 per cent of women experience violence in their lifetime, according to country data available.
  • More than 1 in 3 women around the world have been subject to violence- including non-partner sexual violence and violence and committed in their own homes, by people they know.
  • Women aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war and malaria .

Despite all our gains, women worldwide are still vulnerable to being attacked, raped, brutalized, abused, trafficked and killed. The subjugation and humiliation of women goes on.

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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.

Why we should care about Yemen (and its not all about Al Qaeda )



You may have noticed Yemen in the news lately. One of the Charlie Hebdo attackers was trained there, and Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) claimed responsibility for the attack. In the last few days, the actions of the Ansarullah group- also known as the Houthi rebels- that took Sana’a in September 2014, culminated with  the capture and resignation of President Hadi amid Houthi demands for constitutional amendments and greater power-sharing.

Yemen’s future is, again, uncertain.

Whilst only a small country, this oft-ailing state is important – and not only because of Al Qaeda’s presence. Instead of heeding the calls to throw-in the towel or send in the troops, here is why (and how) we should continue to care about Yemen:

Look out also for our forthcoming interview on Yemen’s future with Danya Greenfield, Deputy Director of the Rafiq Hariri Center for the Middle East at the Atlantic Council.

Continue reading Why we should care about Yemen (and its not all about Al Qaeda )

Charlie Hebdo & our right to think and say what we want. Four off-the-mark commentaries

Charlie Hebdo attack opens a Can of Worms, by Jason Crislip The comparison of President Obama to Hitler by Rep. Randy Weber (R) of Texas….Rupert Murdoch’s (unsurprising) comments on the responsibility of ‘all Muslims’….. and Steven Emerson’s ‘leading expert’ blooper on Birmingham being an only-Muslim town….  There’s been quite a bit of “wish I hadn’t said that” in the recent commentary on the Charlie Hebdo attack.

The quest for real insights, a healthy public debate and the spirit of ‘leaving no angle uncovered’ means we’ve seen some less-than-well-thought-out commentary. Regardless, its important to remember that freedom of expression and opinion is a human right- that particularly today – needs to be protected and promoted, but also considered alongside our responsibilities to protect the rights of minority and marginalized groups.

In the spirit of healthy debate, here are four of the most interesting commentaries in the mainstream media on the Charlie Hebdo attack that we believe are”off-the-mark”. We explain why:

1.“We need to talk about virgins in heaven” is the title of this opinion piece published in The Huffington Post, UK edition.
Can we please add name-calling to the list of things we need to talk about, Mr. Sturgis?

Continue reading Charlie Hebdo & our right to think and say what we want. Four off-the-mark commentaries

Thank you Charlie Hebdo. What we can learn from the debate on the Paris cartoon attack

CharlieHebdo Biscuit

One of the few positive things that has come out of the tragic attack and killing of the Charlie Hebdo satire cartoonists in Paris is the depth of the debate that we’re seeing concerning freedom of speech, ethics, inequality and other issues. There are many divergent reactions and opinions out there and, alongside the inevitable vitriol, there’s some very candid reflection.

The attack on Charlie Hebdo is not just about cartoonists and killers, obviously.

This is evident in that the commentary touches upon everything from immigration issues, foreign fighters, capitalism, modernity and societal inequalities to our methods used in the war on terror. These seemingly disparate issues are being linked, disputed, disregarded, and- most importantly- debated.

Here are nine of the best English-language pieces out there on the Charlie Hebdo cartoon Paris attack (and some quotes from them) that are pushing us to think harder, deeper and perhaps even more laterally, about the killings and the entire associated problematic.  Watch out for the expletives!

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D.C’s growing homeless crisis. Where do the homeless go when its cold?


“As cold as the surface of Mars”. Those were truly chilling words to read about the temperatures sweeping North America the past few days. Exposure to such cold is downright dangerous. Studies estimate that approximately 28,000 deaths in the USA-  more than 1% of all deaths- occur each year due to hypothermia and other exposure-related causes; many are of homeless people.

While Washington D.C’s Dupont Circle residents who lost power on tuesday got a little taste of what its like to be without heat in such conditions, that’s nothing to compare with our fellow city residents on the streets. For those in the area who are used to greeting D.C’s homeless, you may have noticed fewer familiar faces in the past days. That’s not because there are actually fewer homeless- in fact, D.C. has a growing homelessness crisis. Where do the homeless when its cold? Could the Affordable Housing initiative and the D.C 2024 Olympic bid make a difference to the growing homeless crisis?

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Four Lessons from the Conflict and Tsunami disaster Aid Response in Aceh

Authored with guest blogger Agus Wandi

Ten years ago, as if to complete the destruction of 30 years of war that took the lives of 30,000 people  and displaced many thousands more in the Indonesian Province of Aceh, nature added to the devastation by making 120,000 people victims of a Tsunami that decimated the province. The other side of the story is that, on that day, a person would wake up on the east coast of the province as the survivor of a 3- decades long war, while someone living on the east coast or in Banda Aceh found themselves a survivor of the Tsunami. Stories of hope and resilience abound. Ten years on, Aceh has come a very long way. Here are four lessons from the conflict and tsunami disaster aid response that we learned from working on peacebuilding in Aceh following the 2004 tsunami.

1. Disaster Response Impacts Politics, and it can be Positive.
Whether we like it or not, any post disaster intervention will have a political impact.

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