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I am an immigrant

_82184803_immigration

On 9th April, the BBC News website published “Election 2015: Campaign seeks to put pro-immigration case”, an article describing an election campaign based on the migrant population´s contribution to the UK.

“The Shared Society: A vision for the Global Future of Latin America”

Alelandro_Toledo_Club_de_Madrid

Club de Madrid Member Alejandro Toledo, former President of Peru, has just published his new book The Shared Society: A vision for the Global Future of Latin America.

Minority Voices

MinorityVoices

The Minority Voices Programme is a development and training project organized by the Minority Rights Group, an international non-governmental organization that supports minority groups and indigenous people as they strive to maintain their rights and culture, while promoting equal opportunities in education and employment and full participation in public life. More specifically, the Minority Voices

The Diversity Advantage Challenge

default_en-diversity-1

The Shared Societies Project has been involved in the “Diversity Advantage Challenge“, an initiative supported by the ICC/Council of Europe in an effort to promote a new approach to managing increasingly diverse societies based on the concept of diversity advantage. It aims at raising awareness among the public about the benefits of diversity and to

Victoria Park Primary Academy – Changemaker

VictoriaPark

On February 11th, UK newspaper The Independent published “Special Measures” an article about the Victory Park Primary Academy, located in a disadvantaged area outside Birmingham. Victoria Park has 450 pupils school speaking, between them, more than 30 different home languages. In spite of the challenges, the British Minister of State for Schools has confirmed that

I am an immigrant

_82184803_immigration

On 9th April, the BBC News website published “Election 2015: Campaign seeks to put pro-immigration case”, an article describing an election campaign based on the migrant population´s contribution to the UK.

As a consequence of  the rising arguments putting pressure on immigrants and their impact on public services during the current general elections campaign, the nonprofit organization Joint Council for the Welfare of Immigrants (JCWI) has launched the “I am an immigrant” campaign. This campaign is made up of first hand messages on the immigrant’s contributions to the British society, specifically to the welfare system.

The JCWI is spreading the campaign nation–wide, using real migrants’ pictures and their own experiences as workers and citizens.  It is designed under an encouraging premise: “Our campaign seeks to challenge the negative rhetoric against immigrants, celebrate them and provide them with a platform to share their story.”

The BBC article  interviewed the people who are the faces of the campaign including Mr Chelvan, who arrived in the UK from Sri Lanka.  He said “the reason for this is that various political parties felt they were losing the debate on Europe on other issues, so migration is the easiest way of opening the anti-Europe debate”. Mr Chelvan says many of those who are against immigration “fear difference” and often blame migrants.

Saira Grant, legal and policy director at the JCWI stated that their campaign is not party political, but argues “it is absolutely ridiculous for parties to put a specific cap on net migration”.

In the framework of the Shared Societies Project, we are convinced that initiatives directed at embracing diversity and cultural identities have a particularly crucial part in societies where negative stereotypes and fear of strangers are being used to gain political advantage. Steps such as the one explored in the article encourage respect and appreciation of cultural, religious and ethnic diversity, and understanding of the contribution that diversity can bring – basic premises in building social cohesion.

“The Shared Society: A vision for the Global Future of Latin America”

Alelandro_Toledo_Club_de_Madrid

Club de Madrid Member Alejandro Toledo, former President of Peru, has just published his new book The Shared Society: A vision for the Global Future of Latin America. In this publication, the former President puts forth a proposal to minimize inequality, preserve the ecosystem, and strengthen democracy in Latin America. Toledo argues that only extraordinary efforts of vision, determination, courage and inspired leadership will set Latin America on the path to inclusive development, a manifesto for creating the ideal Shared Society.

I am a member of the Club de Madrid, a nonprofit organization of over 90 former leaders of democratic countries. The Club de Madrid has led the way in pushing for the creation of global and local shared societies through the Shared Societies Project. I believe that if we actively work to construct a Shared Society, our vision for Latin America’s future will be achieved.

Toledo states his vision of an inclusive Latin America where economic growth is combined with equitable distribution of its gains for all.

Shared Societies’ economies also reduces costs related to intersocietal tensions, like law enforcement, security, and the repair of damage caused by violence or protests.

The author restated the basic principles for building Shared Societies:

  1. Respect for the dignity of every individual.
  2. Equality and fairness.
  3. Respect for human rights and the rule of law.
  4. Democracy.

Toledo´s vision of Shared Societies emphasizes the cultural diversity of the Latin American people and encourages this diversity as a unique perspective on the region´s challenges. Regional integration and collaboration with “the fastest-growing region in the world: the Asia-Pacific rim” are seen by the author as competitive advantages to compete in the global economy. In this vision, Latin America will also share the benefits and profits more equitably as its economy advances, transforming the high proportion of Latin Americans now living in poverty into a vibrant and expanding middle class.

On April 22, President Toledo will take part in a discussion at a launch event of “The Shared Society: A vision for the Global Future of Latin America” at the Council of the Americas in New York.

Minority Voices

MinorityVoices

The Minority Voices Programme is a development and training project organized by the Minority Rights Group, an international non-governmental organization that supports minority groups and indigenous people as they strive to maintain their rights and culture, while promoting equal opportunities in education and employment and full participation in public life.

More specifically, the Minority Voices Programme aims to increase the inclusion of the perspectives and opinions of the minorities and the indigenous population in the EU media and more specifically in development issues related to the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Furthermore, the Minority Voices Programme promotes the awareness among development policy-makers of the various needs of minority and indigenous communities, by helping them to advocate for their own rights at a national, regional and international level.

The dedicated webpage of the organization, minorityvoices.org, is a place where both journalists and minority activists are encouraged to participate and to interact with each other. Through this page the members of minorities and indigenous communities, as well as their advocates, can upload their stories on a variety of media forms (video footage, audio, pictures, reports) and advocate for many issues, but most importantly through this page they can engage with the EU-based media, since the journalists are given the possibility to research and download all the available material (under creative commons licenses).

One very important issue that came to light thanks to the the Minority Voices Programme is the extinction of various indigenous languages in Nepal, an issue that Members of the Club de Madrid heard about first hand during a recent mission to the country. There is a gradual loss of the languages such as Kisan, Rai, Kusunda and Baram; these languages are getting replaced by the official language of Nepal, Nepali, contributing to the deterioration of the cultural heritage of various communities.

With as many as 123 dialects and languages spoken in Nepal, the Minority Voices Programme advocates for their protection and their instruction in local schools. A great majority of Nepalese children that come from different indigenous communities and linguistic minority groups encounter learning problems and perform poorly or even choose to leave school because the State has failed to recognize and cater for their diverse linguistic needs. A change in the educational system and the incorporation of all the languages of Nepal in administration and legal issues has been promoted through the Minority Voices Programme and to its ability to connect indigenous groups with the media.

The Diversity Advantage Challenge

default_en-diversity-1

The Shared Societies Project has been involved in the “Diversity Advantage Challenge“, an initiative supported by the ICC/Council of Europe in an effort to promote a new approach to managing increasingly diverse societies based on the concept of diversity advantage. It aims at raising awareness among the public about the benefits of diversity and to provide a large number of examples of how organizations, businesses and cities which have realized these benefits by creating innovative products, services, ideas and initiatives.

NETPLUSS Member Kinga Göncz was selected as a member of the jury of the Diversity Advantage Challenge in representation of the Shared Societies Project. The final stage of this process will be held next week on 24 March in Strasbourg in the framework of the plenary session of the Congress of Local and Regional Authorities of the Council of Europe.

This process has represented a great opportunity to learn from key local stakeholders from difference cultural (ethnic, religious, linguistic) backgrounds that are greatly committed to the design of innovative policies and initiatives which contributes to the dissemination of the notion of Shared Societies at the local level.

These are the 5 finalist that will be presenting during the final session:

  • Ordinary Heroes, Bosnia and Herzegovina.
  • La diversité à l’œuvre: des habitants charpentiers d’une nouvelle dynamique dans leur quartier!, France.
  • NDM –for more diversity in the media, Germany
  • Festival O Bairro i o Mundo, Portugal.
  • XEIX, Fostering intercultural relations around local businesses, Spain

Video presentations of the finalist’s projects are available here: http://www.coe.int/t/DG4/CULTUREHERITAGE/CULTURE/DIVERSITY/

The winner will be announced at the prize-giving ceremony and we will publish additional information of each of the finalists in the blog during the next days.

We wish all the finalists the best of luck!

 

Victoria Park Primary Academy – Changemaker

VictoriaPark

On February 11th, UK newspaper The Independent published “Special Measures” an article about the Victory Park Primary Academy, located in a disadvantaged area outside Birmingham. Victoria Park has 450 pupils school speaking, between them, more than 30 different home languages. In spite of the challenges, the British Minister of State for Schools has confirmed that it is among the top 100 primary performer schools in the country, in terms of the progress made by children between seven and 11. It has also gained international recognition on account if its diverse profile. “Children come to us from all four corners of the world. There are asylum seekers and refugees who have never been to school before”, says Andrew Morrish, Executive Head of the School. Rather than seeing diversity as a difficulty to overcome, the school chooses to celebrate it and one way it does that is by displaying in the main hall the different flags of the pupils’ countries of origin.

The Ashoka Foundation, an international network of social entrepreneurs, has awarded 130 schools around the world the “changemaker” status, including Victoria Park among the five in the United Kingdom. This status recognizes institutions that have “ceased to operate as examination factories and have embraced the development of skills such as empathy, leadership, team-work and creativity among their pupils”.

On the School’s website, the follow statement is made by the Head of the School: “We are lucky enough to welcome children to our school with a range of different needs and backgrounds from all corners of the globe. It is this mix that makes Victoria Park such a harmonious and happy place to learn”.

Furthermore, in an article published in 2014 at Warwick University, Lisa Worgan, Director of Curriculum at Victoria Park Academy, described how the curriculum at the school is organized through an approach of enterprise education, enabling students to “celebrate diversity and be proud of their own individualities as part of a multicultural community” among others approaches concerning leadership, high expectations and developing “ positive attitudes and values and show respect to others”.

According to the British Population Census in 2011, one-in-five people (20%) identified with an ethnic group other than White British compared with 13% in 2001. The population with ethnic background other than White (White British, White Irish and White Other) has doubled in size since 1991 from 3 to 7 million, while remaining a minority of the total population (14%).

The Victory Park Academy initiative, alludes to one of the fundamental components of Shared Societies Project, that ensuring an education system that offers equal opportunity for developing the knowledge, skills, capacities and networks necessary for children to become productive and engaged members of society. As reinforced by the article, the message of respect for difference and diversity strongly benefits all members of society.

 

Shared Societies between Jewish and Arab Citizens of Israel

Photo from The Social Venture Fund for Jewish-Arab Equality and Shared Society

On February 2014, the Inter Agency Task Force on Israeli Arab Issues published the report, «Shared Societies between Jewish and Arab Citizens of Israel: Visions, Realities and Practices». The report, which is presented in two parts, “is a conceptual overview of the key approaches, meanings and milestones of Shared Society work in Israel and a mapping of current government and civil society Shared Society initiatives to provide a more granular illustration of these concepts as implemented today”. Moreover, this report aims to record the attitudes and understanding of the officials in Israel, in regards to Shared Societies, as well as to evaluate the relevance of these definitions for American Jewish organizations interested in Israel, the Arab Society the relations between them.

For their research, the Inter Agency Task Force members focused on the work, the key approaches and the underlying principles of Shared Society programs developed by civil society and not for profit organizations. The author the importance and the impact that the Shared Societies Project has had so far, by stating that the “best and most concise framing of shared society itself has been articulated by the Club de Madrid“. The report listed different approaches identified as guiding each organization’s decisions and actions when advancing into a shared society:

  1. Part of Israel’s Multicultural Diversity: For some organizations the issue of Jewish-Arab Shared Society is addressed as part of the wider context of multiculturalism or diversity in Israeli society.
  2. Singular Issue: Other organizations believe that the Jewish-Arab divide is “singular” in both character and importance within Israeli society and that therefore Shared Society work should address it as a unique and particular issue.
  3. Focus on Inter-Communal Relations: Some organizations focus on creating better relations between Jewish and Arab communities or particular stakeholders within the communities (i.e. students, teachers, artists) through encounters, shared living education, and joint projects.
  4. State-Minority Relations: Other organizations believe that the focus should be placed on state-minority relations.
  5. Focus on Arab Society Internal Development / Economic Integration: Another group of organizations views the need to enhance economic development and capacities within the Arab community as a priority in working towards a shared, equal and integrated society.
  6. Inclusivity in Service Provision: A number of civil society organizations that provide services to the entire Israeli citizenry, give special attention to enhancing a Shared Society by purposefully developing specially tailored services for the Arab communities.

Additionally, the report offers a very informative list of the initiatives that have been taken both by the government of Israel has taken over the years, through the Ministry of Education as well as on local government level and  by Civil Society and readers can find a list of efforts and projects that have been taken and various ideas for follow-ups that aim to create a society that may be diverse yet inclusive.

The Club de Madrid is very encouraged to have been included as a key reference in the work of a fellow organization and encourages the Inter Agency Task Force to continue its work on the issue of social inclusion and inter-communal relations between the Jewish and Arab groups, especially as it is operating in a region where the concept of “Shared Societies” is still relatively new.

 

Photo by The Social Venture Fund for Jewish-Arab Equality and Shared Society

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