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Shared Societies Project Ideas at World Humanitarian Summit

  Over 65 Heads of State and other influential personnel are gathering in Istanbul, Turkey from May 23-24, 2016 for the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit, organized by the United Nations and hosted by the Presidency of Turkey, to address the reforming humanitarian system as it relates to the current, migration crisis. The aim of the

Shared Societies at the Oscars

The Oscar´s gala celebrated yesterday in Los Angeles left, besides awards, serious critics for its lack of diversity among the nominees. “If they nominated hosts, I wouldn´t even get the job”, said Chris Rock, host of the gala. None of the nominees were black, a fact that ignited complaints that ended in a boycott from

Muslim World Holds Conference Affirming Rights of Non-Muslims

Photo: Shahed Amanullah On January 25-27, hundreds of political and religious leaders from the Muslim world and beyond met in Marrakech to discuss and affirm the rights of non-Muslims in their countries. The conference, titled Religious Minorities in Muslim Countries: The Legal Framework and Call for Action, is believed to be the first of its

Women in India advocate for their right to work

A recent feature by the New York Times —In India, a Small Band of Women Risk It All for a Chance to Work—, highlights the continued obstacles that women in the country face in obtaining and holding jobs. India may be the world´s largest democracy but a vast swath of the population still lack basic

Diversity enters into the Spanish Parliament (Finally!)

RitaBosano

The elections held in Spain on December 20th of 2015 brought about many changes in the Spanish political sphere. One of these changes came in the hands of Rita Bosaho, who became Spain’s first female black Member of Parliament . As The Guardian explains, the “election saw record number of women elected into lower parliament”

Shared Societies Project Ideas at World Humanitarian Summit

WHS

 

Over 65 Heads of State and other influential personnel are gathering in Istanbul, Turkey from May 23-24, 2016 for the first-ever World Humanitarian Summit, organized by the United Nations and hosted by the Presidency of Turkey, to address the reforming humanitarian system as it relates to the current, migration crisis. The aim of the conference is to come up with a more comprehensive framework, aimed to tackle the needs of millions of people who have been displaced from their homes due to conflict or climate disasters, and are consequently more prone to hunger, poverty and overall human misery. United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon made an emotional plea to the participants of the conference in his opening remarks, saying: “Today, we declare: We are one humanity with a shared responsibility. Let us resolve here and now not only to keep people alive, but to give people a chance at a life in dignity.”

The concept of human dignity, as mentioned by Ban-Ki moon and later on in the summit by participants of the conference in various workshops and seminars, is also embedded in the definition of a ´shared society, as defined by Club de Madrid´s Shared Society Project (SSP). In order to form a stable, safe, cohesive society respect for everyone´s dignity and human rights is essential. Migrants should be treated as equal members of the society who are in distress. Political leaders of each country thus are responsible for shaping their politics in such a way that will delegitimize the often racism-driven intercommunity conflicts. During the round table meeting held the first day of the Summit on Political Leadership to End and Prevent Conflict, many leaders committed to the responsibility to steer their country´s politics in a direction which will protect human rights, dignity without use of force, in turn creating a more stable society[1].

SSP`s Commitment VII[2] , which addresses the need for an inclusive education system committed to the concept of shared society, was addressed at the summit as it relates to the inclusivity of the education. If education is made available to refugee children, it will be pivotal in reducing the vulnerability and increasing self reliance of refugees in the future, which is on the Agenda of the Summit. What adds to the saliency of this issue is the demographics of the refugees. In 2014, 51% of the refugee population were children and about half of them were not attending primary school[3]. Securing education for these children should not be viewed as a cost, but rather an investment in the future.

At a time when 125 million people face humanitarian crisis, tangible political action from the international community is needed and must arrive promptly. SSP recognizes this conference as a step towards such action, especially given that the leaders present at the summit will tackle the responsibilities to which they committed in turn creating a more stable, safer world. The uniqueness of the summit lies in its “top down” approach of addressing challenges of human suffering caused primarily due to migration crisis, as it is the leaders themselves, rather than grassroots organizations, that have gathered to address this challenge. As UN Deputy Secretary-General Jan Eliasson expressed during the Summit, instead of fearing or fighting this change, “We need to stand up for the beauty of diversity in our societies.”

 

 

[1] From the Report of the Secretary-General for the World Humanitarian Summit titled “One Humanity: shared responsibility.” https://consultations.worldhumanitariansummit.org

[2] Commitment VII: Ensure an education system that offers equal opportunity for developing the knowledge, skills, capacities and networks necessary for children to become productive, engaged members of society and that demonstrates a commitment to a shared society and educates children to understand and respect others.

[3] From the Report of the Secretary-General for the World Humanitarian Summit titled “One Humanity: shared responsibility.” https://consultations.worldhumanitariansummit.org

Shared Societies at the Oscars

Oscars

The Oscar´s gala celebrated yesterday in Los Angeles left, besides awards, serious critics for its lack of diversity among the nominees. “If they nominated hosts, I wouldn´t even get the job”, said Chris Rock, host of the gala. None of the nominees were black, a fact that ignited complaints that ended in a boycott from various artists, and the representation of Hispanic nominees relies on Alejandro González Iñarritu and his team.
Although the film industry is not ideal when it comes to promote social inclusion (since 2000 only 3% of nominations have gone to Hispanic people when they represent 16% of the population, just 1% to Asians; and women make 20% less than their male colleagues), perhaps things are changing.

The Screen Actors Guild awards (SAG) celebrated last January 30th is a small proof. Idris Elba proclaimed the ceremony “diverse TV” when he went on stage to collect his award for best supporting actor for Beasts of No Nation. Jeffrey Tambor won best actor for his role in Transparent, Queen Latifah and Viola Davis were among the winners for their roles in Bessie and How to get away with murder respectively, and Uzo Aduba was crowned again as best supporting actress for her role as Crazy Eyes in the series Orange is the New Black, which also won best comedy. Orange is the New Black is a TV show that narrates the daily life in a women´s penitentiary, where people from very different backgrounds and with different nationalities and races have to live together. The show has been praised for touching on sensitive and usually hidden topics such as the transgender world thanks to the role of Laverne Cox (Sophia Burset on the show), who is a transgender in real life. Laura Prepon, from this same comedy, claimed that diversity is necessary in the industry and said regarding the SAG awards: “This is what we talk about when we talk about diversity”.

According to The Economist, numbers suggest that the black population is not underrepresented in the awards; instead, the white population is overrepresented. Black actors get 9% of top roles and 10% of them get a nomination. The problem is actually behind the camera, where there are only 6% of black directors, and black women are almost non-existent. When it comes to Hispanic and Asian actors in top roles, the problem is much bigger. Some point out that the problem is not the nominations, but the lack of training and opportunities for minorities in the film industry. Cheryl Boone Isaacs, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science president and African-American, is trying to change the situation. She announced a five-year plan to expand executive´s thinking when hiring new talent.
If discrimination occurs in such a high profile profession and among highly rated film stars, it must be much worse among the poor. Club de Madrid and the Shared Societies Project applaud that events and professions of such magnitude are conscious of the importance of diversity, and invites the film industry to a self-critique and evaluation of the way the industry works. Although change will take time to happen, the most important thing, as mentioned by Lea Delaria, is that at least we are having this conversation and raising concerns.

Muslim World Holds Conference Affirming Rights of Non-Muslims

muslims article

Photo: Shahed Amanullah

On January 25-27, hundreds of political and religious leaders from the Muslim world and beyond met in Marrakech to discuss and affirm the rights of non-Muslims in their countries. The conference, titled Religious Minorities in Muslim Countries: The Legal Framework and Call for Action, is believed to be the first of its kind since the founder of Islam, the Prophet Muhammad, outlined the rights of non-Muslims in the Charter of Medina – over 1,400 years ago. Leaders from throughout the Islamic world were invited, as well as leaders from several other religions, such as Cardinal Theodore McCarrick of Washington, D.C and Rabbi Burt Visotzky of the Jewish Theological Seminary.

As stated in The Washington Post, the main goal of the conference is to reject the teachings of radical groups like Islamic State from within the traditions of Islam, establishing a religious argument (instead of a purely secular one) in favor of tolerance and diversity. The idea is to remind Muslims and the world in general how seriously religious tolerance is affirmed in Muhammad´s teachings – for example, Article 17 of the Charter of Medina: No Jew will be wronged for being a Jew. “We want to counter the idea that Muslims and non-Muslims can’t live together,” explains Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, a conference participant and co-founder of Zaytuna College. “This is not who we are or who we want to be.” It is also hoped that the conference will serve as a foundation for Muslims around the world in creating constitutions, school curricula, and other official documents.

The Club de Madrid applauds the work of the conference and believes it is essential in creating truly inclusive, free communities. As outlined in the Shared Societies Commitments*, promote understanding and appreciation of cultural, religious and ethnic diversity is an essential feature of a Shared Society. This conference, the first in more than a millennium, is an encouraging sign towards solving the needless conflict between religions among the world.

*Commitment IX: www.clubmadrid.org/en/ssp/commitments_and_approaches_br_for_shared_societies

 

Women in India advocate for their right to work

women india

A recent feature by the New York Times —In India, a Small Band of Women Risk It All for a Chance to Work—, highlights the continued obstacles that women in the country face in obtaining and holding jobs. India may be the world´s largest democracy but a vast swath of the population still lack basic rights and necessities – people such as Geeta and Premwati, women who have braved ostracism and much physical violence to continue working at nearby factories and continue earning their daily salary of 200 rupees, or 3 dollars.

Indeed, that is where the trouble stems from. For decades the main source of income for the women of Peepli Khera (Rajasthan State) , where Geeta and Premwati live, has been begging. In the past year however, many women were able to find employment in newly opened factories and have begun to out-earn men, undermining the old order. As a result, the men, led by village chief Roshan, decreed that women should not work in the factory, supposedly to avoid sexual advances by other men. “Life was much better 20 years back, ” he says. “It was a nice society. Now women are going out and meeting other strange men.”

In an unprecedented move though, the women fought back, taking their case to court even as they risked ostracism from everyone they knew and physical violence to them and their loved ones.
The story faced by women like Geeta and Premwati is not unique – all over the world, millions of women and other historically marginalized groups are subject to continued oppression and injustice. This is a major challenge that must be overcome if a Shared Society is ever to be built.

The Club de Madrid has developed the Shared Societies Project as a way to achieve an integrated society. In this framework it has developed 10 Commitments, including Commitment V:

Take steps to deal with economic disadvantages face by sections of society who are discriminated against, and ensure equal access to opportunities and resources”

While stories articles such as this one may appear discouraging, simply the fact that they are getting attention builds the awareness needed to produce change.

 

Photo credit: Andrea Bruce, NYT

Diversity enters into the Spanish Parliament (Finally!)

RitaBosano

The elections held in Spain on December 20th of 2015 brought about many changes in the Spanish political sphere. One of these changes came in the hands of Rita Bosaho, who became Spain’s first female black Member of Parliament . As The Guardian explains, the “election saw record number of women elected into lower parliament” while “immigrants still make up only 1,2% of country’s representatives,” and composeapproximately 10%of the population.[1]

Bosaho has received much attention from the media following the elections, which has caught her off guard, as she tells EFE News Agency. “Why is it so striking that a black woman could end up in parliament? What does that say about us all being integrated?”

Born with Spanish nationality in Equatorial Guinea, Spain’s former African colony, and after three decades living in Spain, she doesn’t consider herself an immigrant, but is happy to have become such a symbol. As she explains, immigrants remain somewhat invisible in Spanish institutions. “It’s a structural problem that needs to be put in context, looking at the social panorama of Spain.”

According to an ongoing study called “Pathways to Power” led by several European universities,[2] which compares immigrant political representation among seven European democracies, says “in Britain or the Netherlands, between 8% and 11% of national deputies are of immigrant origin, in France and Germany these rates fluctuate between 3% and 4%, and in Italy it is 1.5%.”It’s not only about immigrants making it into parliament, “but about reaching all the institutions”, as the French and political scientist and sociologist Sami Nair says.

Rita Bosaho’s achievement seems like a positive step forward in bringing about true social integration through political representation, as well bringing attention to the percentage of political representation of immigrants in Spain.

While speaking to El País, Vladimir Paspuel of the Ecuadorian association Rumiñahuispoke about the immigrant representatives in government saying “it’s providing a real struggle, but little by little we’re starting to achieve political participation.”

The Club of Madrid has developed the Shared Societies Project, committed to achieve an integrated society. In this framework, it has developed 10 Commitments as key policy areas for leaders and governments.

With the first black woman ever elected in Spain, comes the opportunity to “encourage the creation of a shared vision of society” both locally and nationally, as Commitment VIII promotes. Including bringing new ideas into the political arena to build a society in which the needs and rights of all citizens are met and protected.

As Bosaho jokingly said, it’s about time someone like her reached the Spanish Congress.

 


[1]According to the InstitutoNacional de Estadística (INE), http://www.ine.es/inebaseDYN/cp30321/cp_inicio.htm

[2]Study led by the University of Amsterdam (Netherlands), University of Bamberg (Germany), University of Leicester (United Kingdom), and SciencesPo (France).

Sustainability matters: the Equator Prize 2015 and Shared Societies

Equator Prize

 

On December 7th, the Equator Prize 2015 Award Ceremony took place in Paris. This year the Price was awarded to 21 outstanding local and indigenous initiatives that are advancing innovative solutions for people, nature and resilient communities.Winning organizations come from Asia, Latin America and the Sub-Sahara Africa. Each winning initiative received US$ 10,000 and was supported to participate in a series of special events at the UN Climate Change Conference in Paris, France in December 2015.

The Equator Prize was established in 2002 and there are now 87 winner organizations from 70 different countries. The Equator Prize is awarded biennially to recognize and advance local sustainable development solutions for people, nature and resilient communities. As local and indigenous groups across the world chart a path towards sustainable development. The Prize is part of the action plan of the Equator Initiative, a partnership that brings together the United Nations, governments, civil society, businesses, and grassroots organizations to build the capacity and raise the profile of local efforts to reduce poverty through the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity. Other initiatives include the so-called Equator Dialogues and Equator Knowledge, a research, documentation and learning program.

In this regard, the Club de Madrid has established a working group to examine the link between Shared Societies and Environmental Sustainability. The Shared Societies Project contends that the common basis for sustainable development is a socially inclusive process based in the achievement of Shared Societies. The Post-2015 Development Process has given the debate impetus, as the implementation of the new Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) will require a reorientation of all aspects of development

We, at the Club de Madrid, believe that the common basis for sustainable development is a socially inclusive process based on the achievement of Shared Societies. For this reason, the Club has convened a working group to examine how a more inclusive participative and shared society can provide the framework in which social,economic and environmental wellbeing can be realized for all.

 

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