Archive for SSP related News and Videos

A Training Program to Lower Walls in Israel

Captura de pantalla 2016-08-12 a las 13.14.14

A new initiative in Jerusalem, Lowering the Walls: Leaders Combating Racism in Jerusalem, is taking small but concrete steps towards creating a truly shared and inclusive city. The goal is to lower tensions between Arabs and Jews.

The initiative is being spearheaded by Shatil and IDC Herzliya (a civil society and an educational organization, respectively) and has brought together 16 diverse leaders from the public and private sector to focus on the critical role that bystanders play in enabling racism. Small actions by local community leaders that may appear insignificant can actually go a long way in combating these issues. To that effect, the initiative has spurred several encouraging developments – for instance, the project is bringing together Arab cab drivers and Jewish municipal parking inspectors to reduce tensions between the two groups, while the city´s human resources department is training city staff to better integrate Ethiopian-Israelis into the municipal workforce. In addition, the director of a local museum is curating an exhibit on how individuals can prevent injustices in society.

“This course was very important to me and I felt honored to participate”, said Merav Maor, executive director of the Museum on the Seam. “I would like to see as many trainings like this as possible.” These are the small but critical steps that must be taken by civil society to build a better, more inclusive world. Indeed, Club de Madrid´s Shared Societies Project, supports steps like these as a way to pave the road towards a more tolerant and inclusive society. More specifically, the initiatives of Shatil and IDC Herzliya fall under Commitment VIII and IX of Shared Society – education for shared societies and promoting appreciation of diversity. We are pleased to see work being done to promote these goals.

Chicago Police Recruits More Minorities

Protesters Continue to Demonstrate Against Police Killings

At a time when interactions In the United States of America between police and minority communities it is important not to forget the efforts that are being made to address the problems. In Chicago, the police are emphasizing the recruitment and hiring of minority police officers.

Research shows that having minority cops in minority neighborhoods has a strong symbolic and physiological effects of fostering more intimate, more trusting bonds between the community and the police which at times helps to prevent needless violence. As stated by Fox News, currently, about 70% of the 14,000 officer applicants are black, Hispanic and Asian, which constitutes a 13% jump in minority applicants. Recruiters visited churches, schools, community events and advertised in Spanish to bolster interest among minorities to apply. The goal is to ¨build a police force that represents the diversity of the entire city¨ and change the ¨culture¨ of policing.[1]

The aims of the Chicago police align closely with those of the Club de Madrid´s Shared Society Project (SSP), which seeks to build an inclusive and safe society that respects diversity and protects human dignity. More specifically, the current efforts of the Chicago police department are tied with SSP´s Commitment X, which calls for measures to reduce intercommunity tensions and hostility and ensure that members from all communities are protected from abuse, intimidation and violence.

Hopefully the recent steps aimed at bolstering minority representation in the police force will adhere to the aims of Commitment X, especially as it emphasizes the importance of police in acting as community leaders who respect the diverse structure and ethnic nuances of areas which they guard. Having a responsible, respectful police force which is representative of its community and does not rely exclusively on force to mediate conflicts will be a step towards building a much more wholesome shared society.

 


[1] “To Rebuild Trust, Chicago Police Recruit More Minorities.” Fox2now. Fox News, 23 Feb. 2016. Web.

<http://fox2now.com/2016/02/23/to-rebuild-trust-chicago-police-recruit-more-minorities/>.

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).

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