Ananke July 2021 | Resilience Ed ition
Faces of Resilience The Intersections of Relig ious Intolera nce, Gend er & Vulnera b ilities in South Asia During the Pa nd emic
In-dept h st or ies & ar t icles f r om Af r ica, Aust r alia, Bangladesh, Bahamas India, Pak ist an & mor e!
Enabling Crisis Advocacy & Empowerment For Women in the Middle East Voicing Stateless Exclusion: A Refugee Stor y
The Rural Woman Finally Speakes
" Th e n ex t ev o l u t io n a r y st ep f o r h u m a n k in d is t o m o v e f r o m m a n t o k in d . Unknown
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Fea t u r ed
The Need For A Gendered Response To Raging Crises In Pakistan
Enabling Cr isis Advocacy & Empower ment For Women in the M iddle East
Faces of Resilience: Stemming the Tide of Intolerence in COVID South Asia
Navigating The Tech L andscape Dur ing the Pandemic
Evolution 360: Youth Creating Revolution in Bangladesh
COVID19 in Nigeria Envisioning I ntegr ated Appr oach To Health
Enr oute To Recover y Equity & I nclusion
Gu e s t W r i t e r s Mehr F Husain d elves d eep into the impa ct of CO VID19 on the menta l hea lth of cra ftswomen in Pa kista n Pg 64
Dr. Bushra Anjum writes a b out the evolving communica tions customs in the times of the pa nd emic Pg 83
Tina Sequeira showca ses a shining exa mple of a g ood Sa ma rita n, Dr. Mukti Bosco, who ha s tra versed pla ces a nd touched the lives of people who ha ve b een shunned a nd forsa ken b y society. Pg 30
Shradha Menon tra ces the impa ct & suffering of the second wa ve of the pa nd emic in Ind ia Pg 71
Rimsha Salam d elves d eep into the need of levera g ing b ig d a ta in the fig ht a g a inst CO VID19 Pg 90
Faces of Resilience
In The Shadows of The Pandemic
Voicing Stateless Exclusion
All It Takes Is O ne Candle To Light Up The World
Enroute To Recovery Via Equity & Inclusion
Shamsaha: Enabling Crisis Advocacy & Empowerment For Women in the Middle East Lo'real: Empowering Women Face of the Future | Leading Change
CO VID19 In Nigeria
Envisioning Integrated Approach to Health
Navigating The Tech Landscape During The Pandemic
Leveraging Art For Change
The Social Impact O f Covid19 In Light of Big Data
Evolution 360: Youth Creating Revolution in Bangladeesh The Role O f Big Data In Analyzing Thr CO VID19 Fallout The Need For A Gendered Response To A Raging Crisis In Pakistan Enabling Empowerment Through Craft
90 93 96
The Rural Woman Finally Speaks India & The Second Wave
Evolving Communication Customs
Perspecti v e M i nori ti es
Res il ience
The Int er sect ions of Religious
The Int er sect ions of Religious Int oler ance, Gender &
Int oler ance, Gender &
Vulner abilit ies in Sout h Asia
Vulner abilit ies in Sout h Asia Dur ing t he Pandemic
Dur ing t he Pandemic By Sabin Muzaf far
The COVID19 pandemic has claimed more than 3.95 million victims worldwide. Nowhere in sight is any kind of respite. With rising death toll, many claim the disease to be a great equalizer. Far from it, the specter has all but amplified and exacerbated invisible as well as pre-existing biases, inequities and vulnerabilities. A cursory glance at the ramifications of COVID19 starkly reveals how it has strengthened systemic and structural inequalities when it comes to gender, race, religion, ethnicity, political status and wealth. Similar to the evolving nature of the virus itself, implications of the pandemic have long moved from ?physio-social? to one that is psycho-social and political. Equipped with vitriolic nomenclatures such as the Chinese virus and Corona jihad, the contagion has led to a further dehumanization of the marginalized and vulnerable; further emasculating COVID19 response efforts all over the world including the South Asian region.
Fueling Hat e Wit h Fear
During the first quarter of 2020, thousands of Shia pilgrims from not just the Sub-continent, but also from Oman, Qatar, Yemen and Bahrain travelled to Iran. With the first two cases detected in the Southern port city and megapolis ? Karachi, Pakistan; some 2000+ returning pilgrims were moved to institutional quarantine centers in their home cities while about 2800 were received at the Taftan border. Fear mixed with prejudice consumed the majority of the population enough to allege that the virus had infiltrated the country through the pilgrims returning from Iran. A Pakistani daily revealed: ?The pilgrims remained in quarantine for a minimum of 28 days and were allowed home only after they tested negative for Covid19.? According to a report published by the Islamabad Policy Institute (IPI), ?Covid19 in Pakistan The Politics of Scapegoating Zaireen? (pilgrims) stated: ?In some instances, the pilgrims remained in quarantine for up to 50 days. Therefore, the pilgrims cannot be responsible for local transmission.? The report further asserted: ?Profound political polarization, deep sectarian schisms, and anti-Iran sentiments in the country made the controversy murkier. The government's messaging on the pilgrims' crisis was particularly found wanting. Instead of transparently explaining the issue and addressing misconceptions and tackling deliberately propagated disinformation, the government chose buck-passing because of political compulsions. Contradictions and discrepancies were also noticeable in the government's messaging.?
?We have been t r avelling t o Ir an for mor e t han 10 year s now and never imagined somet hing like t his could happen t o us. We wer e st uck in Ir an for mor e t han t wo mont hs. Our ow n gover nment wasn?t let t ing us in. We r eached out t o anyone and ever yone who could help. We pleaded on social media, any place t hat could hear our cr ies of help but at t hat point , ever yt hing seemed f ut ile. Ther e was fear and panic ever ywher e. We couldn?t f ly back t o our ow n count r y, our home! We made so many r equest s. Our f unds wer e deplet ing fast and mor e t han half of our gr oup consist ed of people over 50 . We wer e r unning out of our medicine supplies as well. It was hor r ible.? Fat ima Member of a Shia communit y in Kar achi, Pak ist an
?We cont r act ed COVID19 dur ing t he f ir st wave. The fear of t he disease was not as much as t hat of being ost r acized. We wer e also af r aid of being administ er ed w r ong medicines. Such was t he magnit ude of our dist r ess and anxiet y.? Shahnaz Bhopal, India
In the neighboring India, situation was also grave, with the Tableeghi Jamaat ? an Islamic group, accused of spreading the coronavirus after it held its annual congregation in local New Delhi mosque. Over 2000 Muslims had travelled to India for religious activities since January 1, 2020. Over 3300 Tableeghi Jamaat members were then put under institutionalized quarantine for almost 40 days. On May 6th, 2020, the government ordered the release of individuals who had completed the mandatory quarantine and showed no signs of the virus. It is certainly not untrue to claim that the increasing polarization across the Sub-continent has led to an obtrusive religiosity as well as fascist extremism. The repercussions that resulted due to the negligence and ignorance of the Tableeghi Jamaat in India which was staunchly criticized by other Muslims or the deliberate propagation of disinformation in Pakistan led to a corrosive messaging that vilified as well as criminalized communities as a whole in the respective countries.
People make the mistake of linking citizenr y with r eligion, which is intr inscally wr ong. - A view on Twitter Spaces
Voices Ther e have been quit e a few challenges. Ther e have been many st at e led r at ion dist r ibut ion dr ives but for some r eason, minor it ies wer e lef t out . However, a few char it y or ganizat ions and specif ically Al Khidmat made sur e t o deliver. I t hink it is t he int er sect ionalit y of one?s socio-economic st at us and r eligion t hat makes one vulner able. We can not e t his even in t he at t it ude of t he st at e when it comes t o super ior cast e Hindus in t he count r y and Dalit s, bear ing in mind, we do not believe in cast e syst em. If you look at t he const it ut ion of Pak ist an, it clear ly st at es equalit y for all. But if you look f ur t her, t her e act ually is no policy f r amewor k , no per sonal laws for Hindus or Sik hs Ther e is a dual at t it ude as far as t he st at e is concer ned. Be it t he major it y or t he st at e, t hey t hink t his count r y is only for Muslims. That is t he mindset . Ther e is a dualit y in at t it ude, one focuses on nat ional polit ics and t he ot her int er nat ional. Minor it ies do not exist in nat ional life because diver sit y is not accept ed. I feel t he st at e is not ser ious about minor it ies. Diver sit y has successf ully been er oded. Mar y James Gill Polit ician, Human Right s Law yer, Act ivist Pak ist an
In Pak ist an, r eligious har mony means so much social har mony. Religion is so all-encompassing and I feel t hat it is so f r ayed now, t her e?s so much t ension ar ound it .. It is such a combust ible sit uat ion t hat at any moment of acut e dif f icult y like t he pandemic w ill lead t o t he f r aying of t hat r eligious compact ? mak ing t hings dif f icult for t he mor e vulner able communit ies so whet her it s covid or anyt hing else I just feel t hat t he t r aject or y t hat Pak ist ani societ y is on and all t he social nor ms and values t hat societ y has come t o accept make t his a fer t ile gr ound for any k ind of r eligious t ension t o bubble up whenever t her e is acut e k ind of pr oblem in t he count r y or any k ind of nat ional cr isis. And I feel t hat t hat?s just t he way we ar e now and COVID has been just a sympt om of t hat as opposed t o being t he dr iving for ce. Member of t he Ahmadi Communit y - Pak ist an
St at elessness, Gender & Inequit ies in Healt hcar e
The devastating plight of the refugees in Bangladesh, Indonesia and Malaysia ? among other countries - adds yet another debilitating layer to the raging crisis. On June 30th, Bangladesh came into the Human Rights Watch focus as it reported Rohingya refugees facing medical crisis
after nearly 18000 refugees were sent to the silt island of Bhasen Char as a solution to the overcrowding of Cox Bazaar where a million Rohingyas reside. While the medical plight of refugees at Bahsen Chat can be attributed to the overwhelming of an already inadequate healthcare system on the island, their marginalization is deeply rooted to their statelessness. A refugee?s dignity, respect and their basic human rights are already comprised especially in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan as all the three countries have yet to ratify the prevailing international laws protecting refugees or the 1951 UN Refugee Convention.
According to Health and Human Rights Journal: ?It is a particularly challenging status during a global pandemic such as COVID-19, when hostility toward outsiders is exacerbated, the availability of essential humanitarian services is compromised, and an informal labor market generating subsistence income is brought to a halt.? Although the constitution in almost every country in South Asia safeguards and protects state citizens, which includes people belonging to both religious majority and minorities; realities are ominously different. And it becomes equally if not more incapacitating for vulnerable groups when gender is also thrown in the mix. Many women in rural Pakistan especially remain undocumented, meaning they do not possess national identification card.
While the country rolled out its computerized national identification card (CNIC) initiative as early as year 2000 ? each government has had its share of challenges in bringing women into the digital ID fold. According to a report published by the Punjab Commission on Status of Women in 2019, in rural areas of Punjab, 56 percent of young women have CNICs. As compared with their rural counterparts, urban women have 64 percent of CNICs of women age 18 years and above. Fewer CNICs were issued to women in Punjab (41 percent) as compared to men (59 percent).? Posing a threat not just to their potential status as a citizen of the state, remaining undocumented means they fall under the
radar of vaccination initiatives. Thousands of miles away, foreign students, refugees, members of marginalized communities, irregular and/or undocumented migrants in Malaysia are also facing challenges accessing vaccines. While the government has been very vocal about vaccine equity internationally, many people from the said communities as well as stateless individuals without a Malaysian identity card or passport fail to get vaccinated. Many including members of indigenous communities have actually been turned away for not possessing proper documents. In Pakistan, lawyers and rights advocates believe women remaining undocumented keeps their enablement in check as far as their bodily, health and financial autonomies are concerned. Without state identity, women cannot exercise their rights as state citizens and neither can they be protected through state laws. Same holds true for the plight of those marginalized in Malaysia with an added layer of the fear of deportation and arrests. In both cases, vulnerabilities stem from being robbed of their basic human rights. Consequently, they are denied access to vaccines; putting not just one but entire populations in harm?s way.
Voices Kousalya Per iasamy, t he founder of t he Posit ive Women Net wor k (PWN+), explains t he mult iple impact s of COVID-19 on t he life of women living w it h HIV in India. ?Many women and gir ls wer e af r aid of going t o t he hospit al t o get t heir ant ir et r ovir al t her apy r ef ill and access gener al healt h ser vices out of fear of COVID-19,? said Per iasamy. ?Women living w it h HIV who had COVID-19 wer e not able t o pr ovide for and look af t er childr en if t hey had t o be admit t ed int o t he hospit al.? Given t he need t o communicat e w it h local net wor k par t ner s and member s, PWN+ est ablished a What sApp gr oup t o ensur e t hat women living w it h HIV had access t o r eliable infor mat ion on HIV and COVID-19. PWN+ also mobilized suppor t f r om dif fer ent local or ganizat ions t o donat e food and supplies and handed out pamphlet s cont aining HIV and COVID-19 infor mat ion. UNAIDS Pr ess Release/Relief Web
Essent ial wor ker s wer e laid of f w it hout any compensat ion. In addit ion t o t his, no at t ent ion was r eally given t o t hem. Ther e was a lot of t alk about PPEs for doct or s and we came for war d and st ar t ed a nat ional call for t he safet y and pr ot ect ion of sanit at ion wor ker s, demanding t hem t o be included as f r ont line wor ker s. Mor eover, t hese sanit at ion wor ker s also wor ked as suppor t st af f at var ious hospit al?s quar ant ine war ds. Most of t hese sanit at ion wor ker s ar e Chr ist ians. They ar e not t r ained and wor ked w it hout pr oper PPEs inside t he war ds. It is like you want t he most vulner able t o f ight t he pandemic. Mar y James Gill Polit ician, Human Right s Law yer, Act ivist - Pak ist an
While Pakistani Chr istians make up about 2 per cent of the population, data r eveals that they account for mor e than 75 to 80 per cent of sanitation wor ker s.
Voices Sair a Masih was heavily pr egnant when her husband Sonny called f r om wor k on 21 Mar ch. He was being sent t o wor k in a quar ant ine cent r e for 156 Muslim Shi?it e pilgr ims who?d r et ur ned home t o Pak ist an f r om a pilgr image t o Ir an, alr eady a cor onavir us hot spot . He said he would be home in t wo week s. The cent r e, set up by t he dist r ict Faisalabad gover nment , was st af fed by medics, police, civil defence of f icials and at least six sanit at ion wor ker s ? t o clean it . The six shar ed t he sur name Masih (f r om ?Messiah?) ident if ying t hem as Pak ist ani Chr ist ians. Fir daus, mot her of Shakoor, anot her of t he six, t akes up t he st or y: ?Fir st , t hey wer e t old t hey could leave soon af t er cleaning t he cent r e. But t hey wer e t r icked int o going in t her e. They ended up being in t he cent r e 24 hour s a day for almost a mont h, br inging food, medicine, soap and shampoo and even mak ing t he beds?. This was because no-else would go close t o t hose quar ant ined, including t he police guar ding t hem. Even t he doct or monit or ing t hem would keep his dist ance.
Excer pt fr om Unpr otected, unpaid or unr ecognized: Chr istian wor ker s on the fr ontline in Pakistan?s fight against Covid-19 ? Wr itten by Asif Aqeel / I nstitute of Development Studies
Response, Relief, Respit e
COVID19 is more than just a virus; it is a manifestation of an ailing society. Relief is only conceivable through appropriate response. Respite is only possible when pathways to response are created through a rights-based, multi-stakeholder and humanitarian approach. The people and NOT r ace, r eligions or ethnicities of I ndia came together on social media for immediate response to distress, be it locating oxygen cylinders, getting help find food for a family, donating artwork to charity for the much needed COVID related funds or simply lending a voice of support. Mainstream media has a huge responsibility to build a conversation leading towards redressal and mitigation of crises; instead of propagating dis-info, use of bad science and vitriolic messaging inciting hate and fear especially of the marginalized and the vulnerable. Mainstream media needs to work for the people instead of an agenda; it needs to do better ? much better! Instead of passing buck or diluting focus, the powers that be in countries across South Asia need to address crises by assessing and designing both short and long term roadmap to relief. This can only be done through multi-stakeholder engagement with actors representing all segments of society. Unless the underlying challenges of the pandemic are not mitigated, the scale of socio-economic and humanitarian devastation will remain staggering. Curing humanity of this affliction starts with humankind coming together. Physical walls and borders are still easy to dismantle when compared with walls of hate, prejudice and intolerance that lie deep within.
Gender-based violence is one of the gravest human rights violations ? a pandemic afflicting the entire globe from time immemorial. The rise of the super bug has magnified and worsened an already challenging situation.Pre-COVID, 1 in 3 women experienced at least some form of violence. And with lockdowns and social distancing in place during the first and second waves, the situation has only deteriorated further. While data gathered by helplines in many countries, including Digital Rights Foundation Pakistan?s Cyber Harassment Helpline, have shown a sharp increase in violence related calls; UN Women reports a diversion of resources and efforts from gender-based violence to urgent COVID19 relief. In a bid to curb the contagion, the world moved towards staying home to stay safe. This made the most vulnerable come in close as well as constant contact with perpetrators of violence. Remaining in isolation without access or reach to help and support created an enabling environment for the perpetrator as victims are less likely to be in contact with family and friends during lsocial distancing. The situation becomes all the more harmful with women?s mental health taking a sharp nosedive as the fear of violence escalates, reports a UN Women brief. According to one report, the number of domestic violence cases reported to a police station in Jingzhou, a city in Hubei Province China, tripled in February 2020, compared to the same period the previous year. Almost 30 percent of the respondents in a survey said that they have experienced some form of gender-based violence which includes stigma and discrimination. The said survey was conducted in June 2020 by the International Community Women Living with HIV in Asia and the Pacific (ICWAP)with support from the
By Sabin M u zaf f ar
In t he Shadows of t he Pandemic
UNAIDS Regional Support Team for Asia and the Pacific. According to a report released by the National Commission on Violence against Women, even the official numbers of reported cases of violence against women living with HIV has increased considerably during the pandemic. Nepalese women living with HIV are reportedly facing similar sufferings as a consequence of the pandemic. Sara Thapa Magar, the President of the National Federation of Women Living with HIV
and AIDS (NFWLHA), Nepal, reflects on Lily?s (not her real name) story, a woman living with HIV who was beaten by her husband after she went to the local hospital to get refills of her antiretroviral therapy. The current circumstances, including limitations on access to helplines and disrupted public services, have made reporting of abuse and violence even harder, reports UNAIDS. It truly is no rocket science to understand that any kind of crisis affects men and women differently and only compounds already existing inequalities and risk for the more vulnerable. Social protection system either does not exist or is almost non-existent across countries in the Global South and by extension South Asia. Risk mitigation and redressal is possible through not just a
multi-stakeholder, rights-based approach; it needs representation in policy-making and laws so that proper implementation can be carried out organically. But more than that, weeding out the root cause is no simple effort. It starts with unshackling mindset from deeply entrenched feudalistic belief system fueled by power. Indeed, humanity is in for a long haul and it really starts by working together!
Voices of Res il ience The COVID-19 pandemic has laid bar e t he social inequalit ies t hat have been const ant ly exacer bat ed t hr ough t he use of pat r iar chal, pr ivilege-cent r ic, and power -dr iven policymak ing at all levels. Wor ld over, t he lockdow ns have been challenging in many, many dif f icult ways. Among t hose t hat ar e st r uggling w it h t he weight of having t o st ay home ar e t hose t hat ar e facing domest ic violence. We'r e t alk ing about st aying home t o st ay safe - but t hey'r e not safe because t hey'r e st aying home. Women have faced violence acr oss t he boar d: t o t he point t hat a woman who r ecent ly r eached out said t hat she had been beat en because she t est ed posit ive. Repor t ing a cr ime and calling for help is not easy in r egular t imes: t he decision t o st ay or t o leave, t he quest ions of having t o addr ess t he st igma, t he challenges of moving away, f inancial independence, and not having anywher e t o go ar e only just a few of t he many challenges t hat sur vivor s ar e for ced t o conf r ont . The syst em is also over loaded: which means t hat t her e ar e fewer police of f icer s, few shelt er s available, few liaisons who can suppor t sur vivor s, and few t o no means t o get ar ound t ow n in sear ch of safet y. Bear ing t his t ime w it h t oxic people, violent people, and abusive people is unbear able, t o say t he least . The non-designat ion of suppor t ser vices for sur vivor s of GBV as essent ial cont inues t o r emain a challenge, as mor e and mor e women and non-binar y people ar e lef t t o t heir ow n defences. Kir t hi Jayak umar ? Founder The Gender Secur it y Pr oject
Fr om Mar ch 28 t o June 10 , 20 20 ,we r eceived 11 cases of for ced mar r iages. Pr oper mechanisms t o addr ess domest ic violence by t he gover nment is st ill lack ing. The exist ing Dar ul Amans ar e alr eady over cr owded and t hese Dar ul Aman ar e not ent er t aining mor e cases due t o t he COVID 19. Fur t her t he r equir ed suppor t f r om police and family cour t s is also limit ed dur ing COVID 19. However, t her e is a helpline f r om Punjab Commission on t he St at us of Women (PCSW) and Human Right s Commission of Pak ist an for counseling and legal aid. But t her e is no syst em/ar r angement s of shelt er for sur vivor s of violence as per need t hey have t o live w it h t he abuser under t he same r oof. Bedar i ? Pak ist ani NGO
We don?t have much dat a available as far as member s of t he t r ansgender communit y is concer ned, even dur ing t he t ime of t he pandemic. I don?t t hink it?s r eally because of any bias or conf lict in societ y. I t hink it has mor e t o do w it h access and awar eness. Most of t hem ar e not even awar e of healt h-t ech ent it ies like Sehat Kahani or t hey don?t have access t o it .? Dr. Sar a Saeed Khur r am ? healt h innovat or, Co-founder and CEO of awar d w inningSehat Kahani(an all-female healt h pr ovider net wor k t hat of fer s qualit y healt hcar e in Pak ist an t o t hose in need using t elemedicine)
Voices Ther e has been a height ened per secut ion since t he beginning of t he f ir st lockdow n of t he (Ahmadi) communit y in many ways. But I am not sur e how closely it is linked w it h COVID. St uf f like incr easing at t ack s on Ahmadi places of wor ship or desecr at ion of Ahmadi gr aves. Things have been happening for so long and it has gr adually st ar t ed t o wor sen. One t hing we have not iced is t he incr ease in online hat e, especially dur ing t he f ir st few mont hs of t he pandemic. How we see t hat is t hr ough t he assumpt ion t hat because people ar e spending mor e t ime online, you see t he ext r a level of aggr ession t hat alr eady exist s in t he r eal wor ld. You see it t r ansit ioning it self in online spaces. In t er ms of COVID r elat ed st uf f, I t hink for t he most par t , it has been ok . Ther e hasn?t been many pr oblems in t er ms of vaccinat ions et c. so far. And in t er ms of dividing t hem on gender lines, I don?t t hink it has been massive for Ahmadis or any ot her minor it y communit y in t er ms of per secut ion or host ilit y linked w it h COVID. I just feel t her e is a host ilit y in Pak ist ani societ y against minor it y gr oups which is just car r ying on. One not iceable dif fer ence which may be r elat ed t o t he pandemic is t he gr eat er levels of hat e in online spaces. Member of t he Ahmadi Communit y - Pak ist an
Speak ing t o t he cur r ent and gener al st at e of oppr ession, t he pandemic def init ely added f uel t o t he f ir e. The lock dow ns for ced mor e people t o oper at e online for t heir ever yday t ask s, mak ing ever yone mor e suscept ible t o online har assment and violence, however, t he ef fect of t his fell dispr opor t ionat ely on women t han men. The issue in Pak ist an is t her e is no implement at ion of t he laws meant t o pr ot ect against cyber cr imes. The LEAs in char ge of t his par t of t he law ar e under st af fed, under f unded and not t r ained in t he int r icacies of dealing w it h such cases. Fr om issues of vict im blaming t o insensit ivit y t owar ds vict ims, complainant s f ind t hemselves having t o f ight for t hemselves and fend for t heir ow n pr ot ect ions.
When it comes t o all k inds of oppr ession and violence against women per pet uat ed in t his count r y and how t o r ect if y t his issue, we need t o r ealize t hat Pak ist an needs t o cr it ically look at it s policies and how t o implement t hem. Of t en we make policies w it hout a r oadmap on how t o implement t hem and mor e impor t ant ly how t o implement t hem in a way t hat is benef icial for all people. For example, w it h t he cur r ent Pr event ion of Elect r onic Cr imes Act , t he FIA's Cyber Cr ime Wing was est ablished, which was a gr eat st ep in t he r ight dir ect ion, however, it was also equally impor t ant for t her e t o have been planning on how t o sensit ize t he of f icer s t her e t o deal w it h complainant s. Nighat Dad ? Founder Digit al Right s Foundat ion Pak ist an
Voices DRF's Cyber Har assment Helpline r eceives complaint s f r om all over Pak ist an r egar ding online har assment and t hr eat s, however, w it h due r espect t o t he individuals calling us, we do not ask t hem for t heir r eligious af f iliat ions or beliefs, unless t hey ment ion it t hemselves, t her efor e our t eam is unable t o compile pr ecise number s as t o how many women f r om r eligious minor it y gr oups ar e af fect ed by cyber har assment . We have t o r emember t hat t her e is r eluct ance in minor it y communit ies in gener al when it comes t o r epor t ing cyber cr ime and har assment , given how our societ y t r eat s member s of t his communit y and given how laws and st at e nar r at ives ar e built ar ound t hem. IRADA r eleased a st udy in 20 19 about r eligious communit ies in Pak ist an and how t hey feel about online spaces. All t he par t icipant s t hey spoke t o r evealed t hat t hey had exper ienced online t r olling and online at t ack s. Combine t his f inding w it h t he fact t hat DRF not iced a massive spike in cyber har assment cases dur ing t he init ial mont hs of t he pandemic, which sust ained t hr oughout t he year, and you can begin t o see a t r end, which allows us t o pr edict t hat women f r om r eligious minor it ies faced mor e cyber har assment and t hr eat s t han t he amount of online hat e and vit r iol t hey see on a day t o day basis. Digit al Right s Foundat ion Pak ist an (DRF)
Voices Ther e has def init ely been a sur ge in cases of for ced conver sions or maybe t he cases wer e not pr eviously r epor t ed as t hey ar e now. Ther e has indeed been a not iceable r ise in cer t ain dist r ict s of int er ior Sindh and cent r al Punjab. I am not sur e if t his is dir ect ly linked w it h COVID but t her e have been cases in cit ies of Hyder abad, Faisalabad and Lahor e wher e Chr ist ian nur ses wer e accused of blasphemy. What is sur pr ising is t hat t hese cases occur r ed just a few mont hs apar t . The sit uat ion had t ur ned gr ave as t heir fellow st af f member s act ually want ed t o k ill t hem and t he police had t o int er vene. Mar y James Gill Polit ician, Human Right s Law yer & Advocat e, Act ivist - Pak ist an
Sabin Muzaffar is the founder and executive editor of Ananke. She was also chosen as UN Women's Empower Global Champion For Women's Economic Empowerment; later selected as their mentor. She is also a Cherie Blair Foundation mentor alumni. An intersectional humanist, Sabin has mentored and trained more than 70 girls from all over the world. She writes on women's empowerment, inclusion, and leveraging tech for good.
Perspecti v e Ref ugee
Voicing St at eless Exclusion By M elan ie Bu blyk
?Fight for your rights with a ll your hea rt. Beca use if you do not a ddress the problem, it will keep cha sing you? ~ Nur Aziza h ? Rohingya Refugee
Sex based discrimination being the stark reality that it is for most women and girls globally, means that refugee women and girls who already exist within a marginalised and vulnerable global community are faced with compounded marginalisation within their already marginalised community simply because they are women and girls. The overwhelming majority of refugee women and girls are hosted by low and middle-income countries, and these women and girls are burdened with persistent and systematic gender inequalities. The ordinary experiences that shape women?s and girls? everyday lives throughout the world are compounded for those who are refugees and/or are stateless. UN Women explains that refugee and migrant women?s voices are often missing from policies designed to protect and assist them. The absence of a gender perspective in policies, frameworks, and responses impairs efforts to protect refugee women and girls, hindering their ability to realise their full potential and live with dignity. Women and girls? access to legal protection, basic services and the labour market are affected by multiple factors which depending on the specific country context, may include discriminatory regulations, uneven and biased implementation of regulations, xenophobia, and racism. The onset of the global pandemic has amplified and exacerbated invisible as well as pre-existing biases, inequities, and vulnerabilitiesc. Specific concerns for refugees and asylum seekers during the pandemic include maintaining safety measures in overcrowded camps and detention centres; lack of access to countries of asylum or resettlement due to border closures; and lack of income support for those who have lost their jobs. A pandemicof this nature, that is unprecedented in our life-times, brings great uncertainty and fear for all of us, but especially the people who are most vulnerable in our societies. The World Health Organisation articulates that the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us the consequences of vulnerability, with increased rates of infection and deaths amongst the poor and the disadvantaged, including refugees and migrants. Evidence suggests that during the COVID-19 pandemic, refugees and migrants have experienced high levels of xenophobia, racism, and stigmatisation. All these vulnerabilities have been further exacerbated by public health control measures and border closures. The 2021 Global Gender Gap Report reveals that progress to gender equality has been set back because of the COVID-19 pandemic and therefore it is vital that recovery plans focus on gender inclusivity.
Azizah was born in Malaysia on October 2, 2001, as an unwanted child by a stateless family and having no identity herself. At just 19 years of age, Azizah has faced significant hardships and challenges
The St or y of Nur Azizah ? Gender Dynamics of a Ref ugee Woman throughout her life. Many of the hardships and challenges Azizah has been confronted with have happened whilst she was a child and adolescent. Recognition of the gendered experience of refugee women and girls is necessary and should not be ignored because of their vulnerability to exploitation, trafficking, discrimination, and different forms of violence. Women and girls are exposed to forms of violence related to their gender, their cultural and socio-economic position, and the legal status among other factors. Whilst it is true that women and girls in displacement are often confronted with dangerous and complex circumstances, they also display extraordinary agency and coping strategies that are vital to handling the circumstances they find themselves in and to also improve their living conditions. Azizah grew up without her mother in her life and was abandoned by her stepmother. Azizah?s lack of protection as a refugee has meant that she has married at a young age. Azizah is a stateless Rohingya-Karen refugee based in Makassar, Indonesia who has attempted to come to Australia to seek refuge with her family.Refugees in Indonesia are not permitted to study, work, travel beyond city limits, marry freely, or contribute to Indonesian society. Most refugees in Indonesia were bound for Australia and have experienced significant unjust treatment, whilst fighting every day for their survival and their future. Quite often in Australia we only hear the voices and perspectives of male refugees, and therefore to hear the voice of a young refugee woman who is not afraid to speak her truth is crucial for Australian society to better understand their needs and experiences.Refugee women?s voices are often silenced, and their capacity ignored. Their contributions and solutions go unrecognised because their capabilities and social capital are devalued. Azizah is an extraordinarily self-determined young woman who aspires to study despite not ever attending formal schooling. Despite the significant challenges that have dominated
Azizah?s life, she is determined to make a life for herself and is extremely confident in raising her voice and sharing her experiences as a female child refugee.
Melanie Bublyk , Ananke?s Human Right s Advisor spoke w it h Nur Azizah about her exper iences as a female child bor n int o st at elessness and t he obst acles she has faced gr ow ing up as a female r ef ugee.
In 2010 when I wa s a round nine yea rs old , my fa ther wa s intercepted b y Ind onesia n officia ls a nd d eta ined b eca use he wa s entering Ind onesia illeg a lly from Ma la ysia . I wa s left in the ca re of my stepmother in Ma la ysia , where she a b a nd oned me a nd left me on the roa d . Beca use I ha ve no citizenship, I ha d no ed uca tion g rowing up. I d id not a ttend prima ry or hig h school. It wa s ha rd g rowing up b eca use of my situa tion. Beca use I d o not b elong a nywhere, I ha d no rig hts to stud y, work, tra vel, ma rry, pra ctice my relig ion. My id entity a s a sta teless person mea nt tha t wherever I tried to find refug e, I would a lwa ys b e locked up in d etention. My fa mily ha d no choice b ut to lea ve their homela nd in Mya nma r b eca use of the persecution tha t they end ured . They hoped tha t they could find a home where they would b e sa fe a nd live-in pea ce a nd with d ig nity. Beca use Ma la ysia a nd Ind onesia ha ve not sig ned the UN Convention for Refug ees, it mea ns tha t our rig hts a re not protected a nd there a re no la ws to protect us. My hopes a nd d rea ms a re to ha ve a b etter future, stud y, help others especia lly refug ees a nd most importa ntly to ha ve citizenship. I g uess tha t mea ns to b e seen a s a huma n b eing a nd live a norma l life where I b elong to a nd a m includ ed in a community a nd society a t la rg e a s a fully-fled g ed citizen.
Alfred Pek is a filmmaker, Videographer Journalist and a refugee advocate based in Sydney Australia. He has been working on a documentary called ?Freedom Street?. The documentary includes the story of Azizah as well as Joniad and Ashfaq. The three of them have been stuck in limbo in Makassar, Indonesia for several years because of Australia's border policy. Since 2013, there are currently around 14000 refugees in Indonesia and every day their hopes for resettlement are diminishing. Freedom Street presents the refugees' stories while deconstructing Australian policy in a series of conversations with various experts. The experts provide insight into Australia's long history of border control and Australian-Indonesian relations which serve to contextualise the struggle of our three protagonists as they look towards an uncertain future. The documentary highlights the cost of Australia's undemocratic policies both on the refugees and the Australian taxpayer while urgently sounding the alarm for meaningful and humane solutions to an ever-worsening issue. Just like Manus, Nauru, and the various mainland detentions. Refugees' lives are on hold and their future is uncertain in Indonesia directly because of Australia's strict border policy. These refugees have no rights, and this means that they cannot attend school or work and they have extraordinarily little chance of resettlement. These are directly because of policies and the context goes much further beyond Manus and Nauru. Alfred explains that ?For too long, we have not had a comprehensive film project and articles that contextually explained Australia's entire refugee policy history in the Asia-Pacific region, touching upon our immigration history as well as our changing attitudes towards refugees over time. Manus and Nauru (and the various mainland detention centres) in retrospect are seen because of a contextually much larger issue that we have faced in the region sadly.Our end goal for why this film is being created is to create an effective tool that advocates for the rights of refugees and so that changemakers, social justice campaigners and progressive communities in general can utilise our work in their advocacy efforts?. You can lear n about the backgr ounds of the film her e: https://rightnow.org.au/opinion-3/freedom-street/ https://theaimn.com/freedom-street-an-immigrants-journey-into-australias-border-protection-cruelty/ Website: www.freedomstreetfilm.com Fr eedom Str eet has been a self-funded pr oj ect and you can suppor t the wor k of Fr eedom Str eet Documentar y by visiting: https://documentaryaustralia.com.au/project/freedom-street/
A l l i t tak es i s one candl e to l i gh t up th e w orl d By Tina Sequeir a
?Therearemoregood peoplethan bad people, and overall there?s morethat?s good in theworld than thereis that?s bad. Wejust need to hear about it, wejust need to seeit.? ? Tucker Elliot, TheDay Before9/ 11
Perspecti v e I ndi a
During the pandemic, the gross negligence of the Indian government led to ordinary citizens looking out for and helping each other. One such shining example of a good Samaritan is Dr. Mukti Bosco, who has traversed places and touched the lives of people who have been shunned and forsaken by society. I remember our introductory meeting at the Healing Fields Foundation corporate office in Banjara Hills, Hyderabad. Bosco wore an unassuming demeanour, but her eyes lit with unmistakable purpose. An Ashoka Fellow, Mukti Bosco strives to find innovative solutions to the health challenges of India?s most marginalized communities. She has been a presenter at the Clinton Global Initiative, the World Economic Forum, and the Mayo Clinic?s Transform Conference. Mukti was a finalist for the Social Entrepreneur of the Year Award, 2019, by the Schwab Foundation and Jubilant Bharatiya for the various impactful programs she drives at Healing Fields Foundation.
How Bosco?s Heal i ng Fi el ds Foundati on Became Th e V oi ce of th e V oi cel ess
The seeds of Bosco?s social philanthropy were sown in her early childhood days when she would accompany her parents to eye camps organised in remote parts of India. Her interest in community health started to take roots in childhood, and it became her natural course in adulthood when she went to Christian Medical College Vellore for her graduation. Later, a chance meeting with Tahir, an impoverished 7-year-old boy, and his family while conducting a Health Needs Assessment survey in Charminar, Hyderabad, triggered Mukti. When Tahir?s father, the breadwinner in the family, fell ill, Tahir was coerced to take his father?s place and earn money. Bosco?s son was around five years at the time, and so she couldn?t fathom how a boy as young as Tahir had to work for 15 to 18 hours with one square meal a day. Or the fact that Tahir?s earnings were seized.
Tahir?s situation sparked Bosco to start her social enterprise, Healing Fields Foundation, in 2000 and protect the vulnerable poor population from health shocks.
Th e HFF M odel Sol uti on: Pov erty + Poor Heal th Probl em
Healing Fields Foundation is a health-focused NGO. Under Bosco?s leadership, HFF builds vibrant eco-systems of rural health care in areas where basic health services are absent or severely deficient. Bosco?s approach to power up from the bottom-top of our social hierarchy is close on the heels of the adage, ?the hand that rocks the cradle rules the world.? Bosco believes health is in the woman?s hands, as she is the primary family custodian. HFF empowers voiceless women to become community health leaders, ground-up health entrepreneurs, and health agents of change in their villages. They partner with the government, the private healthcare sector, microfinance
institutions, and civil society organizations to multiply the impact. Bosco?s astute understanding of the rural communities and their challenges led to the development of her innovative micro-health insurance model, which won her prestigious Ashoka Fellow recognition. She learned that for her vision to be sustainable, women must earn an income in their role as health change agents in their communities. Soon, Bosco came up with another empowering program - the Community Health Entrepreneur (CHE) program, which sustains the livelihoods of women from rural and resource-poor communities. Today, Bosco leads the HFF?s preventive health education program that reaches over 6 million families across India. HFF is the only Indian NGO to produce and distribute sanitary napkins through community health entrepreneurs (CHEs). In 2017, Bosco digitised the entire cycle of the HFF training process for sustainable education and accountability - creating the plan, assigning the resources, and capturing the sessions and metrics in real-time. She believes that her technology platform will bring a revolution in education, training, and rural livelihoods. Bosco says, ?No industry has a single technology platform that can do this, more so in the rural areas where Healing Fields operates.?
Women A t Th e Foref ront Of COV I D-19 Rel i ef Ef f orts
The disturbing news and visuals of the migrant workers returning to their hometowns affected Mukti Bosco, who decided to go to the site with Sujata Rao, her friend, and help them. In the hot summer month of May, the duo reached Medchal to witness the grave sight of hapless children, women, and men trudging with their luggage on bare, blistered feet and queuing up near tipper
trucks in the desperate hope of returning to their hometowns. Bosco put together her task force, comprising Bosco Malapati, Shreya Reddy, Sujata Rao, and herself, among other HFF team members. They provided footwear, first aid, masks, food, and water supplies and arranged six buses in the first few days to send people safely to Madhya Pradesh, Chhattisgarh, Bihar, and Jharkhand. It was possible with funds from HFF and crowdfunding. The HFF team created special quarantine zones for the migrant workers at their destination with their network of community health workers in Bihar, Chhattisgarh, and Jharkhand. In places where they didn?t have a presence, they collaborated with community health leaders to make the necessary arrangements to quarantine the workers and their families. The team set up camp at Kamareddy to ensure that the migrant workers reached their destination safely. They sent 2500 workers in 47 buses in the first two weeks. Their moment of relief and satisfaction came when the workers shared pictures from their hometowns with their loved ones with the team. Then, there?s the story of Saleha, an HFF CHE in Bihar who?s been with the organisation since 2009. Ever since she has educated hundreds of girls and women to break superstition and patriarchal belief systems on menstrual health and encourage positive maternal health practices. Due to her impact, the government recruited her as an Accredited Social Health Activist worker. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, Saleha
has been enlightening her community members about the safety practices to curtail the spread of the deadly virus. She ensures the regular supply of sanitary napkins in these dire times and focuses on maternal health, especially for women in their last trimester of pregnancy. Chandani, a pregnant woman from her village who went into labor, didn?t receive free service for low-income families and had to pay a hefty sum of Rs. 12,000 at a private hospital. Saleha intervened and reported the case to the District Magistrate, who took immediate action. Women like Saleha have been at the forefront of COVID-19 relief efforts and continue to work hard to ensure accessible and affordable healthcare to people who need it the most.
A s per HFF?s COV I D-19 rapi d response update on Feb 2021
2,475 migrants in 45 buses were provided safe transport with dignity. 4078 migrant labour were provided shelter in 103 quarantine centres. 8555 families provided access to entitlement. 27,725 calls received by Gramvaani. 56,166 people from 10,212 families received 3 kits of ration. 1200 CHFs have been trained on COVID-19 prevention and management and driving the COVID response in 1200 villages in 4 states. Each CHF reaches out to and educates around 1500 people in her village, and 625,000 people are being reached with health education and awareness. Setting up village-level Community COVID care centers to ensure families with no facilities can comply with isolation. Around 50 COVID care centers set up, providing isolation facilities to 400 people to date, and 485 COVID health and resilience committees were formed at the village level. Connecting COVID-19 patients to a doctor through a telehealth advisory platform and ensuring regular follow-up of the patients by the remote doctors. Stocked with equipment like oximeters and infrared thermometers. Tele counselling and mental health support to the community through trained telecounsellors and supported by mental health helpline. Support to families in isolation with medicine, nutrition, and sanitation kits. Protective gear and health insurance for the CHEs. Educating the people in isolation centers on isolation protocols. 60 CHEs trained on providing mental health counselling.
M ukti Bosco
Fi ndi ng Li gh t I n A Dark Pl ace
If the pandemic has brought upon anxiety, loss, and death, then people like Mukti Bosco and their stories remind us that there?s power and strength within each of us. All it takes is one candle to light up the world. You.
Tina Sequeira is a marketer and moonlighting writer. Winner of the Rashtriya Gaurav Award (2019) in association with the Government of Telangana, theOrange Flower Award (2017)by Women?s Web, GrandQueens Leadership Award (2020) by Lions Clubs International, Women Lit of the Year Award (2020)by I.N.S.P.I.R.E Beyond Motherhood Awards and more, Tina has published several short stories, poems, and essays in international literary journals and anthologies. Tina has been listed among the ?Top 35 writers of 2017?and?Top 20 Writers of 2020?by Youth Ki Awaaz, India?s leading digital platform for Social Justice. Find her at www.thetinaedit.com and on most social media platforms @thetinaedit.
Outl ook A ustral i a
Enroute to Recovery Via Eq ui ty & I ncl usi on The COVID-19 pandemic has in many ways exposed and brought to surface existing inequalities. Globally, there has been significant loss of human life. Our communities are challenged with the effects on public health, food systems and the world of work. Millions of people are at heightened risk of living in extreme poverty because of social and economic upheaval caused by the pandemic. The World Health Organisation stresses that particular attention must be paid to the situation of women, who are over-represented in low-paid jobs and care roles. Women are disproportionately on the frontline of the pandemic, most healthcare workers, social assistance workers and teachers are women, as are most unpaid carers. Australian women play a significant role within society and the economy that is not recognised. Enduring a year of lockdowns, social distancing and restricted
By M elanie Bublyk
movement during the pandemic was cause for optimism among Australian women that real reform that recognises the role that women have in the Australian economy and in society, would be addressed by government to repair the systemic issues that continue to impact on Australian women. Policy inaction results in lost opportunities to invest in real structural solutions that would lead to a greater boost in female employment,
Women are disproportionately on the frontlines of the Pandemic
Placing focus on women?s economic and social r ights is a matter of ur gency for Austr alian women and ther efor e it is cr itical to advocate for a human r ights-based appr oach to addr ess gender -based pover ty in Austr alia because by focusing on gender inequality and women?s human r ights puts a spotlight on women's subor dination.
addressing the gender pay gap and create real productivity gains through higher wages in the female dominated care industries workforce. Deloitte survey findings reveal that six in ten of Australian women surveyed say their household commitments have increased with the pandemic. They also reported a 35-point drop in their mental health and a 27-point drop in motivation at work, when asked to compare how they felt now compared to before the pandemic. Key findings from the Australian Bureau of Statistics research into Household Impacts of COVID-19reveal that more than one in five (22%) women used at least one mental health or support service since 1 March 2020, compared with around one in seven (14%) men. Two in three (67%) people who used a mental health or support service since March 1st, 2020, received counselling. Michele Parmelee, Deloitte Global Deputy CEO and Chief People & Purpose Officer advises that as organisations look to rebuild their workplaces, those that prioritise diversity, equity, and inclusion in their policies and culture and provide tangible support for the women in their workforces will be more resilient against future disruptions. Additionally, they will lay the groundwork needed to propel women and gender equity forward in the workplace. Prior to COVID-19, the number of women living under economic stress and in poverty was already at unprecedented levels in Australia. Female headed sole parents and older women are particularly vulnerable to economic disadvantage. Older women were the fastest growing group dependant on government social support prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. Placing focus on women?s economic and social rights is a matter of urgency for Australian women and therefore it is critical to advocate for a human rights-based approach to address gender-based poverty in Australia because by focusing on gender inequality and women?s human rights puts a spotlight on women's subordination. The structural accumulation of poverty across a woman?s life course reaches its peak with disastrous consequences for so many women in later life. This is stark reality for older Australian women. The truth women are confronted with in their senior years is a society unwilling to acknowledge their lifetime of unpaid labour. Currently there are450,000 women over 45 at risk of homelessness in Australia, and women receiving income support generally have insufficient income to cover housing costs. Anglicare estimated there are no affordable
rentals for people receiving Jobseeker Payment and only 0.3% of rentals were affordable to people receiving Parenting Payment, the vast majority of whom are women.Dr. Helen McArdle, Chair of the Australian Medical Association articulates that ?COVID-19 has not only exposed the comparative circumstances of women but has exacerbated the gender gap. Having been re-engaged in the workforce post COVID, women have lost superannuation contributions, wages and borne the brunt of family responsibility stressors (including domestic violence)?. The Grattan Institute notes that policymakers seemed oblivious to the fact that this recession was different to previous crises, women now make up almost half the workforce, and they are overwhelmingly employed in the industries that were hit hardest by the government-imposed lockdowns, such as hospitality, tourism and higher education. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to increased alcohol consumption among women with women citing increase in housework, childcare and home schooling, and caring for others as reasons. The research suggests that women are using alcohol to
help combat feelings of anxiety during periods of high stress or uncertainty.Women were also more likely to feel lonely through the pandemic withprevious research suggesting that women typically consume alcohol to cope with loneliness and unhappiness, and to reduce stress. As the pandemic unfolded in Australia, it became evident that measures to abate the spread of COVID-19 entailed unprecedented change in the practise of everyday living. In consideration of the unique gendered effects on women, it is anticipated that COVID-19 counter measures have and will continue to augment the perceived value of consuming alcohol in women's lives. It is a critical public health concernbecause increased alcohol consumption, even for a short period, increases the myriad longer-term health risks associated with cumulative exposure to alcohol. Social and economic inequalities are significant human rights concerns for Australia. The UN articulates that response efforts to the COVID-19 pandemic, whether at the national or international level, will be significantly weakened if it does not factor in the ways in which inequalities have made all of us more vulnerable to the impacts of
the crisis. The OECD also states that fundamentally, all policy responses to the crisis must embed a gender lens and account for women?s unique needs, responsibilities and perspectives. Addressing the issues that women are confronted with requires a COVID-19 recovery strategy that recognises women?s compounded disadvantage and applies a gendered lens to reconstruction. This includes ensuring women?s equal representation in all COVID-19 response planning and decision making, driving transformative change for equality by addressing the care economy, paid and unpaid, target women and girls in all efforts to address the socio-economic impact of COVID-19. Therefore, response plans and budgeting of resources should have at their heart a focus on the gendered impacts of the pandemic. Women and women?s organisations should be included in recovery measures as well as socio-economic plans that are committed to bettering the lives and futures of women and girls.
Melanie Bublyk, Ananke?s Human Rights Advisor, was chosen as an Empower Women Global Champion for Women?s Economic Empowerment 2015/ 2016 and has also worked as an Empower Women Mentor 2016-2017. In addition to working with Seeds Theatre Group in Papua New Guinea, she is dedicated to advancing Women?s Rights. Previously the Editor-at-Large, at Ananke, Melanie holds a Bachelor of Arts in Community Development, and a Masters degree in Human Rights with Curtin Universities Centre for Human Rights Education in Perth, Western Australia and received two letters of commendation for the same.
Addr essing the issues that women ar e confr onted with r equir es a COVI D-19 r ecover y str ategy that r ecognises women?s compounded disadvantage and applies a gender ed lens to r econstr uction.
Women & Leadership An Empowering Event The Noosa Shire Women?s Collaborative Network was formed to address the significant issues facing Australian women and emphasising a holistic approach and human rights-based approaches. The platform welcomes the voice of all women. With a focus on advocacy, leadership development, collaboration, networking, and support. One of the first events held on 29th May was, A Social Enterprise Concept: Supporting Women OVER 50, facilitated by Monica Kennedy and Gayl Chivers. The workshop
Ananke's Melanie Bublyk - guest speaker at the event
consisted of a facilitated discussion based on opportunities to support women 50 and over, to be able to rebuild and maintain financial independence. Focusing on developing personal leadership, empowerment, independence, and equality. A social enterprise model was presented as an initial draft to community for input and feedback. The Women?s Leadership Panel to be held on August 8th, 2021 and launching the Noosa Shire Women?s Collaborative Network, places emphasis on women in leadership. The Collaborative aspires to address the issues that Australian women are confronted with in their daily lives and to find solutions to those issues. Due to Covid restrictions the NSWCN, which was previously scheduled to be held in July, is postponed and rescheduled for Sunday August 8th. Majestic Theatre will be in contact with all those who have purchased tickets and will refund monies if people want a refund.
Outl ook Ni geri a
COVI D19 I n NI GERI A
Ch i amak a A di nnu reviews the impacts of the raging pandemic and progressive efforts in her country. The unprecedented COVID-19 crisis has continued to ravage the global world in unlikely forms since its emergence in December, 2019, more so for developing countries like Nigeria with weak institutions and little to no policies and facilities to combat such a huge health emergency.At the forefront of the most affected are vulnerable groups including women whose sources of livelihood and mental health have been severely affected by the disruptions in economic activities. The stark realities of the present times in Nigeria have made it a necessity to not just reevaluate the progressive efforts being made to curb this spread, but also to explore the impacts it has had on the various systems in the country. Knowledge of these can guide in setting up further ingenious policy response capable of saving lives, protecting livelihoods, and laying the needed foundations for a strong economic recovery of our nation. COVI D-19 AND THE CL I M ATE The COVID-19 pandemic, with its colossal effects on humanity, ushered in a time of deeper reflection on what was, currently is, and should be existent in
our societies; a time to rethink our activities and actions in a planet of finite natural resources. The concept of ecosystem collapse, which may have been foreign to most Nigerians prior to the pandemic has become familiar with the shocking emergence of the COVID-19 virus. Indeed, now we know that the destruction of natural habitats only creates an environment where zoonotic diseases can thrive once contracted by humans from animals. The extended lockdown sequel to the pandemic which brought a halt in human activities (vehicular movements, social and industrial activities etcetera) brought to the limelight a truth that we rarely took into consideration previously; the fact that there can be an immense positive impact on nature and environment if we practice sustainable living, as we could see within this period. Improved air quality, cleaner air and reduction in GHG emissions were the hallmark of the lockdown period, particularly in the commercial and oil-rich cities of the Delta region where industrial activities accounted for the greatest percentage of anthropogenic emissions. Ironically,WHO estimates that by shutting down industrial activities in response to the COVID-19 pandemic emergency lockdown, we may have saved more lives by preventing air pollution than by preventing infection with the virus.
COVI D-19 AND THE ECONOM Y The COVID-19 pandemic has had far-reaching effects on Nigeria's economy. The slowdown in economic activity - for instance, the setbacks that numerous businesses and corporations suffered due to the pandemic - translated into an economic loss for the country. But this is not the only factor crippling Nigeria's economy. Nigeria's dependency on crude oil as its major source of revenue has left this nation in a deep messy affair when a drop in global demand due to the pandemic led to an accompanying steep drop from $60 per barrel to as low as $30 per barrel in March. In addition, Nigeria's overdependency on imported products led to a supply shock in the face of the pandemic as many importing countries shut down their factories and borders. With little to no access to imported goods, Nigeria's economy suffered a heavy blow that can at best be described as stupefying. The Nigerian financial institution also witnessed more than its fair share of losses as the pandemic heavily dealt with its stock market - amongst other things. The sudden emergence of the virus led to a helter skelter-like chaos as Nigerian investors took it as a cue to pull out their investments from national stock options in favour of what they considered as safe and stable options like the U. S treasury bonds, which accounted for over $5.9 billion (NGN 2.3 Trillion) loss in less than one month from the onset of the pandemic. With these many impacts on the economy, it is little wonder that the World Bank has predicted Nigeria's economy to be fast spiraling down into the worst recession ever in four decades.
COVI D-19 AND THE WORK FORCE Perhaps, one of the biggest impacts of the pandemic is that felt by the workforce. With the advent of the pandemic, there was a radical shift in the workforce as companies transitioned to virtual working - amongst other measures in order to keep businesses afloat. In Nigeria, like most other countries, firms came up with ingenious ways to manage and maximise brain capital; some moving to the digital sphere and even investing heavily in new product development and launch. On the negatives, the pandemic saw an increased rate of unemployment in Nigeria as companies laid off staff in order to minimize cost. In a report published by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), the unemployment rate in Nigeria spiked by 6.2% to 33.3% from the 27.1% that it was in the second quarter of 2020. This increment has moved Nigeria from the fifth to the third country with the highest rate of unemployment globally and the 2nd highest in Africa next to Namibia which has an unemployment rate of 33.4%. While the issue of unemployment is the most obvious impact that comes to mind when the effects of the pandemic on the workforce are being evaluated, but is it really the only negative? Not even remotely! The mental health of workers took more hit than can ever be estimated and emerged as a key topic that the global world deliberated on for months on end, particularly in Nigeria
where the range of mental illness is fairly higher than in other countries. The anxiety, stress, and mental illness being suffered due to the uncertainty of the virus spread, the debilitating economy and the disruption in our daily lives rocked the workforce to its knees. On the flip side, the conversation that commenced around mental illness made employees central in the state of affairs and led to the consideration for employee health and wellness by organizations. Businesses realized the importance of investing in employees' mental health as they began to experience the high cost associated with employees productivity loss, burnout, ill health, and turnover in the wake of the pandemic. Now, more than ever, Nigerian employees are becoming more supportive and devising strategies to assist their employees to manage their wellbeing in order to minimize losses.
COVI D-19 AND THE TRAVEL I NDUSTRY The initial restriction in movement in order to curb the spread of the virus has had an unimaginable impact on the travel industry. The onset of the pandemic saw the closure of International airports and airspace in Nigeria. Even domestic travels were not exempted as domestic bookings fell by about 25%, according to an IATA report, in just a little over one month from the first index case in the country. By the second month of the pandemic in Nigeria (April, 2020), this industry lost over NGN180 Billion and 24,000 jobs - a figure that increased to 91,380 job losses by September, 2020. To date, Nigeria's tourism industry continues to suffer the aftermaths of the global pandemic with no end in sight especially with the onset of the second wave of the virus.
COVI D-19 AND THE HEAL THCARE SYSTEM A glaring truth that the pandemic uncustomary revealed in its enormity is the poor public health infrastructure in Nigeria. The limited ambulance and emergency services, insufficient primary healthcare facilities, ineffective health insurance system etcetera are incapable of managing the outbreak of a fast-spreading virus like the COVID-19 virus. A case in point is the lack of ventilators in Nigerian hospitals. At the onset of the pandemic, there were only about 350 ventilators and 350 ICU beds; such a low figure for a country of 200 million people that required nothing less than 10,000 respirators to respond to such a health emergency. Even in the detection category for the containment of this virus, Nigeria only has the capacity to test 2,500 samples a day, and even this is limited by the shortage of human resources, testing kits etc., such that over half of this figure never actually gets administered in a day. Beyond the prevention, detection, and containment of this virus, the pandemic had a debilitating effect on
the pharmaceutical sector of the healthcare system. It is no news that Nigeria is reliant on active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) importation from other countries for drug manufacture. In reality, only10%of the drugs used in Nigeria are manufactured locally in the country. With the restriction in movement and closure of borders, this translated to scarce drugs and medical devices for the treatment and containment of this virus and Nigerians suffered the woes of a failed health system.
COVI D-19 AND THE FOOD SYSTEM Food-related challenges are not new in Nigeria. For several years before the outbreak, Nigeria has grappled with the issues of food insecurity to no end. However, the pandemic led to its severity, triggering hikes in food prices and aggravating food-related challenges such as adulteration of food products. The initial restriction in movement and closure of borders effectively restricted access to food supply chains and thus, citizens' access to sufficient foods. For a developing country like Nigeria where mechanization of farming practices is just but at its infancy, the restriction in movement translated to a loss of labour, credit, farming essentials, and farm transportation services that would have otherwise limited the impact of the pandemic on the food system. While it is true that Nigeria is immensely rich in natural resources; such that is capable of positioning the country as a top agricultural producer and food processor, without the necessary mechanization of farming practices and processing, it was inevitable the plethora of effects the pandemic unleashed on the food system, as we witnessed astonishingly higher cases of food insecurity, adulteration, and malnutrition.
COVI D-19 AND THE EDUCATI ON SYSTEM At the foremost of the systems badly affected by the pandemic in Nigeria, the education system takes the lead. To curb the spread of the virus, all schools within the country were restricted from holding physical educational activities - a development that was also obtainable globally. But while it was easy for most other countries to switch to virtual education, the lack of digital facilities in most Nigerian schools - which are necessary to make this transition - made it literally impossible for any school to offer a full educational curriculum online. Prior to the pandemic, the Nigerian education system was one eliciting global concern for obvious reasons. The highest percentage of uneducated children lived in Nigeria; a staggering 10.5 million children (aged 5-14years) which is one in every five of the world's out-of-school children, according to aUNICEF report. Gender-wise, UNICEF noted that over 50% of girls were out of school when a review showed a disparaging low figure of 47.7 and 47.3 of girls' attendance to school in Northeastern and Northwestern Nigeria respectively. At the peak of the pandemic, more than 1.5 billion learners, or over 90% of the world?s student population from preprimary to higher education, have seen their education disrupted and at times interrupted. A significant percentage (46 million) of this number are Nigerian students scattered across the nation. As COVID-19 pandemic recovery efforts are being strengthened and schools have resumed physical activities, predictions are that Nigeria will witness an increase in the dropout rate of school children due to little to no support and lost opportunities from disruption in education for vulnerable school-age children.
PROGRESSI VE EFFORTS TO CURB COVI D-19 I M PACTS Despite the numerous disruptions that the pandemic has caused, there is an apparent good side to it. Its negative impacts on the different systems have created an opportunity for all levels (government, civil societies, and individuals) to spearhead sustainable reforms across the nation. Indeed, the gauntlet had been thrown down and some Nigerian organizations are just the right ones to take up the challenge. Here are what the Nigerian government, some organisations and individuals are doing to curb the effects of the pandemic; ·National Or ientation Agency (NOA): This is a body tasked with communicating government policy, staying abreast of public opinion, and promoting patriotism, national unity, and development of Nigerian society. In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic in Nigeria, this body took up the initiative to track ?passengers of interest? with a recent travel history from countries where there was widespread and sustained community transmission of COVID-19 in order to self-isolate for at least fourteen days. ·Coalition Against COVI D-19 (CACOVI D): CACOVID is a coalition of the private sector spearheaded by the Central Bank of Nigeria, the Aliko Dangote Foundation and Access Bank. It was established to mobilize private sector resources towards supporting the government?s response to the crisis. To date, CACOVID has mobilized around NGN 26 billion (USD 72 billion), 22% of its NGN 120 billion target, from private sector organizations including GTBank, BA, IHS, the African Finance Corporation, Lafarge Africa, Access Bank, the Dangote Group and the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation. ·Toll-fr ee Helplines: In response to the pandemic, the Nigerian government and a group of private counsellors launched toll-free 24-hour helplines staffed by trained psychologists and counsellors to checkmate the increasing number of mental health cases in the country. A list of these helplines can be found here. ·Par tner s West Afr ica Niger ia (PWAN): PWAN is a nongovernmental organization dedicated to enhancing citizens? participation and improving security governance in Nigeria and West Africa broadly. ·Women?s Rights Advancement and Pr otection Alter native: This is a coalition of women?s rights organizations and the Ministry of Women Affairs to mitigate the pandemic's impact on girls education, generally educate the public, advocate for basic needs, and protect women and children from abuse
during the pandemic. ·RedAid Niger ia: This nongovernmental organization is actively engaged in providing personal protective equipment to health workers and supplying food materials and financial aid to people who are already affected by diseases and disabilities and are therefore most at risk of COVID-19. ·M acAr thur Foundation Niger ia: MacArthur foundation works to support exceptionally creative individuals, civil society organisations and effective institutions addressing some of the world's most challenging problems by awarding them grants. To fast-track Nigeria's recovery from the pandemic, MacArthur?s Nigeria office has provided more than $900,000 in grant support to some organizations working to curb the effects of the pandemic. ·Abuj a Global Shaper s: This is a community-driven organization made up of talented and diverse young Nigerians that are committed to positively impacting their community and nation.In collaboration with other similar organizations, Abuja Global Shapers delivered personal protective equipment to citizens including market women and vendors and educated them on preventive measures to keep safe during the pandemic. ·TeachHer : TeachHer in collaboration with Nigerian-based organizations like Girl Child Africa, Connected Development, Enough is Enough Nigeria, Stand To End Rape, SilverchipFox, Yiaga Africa, Dorothy Njemanze Foundation, and Education as a Vaccine etcetera worked tirelessly to coordinate some strategic responses for sexual and gender-based violence in Nigeria, which culminated in the #StateOfEmergencyGBV campaign that advocated for a holistic response from Nigerian government on prevention and response to SGBV. There is no doubt about the extent of impact the pandemic has had on Nigeria. But beyond these impacts, it has created an avenue for the government, civil society and citizens to team up and lay strong foundations for improvement and recovery across all sectors. Leaving this role to the government alone - or the civil society - is not an option if Nigeria must veer timely from the predicted worst recession since the 1980s.
Chiamaka Adinnu is a Food Scientist who's passionate about gender advocacy and journalism. She has over 5 years of experience in high-level research and academic writing, with several awards to her name. Her work is focused on addressing issues relating to food insecurity and gender inequality and so, writes a monthly column on food insecurity. A contemporary youth activist and gender advocate, she currently writes for Ananke digital platform and also volunteers with several Non-profit organizations in rendering services to humanity. Chiamaka is also a voracious reader of all things book, in order to make for an informed opinion in her writings. As a long-term goal, she aims to engrave her name in the sands of time through her various writings.
Perspecti v e M i ddl e East
Sh amsah a Enabling Cr isis Advocacy & Empower ment For Women in the M iddle East A chat with Mary- JustineTodd, Founder and ExecutiveDirector of Shamsaha.
Th e COV I D-19 pandemi c ex acerbated ex i sti ng i neq ual i ti es, af f ecti ng w omen soci al l y and economi cal l y at a di sproporti onate l ev el as w el l as i ncreased cases of domesti c abuse. Sh amsah a i s th e onl y organi zati on of i ts k i nd i n th e M i ddl e East regi on w h i ch prov i des 24/ 7 cri si s support f or v i cti ms of abuse and domesti c v i ol ence. Th e organi zati on h as pl ansto ex pand th e cri si s program?s serv i ces and on-ground operati onsto th e UA E as w el l as K SA , Oman, and K uw ai t.
Tell us about Shamsaha? What is its vision and goals? Shamsaha is a non-profit organisation focusing on women?s empowerment and protection, and our vision is to empower women to thrive. Shamsaha is the only existing women?s crisis advocacy response program in the Middle East, providing 24/7 free and confidential crisis care for women in search of empowerment, independence and safety. Shamsaha has three primary mandates: 1) 24/7 crisis advocacy for women 2) women?s goal-based empowerment case work support and 3) community education and awareness, including mirco-finance. I ndeed, it is so tr ue when you say when women thr ive, ever ybody thr ives. Can you elabor ate on that? Since women are half of the population, when women are not reaching their full potential that means half of society is not reaching its full potential. And conversely when women are thriving, all of society will be doing better in all areas such as business, community, and
family. And the family aspect is particularly important, because of course, the reality is that around the world, women are the primary care givers for children. If mothers therefore are also thriving we can automatically assume that children will be raised in more healthy, happy and inspiration environments and subsequently they will also grow into healthy and productive members of society. So not only do women contribute directly to our communities when they are thriving, but the long-term generational effects can also be profound. The pandemic has wr eaked a havoc acr oss the wor ld. And it is cer tainly not untr ue to claim women have been most vulner able ? they ar e not only the pr imar y car egiver s but also fr ontline wor ker s. Additionally, women ar e also bear ing the br unt of the aggr essive r ise of violence especially I ntimate Par tner Violence (I PV). Would you like to comment on that and what is the situation in this par t of the wor ld? The pandemic has contributed to exacerbating the inequality problems that women suffer all
over the world, which has negatively affected the social and economic levels, in addition to the increase in domestic violence cases. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Shamsaha has noticed an increase in the rates of physical, psychological and financial violence against women, in addition to a significant increase in the number of calls received via our helpline estimated at a 41% increase. In fact, there has been a significant increase in the number of domestic violence cases around the world since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the reasons for this are constraints in movement of people, loss of jobs, and the difficulty of escaping from the abuser due to the quarantine restrictions imposed. The impact of the pandemic is so far -r eaching and debilitating; which is why the wor ld is tr ansfixed and scr ambling to mitigate its effects. But what many a times happens is other cr ises such as the shadow pandemic of gender -based violence (GBV) get affected in such a scenar io ? many a time lack of funding as r esour ces get channeled to what is deemed mor e impor tant. I t is indeed a dilemma, so is ther e a way out? A way for war d that is all encompassing? Funding may get diverted to areas other than domestic violence during times of acute crisis. Society must realize that domestic violence is, in and of itself, an acute crisis for the women who are going through it. Therefore hopefully governments, funders and all of society will come to understand that financially and logistically supporting women, domestic violence shelters, crisis centers, and all the community support services that are necessary for victims of abuse, even during conflicts, or natural disasters, is essential. Because when 33% (the percentage of women who will experience abuse in their lifetime) of half of the entire population (women) are going through their own personal crisis, they will not be able to recover from other external challenges with which they are faced, such as the Covid 19 pandemic. Tell us about Shamsaha L ?Or eal par tner ship to suppor t women in the GCC? As part of L?Oréal?s ongoing efforts and commitment to support women?s rights, the L?Oréal Fund for Women announced its partnership with Shamsaha, a non-profit corporation based in Bahrain, to support its mission in protecting, advocating and empowering women in Bahrain and across the GCC. Shamsaha, the only organization of its kind in the region which provides 24/7 crisis support for victims of abuse and domestic
Funding may get diver ted to ar eas other than domestic violence dur ing times of acute cr isis. Society must r ealize that domestic violence is, in and of itself, an acute cr isis for the women who ar e going thr ough it.
violence, will expand the crisis program?s services and on-ground operations to the UAE, KSA, Oman, and Kuwait. Shamsaha will forge partnerships with key resource providers to offer victims medical, therapeutic, and legal support as well as food, supplies and transportation. With the support of L?Oréal Fund for Women, Shamsaha aims to support 4,000 women by end of 2022. In addition, Shamsaha will utilize the fund to streamline the further development of a mobile application to support victims of abuse across the region which is set to launch in Bahrain in the second quarter of 2021 followed by the rest of Gulf countries during the third quarter. The mobile application will facilitate emotional, logistical and informational support to victims. What impact do you for esee? After launching in Bahrain in 2016, and learning many lessons along the way, we felt ready to take what we have learned and share it with the rest of the region. With a global average of 1 out of every 3 women experiencing abuse during their lifetime, this means that hundreds of thousands of women
stand to potentially benefit from the type of support offered by Shamsaha, if only it is available. So that is what we seek to impact and to do - make help available to all women regardless of their circumstances or nationality. Interview conducted by Sabin Muzaffar
With the support of L?Oréal Fund for Women, Shamsaha aims to support 4,000 women by end of 2022.
L?Or éal Empowering Women I nterview with Remi Chadapaux, L?Oréal MiddleEast Managing Director Tell u s abou t you r pledge t o Sh am sah a t o su ppor t w om en in t h e GCC. Wh at is t h e in spir at ion beh in d t h is t r em en dou s ef f or t ? Wh at im pact do you f or esee? The pandemic has drastically impacted the lives of everyone, especially women victims of abuse and domestic violence. Shamsaha stood out as it is the only organization of its kind in the region that provides 24/7 crisis support for victims making it the ideal partner for L?Oréal Fund for Women that was launched with a mission to help mitigatethe challenges that COVID-19 brought to many women around the world. We are proud of our partnership with Shamsaha whose mission and values are aligned with our own, which is empowering women across the region. Through our partnership, we aim to support Shamsaha?s mission to break the silence around domestic violence in the region, help women stand for themselves by providing direct support and give them a voice so they can realize their full potential socially and economically. Tell u s abou t L?Or éal?s com m it m en t t o su ppor t w om en?s r igh t s an d em pow er m en t especially f ocu sin g t h e M ENA r egion ? Our efforts to empower women in the Middle East started long time ago through different
programs such as Beauty For a Better Life, that provides technical and vocational training for underprivileged women to become certified beauty experts and gain access to employment. Abuse Is Not Love, a program launched this year to support and protect women who suffer from intimate partner violence, in addition to our flagship program L?Oréal-UNESCO ?For Women In Science? that was launched 23 years ago globally and 7 years ago in the GCC, to empower and celebrate Arab women scientists in the region in partnership with Khalifa University and under the patronage of H.E. Sarah bint Yousef Al Amiri, Minister of State for Advanced Technology. We are invested in the cause of women empowerment and we aim to continue to expand our efforts through non-profit organizations in the region. Wh at is t h e vision beh in d L?Or éal Fu n d f or Wom en ? Through the L?Oréal Fund for Women, our ambition is to be able to support women, as they are the first victims of the social and economic crisis generated by the pandemic, to help them reintegrate back into the society. The three-year 50-million-euro charitable endowment fund supports on-ground organizations and local charities around the world in their efforts to: -
- help women out of poverty, help women achieve social and professional integration, provide emergency assistance to refugee women, provide emergency assistance to disabled women, prevent domestic/sexual violence against women and support survivors, overcome obstacles to women and girls' access to education.
" ?I believe t h e basic at t r ibu t e of m an k in d is t o look af t er each ot h er .?
" Fred Hollows
Covid19 has wreaked a havoc on global healthcare systems. With the world?s focus transfixed on the pandemic, many humanitarian and health-related programs and initiatives have either been suspended or postponed; with efforts redirected to help fight the virus and slow its spread. While the situation demands such concerted efforts, this nonetheless poses grave implications due to its somewhat knockdown effect on other health and health-related issues including major disruptions in healthcare supply chains. Unpr ecedented times r equir e unpr ecedented effor ts. One such example is the work done by the Fred Hollows Foundation; a non-profit aid organization, which focuses on treating and preventing blindness and other vision problems. According to the organization: ?The Fred Hollows Foundation is closely monitoring developments in the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, and its impact on eye health programming in the countries where we work. During this difficult time, The Foundation?s priority is to protect the safety of patients, communities and eye health workers, as well as our staff.? Just like the crises that hit humankind from left, right and center; there is a dire need to look, scrutinize and study problems from every dimension, every angle. Things can be done r ight and they can be done better ! It only takes a vision? The following Fred Hollows Foundation story gives us reason to see, believe and hope!
Text by Sabin Muzaffar
Face of Th e Future Leading C hange Perspecti v e Pak i stan The Fred Hollows Foundation is working closely with its local partner to eliminate Trachoma in Pakistan. In Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province where The Foundation intervention continues, trachoma remains endemic in a relatively high number of local community in the Mardan District. Trachoma is the leading infectious cause of blindness worldwide. In collaboration with local partner, The Foundation carries out several Facial Cleanliness & Environmental Improvement activities. One of the key activity is local community engagement where The Foundation establishes ?WASH Club? in schools where training sessions are being conducted for students. The objective of these sessions is to train student on how disseminate eye health messages with focusing on building the habit of effective personal hygiene, particularly hand and face cleaning with soap. The Foundation established 80 WASH clubs which comprise 850 members including teachers and students. Jawad Ali, 7, has been a part of The Fred Hollows Foundation?s trachoma elimination initiatives. Jawad did not allow his physical disability to impact his ability to fight trachoma and COVID19 in his community. He isan active champion in his school and determined to achieve the program objectives after he received his training in the WASH club. . After the WASH club group formed and trained, Jawad has been leading trachoma awareness and education campaigns at his school. Due to COVID-19 pandemic, limited number of public schools have been operating. Also, Jawad has been selected to joinhis school administration to ensure effective implementation of the government SOPs such as maintaining social distance, wearing mask, and frequently washing hands with soap. Jawad Ali is leading the awareness campaign. He educates students about eye health and sanitation routine they need to carry out, such as proper hand and face washing toprevent the spread ofinfection diseases such as Trachoma and COVID-19.
Jawad Ali, 7, has been a par t of The Fr ed Hollows Foundation?s tr achoma elimination initiatives. A WASH Club Champion, the deter mined young boy with disability fights the leading infectious cause of blindness.
A super hero with disabilities, Jawad continues to inspire students to take actions to reduce infection diseases such as Trachoma and COVID-19. He is an ambitious young boy who would like to play a role in trachoma elimination efforts
A super her o with disabilities, Jawad continues to inspir e students to take actions to r educe infection diseases such as Tr achoma and COVI D-19, teaching his peer s and even adults how one can make a differ ence following all SOPs, dur ing the pandemic
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Heal t h Eye Heal th , COV I D19 A f ri ca
J a n e O h u m a , Country Manager Kenya and Cluster Lead for Kenya, Burundi and Rwanda, The Fred Hollows Foundation, chats with S a b i n M u z a f f a r about the organization?s groundbreaking work in Africa, how blindness exacerbates gender inequities and approaching CO VID19 with an integrated response.
Tell us about your self and your r ole at The Fr ed Hollows Foundation. I am the country manager for the Fred Hollows Foundation and cluster lead for Kenya, that includes Rwanda and Burundi. I am a public health nurse by profession with diverse experience; having worked in the government in Kenya. I have also worked in the humanitarian and development sector spanning across Kosovo, Eritrea, Sudan, and of course Kenya. This is my tenth year working with the Foundation which is such a privilege. Our vision at the Foundation is to see a world where no one is needlessly blind
or vision impaired. Why do women in Afr ica have higher r ates of blindness and vision impair ment? Globally women are more likely to be blind or vision impaired than men. Most women who are vision impaired live in low and middle income countries such as those in Africa. This is specifically so in Africa because about 40 percent of the continent?s population is living below the poverty line. So focusing Africa, women living in poverty are particularly at risk of becoming blind and are less likely to access care for preventable and treatable eye
care treatment. When the question arises why more women are turning blind, it really is because they are less likely to seek care, which can be attributed to prevailing cultural norms and gender roles. If you look at cataract or trachoma cases, the two leading causes of avoidable blindness in Africa; women are generally more at risk. It is mainly because of their social status and biological factors such as traditional gender roles that put them in greater contact with children and also the fact that women live longer compared to men. They are also less likely to access care due financial factors as well as lack of awareness. If we talk about Africa as a community, they do not prioritize eye health. The situation has become unbearable and women usually seek care when it is too late. Apart from lack of awareness, distance to healthcare facilities is another. A
woman?s role in an African society, where she is solely responsible for care work prevents her to leave her home and travel distances to seek help. So for a woman to actually seek health services, the situation has to really be dire because she sees it as leaving her children, household chores to attend to herself. And so it is just not a priority especially for women. What ar e the impacts of gender inequity in vision loss on women and gir ls in Afr ica? There may be women who have the awareness and do seek services but do not possess financial autonomy. Kenyan society for example is a patriarchal one, where men are financial decision makers. So in some communities, the man has to agree and approve the trave, cost and care services. With loss of vision or impairment, all these factors then play a huge role in exacerbating already existing gender inequities. It further reduces a woman?s participation in paid work and economic decision making, the inability of going to school especially for girls and therefore they are most at risk of all forms of violence. If a girl, for example, is born blind in a poor
family, she would not be prioritized in receiving any kind of education. So we really need to raise awareness of the families. Furthermore, if you have a visually impaired or blind parent or family member, it is most likely that that the girl child will remain behind to lend support and look after, preventing her from going to school. The brother will go to school and this is how gender roles seal her fate; also reducing economic opportunities for her. I n the er a of COVI D19, how is the pandemic impact the eye health now and need to be done to ensur e people with vision impair ment ar e not left behind? First of all, all resources are now being redirected to respond to the COVID19 crisis. This is of particular concern considering eye health has traditionally been a low priority. For example if you look at Africa,
governments have traditionally prioritized healthcare issues relating to malaria and non-communicable diseases etc. Now with the advent of COVID, you will see this de-prioritization has been amplified. So you may still have funds channeled to malaria but eye health has really been impacted. There is also an overall reduction in access to eye healthcare services. This is also because of several factors such as patients fearing to go to the hospital.
Some eye health workers have been mobilized to support COVID response. There is also an inadequate supply of PPE kits. Without proper equipment, eye healthcare providers are unable to offer services to patients. The other area is the need to maintain social distancing. So the facilities that do provide eye health services can only allow a certain number of patients. So what needs to be done? We need to increase donor awareness and education. We need to highlight how the crisis has impacted healthcare and that more funds are needed apart from COVID19 response. Here also the role of media becomes very significant. This
will also ensure the safety of the healthcare workers. We also have to design special programs to reach people where they live. We have really embraced technology with the rise of the pandemic, social distancing and lockdowns; so it is important to innovate and design programs where people can be reached at homes and would not have to travel to access care. You have been a str ong advocate for conducting gender analysis in eye health. Why? The Fred Hollows Foundation has made ?ensuring equitable access to eye health? a
priority in its strategic plan. It is important to accurately identify gender barriers and tackle them appropriately because without conducting this analysis and merely working on assumptions, we cannot get to the root cause of gender disparity. A good practice is one that is based on good gender analysis that provides a deeper understanding and helps us to document the differences in gender roles, activities, needs and opportunities in context. Gender analysis also gives us evidence to design gender specific and transformative programs as well as data to advocate for inclusive policies that consider both women?s and men?s needs. Furthermore, it gives us
evidence for increased action, reaching out to donors, governments and other stakeholders for equitable eye care services. Tell us about a patient stor y that has r esonated with you the most. There is a story that touched me as a mother first and then an eye care advocate. This is a story of a mother and a son. She was a single mother raising three children, living in one of the remote villages in Kenya with her blind seven-year-old son. The mother knew that the boy?s life would be hard as she was blind herself. On top of that, she was trapped by poverty and distance. It was a struggle for this
lady to provide for her three children and there were no local eye health services or eye care hospital that treated children. Eye hospitals are usually very far especially when we talk about remote villages. So the lady looked for services at nearby healthcare facilities and when she managed to get to one, she couldn?t afford it. This is such a common story for poor communities. Luckily, our eye health workers and ambassadors were able to locate her and referred her to one of The Fred Hollows Foundation supported hospitals where both she and her son received treatment. She didn?t even think about herself as she was overjoyed that her son would receive help. Both of them got treatment and the surgery was a big improvement to their lives. It was really successful and that is why we really focus on training eye health workers so that they can locate and help people in dire need. As a mother myself, I was so happy to see her face light up now that she could see her children and her son could go to school. Such help that the foundation provided brought about a positive and transformative change in this family?s life. What r ole can women play in inter national development?
I will approach this question at a community level because international development cannot ignore the grassroots. First and foremost, the central role of women in society plays a huge part in the stability, progress and long term development of society. More so in Africa, 80 percent of agricultural production comes from small farmer largely comprising of women. So they contribute significantly to the development of nations. Women globally have to be bold and speak out. Women need to aspire. We need to dare to create change.
Images courtesy: The Fred Hollows Foundation
M ental Heal th Pak i stan
The Rural Woman Finally Speak s By M eh r F Husai n It was not long until Pakistan went into lockdown as news surfaced of an emerging global pandemic in March 2020. Kaarvan Crafts Foundation, an entity that envisions economic empowerment by enablingwomen in low-income communities across Pakistan to successfully pursue decent livelihoods,started being inundated with calls for assistance. A trickle swiftly turned into a stream and then it was like a flood. Along with poverty, sickness, lack of employment, children to feed, this lockdown had pushed the poorest and most vulnerable women to break down mentally, but there was no one to help them. The ongoing global pandemic has highlighted the stark socio-economic inequalities across the globe. Facts and figures have finally been given names and faces and there is a unanimous call for a global upheaval of what are now outdated, inefficient economic systems. The trickle-down effect is the stoic stand for the toll life and
* Note: names h av e b een ch anged to protect th e i denti ty of th e f eatured i ndi v i dual s to ensure th ey stay saf e
the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated mental health issues. When the conversation around mental health began, pre-corona, it was largely concentrated around limited, urban areas in Pakistan. A taboo, that meant any conversations were strictly concentrated in tiny circles shrouded in mystique and hush-hush. Facilities were available in the cities, but there was a huge amount of shame associated with them.
Wh en th e conv ersati on around mental h eal th began, pre-corona, i t w as l argel y concentrated around l i mi ted, urban areas i n Pak i stan. A taboo, th at meant any conv ersati ons w ere stri ctl y concentrated i n ti ny ci rcl es sh rouded i n mysti q ue and h ush -h ush .
In contrast , the rural region was left to languish in age-old solutions of pirs (spiritual men who would merely recite holy verses to rid the person of their mental illness) or that blanket excuse of ?destiny? would be woven over all problems and a miserable existence was what one endured. Or rather, it was just one more problem the rural woman was burdened with. Shaheen Baji lives in a village in Pakistan?s most populous province, Punjab. Her childhood was spent living in poverty, and she endured much emotional unhappiness because of the suffering she witnessed at home. A solution for many families is to marry off their girls to ?good men? simply because there is one less mouth to feed. Shaheen Baji was thrilled at the prospect of getting married and creating a stable life full of love and happiness. Upon marriage, she found herself entering a hell hole of violence and abuse. Nevertheless, she persisted, desperate for her dreams to come true. Shaheen fell pregnant and hoped that her life would improve. During the pregnancy, her marriage broke down completely and she was abandoned at her parents? doorstep by her husband. After giving birth, she was served divorce papers. From that point forward, she set out to earn a living via craft. As her child grew, she became aware that her son had a disability. He would never be the source of support she had hoped he would be. For Shaheen Baji, these life challenges and hardships took a toll on her mental health. . Struggling with depression, trauma, and lack of access to any health facilities where she could receive counselling and treatment for her son. Shaheen?s storyis a story far too common across Pakistan. Her only source of comfort now is when she makes a sale and has enough to feed her son and herself. Mental health is a conversation she is aware of but what can she do? Where can she go? Public travel comes with its own set of stress and battles. She remains just another person carrying mental baggage that ultimately wears her down. * Abida Baji has never known ?home?. Growing up she found herself oscillating between her parents? home and
her maternal uncle?s house, basically, wherever there is food. After marriage, she too had hoped she had found a stable way of living. Three sons later, a husband who rarely brought home money, she realised she had to go out and earn. Hoisting a sack of hand embroidered clothes, cushion covers and more, in the blistering heat of Multan (a city renowned for its extreme hot weather), she would go from door to door in the hope of securing a sale. This was how she earned enough to feed her family and send her boys to school. The price she paid for this was too high. Her husband abandoned them which left her to foot bills, she was left on the road with three small children. Once again, she found herself switching from her mother and uncle?s home, ultimately giving up one child to her uncle and two to her mother. On the road again, door to door, scared and worried she thought she had seen the worst of life. Till she realised her children had suffered badly and one had fallen into drug addiction. Today she sits on a hospital
floor in Islamabad
Th e real i zati on th at mental h eal th i s a seri ous concern i s sl ow l y tri ck l i ng i n al l ov er th e w orl d, Pak i stan i ncl uded.
desperately hoping her son will recover. Covid has meant that often facilities are not available and access to doctors is rare. When asked about her mental health and all that she has endured mentally, she says she cannot afford to think about herself. * These are just two stories of single mothers struggling to survive from many thousands of others. But all these problems came to surface when the lockdown was imposed, from not having shelter to securing work to finding money. The mental toll culminated in leading them to reach out to NGOs, shelters, development organisations and old clients in sheer desperation. The only thing that was needed and was not accessible were mental health facilities. Sometimes all that was needed was a reassuring voice on the other end of the phone, but even that was not available due to lack of credit on mobile phones. The realization that mental health is a serious concern is slowly trickling in all over the world, Pakistan included. This is only the beginning and there is so much to do! Many developmental and grassroots organizations are stepping up and taking the lead to initiate this conversation. Not just in urban areas but in rural areas as well. One such, trailblazing organization is Kaarvan Crafts Foundation. Understanding the importance of creating spaces that continuously hold discussions about mental health, the Foundation is doing its bit to raise awareness by conducting video conversations; aimed at generating awareness from both ends.Medical professionals admit that rural regions have been left behind and people have suffered severely from mental illnesses, in both urban and rural areas. But it is a mere drop in what is an unexplored ocean. Mental health is a real problem. And it is applicable to all segments of society. Now that this has been identified, the questions arise: what are we, as a collective, going to do about it? Do we offer therapy and treatment? Or do we go beyond and identify factors that cause mental health issues? And finally, with economic losses at the fore, can we afford to focus on mental health or is just another luxury third world countries will simply have to do without? Mehr F Husain is a media consultant and publisher of Zuka Books. To read more, please visit www.kaarvan.com.pk
M ental h eal th i s a real probl em. A nd i t i s appl i cabl e to al l segments of soci ety.
Perspecti v e Bah amas
Nav i gati ng Th e Tech Landscape Duri ng th e Pand emic By Rochelle R. Dean
Covid-19 has highlighted if not magnetized the underlying economic and social inequalities that make some populations more vulnerable than others. It has not only placed everyone in the position to experience a trail of discrimination and marginalization; but also exacerbated the existing crisis in many marginalized communities. The pandemic has forced social services, for example,in the Bahamas to change how they deliver services and conduct business. While many private companies and corporates with access to resources have responded with rapid implementation and assistance using new technology; community-based non-profit organizations shift around their budgets. Technology has been difficult for them to navigate as well as leverage during these difficult times. The disruption due to the coronavirus has continued to have a grievous impact on organizations unfamiliar with technology to function virtually within the community. Services critical to the community became subject to protocols that included social distancing and staying at home. Additionally, the disparity in technological applications or access to platforms and computers pose obstacles in maintaining public health especially for countries like the Bahamas that are in the midst of upgrading digitization processes
for the public and still operate on outdated systems to provide quality care. This is not limited to the Caribbean as the entire hemisphere has been challenged in terms of technological advancement and providing quality service. Financing in the country has also been impacted due to citizens not being equipped or trusting of fintech tools, which would actually make it easy for customers to access quality services. Due to global decentralization ?rurality? is still a much required option for those not willing to become trained in technology. From a societal perspective, the advancement of tech training has still been limited to those interested in pursuing careers in the said field and not really focused on providing knowledge based hubs and opportunities for a generation left behind. Innovative change continued to highlight how nonprofits and technology based initiatives have never really targeted skills based human resource development. Instead the focus of all capacity building efforts have been mostly about building an ?assembly line? of resources pursuing their own careers. And in addition to this, there is still an ever present gap in skills based opportunities in the tech sector as the coronavirus continues to surge. The struggles to keep up became obvious during the pandemic and continues to
impede basic technological advancement for women. The COVID19 pandemic has also unmasked technological inequity when it comes to the education sector and its stakeholders. With social distancing in effect and schools under lockdown, teachers especially women are finding it hard to adjust to the new realities of digital teaching mechanisms and creative modern learning environments for students across continents. The world is grappling with the many pre-existing as well as new challenges in digital scholarship and eLearning. The question that remains is how populations across the globe access and leverage technology to alleviate the learning challenge to ensure better outcomes especially for the most vulnerable including women and girls. That said, while such impediments remain, experts and policymakers attribute the innovation and acceleration of eLearning as a win for the education sector. Looping back to the issue of attuning to technology, numerous women have discovered that they themselves were challenged technologically and the idea of remote work or hosting an online event was foreign even with access to basic computer skills and mobile phones.
Moreover, women who do have access to the Internet find themselves fatigued by the challenges of digitization and faced challenges due to the inability to maintain secured internet connection. Time is upon us to realize the importance of syncing all stakeholders and spheres of society to the needs and realities of time. Women and girls especially should remain focused on participating in quality technology initiatives that promote development to bridge the gap in meeting social expectations outside of a mobile cell phone which is the beginning of the marginalized meeting their full potential to uproot exclusion and inequality while harnessing the benefits of affordable technological solutions and helping to deliver the SDG?s.
Rochelle R. Dean is Regional Programme Manager Americas, ANANKE
Her e a r e f ew r eso u r c ef u l t ips f o r t ec h n o l o g y t r a in in g f o r m a r g in a l iz ed w o m en ?Speak to your HR manager and deter mine if your company is willing to assist you attaining a cer tification in an application like M icr osoft. Some employer s make technological tr aining to staff fr ee of char ge while other s decide to go 50/50 with staff. I was Microsoft certified by my employer in my twenties. It was the best gift my bossever gave me and has benefited me to this day as I continue to advance my technological advantage. ?I nter gener ational tr ansfer of knowledge Intergenerational transfer of knowledge is invaluable and helps to develop strong individuals and organizational bodies of knowledge with the purpose of reversing brain drain while equipping persons with practical tools to functionality within the sphere of technological advancement and development. ?Join or ganizations that amplify your skills, but also develop new ones (specifically technology based skills). Volunteer with organizations that use technology based applications. There are many organizations that add value and human capital to maximize every opportunity to build upon the know-how of their volunteers. Determine what type of technology training courses your organization of choice offers and sign up. ?Take an online cour se thr ough Cour ser a, K han Academy, edX Taking an online course (most of them are free of charge)is also an opportunity to become technologically coherent in navigating on the internet. It?s also an empowerment tool to foster more interface to encourage confidence for other technology based opportunities. Rochelle R. Dean
Perspecti v e I ndi a
I ndi a & T he Second W ave By Sh radh a M enon
It is no longer news that India is experiencing a dearth of oxygen concentrators, hospital beds, and basic medical facilities for the middle class and the poor. The second wave is in full swing and experts believe that it will soon be waning. According to Soutik Biswas, Indian correspondent for the BBC, India is currently bringing in an average of 100,000 cases per day, and the highest cases recorded in a day has been 3,92,000. In recent weeks, the second wave has wreaked havoc on India's healthcare infrastructure, leaving hospitals unable to cope and critical drugs and oxygen in short supply. Providing care to the hundreds of thousands of people infected by the virus has become a major problem for both public and private hospitals. So how did this start? Early this year, India was getting over with their first wave, as well as exporting the necessary vaccines to other countries like Paraguay, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, and Saudi Arabia. Cases were on a steady decline and the death ratio had been slowing down as well; during this, several election campaigns, cricket tournaments, and religious locations opened, allowing visitors to attend with minimal restrictions. The impact of this was found a few weeks later when cases started to spike again. People were getting infected at a higher rate than the first wave and the damage was highly severe as well. It was announced that there were new variants found in a lot of the cases, which contributed to the public ruckus. A large chunk of the public had seen at least one of their relative get infected and several saw the struggles of not getting an oxygen cylinder in time. With cases at a sky high, India passed Brazil in the second most cases in the world ? only behind USA. By this time, the government stopped vaccine productions and instead started a vaccination drive within the country, but slowly started falling short of the vaccines themselves. May 25, 2021, shows a bit of promise with positive cases lower than 2,00,000 ? it took 42 days for the cases to hit below two lakhs. To combat this new wave, states like Maharashtra, Karnataka, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Telangana, etc. have set in place strict lockdowns that may extend until the situation can be controlled in the state. As of May 28th, 2021, the Delhi government is still deciding on the compensation amount to be paid to the families of those who passed away due to lack of oxygen supply. Despite the cases, states have been given the liberty to impose lockdowns, but no nationwide lockdown has been called upon yet. According to a report published by India Today, poverty rate in India ? during the first wave ? doubled in 2020. Experts in the field are suggesting that the new wave could be worse than the first, and that it?ll be the people below poverty line bearing most of the brunt of the economy. Due to lockdowns set in states, economic activities have stopped, creating an obstacle in the flow of income for the people who desperately need it. This,
Sudarsh an Such i , th e CEO of Sav e th e Ch i l dren i n I ndi a, menti oned h ow th e pandemi c h as rev ersed any progress th at I ndi a h as made i n ai mi ng at reduci ng pov erty, and h ow margi nal i sed communi ti es are th e one th at are th e most suscepti b l e to i t.
coupled with the fact that a lot of people are getting infected, means that they are at a higher chance of catching the virus. Sudarshan Suchi, the CEO of Save the Children in India, mentioned how the pandemic has reversed any progress that India has made in aiming at reducing poverty, and how marginalised communities are the one that are the most susceptible to it. According to a research done by UNICEF, India?s poverty can increase by 0.6 percent if basic limits are placed on public events like gatherings, along with appropriate social distancing. They also found that in case strict measures are put in place, the poverty rate can rise up to 7 percent. Oxfam's report, titled "The Inequality Virus," outlines how the pandemic has disproportionately affected the poor. Due to the pandemic, millions of migratory workers were displaced, leaving them without a job, income, or even food. During the pandemic, inequalities in other areas, including as healthcare and education, grew. According to the study, the National Human Rights Commission registered over 2,582 complaints of human rights violations as early as April 2020. VACCI NATI ON AND OXYGEN DRI VES: India initially began their vaccination drive on January 16, 2021, administering a total of 21.2 crore vaccines ? 16.7 crore first doses and 4.4 crore second doses. The primary vaccines given to the citizens were the Covishield ? part of the
Oxford? AstraZeneca vaccine, and Covaxin ? developed by Bharat BioTech. The Russian vaccine, Sputnik V, was approved for use in India in April since it showed an efficacy rate of 91.6%.
daily-wage labourers who are going through challenging times in their lives. They are providing protective hygiene kits for elders (includes sanitisers, masks, tissues etc.) and family survival kits that include items like rice, wheat, oils etc. Due to the intensity of the second wave, both Along with this, Uttishtha Foundation is giving out private and public hospitals were quickly running free meals to the homeless. They have gathered 2.4 out of oxygen cylinders. Many countries like lakhs on their own website through donations. Taiwan, Kuwait, Switzerland, France, Ireland, etc. sent India oxygen concentrators, ventilators and more necessary items as aid. 1.Hemkunt Foundation A Gurugram-based charitable foundation started up in 2010, the Hemkunt Foundation has been working tirelessly to ensure that the people of India receive a good quality of life. They believe in Welfare for All and follow the principle of ?Sarbhat da Bhalla? which means ?Welfare for all.? They?ve especially been working hard for the COVID-19 relief, providing oxygen tanks to those who are deprived of the same. The project, started by them, is called #O2For You. Currently they have raised around 61 lakh rupees, just on the Give India platform. 2.Concer n I ndia Foundation Concern India Foundation is a trust that was set up in 1991, to provide non-financial support to NGO?s that work in the field of community development. They currently work in major India cities like Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Bengaluru, and Chennai. So far, as part of their COVID relief project, the Concern India Foundation has provided 11,244 PPE Kits and supplied five ambulances to hospitals that require them and have raised a total of four lakhs on the Give India site. 3.K VN Foundation Their COVID relief project, which is called MissionMillionAir, aims to provide free oxygen cylinders and concentrators to individuals who require it. The receive the oxygen concentrators in bulk from reliable companies like Oxymed. KVN Foundation has received endorsements from celebrities like Suniel Shetty, Gul Panag, and many more, as well as they have received a donation of 400 cylinders from SembCorp Industries on 26thof May, 2021. With their tireless efforts and constant help, they have been able to raise one lakh on the Give India platform. 4.PI NT Networ k PINT Network or ?Plasma In Need for Transfusion? is an online, not-for-profit network that aims to help recovering COVID-19 patients in donating and receiving necessary plasma. They currently have over 2,100 donors and have saved over a thousand lives. Along with this, they have been recognised by leading new channels, both nationally and internationally, like CNN, India Today and The Hindustan Times. Through their efforts and wide reach, they have raised 24 lakhs on the KETTO platform as of 29thMay, 2021. 5.Uttishtha Foundation Uttishtha Foundation aims to reach out to the homeless, elders, and migrant
Shradha Menon is a university student currently pursuing her Bachelors in Media and Communications. A creative person, she enjoys writing, researching and painting, along with surfing the web. A large part of her writing interests revolve around social issues, and she hopes to be able to keep following her passion in the future.
Perspecti v e I ndi a
L ever aging
Art For Ch ange
Pi yush a V i r and V i j ayal ak sh mi Hari sh tal k about th ei r ef f orts, h el pi ng al l ev i ate peopl e?s pl i gh t and suf f eri ng due to COV I D19 i n I ndi a. Tell us about Car e, how did it all star t? The idea behind CARE is simple ? to use creativity and art to raise funds to help those working on the ground. And it actually began quite accidentally, in May 2020, when the cyclone Amphan, devastated parts of eastern India. Being a gr assr oots initiative launched by an individual/gr oup of r esponsible citizens, how We were just women exhausted by the onslaught of does it wor k when it comes to fundr aising? bad news at the time? COVID, the migrant crisis, Amphan, etc. one after the other. We were filled We have to clarify here that we are not a with rage. Rage at seeing people around us suffer formalized grassroots initiative, though we aim to and our inability to help them. Rage at how things support organizations and individuals who are kept getting more and more worse, despite us working at the grassroot level. Neither of us is an hoping that they?d get better. It was then that the activist or community organizer. We don?t have the realization struck us, that we were not powerless. skills and know-how to work at that level We could do something. currently. On May 24 2020, Piyusha put up a beautiful piece of art on her Facebook wall and asked her friends if they would like to bid on it. The proceeds, she said, would be donated to an organization that was working on rehabilitation of those affected by Amphan. Vijayalakshmi replied asking if she could offer some of her poetry and photography for the effort, and if this could be done together. Another friend too, offered to put up some poetry, and the idea for CARE was seeded in our minds. Over the next two days, we planned out the details with the help of a dear friend (who asked not to be named) ? one who is much more capable and experienced, and without whose help, we could not have done this at all. She also created a beautiful logo for us.
So we do the next best thing. Empower those working on the ground by helping arrange funds for them. While we are not associated with any of the NGOs, we just put up our artworks and services for sale, in exchange for contributions to organizations and individuals who are doing this crucial work. So, for example, we have a painting up for sale. And someone who likes that painting wants to buy it. They check the sale price of the painting, go to the list of fundraisers we?ve identified and included in our post, and contribute the sale price of the painting to that fundraiser. Once they send us the acknowledgment receipt of this contribution, we mark the painting as sold. The money goes directly to a fundraiser the buyer selected. The artist?s painting gets to share their artistic creation with someone else who would appreciate it and the individual who needs help or the NGO working on the ground get the funds they need.
On the morning of May 27, morning, India time, we had the rules, the FAQs, the art that the two of us had pooled together, and the Facebook page ready and live. We ran a campaign that was successful beyond anything we had imagined. Three things that we try our best to take care of here ? One, the fundraisers are carefully selected Since then we have run a handful of other based on their reputation and credibility (while campaigns ? to help a friend?s domestic worker bearing in mind that this demand for ?credibility? who urgently needed funds; to support a stems from a classist and capitalist mindset). Two, nationwide initiative to aid girls from the kind of work they are doing. We specifically underprivileged backgrounds gain access to mobile make it a point to support and amplify those phones, so that they could still attend school fundraisers that are working towards helping virtually during the lockdown. Now, we are marginalized or underserved communities. Third, running a campaign to aid Covid relief efforts in the fundraisers or their parent organization should India, where the second wave is causing much not be associated or backed by any organizations devastation. known to have divisive/fundamentalist connections. What is Car e?s vision and goal? We have no grand visions, really. Our goal is simply to use art for change. To do whatever we can as individuals to help those on the ground.
Tell us a bit mor e about Car e?s effor ts on the gr ound? Like we mentioned earlier, we don?t directly work on the ground. We try to encourage contributions to fundraisers that are aimed towards getting underserved communities access to resources. We leverage social media to do so. At our level, the work involves coordinating with the artists, creating and scheduling attractive, attention-grabbing posts, and connecting the artists to the buyers once we get the acknowledgment. It doesn?t exactly compare to the sort of backbreaking effort that working in the field takes. Every rupee we help raise is precious to us. So is every bit of positive feedback we get from those who have purchased artwork/services from CARE. When doing something like this, it is difficult to see or know the impact that one has. Sometimes we do hear how some of the fundraisers we have helped drive contributions to have met their goals, or how that particular fundraiser has helped real people on the ground, and that keeps us going. There have even been cases where people wanting to help weren?t sure how to do so, but then they came across a CARE post, and that helped them find a NGO to contribute to, even if they eventually decided that they don?t want any of CARE?s offerings in exchange. And that?s great too ? as long as something good happens, directly or indirectly, because of a CARE effort, we are thrilled! Ther e was an ar ticle by the New Yor k Times how Social M edia has been a godsend for I ndia
in these tough times? Do you agr ee? How so? There is no simple answer to this question. We wish we could respond with a resounding yes, but the problem is a bit more layered, and the answer depends on how you view the problem. On the one hand we cannot deny that social media has been extremely useful in these fraught times, like the article that you?ve shared illustrates. Personally too, we have experienced the power of social media via CARE. CARE began as a social media initiative, and while some of the people supporting us are known to us in person, the majority of our friends and contributors we?ve come in contact with via social media only. Even we (Piyusha and Vijayalashmi) have not met each other offline. During the Amphan relief efforts, when we first started CARE, the movement became ?viral?. People who were completely unknown to us were reaching out to us to offer their paintings for sale or buy something they?d seen on our page and liked. However, when one starts to look deeper, we start to realize that we can?t wholeheartedly cheer for social media either. For one, the platforms are exclusionary ? people without internet access or those who don?t understand how social media works and cannot use hashtags, and appropriate keywords ? who are more likely to belong to underserved groups in the first place, cannot leverage social media, and so won?t get the help they need. Even with CARE, we are often fighting algorithms to ensure that we get seen and heard, so one can imagine that for those who are not so social media savvy, or don?t have access to it at all, social media does not help. Only those working on the ground can make sure that they get the help they need. Secondly, when we start to think about the real cause of this crisis ? systemic failure, and systemic injustice, we realize that all social media offers is stop gap solutions. Band aids, where what is needed is surgery! These platforms are owned by capitalists and billionaires, who are part of the problem. We have seen across the world, including in India, how these platforms have given in to the requests of fascists to gag their critics. We have to remember Audre Lorde?s immortal words, ?For the master?s tools will never dismantle the master?s house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change.? She used it in the context of patriarchy, but honestly, it applies to any sort of oppression. For genuine, systemic change, we cannot rely on social media. We need on ground organizing and activism. And for now, we would credit the individual people and NGOS who have used their smarts to get social media to work for them, than we would the platforms themselves.
CA RE i s an i ni ti ati v e started by Pi yush a and V i j ayal ak sh mi and th e f unds th ey are abl e to rai se are sol el y due to communi ty l ed ef f orts.
How can people help initiatives and effor ts like Car e? We are fighting algorithms that would rather show you a tweet by a celebrity, or some random funny video, or your friend?s latest selfie, than a CARE post. Not that there is anything wrong with paying attention to those other things, but a like, a share, a comment, any sort of engagement that you can give, pushes a CARE post onto more feeds, and helps direct attention to real people that need help desperately.
their respective fields. We have had to refuse people who we thought were not qualified enough to do a workshop they were offering. So you know when something goes up on CARE, it has gone through some level of background checks and evaluation.
And of course, please open your wallets wide and It is all purely based on the goodwill of everyone contribute to the fundraisers. That would be the concerned. biggest help, really. Share, Buy, Contribute. Please check out the page What is the need of the hour ? to see what is on offer, and buy whatever painting We all need to step forward and do out little bit. or workshop you like. Every little effort makes a huge difference. We t remain in our privileged bubble anymore. If What ar e the challenges that ar e cr ucial to can? there? s anything this pandemic has taught us, it is addr ess as far as your wor k is concer ned? that we need to set aside our differences, and come One of the biggest challenges we?ve faced is not together and be more respectful, inclusive, being able to properly communicate to people how empathetic and compassionate towards one another. CARE works. We?ve had instances where people We also need to start aiming for deeper, systemic have asked for a refund after paying for a workshop changes, rather than applauding half measures and that they chose not to attend, or another time where populist policies. We need to acknowledge that the an artist demanded a commission from us. Both of personal is political, and that being ?apolitical? is a these incidents occurred despite these people being matter of privilege. We need to educate ourselves, repeatedly told the money doesn?t come to us at all, and be more engaged as citizens. but goes directly to the NGO or the fundraiser beneficiary. Any last wor ds? For this cycle of fundraising for Covid relief, we?re Please don?t contribute to fundraisers of celebrities seeing a lot more donor fatigue and emotional or private individuals that cannot be subjected to exhaustion. We completely understand the reasons any kind of scrutiny. A lot of people are for that and despite it all, the community has come contributing to fundraisers which is great, but if together to raise over 30k already. We plan to keep you do it through CARE you also get to enjoy a the campaign open till the end of this month. painting or attend a workshop. The other challenge is the inability to offer too You need not be ?special? to do something like this. many physical paintings. The issue of courier costs Very often, we see someone doing good, and and who is going to bear it became a deterrent for applaud, but are afraid to take that step ourselves, many artists and buyers. Not to mention the because we are led to believe that those people challenges that the lockdown has brought with it, possess a certain something that we do not. That is when it comes to mailing things physically. This not true. year, we decided to keep everything digital and online. We are not activists or organizers. We may not be able to do what they do, but we found a way to How do initiatives like Car e foster tr ust and contribute and are giving it our best. community building? We may not change the world or solve all its Our biggest strength is that CARE?s operations are problems. That is too much of a burden to bear for transparent: no money comes or goes through us. any one person anyway. But we can all do a little The artist sends their artwork/offers their workshop and care a little. directly to the buyer, once we give the go ahead. They buyer knows they are contributing the amount to the verified and trusted NGOs whose information and details are publicly available. We don?t offer or accept any commissions either. There is absolutely no scope for profit or self-publicity. All our workshops and services are also curated after much thought and the facilitators are known in
Th e Soci al I mpact of Cov i d-19 i n Li gh t of Bi g Data
The global spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has generated enormous data sources that analysts can use to improve our understanding of big data management research. The use of Big Data analytics will aid researchers, health professionals, and decision-makers gain a better and deeper understanding of a variety of data and information, which can then be used to better predict and counter an outbreak. Pover ty, L ockdowns, & Economic Downfall Most of us had never heard of "lockdowns," "mask regulations," or "social separation" before 2019. But, as the COVID-19 pandemic continues
By Rimsha Salam
to affect all facets of our lives, they have become part of our everyday vocabulary. COVID-19 has yielded a global crisis unlike any other ? a worldwide health disaster that is causing the most significant global recession since WWII, in addition to a vast human toll. It is predicted that the global economy and per capita incomes would contract this year, forcing millions of people into poverty. The pandemic has brought attention to the importance of providing effective, accessible, and affordable healthcare. However, people in underdeveloped countries paid nearly half a
trillion dollars out of pocket for health care even before the crisis. Every year, this expensive expenditure produces financial difficulty for over 900 million individuals and pushes about 90 million people into extreme poverty - a pattern that is very probably exacerbating the problem. Early research suggests that the virus's health and economic consequences are disproportionately felt by the poor. Homeless persons, for example, are particularly vulnerable to the virus because they may not be able to find a safe place to shelter. People without access to running water and refugees, migrants, and displaced persons are also disproportionately affected by the epidemic and its aftermath ? whether due to decreased mobility, fewer job possibilities, heightened xenophobia, or other factors. Inequality, exclusion, discrimination, and global unemployment may worsen in the medium and long term if the governments do not appropriately handle the social crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The pandemic has disproportionately afflicted the poor and vulnerable over the past year, threatening to push millions more into poverty. COVID-19 will usher in the first reversal in the fight against extreme poverty in a generation, after decades of steady progress in lowering the number of people living on less than $1.90/day. On Racial I nj ustices & COVI D-19 Dr. Bushra Anjum is a Health I.T. Data specialist and Data Analytics program manager with a P.H.D. in Computer Science based in the US. Talking about the social impact of the pandemic in light of big data, she said: "Being a minority myself, both racial and religious, I have been particularly interested in data that can shed some light on the experience of the migrant Asian communities. Unfortunately, just like Islamophobia had been on the rise after 9/11, Sinophobia has accelerated in the face of COVID-19. The number of hate crimes against Asian minorities is growing. Research suggests that a lack of knowledge about the virus, lack of motivation to learn about the science, and the usage of irresponsible statements, such as "Chinese plague," "China virus," are the main contributing factors to it. For example, a survey ? Sinophobic Stigma Going Viral: Addressing the Social Impact of COVID-19 in a Globalized World, published in the American Journal of Public Health ?on attitudes toward minority groups during the COVID-19 pandemic found that 40% of participants were positively motivated to act in a discriminatory manner against "Asian-looking" individuals. In another study; conducted by He J, He L,
Zhou W, Nie X, He M. titled Discrimination and Social Exclusion in the Outbreak of COVID-19 published in theInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health; 25.11 percent of overseas Chinese residents reported experiencing discrimination, such as being laid off without proper cause, rejected from rental housing, and abused in public spaces. ?Only by understanding the true nature and extent of the problem can we hope to recover from it. "
A Br ave, New, Healing Wor ld The COVID-19 outbreak has affected people from many walks of life. However, it has a particularly negative impact on members of the most vulnerable social groups. It continues to harm populations such as those living in poverty, the elderly, people with disabilities, the youth, and racial minorities. However, surprisingly there are a few upsides to this pandemic as well. Reduced outdoor air pollution from less car travel and other fossil fuel combustion, as well as fewer injuries and deaths from traffic incidents, are two clear trends. Satellite air quality measurements, such as daily observations from the TROPOMI sensor on the European Space Agency's Sentinel 5P satellite, show that pollution levels are lower this year than in prior years in cities throughout the world. Lockdowns also have an impact on how people spend their time. For example, parks have become the most popular non-residential locations due to dramatic drops in visits to other places, while usage varies significantly by country and city. Har nessing The Power of Big Data Big data advances have given us a near-real-time view of how social upheaval affects societies in many ways across the globe. Unfortunately, however, the promise of the data revolution has yet to be realized in many places. Too frequently, the enormous amount of data available today has little impact, whether due to a lack of technical competence, entrenched interests, or just the momentum of the status quo. These revelations should serve as a wake-up call to what's being overlooked. Advanced analytical techniques are directing us towards a new normal that can be more resilient, safer, and sustainable if we care to listen, from public health to inequality to urban planning. How do we address the issues of social injustice that will not go away once the crisis is over and may even be aggravated as a result of it? Improving essential urban services by combining existing informal networks with strategic infrastructure investments is critical to serve vulnerable residents better and strengthen society's overall resilience. Recovering from a pandemic of this magnitude is possible, but we need to embrace the new normal. We can't just return to our old ways; we need to be better prepared for the shocks and stressors that will inevitably occur again. We now have the information we need to chart a course forward. It is our obligation to make appropriate use of this new wealth of data.
Rimsha Salamis a tech-enthusiast, writer, blogger, ex-quality assurance engineer, and freelancer. She writes on the latest tech trends, gadgets, Information technology, and more. Always eager to learn and ready for new experiences, she is a self-proclaimed tech geek, bookaholic, introvert, and gamer.
Ev o l v i n g Co m m u n ic a t io n Cu s t o m s Di gi tal Trends
By Dr . Bu s h r a A n j u m The global pandemic has prompted a significant evolution in our daily lives. As social distancing mandates were set in place, there was a steep decline in in-person job opportunities. This quickly brought many remote work practices to the spotlight, such as consciously enabling remote group interactions and building trust with your remote employees. A fundamental paradigm shift has occurred, causing many work environments to change from onsite communicating with employees to relaying information through emails, slack messages, chats, comment threads, and other forms of digital communication. For remote or hybrid teams that function by using writing as their principal method of communication, it's essential to have the skills necessary to produce clear and concise instruction and messages. Good or bad, our current reality is that most of our writing these days consists of texts using shorthand?s and emojis, the occasional emails, and a plethora of posts on social media. Such writings are generally informal, unedited streams of consciousness riddled with cyber slang. While technology can be utilized as an excellent tool to improve writing, our new cyberculture has proven to have the potential to cause detrimental effects to our writing skills as a society. However, it's essential to have adequate writing skills for clear, concise, and engaging written communication. It's often believed that remote jobs replace the spoken check-ins and head popping for inquiries in face-to-face work environments with exclusively video chatting. However,having video calls for each interaction is not logistically feasible and would contribute to the zoom fatigue that research has warned us about. Instead, written communication is often the main or only form of communication, making it particularly paramount to convey your message with clarity and ease. Poor writing can be highly detrimental to a company that heavily depends on written communication and cause major setbacks. For example, when the information you?re relaying is presented in a way that is too unclear, your ideas will get lost, making it very difficult to interpret. As a result, your employees may have to designate extensive periods
to understand what is being communicated, leading to a reduction in productivity. It can also be frustrating, damaging morale and pushing employees to leave or not put in maximum effort themselves. Overall, the key is to recognize and internalize the importance of writing skills in the changing world of remote work. Here is an excellent series of articles that can aid in helping you write better: https://ubiquity.acm.org/ communication.cfm?volume=all In cases in which a video check-in is indeed necessary, establish low-overhead protocols, as recommended from an AMC Queue article that states: "We follow some easy rules to avoid the extended conversations. We say in chat, for example, "Quick hangout? Tomato Incident." If available, your contact replies with a link to a chat room. No formalities, no small talk, no confusion over who creates the session. Otherwise, the contact responds, "Not now," and it is up to the requester to make an appointment." Entirely opting for written communication in remote teams does have some downsides. For example, it can be overwhelming on the receiver's end. Notification bubbles on Slack, emails, and constant pings and zings can quickly pile up and take away from an employee's work productivity. Their time may quickly become engulfed with answering virtual messages. Therefore, allocating designated quiet, focused time for your employees can be incredibly beneficial for productivity, as well as their emotional states, as it eliminates some of the stress associated with being bombarded with tasks and information. You may experience written interactions in which you receive a reply that was curt and dismissive. Maybe you'll receive a question that appears as though the intent is to question your authority and doubt your credibility. In most of the above cases, taking a few minutes to gain a broader perspective rather than drafting and sending a hasty response can make a world of difference. You may be able to release any negative emotions that manifested in response to the interaction. If you still find yourself upset after reflecting, a good tactic is to
gauge what the person is thinking is simply asking rather than making rash assumptions. It's important to give others the benefit of the doubt and discourage attempts at "mind-reading." As a manager, you should internalize this and inspire others on your team to do the same. In recent years where shorthand and informal lingo have continued to take over a significant portion of digital communication, the importance of proper writing skills has been severely undermined. Good writing tactics make everything more smooth, clear, and concise for your members, keeping the work environment engaging and increasing productivity.
Dr. Bushra Anjum is a Health IT data specialist currently working at a San Francisco based startup Doximity. She leads a team of analysts and scientists working on advanced analytics. Prior, she worked for Amazon as a senior software engineer, architecting large-scale distributed services supporting Prime Membership. She has been recognized by Tribune as a Top 20 under 40 Professional for career excellence and community contributions. More details on her work and contributions can be found here:https:/ / www.bushraanjum.info/
Go o d o r b a d , o u r c u r r en t r ea l it y is t h a t m o st o f o u r w r it in g t h ese d a y s c o n sist s o f t ex t s u sin g s h o r t h a n d ?s a n d em o j is,t h e o c c a sio n a l em a il s,a n d a pl et h o r a o f po st s o n so c ia l m e d i a . Su c h w r it in g s a r e g en er a l l y in f o r m a l , u n ed it ed st r ea m s o f c o n sc io u sn ess r id d l ed w it h c y ber sl a n g
EV O L U T IO N 3 6 0 Youth Creating Revolution in Bangladesh Nex tGen Bangl adesh
b y Fa r h a n a N i s h a t Pu s h p o
Bangladeshi student & activist
Evolution 360 focuses on empowering the youth of Bangladesh. The organization?s vision is to create a gender equal world driven by skilled youth to ensure the equal participation of men and women in every field. Evolution 360 is continuing its untiring work to stand beside the people of Bangladesh through their immense activities in the midst of a global pandemic. . "Evolution360" was established in 2016 and its core is the implementation of SDG 5, achieve gender equality in Bangladesh. The entity firmly believes that the involvement of youth, irrespective of gender, is essential for building up a resilient nation and making the country progressive. The coronavirus pandemic has affected the activities of the global community. Public health restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic have led to canceled campaigns, workshops, and other events. Many conferences and large celebrations have been limited or put on hold. Despite the changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, there were still plenty of activities executed by Evolution 360. Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic, it has launched offline campaigns, online web series and implemented their most attractive signature event where the participation of youth was epic. When lockdown started, several problems arosein our community. Evolution360 had to stop ongoing campaigns/projects and decided to start volunteering in the community amidst the pandemic through multiple lockdown Initiatives which started wholly without an external sponsor. Among the activities, some immediate responses included awareness campaigns, distribution of hand sanitizers and masks, spraying disinfectant. Then the organization launched an innovative online fundraising event mobilizing 2000+ youth and donated food to lower-income families of the slum areas. The organization also worked on mental health and sexual harassment/domestic violence, which included :. 1.M ask Distr ibution: During the pandemic, Evolution 360 contributed in the ?Mask for all? campaign in partnership with Rotaract Dhaka Divine, where hand sanitizers, masks, and hygiene products were distributed to the street children and homeless people, during the month of April. Besides distribution of masks and sanitizers to homeless and lower income people, the volunteers also sprayed disinfectants in the local streets as a part of immediate measure to stop the spread of coronavirus. 2.Campaign on M ental Health: Evolution
360, in collaboration with the NGO Manusher Jonno Foundation launched a series of interactive webinars. These certified webinars focused on mental health,, psychological counselling, anger management, addressing domestic violence during lockdown, adolescent mental health, HeForShe at home, gender, sensitization. Each of these two hour sessions also included some one-to-one counselling with the victims and people who needed help. 3.Pr oviding Gr ocer y as Relief to the lower income families: Due to lack of funding opportunities, many non-profit organizations are unable to donate for the poor affected by COVID 19. Keeping this in mind, Evolution 360 collected relief funds through an innovating Online fundraising event named ?TALENT TRANSITION 2020?, where students participated in different segments like photography, writing and artwork, Enterants registration fees were used as funding for those affected by COVID-19. Participants received certificates of participation and winners were awarded. Thisyouth group was able to contribute in a good cause and provide relief to over 70 families of the Meradiya slum, with the support of AIM Initiative Foundation. The AIM initiative Foundation is planning to provide funds for more people like this, in different areas. Evolution 360 collected relief fund through the innovating online fundraising event named ?TALENT TRANSITION 2020? where 1700 students participated with a minimal registration fee. Their registration fees were used as a donation to provide grocery among lower-income families of Meradiya slum amidst the pandemic, with the cordial support of AIM Initiative Foundation as a collaborative partner to Evolution 360. 4.ACT FOR EQUAL I TY campaign: On occasion of International Girl Child Day 2020, the Act for Equality campaignwas launched in collaboration with "Plan International Bangladesh? and continued throughout November 2020. Since the dawn of rising, Evolution 360 has worked on mobilizing youth in community development. And even during the pandemic it launched theonline campaign "Act for Equality? with a view to contributing to community work as well as showcasing the young talent among youth. Under the campaign theme:Safe Cyber
World for Girls, several online competitions took place, including an online debate, quiz, speech contest, and free webinars. The total cash prize was 18000 BDT. Through this campaign, every participant received a certificate of participation as well as gaining valuable skills in networking. This campaign also had a daylong physical workshop on ?Good Touch and Bad touch? which was conducted with children aged 3-10 years in an urban slum area. 5.Advocating online for safe wor kplace as an ally with UN Women: Evolution 360 being an ally of UN Women?s #WeCommit campaign and jointly with Manusher Jonno Foundation, organized a webinar series to mark the 16 days of activism 2020. The #WeCommit campaign initiated by UN Women aims to combat sexual harassment at the workplace. The webinar series was divided into 3 episodes which took place on 8th December 2020, 12th December 2020, and 18th December 2020, respectively. The focus of this webinar series was Combating Gender-Based Violence in the Corporate World and launching the#WeCommit campaign by UN Women. Bangladeshi CEOs and Top Executives of Banks, Multinational companies, and other financial institutions joined the webinars as panelists. The Head of Secretariat of UN Women Headquarters and Country Director of UN Women Bangladesh joined as Chief Guests in the episodes and delivered their valued opinion as experts in the field. 6.Pr oj ect Or pon in Ramadan: Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, humanity is going through the most difficult time and the poorest are the most vulnerable. People who used to live comfortably before the pandemic arenow begging for enough food twice a day. In such a miserable situation, the longing of the people in the holy month of Ramadan seems to be increasing. As always, Evolution360 came up with "Project Orpon". Its main goal was to arrange free Iftar and Seheri for the needy people of the society. To implement this project thoroughly Evolution 360 collected donations from all over Bangladesh and successfully delivered food to hundreds of hungry people throughout the holy month of Ramadan whilst maintaining all safety measures. 7.Online Development sessions and UN events: Throughout the pandemic, Evolution360 encouraged organizational members to participate in different UN webinars and online development sessions from UNESCO, ILO, WHO and other platforms. Furthermore, in this year?s ECOSOC Youth Forum 2021, threeexecutive members of Evolution360 participated in the
Despite the changes caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, there were still plenty of activities executed by Evolution 360. Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic, it has launched offline campaigns, online web series and implemented their most attractive signature event where the participation of youth was epic.
sessions remotely. 8.Sanitar y Pad Distr ibution amidst Pandemic: Menstruation does not stop during a pandemic and every girl has a right to a safe menstrual cycle. Recently Evolution360 has partnered with Wreetu Foundation and are advocating on the campaign to collect funds for underprivileged girls in urban areas. The organization is actively volunteering to end period poverty by ensuring reusable sanitary pads are accessible tounderprivileged girls. Currently crowd funding is underwayto distribute pads to 5000 girls throughout Bangladesh. For its commendable social work amidst the pandemic, Evolution360 received the ?Volunteer Activism Award 2020? from Action Aid Bangladesh last year. The Founder of Evolution360, Ms A.S.Ahmad Upoma is a recipient of Bangladesh Digital Social Innovation Award 2021 from BDSIA. Ms A.S.Ahmad Upomawas also recipient of the Republic of Women,?Beauty with Brain Global Award? in recognition of hersocial contribution through Evolution360 and is the only Bangladeshi to receive the award. Having more than 500 youths within the organization, Evolution360 is working wholeheartedly in community development and replicating the #HeForShe Campaign all over Bangladesh. This youth group dreams to create a gender equal Bangladesh, accelerating the cherished dream of our father of the nation.
Evolution360 had to stop ongoing campaigns/projects and decided to start volunteering in the community amidst the pandemic through multiple lockdown Initiatives which started wholly without an external sponsor. Among the activities, some immediate responses included awareness campaigns, distribution of hand sanitizers and masks, spraying disinfectant. Then the organization launched an innovative online fundraising event mobilizing 2000+ youth and donated food to lower-income families of the slum areas.
Emergi ng Tech & COV I D19
By Rimsha Salam
The COVID-19 pandemic brought a new age of tragedy and innovation. As the world scrambles to recover from the fallout, many wonder if the epidemic left us with something worthwhile to look forward to.
the crisis ends. Big data analytics have been heavily featured in the global crisis response to COVID-19 infections. These technologies will likely continue to be an integral part of healthcare and crisis handling going forward.
While the Covid-19 highlighted several areas where we need to reform, such as healthcare and crisis response, it also enabled rapid tech, remote work, health solutions, and data analytics.
Data Sets, Cur ation, and Questionnair es
Sidra Aziz, a Data Engineer and MSc. student at the Otto-von-Guericke University of Magdeburg, Germany, shared valuable insight into the work Leaders, innovators, and healthcare professionals she and her team is currently doing using Big acted quickly to leverage big data and analytics Data analytics: tools, including artificial intelligence and machine "My team and I are currently working on an learning, to comprehend andapprehendthe virus, initiative involving Big Data and Covid-19. Our control its spread, navigate changes, and track study is about the mental health effects of symptoms. Resulting in a year of technological covid-induced lockdown on university students in marvels, innovations, development of strategic Germany." solutions, and the culmination of rich data She went on to elaborate the early discoveries and resources. inferences made through this data set: The COVID-19 pandemic will subside as people gain access to effective vaccines across the world. "In early findings, we have explored factors such However, the strategies and technological as financial constraints, working odd or part-time advancements of this period may carry on after jobs, as well as targeting anxiety, mental health,
and concerns for loved ones in the home country. And how it has contributed a lot towards students' mental health as well as their timelines of finishing studies to begin a full-time job faster."
their grades as the result of issues due to the pandemic and the current economy. That way, we can monitor the effects of the pandemic on student's performance."
University students are widely considered a vulnerable population. This image of the troubled student was established long before the pandemic due to high levels of anxiety, stress, depression, substance abuse, and disordered eating found in the youth compared to the general population.
L iving in a Wor ld For ever Changed
Which is why Sidra's work is so crucial. By understanding and recognizing effects and negative impacts, higher educational institutions can take elaborate actions to support said students and ensure that the effects of the pandemic doesn't damage the future of these students.
managing these hardships and look forward to new solutions and possibilities.
Amid an unprecedented pandemic and facing an uncertain future, we're all adjusting to rapid and drastic changes in our daily lives. As the fluctuating markets and the slow rise of the economy indicate, the pace of change is straining When the nature of their educational experience the well-oiled operations and infrastructure that dramatically changed due to the pandemic, the hold our society together. burden on this vulnerable population's mental Hard though it may be, we innovators must drag health was greatly amplified. ourselves away from the operational details of
"While we are still gathering more data, these early results are aimed to have a broader understanding for universities and institutes not to help students better but also to be prepared for such unseen scenarios in the future if need be.
We need to soften the blow of shortened timelines and busted budgets while fundamentally redesigning how essential services are delivered to preserve society?s functions fully.
We have the technology, the resources, the data, and the computational force. All we need now is a sound deployment strategy and the collaborative efforts of our upcoming generation and that which is currently leading the world. To work towards a Our team aims to understand the sentiments of better, digitized, analyzed, and predictive world. students' replies to the questionnaire. Then predict So that we are never again caught off-guard by a
pandemic or global disaster of this magnitude and are prepared with safety measures, innovative solutions, and coping strategies to navigate such situations. Fighting The Covid-19 is an I nter national Collective Effor t Since the first outbreak of the Covid-19, researchers and analysts are participating in data sharing and cooperation to understand and counteract the disease. This collaborative effort has led to the development of the model for conditions beyond the coronavirus pandemic. As the pandemic rages on, researchers have started to aggregate large datasets that can be parsed using AI and machine learning. The datasets are beginning to yield insights that may help providers treat SARS-CoV-2 infections and subsequent post-COVID syndromes, researchers involved say they hope their success will usher in a new era of collaboration in medical research. ?It's great to see innovative technologies like Big Data are used to help fight this pandemic. The fight against COVID-19 is a group effort. We can't rise from the destruction of this disease alone. The more we collaborate and widespread our efforts, the better and earlier we will redeem results. Data is critical to understanding the impact of COVID-19 across the world. It is also vital to inform the appropriate planning, response, and resource allocation such as medical supplies, vaccine distributions, and food supplies?saidMuazma Zahid (President, PWiC | Principal Engineering Manager, Microsoft)
Rim sh a Salam is a tech-enthusiast, writer, blogger, ex-quality assurance engineer, and freelancer. She writes on the latest tech trends, gadgets, Information technology, and more. Always eager to learn and ready for new experiences, she is a self-proclaimed tech geek, bookaholic, introvert, and gamer.
I ncl usi v e COV I D19 Response
Th e Need For A Gendered Response To Ragi ng Cri ses I n Pak i stan By Sabin M uzaffar During times of global crises or a raging pandemic, the biggest impact felt is that on the healthcare sector. Not only human but also financial resources are diverted to respond to the emergency at hand. This, in turn, creates a gap in redressal as far as pre-existing issues is concerned, especially essential healthcare, reproductive and maternal services. According to a UNFPA Pakistan brief titled ?Impact of COVID19 on reproductive health, family planning and GBV in Pakistan,? published in May 2020,?Emergency response to COVID19 outbreak also means that resources for essential maternal, newborn health, gender, reproductive health services will be diverted to deal with the outbreak, contributing to a rise in maternal and newborn mortality, increased unmet need for contraception, sexually transmitted infections and gender-based violence.? UNICEF reports that redirection of resources from essential healthcare services to COVID19 response has immensely impacted maternal and
child mortality. According to a global study of over 2,100 pregnant women across 18 countries, including Pakistan, published in JAMA Paediatrics, about 50 percent or more pregnant women who contract COVID19 are likely to suffer from pregnancy-related complications while 22 percent of them are more likely to die. The pandemic has amplified already existing inequities and has further marginalized communities especially in the Global South by reversing positive trends and milestones as far as maternal, reproductive and child health are concerned. Sharing her perspective about the impact of COVID19 on a plethora of prevailing heath-related issues, Dr. Sara Saeed Khurram ? a health innovator, co-founder and CEO of award winning Sehat Kahani (an all-female health provider network that offers quality healthcare in Pakistan to those in need using telemedicine) ? said: ?The pandemic has opened a pandora?s box. There are so many issues that are inevitably being ignored. Family planning
compliance, for instance, has been lessened because of lockdowns and social distancing. Access and supply are some of the biggest hurdles. Pre-Covid, you could see family planning related advertisements on TV. This has changed dramatically over the past two years. The messaging isn?t there anymore as everything revolves around COVID19. We need to have focused, targeted messaging, especially now when everyone is at home. Moreover, people are unable to access family planning medicine. Women especially in rural areas relied heavily on lady health workers to provide them with basic health necessities and medicine. With social distancing in place, reproductive health is bearing the brunt. The country has to look at all issues in a way short term as well as long term repercussions are not just avoided but preempted.? Experts have warned that disruptions and reduction of essential healthcare services pose a huge risk of loss of millions of lives of women, girls and children. Another de-equalizing force is gender-based violence. Intimate partner violence (IPV), for example, has increased manifold during the pandemic fueled by lockdowns; with unsafe home environment as an inescapable consequence and the victim?s inability to access help. The United Nations Population Fund notes that every additional three months of lockdown has the potential to
cause 15 million additional GBV cases worldwide. Bearing in mind that this figure is based on merely a 20 percent increase in violence during lockdowns. Noting the rise of the shadow pandemic of violence, Nighat Dad, founder of Digital Rights Foundation Pakistan also sounded the alarm and said: ?According to our Cyber Harassment Helpline's Annual Report, we saw a 73 percent increase in total calls and complaints in 2020 as compared to 2019. The month of July 2020 clocked in a little under 700 calls alone.? ANI ? South Asia?s multimedia news agency ?reported that government imposed lockdowns in Pakistan resulted in a massive increase in domestic violence cases, with the highest number of cases registered were from Punjab, followed by Sindh and Khyber Pukhtunkhwa respectively. According to Bedari, a national level non-governmental, voluntary, development organization in Pakistan working with women and children for the promotion and protection of their human rights,From March 28 to June 10, 2020, in 75 days we received 375 cases on Helpline. It means on an average we are receiving 4 to 5 cases per day and . While before the COVID 19 we were receiving 35 to 40 cases per month. Figures of domestic violence cases increased due to COVID 19.
A bout 50 percent or more pregnant w omen w h o contract COV I D19 are l i k el y to suf f er f rom pregnancy-rel ated compl i cati ons w h i l e 22 percent of th em are more l i k el y to di e.
Talking about the situation, Dr. Sara said: ?We see an upward rise in gender based violence cases. There was one instance where the female patient was reluctant to switch on her camera during a telehealth conversation with the physician. The lady in question was actually pregnant and after she finally switched on her camera, the physician could see visible signs of abuse. She had previously claimed of falling out of bed as she was not prepared to go to a physical clinic for a checkup. Unfortunately, she had a miscarriage.? While organizations like Sehat Kahani approach patients? health with a multi-tiered, patient-centric approach; focusing on primary care as well as mental health among other things. These can do so much especially when it comes to gender-based violence. ?We do have an obligation to report abuse be it one reported via our app or in one of our clinics. Unfortunately though, it is really difficult to prove especially in telemedicine as videos may be switched off. So it is up to the physician to assess and ascertain through her professional experience and deduction. But still we are very cautious. We can officially report a case only if the patient or abuse victim discloses and is willing to come forward. I should add here that all our patient data is encrypted and protected.?
?Recogni si ng th at Cov i d-19 i s af f ecti ng w omen and men di f f erentl y can be a k ey f or creati ng ef f ecti v e, eq ui tabl e programme i nterv enti ons and pol i ci es.? Uni ted Nati ons Of f i ce on Drugs & Cri me
Citing an example, she said: ?There was another case where a minor was abused and came for a check up in one of our clinics in interior Sindh. After the assessment, the physician communicated to the family about reporting the case. Agreeing, the family left with the promise of coming back and filing the report. But they never did. They disappeared as they didn?t want to come forward, fearing slander. A formal report is really important to catch the perpetrator and nothing can be done without the willing testimonies of victims. Also in retrospect, even when we do report, nothing really happens. We can only convey the instance of abuse but that would not mean much. I haven?t seen anything productive happening even after lodging a complaint as a third party. We cannot officially report until the primary party is willing. Another thing I must mention here is that there are laws that are there to help and protect but we are either unaware of them or they are too complicated to comprehend. Laws need to be simplified, made more accessible and proper awareness campaigns should be conducted so that people can easily get legal aid.? Unprecedent times require unprecedent efforts. It is important to realize that the need of the hour is not to have a tunnel visioned approach and that to on merely one aspect of the pandemic but the entire length and breadth of its impact. The right COVID19 response needs to be inclusive and leaving no one behind. Failing to do so will inevitably give rise not just to further marginalization of a large population but massive socio-economic upheaval that will cripple not one but all!
Enabling Empower ment Thr ough Cr af t
A chat w it h Tasnim Sabuwala, Mar ket ing Head Happy Thr eads, on enr iching lives of t alent ed, sk illed and har dwor k ing women in India.
Tell us about Happy Thr eads, when was it launched and the r eason for establishing such an entity? The genesis of Happy Threads is an interesting story actually. The year was 2015, our community leader Dr Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin's on a visit to Burhanpur, had an audience with a woman who presented him with 'Papad' made by herself. Though she was one amongst the scores of people who might have met 'His Holiness Dr. Mufaddal Saifuddin' that day, due to his concern and involvement with the welfare of his community members at both a macro and micro level, he personally inquired about the earnings resulting from her enterprise and was distressed to know that they were quite low and insufficient. This meeting resulted in the planning of initiatives that could help alleviate the
economic status of such community members and especially skilled women artisans who work from home. This lead to the Foundation of Supermoms4u which is the mother company of 'Happy Threads' What is Happy Thr eads' vision, mission and also tell us about some of the or ganization's most memor able milestones? The vision of Happy Threads includes, uplifting and enriching lives of talented, skilled and hardworking women and help them find a source of income from home based occupation.Tangible goals for women to start earning ? 100 to ? 500 through their craft. Increasing number of artisans associated with Happy threads from 500 to 50,000as well asdevelop entrepreneurship amongst the women.
How does Happy Thr eads enable women's economic empower ment in I ndia? We are an NGO that works with over a 1000 women artisans across India. These artisans make crochet handicrafts and we help market them Our primary involvement is via training women to make in-vogue and premium quality products through live workshops as well as audio-video trainings. We strive to ensure a steady purchase from women with upfront payments. In addition toopening different marketing channels, both domestic as well asinternational, for distribution and sales of finished goods Our modus operandi is focused on identifying women artisans who need the increased income and arefamiliar with some handiwork skill like crochet,
needlework , etc. Theidentification is done through our coordinators in different centres, women who are normally associated with some other organisations from the community, volunteers for the overall upliftment of the society. Thesecoordinators ask around informally and with their local knowledge , find women who can do something with their hands and are eager tobetter their living standards. We thenintroduce them to 'Happy Threads' and createinformal groups, where possible. At this stage, these women get some basic training and also learn how they can operate with Happy Threads. They also get arefresher training course if possible. Routinely, there are two ways we work with the artisans.They send us sample images of something they have made and ifapproved by our designers/ management,
they are asked to makemore (with a few changes). The products are then advertised across our customer-base as well as digitally so that orders can be placed.Happy Threads Designers ask these artisans to make specific products andprovide them with pdfs, video tutorials or live training on it Once the order is given to an artisan, we purchase it from themoutright irrespective of whether we have any standing order againstit. The products are couriered back to our main production center in Suratwhere the production head checks it for quality issues. Once approved, weare ready to market through our various channels We currently make products across six different categories including home decor, soft toys, customised stationary, totes & pouches and accessories While textile and handloom industr ies ar e two of the main sour ces of income acr oss South Asia, would you agr ee it is encumber ed with many challenges? And what in your opinion ar e those challenges? I am not an expert in the field of textile and handloom as we deal specifically with crochet handicrafts. On these in my opinion the challenges that we face are like any handloom industry. We face competition from machine/factory made. So naturally, we have a comparatively higher price tag and additionally our output is lower. Also same volumes cannot be produced with the same consistency as any factory outlet A constant problem that we face is sourcing the right colours of threads in the right quantities. Cotton threads is the key raw material we work with, however the same shades that we have made a sample in for a client , are not available when we put something in bulk production. The way to resolve is to purchase threads in advance and store but investments in raw material as well as warehousing can be a constraint sometimes. The constant need to find a regular outlet for our artisans work is challenging as there are only niche target audiences that are willing to pay the premium for these. Accessing international markets is also not as easy. As an NGO, we deal with artisans as well as intermediaries who are not always trained in documentation and supply chain processes
I t would cer tainly not be wr ong in saying that women make a lar ge por tion of human r esour ce par ticular ly in these two industr ies. Do you have a per centage or a r ough idea of that? And looping back to my second question, do the existing challenges in this sector amplify when we talk of gender ? How? While I am unsure of the numbers in these industries, I am certain the numbers are well over 60 percent as all home based industries are likely to have more women workers. Again, I am unsure of the facts but in almost all sectors, women workers are likely to be paid lesser than men and they would always be more susceptible to exploitation. Almost two year s down the r oad, how has the pandemic impacted the industr y especially women?How ar e you coping in these unpr ecedented times of Covid? At the beginning of lockdown in mid March 2020, we had not anticipated the duration or the extent of the repercussions. We realised after a bit that the way we conducted our business normally was no longer an Tasnim Sabuwala option. Ours is a gifting category business and with the reduced number of social gatherings, fewer celebratory occasions, and also a general economic slowdown, the demand for products like ours was going to be affected. We had to realign ourselves and one of the first initiatives we took was of introducing our masks and positioned them as environmental friendly, sustainable as well as pretty products. We also took to e-commerce more aggressively; besides promoting our own social media handles and marketing. We aligned ourselves to more like minded sites, like World Art Community, the
Global Artisans, Limeroad, etc. We began making products which specifically target different festivals and marketed them as direct delivery to the customers. We strive to increase the visibility for our brand and cause through onsite coverage promoting artisan's products and National dailies as well. Moreover, we have been greatly supported by Firefly_illuminate which is founded and promoted by Devna Gandhi. It is a social impact initiative which supports NGO made products. They have collaborated with us and dress designer Ms Anushka Khanna to make a collection of Amigurumi Zebras, called 'the Zany Zebra' which was marketed extensively as a collectible and garnered good sales. We have also used the time to streamline our backend processes, and are ready with our festive (Diwali) collection editions, in addition to producing a lot of high quality brochures for our product ranges. We have tried to achieve this by ensuring that we create brand collaborations with other children brands like clothing and those that do nursery décor or make other wooden toys. In terms of overall health aid, we have tried to ensure that most of our artisans get vaccinated or at community level, facilitate a centre within close proximity of their homes. What in your opinion needs to be done to addr ess the debilitating impact of the pandemic as a whole as well as economically empower ing women and mar ginalized communities involved in cr aft? The pandemic has affected all sections of society adversely and undoubtedly the poorer and weaker sections are worst affected. The improvement or stabilizing their economic situation is key to ensure better health and well-being. And, in the case of our NGO, it would simply mean procuring more and profitable work for our artisans.
Questions by Sabin Muzaffar