Friday, December 28, 2007

International Relations News

Gloria Ghedini reported the following news from the magazine France Amerique.

Angelique Kidjo, a singer from Benin, Africa, but currently residing in New York City, has established the Batonga Foundation with the objective of financing young African girls. "If a mother is educated, then she will do the utmost to keep her children in school." Intermingling her musical tours with trips to African countries in peril, Angelique has very painfully witnessed children with AIDS and suffering abused women, Just this past September, she spent 2 days in Darfur. She is disappointed in the performance of the African Union. This energetic singer also visited a child care center in Zeynab, financed by a micro-credit union. Those interested to learn mkore of her work or hear her albums can log onto http://www.batongafoundaiton.org/.

Children Look Forward to AAUW Member Visits

This past summer Poughkeepsie AAUW members volunteered at the Catharine Community Center. Members went on field trips to the FDR home and museum with the children. They read stories about the Roosevelts, helped children do research on the computer and write stories about their experiences.

The Executive Director, Shirley Adams, says “The children were so pleased with visits from AAUW members, that they are really looking forward to seeing them again. When volunteers visit and work with the children, they seem to really behave themselves in order to impress their visitors.” Volunteers are key in helping children stay off the streets and succeed in school.

Poughkeepsie AAUW members will be volunteering again at the center helping the Center’s teachers supervise the children as they do their school homework.

The Catharine Street Community Center was started more than three decades ago to ensure that City of Poughkeepsie children and youth would have a healthy, caring, disciplined environment to come to after school and during the summer recess. The agency strives, through several types of activities and programs, to help children grow emotionally, mentally and physically. Without the Center, many of the children have few options and fewer chances of succeeding at school.

Monday, December 24, 2007

What are we teaching our children?

I just read about a commercial I have been fortunate enough not to have seen. Apparently a father has built a treehouse for his children, but they would prefer to stay in their new car (purchased as a holiday gift) with electronic games/leather seats/toys to entertain rather than educate. The implication, besides the message that this car is certainly a "must" on everyone's list, is that the father is somewhat dim-witted for even thinking that his children might want time with him or time outdoors or time to think! We are putting our little girls into makeup and sexy clothes, teaching our little boys (and girls) through electronic games that killing people is an everyday sport. When will these children get to be children, being curious and learning about the world around them? I only wish that there were some way to promote peace and harmony instead of pushing them to be self-centered adults with nary a thought of how they can make the world a better place. If they don't, and we don't, who will?

Monday, December 17, 2007

Holidays and Families - and Peace

My sister is coming! And so is my niece! We always enjoy the chance to visit with these two women - it's just really comfortable to have them here. Since my family is spread all over the country - from Hawaii to Florida to Massachusetts, there aren't many chances for all of us to get together - we make do as we can.
But we are fortunate that we can do this. There are so many women (and men) in the world who do not have the freedom to travel, even to live without fear. We in AAUW have been working for peace, justice and equity for all for over 125 years now. Check to see what your local branch is doing, and come join us in this effort!

Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Imus Returns

Don Imus returns. When he originally made his appallingly racist and sexist remarks, AAUW NYS spoke out strongly against his continued appearance on the air. He assures us he has truly repented, and time will tell. No doubt he repents either for economics or for personal reasons. One never knows.

Has anything changed? Is there perhaps an awareness of a change of expectations in the country. It is hard to believe that such could be when so many shock jocks remain. Can anyone articulate clearly the difference between freedom of speech and unacceptable manner of speech?

Have we at least learned to speak out loudly? Of all the changes mentioned here, that is the only one which we control.

Diane Haney

Monday, December 03, 2007

CTAUN Conference

If you missed the League of Women Voters Briefing at the UN co-sponsored by AAUW-NYS, another opportunity is coming up soon. The Committee for Teaching About the United Nations is presenting its tenth annual conference, "Teaching and Learning in an Interdependent World", on Friday, February 1, 2008, at United Nations Headquarters in New York City.

This conference for interested educators and administrators at all levels and in all disciplines, as well as all concerned citizens, will provide resources for enriching curricula, school activities, and community involvement. Topics addressed include "Climate Change: Rethinking the World We Share"; "Moving Towards International Understanding"; and "Implementation Strategies for the Classroom and Community". Five AAUW members were on the planning committee.

Co-sponsored by the UN Department of Public Information,the conference will include prominent speakers from both the United Nations and other organizations, as well as an information fair showcasing materials and educational resources. The conference is from 9:15 A.M. to 5:30 P.M., with an optional international buffet luncheon in the Delegates Dining Room and an optional tour of the United Nations buildings at 4:30 P.M.

For further information and registration forms, go to www.CTAUN.org. In order to meet UN Security requirements, the deadline for receipt of the registration and check is January 16. Early registration (December 31) has a discount.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Briefing at United Nations

On Wednesday, November 28, 2007, AAUW members joined with the League of Women Voters in a Briefing at the United Nations on "The Effects of War on Women Around the World". After a tour and luncheon in the Delegates Dining Room, we heard several knowledgeable speakers on this issue.

Xandra Kayden of the LWVUS pointed out that in 1900 war casualties were 5% civilians; by 2000 they were 75% civilians.

Sylvia Hordosch of the Social Affairs Office of the United Nations reported that increased violence against women often precedes armed conflict. Sexual violence against women is increasingly part of war. This problem was not always given priority. The first UN delegation to Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban was all male. UN peacekeeping troops are less than 2% women, and peacekeeping police are only 5% female. In peace negotiations, women's issues are often ignored or postponed.

This is slowly changing. UN Resolution #1325 on Women, Peace, and Security of 2000 requires that all peacekeeping groups have gender advisors. Women's security depends on the rule of law, democracy, equity, education, and opportunity.

Donna Bhagwandin, Gender Advisor in the New York Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, stated that sexual violence is used as a deliberate tactic of war and also occurs when there is a complete breakdown of order. The UN Initiative Against Sexual Violence in Conflict, involving 12 UN agencies, is working to stop the spread of sexual violence from one conflict to other conflicts. The UN is raising awareness to make this a priority; coordinating action within countries; and accumulating data to use for early warning, prevention, and protection.

Violence has its roots in discrimination. A change in attitude is needed in the media and in the community. The data indicates that when top civilian and military leaders come out publicly against sexual violence and state that perpetrators will be punished, it sets a standard. A legislative framework complying with human rights, an effective police force, and a modern judicial system are all essential for enforcement.

The High Commissioner for Human Rights also monitors the Convention for Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) by analysis and standards setting. Among the issues it handles are human trafficking and female genital mutilation. Of the 192 member staes of the United Nations, 181 have ratified CEDAW. The United States has not yet done so.