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UNIFEM launches initiative to end violence against women

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United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) has launched the global advocacy initiative Say NO - UNiTE to End Violence against Women, which will stimulate, count and showcase actions on ending violence against women. The innovative platform will spotlight global efforts and demonstrate the groundswell of support and actions on the issue.

Based on country data, it is estimated that up to 70 percent of women experience physical or sexual violence from men in their lifetime. Say NO - UNiTE to End Violence against Women is a global call for action to end this pandemic violence. The multi-year initiative will contribute through advocacy and outreach to the high-profile UN Secretary-General-led campaign UNiTE to End Violence against Women. The initial target is to reach 100,000 actions by March 2010 and 1 million actions in one year. Actions to be showcased and counted can range from reaching out to students at schools, to volunteering at local shelters, advocating for legislation or donating funds towards programmes that protect women and girls from violence.

The luxury watch manufacturer OMEGA announced a challenge grant of US$50,000 for the first 50,000 actions, a result of cooperation with UNIFEM Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman. The money will go to organizations working on the ground.

The Say NO - UNiTE initiative, which will count actions by individuals, governments and civil society partners, has already gained the support of more than eighty launch partners from across the world. Coinciding with the launch, the multi-lingual broadcaster Euro News will air throughout the month of November a public service announcement with UNIFEM Goodwill Ambassador Nicole Kidman, which calls on every individual to say no to all forms of violence.

Say NO builds upon the momentum generated in 2008 during its first phase, when more than 5 million people signed on to a global internet campaign to make ending violence against women a top priority worldwide. Heads of State and Ministers from 69 governments and more than 600 parliamentarians have added their names to the Say NO campaign since then.

For further interest and action visit: http://www.saynotoviolence.org/

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Corruption Watch

The bad news is that corruption has not only sustained but has grown in size and stature in the country. With scams being a regular feature, seventy per cent respondents in a survey have rightfully opined that corruption has continued to increase in India. One in every two interviewed admit having paid a bribe for availing public services during last one year. Transparency International's latest survey reveals that the political parties top the chart for the most corrupt public institutions, followed by police force and legislatures. No wonder, India continues to make new records on the global corruption arena!

The shocking revelation is that the health and education sectors haven't remained untouched by this phenomenon. With 5th and 6th positions respectively for these sectors on the public perception chart on corruption, corruption has crept insidiously into these sectors of hope for the masses. With bureaucracy being fourth in the list of corrupt institutions in the country, corruption seems to have been non-formally institutionalized with little hope if public services would ever be effective in the country. With economic growth having literally institutionalized corruption, are we now expecting corrupt to be socially responsible - a different CSR.

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Not giving 'aid' to India is one thing but calling it 'rich' is quite another. If one in three of the world's malnourished children live in India, what does average daily income of $3 indicate? It perhaps means that there is a relative decline in poverty - people are 'less poor' than what they used to be in the past. But having crossed the World Bank arbitrary threshold of $2 a day does not absolve the 'developed' countries of their obligation to part with 0.7 per cent of their Gross National Income in development aid. Should this three-decade old figure not be revised?  

An interesting debate in UK's House of Commons delved on future of development assistance by the British Government. While prioritizing limited resources has been a concern, there has been no denying the fact that development aid must be guided towards tangible gains over a short period of time to start with. There are difficult choices for elected governments to make - should they invest in long-term primary education or in short-term university scholarships? Which of these will bring gains and trigger long-term transformation in the society. As politicians continue to be divided on the matter, poverty persists!!   

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