Tag Archives: Human Rights

It has to start with each and every one of us!

During the summer, everyone saw/heard about the ice/water bucket challenge. The purpose of this challenge was to raise awareness for different health issues (depending on the country). Although it is good that we are raising awareness for these issues, doing it with water really bothered me.

As I said before in my previous posts, water is a scarce resource that should be saved, not wasted.

I came across with the picture on top (Arab News), and, as usual, it got me thinking. As shown in the image, several people have to walk a lot only to get water. According to Charity Water, in Africa they spend around 40 billion hours walking, just to get water. Usually is either women or children that go get the water, which can be contaminated or unhealthy to drink. For women, these long walks are not safe, they can be sexually harassed and they lose time when they could be working. For children, this means loosing time that could be used to go to school or to study. Not to mention all the diseases that come from unclean water and the dangers of the trip itself.

Now, let’s take a moment to imagine your life with no water or limited access to it. Imagine that you want to go to the toilet, and you don’t have water to flush. Imagine that you want to take a bath and there is no water to do it. Imagine that you are really thirsty, and you have to walk 3 km to get the water that you and your family will drink (which can be contaminated). It is very hard to imagine, isn’t it? Now imagine what the 780 million people that lack access to drinkable water and the 2.5 billion people that don’t have adequate sanitation have to trough every day. Unfortunately for them, it is also hard to imagine how it is to have access to clean, drinkable water and good sanitation. This is a major problem that gets limited attention.

So what I am going to propose here is instead of using water to raise awareness for different causes, let’s raise awareness for water. It has to start with each and every one of us.

Please let your thoughts below!

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The way life isn’t supposed to be in Israel and Palestine

Israel-Palestine-HandshakeIt took me about 30 minutes to decide how to start this post. I was not having a creative blocking or anything alike, because I knew what I wanted to write. It was just because this subject makes my heart hurt.

From all the international issues, the Israeli-Arab conflict was always the one that got my attention since I was around 15/16 years old. I am used to write about it in different perspectives (for example my master’s degree thesis was called the Israeli-Arab conflict and water issues: from scarcity to conflict) and I try to keep myself updated about the conflict as much as I can.

As most of you know a series of attacks from Israel to Palestine (and vice-versa) are being carried on. It all started with the kidnapping of 3 Israeli Teenagers (and when I say start, I mean that this event was the big red button that you are not supposed to push, as the hurting of people was on-going before that) by who knows who. Then a Palestinian teenager was killed in retaliation by again, mystery murderers. From there, it escalated very quickly (doesn’t it always?).

According to The Guardian, Israel has launched 1300 air strikes at Palestine, while the Palestinians fired 800 rockets at Israel. 166 Palestinians were killed and Israel didn’t report any fatalities. I suggest you look around and gather information from both sides to have an impartial idea.

As for me, I still think that there is a solution: a 2 state solution, where neighbours respect borders. But will it be possible? The hatred between Palestine and Israel is so much that I think that this will never end (I hope, I really do, that I am wrong). They grow up being taught that the other party is the enemy. I have friends in both sides… although they think they can live in peace, the distrust is there. How can we change this? There are some many violations of human rights (by both parts!) that I start thinking if this will ever end. In the end, they are all people, fighting for something that in 2014 shouldn’t be a problem anymore.

My main concern at this moment is how much more this will escalate. Will it end up in war again? Are we looking at a 3rd intifada or is this just business as usual? Since 2008 that there have been two situations like this one. They were mediated and they didn’t develop into something else, so hopefully this situation will be the same.

Never mind the politics or who is right or wrong. People are being killed. Where is diplomacy when we need it? What can UN do? What can we do?

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Filed under Middle-East

Do you wish it wasn’t a girl?

multicultural_kiddos1Being a girl in the world. This is a controversial topic, so I just want to let you know that I am not here to attack any country’s politics, culture or others.
I’ve always been a strong advocate on women rights. No, I don’t hate men or anything like that, that is absurd. I just want the same rights for both sexes (and yes for good and for bad as well!). We are different psychologically and physically, but we all deserve to be treated equal. However, there are still situations happening to women that need to be addressed and stopped, and they aren’t, unfortunately.

I watched a documentary called “It’s a girl“. For those of you who don’t know it, this a documentary about what it means to be a girl in men-oriented cultures like India and China (in some parts of these countries). So what is it like? According to the documentary, you are treated like property. If a boy is born to a family that is a motive for celebration; if a girl is born to a family, it is considered bad luck. Some of the girls are killed even before birth, some after birth (by their own mothers…) and even if they survive this, they are not well fed or treated. If they reach teenager years/adulthood, they are promised to other families (arranged marriage or not), and the girl’s family will have to pay a dowry to the husband’s family. Many families can’t pay this dowry, so sometimes the brides are killed in “revenge”. So, in summary: a daughter means spending money and losing a family member to other family; a son means gaining money and gaining a new member in the family (daughter in law).

Besides this treatment, there is also the threat of rape (by one or more men), which really gets to my nerves. Being a Portuguese girl living in Belgium, I never felt really threatened by this possibility. Sure, sometimes I get those very annoying comments and some whistling, which scares me sometimes, but I was never in real danger (at least I think so…). I do feel vulnerable, though. These girls are in real danger, because they are “property”. And don’t even get me started on girl mutilation or child marriage, with little girls being married to men old enough to be their fathers….

I am angry with this. Is being a women less than being a man?

Even in countries where men and women are considered equal, there are wage gaps, employers tend to consider men first than women (you know, the whole pregnancy and motherhood thing…). Also, if you are a women in a management job or similar, sometimes you get less respect than a men (and I’ve felt it first hand). Please be aware that with this I am not saying that men don’t get discriminated or raped or threatened in any way. They do, unfortunately.

My point here is, why does this keep happening in a world that is so “advanced”? Shouldn’t we all be treated equals? Wouldn’t that make a happier/stronger society? Please leave your thoughts.

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“We can not all succeed when half of us are held back” – Malala Yousafzai

I was wandering around international news when I spotted this article about girls and education.

Malala Yousafzai gave an amazing speech at UN about universal education. She asked the UN “to fund new teachers, schools, books and recommit to getting every girl and boy in school by December 2015”. She focused her attention mostly on the gender gap related to the access to education. You can learn more about Malala and help her in her quest for universal education in here.

Despite being one of the Millennium Developmental Goals, universal primary education is far from being a reality, especially when it comes to girls (lack of gender equality – another thing the MDGs address…). At the same time that we have kids throwing a tantrum because they don’t want to go to school, we have kids that walk kilometers just to go to class. A lot of children don’t have access to school at all, especially if they are girls.

According to the UN, 123 million youth (aged 15 to 24) didn’t get primary education. 61% of them are women. This happens because women are not viewed as equals, have to stay at home, have to get married at an early age or simply don’t have means to go to school. We all know that the increase on the education level leads to a more developed country. It doesn’t seem to convince the people that are holding girls back. When it is not a matter of people, it is a matter of money. There is still a lot of financial aid to be raised so we can tackle all the obstacles that are stopping girls from going to school.

So how can we help? You can start by consulting the list of organizations that address the issue of girls’ education here.

So, help. A least by speaking of the issue. And please don’t forget that education is a right that belongs to everyone, regardless of gender.

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