The Guardian profiled the Salt Workers Economic Empowerment Program, a partnership between GFI and SEWA. Read the full article below or at The Guardian.
Farming on the edge: the Indian salt producers coping with 48C heat
By Katharine Earley
On the sunbaked salt flats of Gujarat, India, the vast, shimmering expanse of salt shines starkly in farmers’ eyes as they toil in the intense heat. India is the world’s third largest salt producer. More than 80,000 smallholder producer families harvest the salt in the Surendranagar district, its most prolific salt-producing region, in the dry months from October to May.
The farmers, many of them women and teenage girls, pump dense, briny water up to the desert plains through handbuilt wells and rake it constantly to form salt crystals as the water evaporates in the blistering sun. This year, the temperature in Gujarat reached a record-breaking 48.4C, making working conditions even harsher on this ancient, desiccated seabed.
Scientists predict that climate change is also likely to increase rainfall in the region: “If the rain falls in intense, irregular downpours, with extended dry periods in between, this could introduce a level of unpredictability to the traditional salt farming season, potentially disrupting production,” says Dr Friederike Otto, senior researcher at Oxford University’s Environmental Change Institute.
Unseasonably heavy rains are already denting production, according to Reema Nanavaty, director of the Self Employed Women’s Association (SEWA), a trade union for smallholder female producers in India, with farmers losing up to a quarter, or 200 tonnes, of total production each season. Irregular monsoons can also cause delays to the season, and increased incidences of windy storms muddies the salt pans, compromising product quality and price.
By the time the farmers have paid for diesel to fuel their pumps, and services such as transport and fresh water to supply their makeshift villages on the edge of the salt flats, it can cost them up to $1.55 to produce each tonne of salt.
This means there’s often little left of the money they receive from middlemen per tonne of salt - approximately $1.78. Middlemen sell on the salt for a market price of around $4.15 per tonne, despite little additional processing beyond some refining.
But life for salt farmers is gradually changing. The Salt Workers Economic Empowerment Program (SWEEP), a joint initiative between the non-profit Global Fairness Initiative (GFI) and SEWA, is working to help female salt farmers in Gujarat gain the commercial and technical knowledge to farm salt more sustainably and profitably as the risk of erratic, extreme weather looms.
Founded in 2012, the programme currently supports 2,500 farmers. It provides technical training to improve farming techniques and salt quality, covering aspects such as drilling boreholes, improving salt pan layout and managing pumps more efficiently.
SWEEP also helps farmers collaborate to engage directly with more reliable buyers, such as the Indian government, to secure a better price for their salt. In this way, the women can achieve an average 64% increase in price (to $2.78 per tonne), according to Caleb Shreve, GFI’s executive director.
However, to truly improve the farmers’ livelihoods, Shreve says, it is vital to cut input costs. With this in mind, SWEEP has been helping farmers replace their diesel pumps with solar-powered ones over the past two years to lower the cost of production. Although solar pumps have a high upfront cost of $3,750, the women save an average of 45% on running costs annually compared to diesel pumps by reducing maintenance and fuel costs, according to Shreve.
Some 500 farmers have invested in the new pumps to date, taking a 90% loan from SEWA. The association provides the loans with interest rates of 14% and it is expected most farmers will repay the loan over four years, largely through diesel savings. India’s microfinance interest loan rates, in comparison, can exceed 26%.
With their improved income, Surendranagar’s salt farmers often invest in more salt pans, as well as further equipment and transport to run their farms independently, without needing to rely as much on third parties. Many also invest in education for their children, as well as better housing, food and clothing.
“The beauty of this scheme is that it helps one of India’s poorest traditional communities have a better quality of life in the face of climate change, while simultaneously cutting carbon emissions,” says sustainability expert Martin Wright.
Rosey Hurst, director of ethical trade consultancy Impactt, agrees that SWEEP is highly innovative, but cautions against writing off middlemen.
“Solutions that combine technology and market access are terrific, but our experience shows that middlemen in India can add a degree of flexibility to informal supply chains. Despite their sometimes exploitative nature, they can access new markets and insulate producers from market instability. It’s important not to close off this avenue, particularly given that helping smallholders build their capabilities to access new markets is challenging.”
Washington, DC – This Labor Day, we invite you to consider remarks by a friend of the Global Fairness Initiative (GFI) on the importance of labor unions:
Today is Labor Day—and there’s a good reason it’s a national holiday. By organizing together and fighting collectively, workers have been able to better their lives and the lives of their families. So rather than think about Labor Day as the last gasp of summer or bemoan the loss of union clout, let’s redouble our efforts to recreate an enduring middle class.
Wages for workers have barely budged in three decades, something our members know all too well. Income and wealth inequality rivals levels last seen in the Gilded Age. The American dream has slipped away from those who are working hard to make it.
And rather than confronting these realities, many, particularly on the right, engaged in trickle-down magical thinking. And, when that didn’t work, they turned to union bashing and restricting labor rights that rendered workers powerless to address inequities. The result: stagnating wages and stifled hopes for men and women who worked hard and played by the rules.
But we continue to fight—for higher wages, fair contracts, professional development, safety measures, and resources for our members and their students, their patients and the others they serve.
America’s educators, healthcare professionals and public service workers know this firsthand. After the Great Recession, some on the right seized the political moment to vilify teachers and assault the labor movement that gives them a voice. A study by the University of Utah showed that, in the four states that successfully weakened teachers’ right to bargain together, public school teachers’ wages fell by nearly one-tenth. That’s a statistic we as educators and public employees simply cannot afford.
Conversely, robust unions help everyone, not just members, and a growing body of research demonstrates that. There’s a multiplier effect. Unions lift up communities, strengthen the economy and deepen our democracy.
Last week, the Economic Policy Institute released a study showing that when union membership falls, wages fall for everyone. If unions were as strong today as in 1979, nonunion men with a high school diploma would earn an average of $3,016 more a year. And the Center for American Progress has found that kids who live in communities where unions are strong have a better chance to get ahead.
For those in unions, the advantage is even clearer. Collective bargaining leads to higher wages, economic growth, equality under the law, better public services and a strong public education system—all essential to leveling the playing field for working families. Workers in unions earn, on average, 27 percent more than their nonunion counterparts. The National Women’s Law Center has found unions close the pay gap for women, and the Center for Economic Policy Research has found black workers see outsized gains from union representation. It’s a powerful reminder of the link between organized labor and economic success.
You see the union advantage in our advocacy as well. When the recession devastated the construction sector and put millions of Americans out of work, the American labor movement came together with the goal of raising $10 billion to repair the nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Five years later, our members’ pension funds reallocated $16 billion for infrastructure investments, including rehabilitating New York City’s LaGuardia Airport, turning it into a travel hub befitting a great modern city and creating good American jobs in the process.
In the classroom, unions are critical partners in giving kids the chance to succeed. A 2016 study finds where teachers’ unions are strong, districts have a better track record of building the quality of our teaching force—keeping stronger teachers and dismissing those who are not making the grade. Unions fight for the tools, time and trust that educators need to tailor instruction to the needs of our children, to help them reach for and achieve their dreams.
Here at the AFT, we take that work seriously—for example, curating Share My Lesson, a free digital collection of lesson plans and resources for educators used by nearly a million people. In fact, Share My Lesson has more than 750 lessons about Labor Day!
In hospitals and patient care settings across the country, our members and their unions have been leading the fight against workplace violence.
Despite years of right-wing attacks on unions, which have curbed union strength dramatically, a 2015 survey found a majority of Americans would join a union if they had the choice. They want what a union offers: a voice in their workplace, the opportunity to negotiate wages and benefits, and the ability to retire with dignity and security.
Indeed, despite all the attacks waged against us, the AFT—which celebrated our 100th anniversary at our national convention this summer—has grown over the past several years, with well over 1.6 million K-12 and higher education educators and staff, state and local employees, and nurses and other healthcare professionals as members. And now we are seeing more vulnerable workers, such as adjunct faculty, graduate students, teachers at charter schools and early childhood educators seeking to join our ranks. In the private sector, tens of thousands of low-income workers have joined the Fight for 15 and the union movement because they know a union will help them get long-denied wage increases.
We have taken on the fight for adjuncts and early childhood educators from Pennsylvania to California—many of whom have to work multiple jobs just to make ends meet. These are the people who teach our youngest children, and they’re the ones who educate our college students; they deserve to live above the poverty line while doing this critical work.
Graduate students at Cornell University are celebrating the recent National Labor Relations Board decision that reinstates the right of graduate workers at private universities to organize. They are building momentum and talking to hundreds of fellow grad students about the power of collective bargaining, and are excited about the prospect of winning union recognition and joining more than 25,000 AFT graduate employees at public institutions who already enjoy the benefits of a contract.
The AFT has been going strong for 100 years, and we want to ensure at least 100 more years of fighting for our members and the communities they serve. Show your support for a strong labor movement by sending a letter to your elected officials today.
The aftermath of the Great Depression and World War II led our country to understand we were all in it together. We established the GI Bill and other educational access and equity programs; management and labor respected each other, with unions being the voice of labor; and the middle class thrived.
Now, as income inequality is again at its height, let’s remember on this Labor Day what a strong labor movement has done—and can do again—to help workers, our communities, the economy and our democracy grow and thrive. This Labor Day, let’s make sure our elected officials remember as well.
Have a safe and happy Labor Day.
In unity, Randi Weingarten AFT President
Distinguished union President, former member of the European Parliament, and social entrepreneur join international team of leaders on the GFI Board.
Washington, DC – The Global Fairness Initiative (GFI) has announced that James Boland, Dr. Mário David and Shahnaz Kapadia-Rahat will join the GFI Board of Directors. The three new members bring union expertise,legislative experience in the European Union, and social activism to GFI’s diverse Board of Directors representing government, civil society, labor, and private industry from throughout the globe.
"It is our pleasure and great fortune to welcome three exceptional leaders to our Board of Directors,” said Dr. Danilo Türk, former President of Slovenia and GFI Board Chair. “These three new colleagues represent an important cross section of our shared social and economic development - from Dr. David’s government and multilateral experience, to Mr. Boland’s labor leadership, and finally the powerful the grassroots voice of Ms. Kapadia-Rahat. We are delighted and enriched to have them join this distinguished Board.”
Mr. Boland has spent his career working to promote and secure workers’ rights as President of the Union of Bricklayers and Allied Craftworkers. Dr. David, a former Member of the European Parliament, has championed social and economic access for working people in the continent and his come of Portugal where he served the Portuguese Social Democratic Party. Ms. Kapadia-Rahat, a social entrepreneur and innovator, founded Empowerment Through Creative Integration in Pakistan and served as the former Senior Group Head of the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund. She has worked for more than 28 years leading projects and people to promote effective and sustainable socio-economic development.
“GFI strives to break the barriers of access and opportunity of the working poor, and we are simply thrilled to welcome three leaders who have committed their lives to these principals.” said Global Fairness Initiative founder Karen Tramontano. “This Board is a diverse, thoughtful and powerful voice for the rights and opportunity of working people, and Jim, Mario and Shahnaz will serve to strengthen that voice and broaden its resonance, and we are thrilled to have them as part of the Global Fairness Initiative.”
The Global Fairness Initiative is an international NGO that works to create a more equitable, sustainable approach to economic development, and to make our global economy work for those who need it most − the world’s working poor. For over a decade GFI has steadily built a track record of success through innovative programs to reduce poverty, enfranchise informal communities, and advance human rights and livelihoods in all parts of the world.
Read the full press release and biographies here.
Dr. Danilo Türk, former President of Slovenia and current Chair of the GFI Board of Directors, was recently profiled by Washington Monthly as their May 2016 Monthly Interview. The interview is included in full below and can also be viewed at Washington Monthly.
May 10, 2016
The Monthly Interview: Danilo Turk
A conversation with the former president of the Republic of Slovenia and candidate for U.N. Secretary-General
By Washington Monthly
For all of its 70 years, the United Nations has chosen its leader, the Secretary-General, in proverbial smoke-filled backrooms. The 15-member Security Council considers and votes on a candidate in secret, with the five permanent members—Russia, France, China, Great Britain, and the United States—having veto power. It then presents the candidate to the General Assembly for a vote of ratification. But member states have grown restive under this closed and autocratic system. So in choosing the successor to current Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, whose term is over at the end of this year, the Security Council has agreed, under pressure, to open up the process, at least a bit.
Unlike in recent years, candidates who have been presented by member states will actually campaign publicly for the job. They will address the General Assembly and participate in forums co-sponsored by the Guardian newspaper, the think tank New America, and other organizations. For the first time, candidates will take questions from the press and have their curricula vitae posted online.
Nine applicants—four of them women—are currently under consideration, but more may apply between now and July, when the Security Council begins to consider its options. Yes, the Security Council will still have the final say. But at least in theory, the public vetting of the candidates will inform its choice.
One of those candidates is Dr. Danilo Türk, former President of the Republic of Slovenia. Türk was the first Slovenian Permanent Representative to the United Nations and has served in that institution in various capacities for three decades. He is currently the board chair of the Washington D.C.-based Global Fairness Initiative, a not-for-profit NGO whose mission is to create sustainable and equitable development for the world’s working poor. Türk recently spoke to Washington Monthly editor Matt Connolly and publisher Diane Straus. Here is an edited version of their conversation.
WM: Welcome to Washington, Mr. President. Please tell us a little about your campaign for UN Secretary-General and why you are running?
DT: I chose to run for three reasons: one is my experience, the second is my commitment to the UN, and the third is my vision for the organization’s future. I have been working with or in the United Nations for over thirty years. My first international conferences were about equality of women, in Mexico City in 1975. I pushed to develop indicators to measure the progress we made in the implementation of the right to an adequate standard of health, the right to work—which didn’t exist then.
When Slovenia became independent, I became Slovenian ambassador to the United Nations. There, on the Security Council, I worked with Madeleine Albright on various crises like Libya, like Iraq, Kosovo. I chaired the sanctions committee on Libya, after the Lockerbie bombing.
In 2000, I was invited by [former Secretary-General] Kofi Annan to serve as his assistant for political affairs, which I did for five years. After that stint, I went back to Slovenia, and was elected president. When that ended, I decided to do interesting things like running for the UN Secretary-General’s office.
I think that the UN is a very meaningful organization. But there will of course be a big debate on how to proceed further.
WM: How would you like it to proceed further?
DT: The UN is an organization of governments, and that obviously cannot change. It does, however, need to develop new mechanisms of cooperation because the world has become more complicated. Many projects require very close cooperation, for example peacekeeping in Africa has to be done with the African Union—whose soldiers come from many countries. And the UN has to develop better communication with civil society, the business community and academia.
One of my priorities is sustainable development. I would focus on how the UN can develop a more assertive advisory function, in this regard, while partnering with the International Monetary Fund, with the World Bank, [and] with the World Trade Organization.
One thing the UN clearly needs, that it currently doesn’t have, is a crisis management capacity for dealing with huge epidemics like Ebola. The World Health Organization functions mainly as a technical advisory organization. And we need either a separate organization, or a technical, emergency arm of WHO which would be prepared to mobilize quickly [and be] capable of [everything from] logistics to medical assistance to development of new drugs. The Ebola crisis vividly demonstrated this.
But we can have the opposite problem: in earlier epidemics, like the SARS outbreak for example, too much was done too quickly. It’s also not good, because that epidemic didn’t develop to the extent that was feared. And the WHO was criticized for having contributed to the panic. It is a balancing act. I would like to see something like an emergency operational arm, which is perhaps part of WHO but has its operational independence, or perhaps it’s a separate organization. A model for this would be the World Food Programme (WFP) which is an emergency organization, and a very effective one. They come into situations like severe droughts or wars and provide the necessary help. They often partner with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)’s missions.
WM: What brings you to Washington?
DT: I am in Washington D.C. to participate in a conference organized by the U.S. Water Partnership, which studies strategies for dealing with water issues—particularly global shortages which have can endanger civic peace.
We have a global water crisis —water availability, water accessibility, water quality. They are all becoming big problems. Some of the most dramatic effects of this are already being felt. Take the crisis in Syria: it started several years ago with a drought and a huge migration of people from rural areas to the coastline, which added to social tensions, resulted in turmoil, which of course the government tried to stop by force. It was unquestionably a factor in the civil war.
Wars don’t always start for political reasons. Some happen as a result of, economic, social pressures, and this is an example of that. Others, like the war in Darfur, are explicitly about water. During that conflict, wells were deliberately poisoned—water became a weapon of war. It is very disturbing, and we must have an international response. This is why a group of states have put together a panel on water and peace. We are examining strategies we can recommend to the United Nations, to governments, and to policymakers generally.
We cannot pretend that we have a comprehensive strategy for every such situation. We have several priorities, the principal one being the strengthening of trans-border cooperation on water issues. There are 40 or so such arrangements in the world currently, and they are quite successful. Cooperation over the Senegal River, for instance, began over three decades ago amidst political tensions between four neighboring countries in West Africa-Senegal, Gambia, Mauritania and Guinea, all of which border the Senegal River. But Senegalese President Senghor recognized that it would make sense to put together a cooperative agreement, in which all these nations would share the river for electricity and irrigation. This agreement has gradually become an important stabilizing factor both politically and socially.
Today, 148 countries are involved in trans-boundary water courses, but there are 260 or so water basins which lie across borders and where no agreements exist.
For example, now, when war ends in Syria, which it hopefully will at some point, there will be an important question of how to manage the waters of the Euphrates and the Tigris, the two rivers which cross Turkey, Syria and Iraq. In the absence of an existing agreement—and the political chaos - ISIS has stepped in and actually taken advantage of that and has expanded through those river areas, taken control of dams, here again using water as a weapon of war. But you cannot impose a single template on every situation. Each nation has unique needs.
WM: What’s the best way to balance…making recommendations and trying to help with fostering local empowerment so it doesn’t seem like you’re a foreign actor coming in and telling a country or people what to do with their water?
DT: First of all, I think is sharing our own experiences. In January of this year, I went to Dakar, Senegal, where I had been invited to chair a panel on water agreements. I was very aware that we couldn’t come in as a superior authority; we were facilitators who improve communications between the parties seeking to make an agreement. As such, I was very aware of the key role local water experts play in this sort of discussion. Not least because they are key to any discussions in other parts of Africa, indeed the world. And it is important to communicate our shared experiences.
I was invited to speak primarily because of Slovenia’s role as a signatory of the Sava River Basin Agreement. The Sava River, which borders all the nations of the former Yugoslavia, is a tributary of the Danube—which itself has a 160-year-old tradition of water cooperation! After the end of the Bosnian War—in which Slovenia was not a combatant—all the former enemies came together on river management before they could agree on much else. It shows the potential for peace and regional stabilization through the creation of a single river management system.
We had an amusing experience during the negotiations: in the former Yugoslavia, there was one language spoken —Serbo-Croatian—the same in all countries but with regional differences, naturally. With the collapse of Yugoslavia the question became which name to use for the language we would speak. So we decided to call it the “Sava language.” The name of the river became the name of the language.
Political sensitivities after wars are incredible. We are very aware that it is enormously important for local people on the ground to feel ownership of these agreements. I mean each region has its own specific needs, and these can be met only through involvement of people in that region. But then again it is good to have a global perspective which helps us see what works and what doesn’t.
WM: Let’s talk about the Global Fairness Initiative. Are there any projects going on there that we should know about?
DT: The Global Fairness Initiative is about innovative, market-based solutions to ensure fairness and transparency in development. Market economies are the economies of our time but they are not, in and of themselves, always fair. If economic development is not fair, irrespective of how much wealth it produces, it creates instability, so fairness should be an ingredient in every development policy.
One of our projects in the making is a conference in June on youth unemployment and policies to address this problem, which is huge in every part of the world, including advanced countries. We hope to gradually work out an agenda, and possibly also document solutions that might come out of this conference.
In the European Union, the industrialization and moving of jobs to China has produced problems. We have very high rates of youth unemployment in most of Europe, but countries which have better balance, better policies, don’t have that issue.
Germany is a perfect example. They have always insisted on keeping their manufacturing production in Germany, keeping their system of apprenticeship and local production as key to economic development. They haven’t changed that despite market opportunities in China. They have found ways of moving part of their production to China together with some of the retired senior managers. There are automobile factories in China which employ many senior managers and retired engineers from Germany.
Other success stories are Switzerland, and most of Scandinavia. But the policy mix has not been the right one everywhere. Eight years ago the European Union as a whole adopted the Lisbon Strategy, which relied on the idea that all our economies would be knowledge-based. And it sounded very good you know. Heavy industry would be moved elsewhere. And now we realize that didn’t help everybody. For countries like Spain, Portugal, it’s very difficult to figure out what would reduce youth unemployment, which is very high.
In Slovenia, we are learning the importance of small and medium-sized enterprises because they have proven to be very resilient. Of course Slovenia is small, it has 2 million people, so in our case this is a part of the solution. And also we are very much expert-oriented, we are closely linked to the German manufacturers. Now we produce our own automobile parts, which now go all over the world.
We haven’t deindustrialized our economy to the extent which would create a big drama, but we have our problems. We have a mismatch between the educational system and labor market, we produce students who cannot easily get jobs. There’s a lot of precarious part time work, without benefits. It is a huge burden for young people.
Full employment and issues of labor have been neglected in the Millennium Development Goals, which the UN first passed in September 2000. International focus is on reduction of poverty and basic needs, including maternal health, safe drinking water, and things like this. And this is absolutely a priority. But if one thinks about the development vision for the next long-term period, say up until 2030, you have to include labor. It won’t work otherwise. So what we’re doing may be small-scale, but it is really quite central.
Learn more about GFI's TILI Program
GFI Board Chair and former President of the Republic of Slovenia, Dr. Danilo Türk, argues in a new Huffington Post article that "There is no alternative to trans-boundary water cooperation anywhere in the world." Read the full article below or at Huffington Post.
The Only Alternative to Water Is Water: Blue Peace for the 21st Century
By Dr. Danilo Türk
Until a year ago, serious tensions were mounting in northeastern Africa. Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia were confronted over the Grand Ethiopian Renaissance Dam on the border of Ethiopia and Sudan. Ethiopia had started building the dam, claiming its rights to use waters of the Nile River within its territory. Egypt, “the gift of the Nile” objected, fearing that the dam would obstruct the flow of the river to its fields.
Suddenly, a miracle happened. Seizing the occasion of the World Water Day on 22 March 2015, the presidents of the three countries met in Khartoum and decided to coordinate the construction of the dam in a way that would cause no harm and would allow an equitable outcome. Implementing their agreement is not easy. But the hostile rhetoric has toned down and a spirit of cooperation is gradually surfacing in the region.
There is no alternative to trans-boundary water cooperation anywhere in the world. There are 263 shared river basins flowing through 148 countries. Unless the countries through which the rivers run collaborate for the sustainable management of water courses, wars and environmental disasters can occur. On the other hand, cooperation in water can lead to comprehensive peace.
The Water Cooperation Quotient constructed on the basis of the analysis of 219 shared river basins in 148 countries by Strategic Foresight Group, an international think tank, reaches a dramatic conclusion. Any two countries engaged in active water cooperation are not likely to go to war over water or any other reason.
It is often asked whether water would be the oil of the 21st century. It certainly is not. Oil has alternatives such as natural gas and renewable energy. The only alternative to water is water. Therefore, last September the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Water Goal as one of the Sustainable Development Goals. It has an ambitious objective of ensuring water security of the world’s population by 2030. Cooperation among countries is an important component of the UN Water Goal.
The Water Cooperation Quotient provides a scientific formula to measure trans-boundary cooperation using indicators of joint investments, collaborative management of environment, cooperative management of floods and drought, integration of water in regional economic programmes, and interaction between the heads of states to enable large exchanges.
When countries reach the optimum level of water cooperation, they are in the state of Blue Peace. At this stage, water transforms from a source of potential crisis into an instrument of peace. The Senegal River Basin Organisation established by Guinea, Mali, Mauritania and Senegal in West Africa is an example of Blue Peace. The four countries jointly own all water related infrastructure including dams and hydro-electric stations. The organisation also facilitates political dialogue to end ethnic or border conflicts.
The Middle East is conspicuous for its absence of joint river management bodies. This is one of the reasons why ISIS, the violent extremist group, has been able to spread so quickly. They take over vital dams and use them to incarcerate high value prisoners knowing well that such dams cannot be bombed for the fear of flooding the entire region. They also use their control over dams and pipelines to force people to obey their order. For years, Iraq, Syria and Turkey refused to heed calls for cooperation over the Euphrates and Tigris Rivers. The result is that all the three states have lost and a non-state organisation has as a space to create a base for its violent designs against the civilized world.
In order to usher in an era of Blue Peace in this century, it is necessary for the international community to join hands to achieve concrete results. First, it is essential to encourage all 263 shared river basins to establish collaborative institutions and joint investment plans, slowly climbing up on the Water Cooperation Quotient.
Second, it is necessary to introduce concessional and preferential financial possibilities for the neighboring countries that wish to cooperate in the management of water basins.
Third, water infrastructure must be protected from terrorist actions and violent conflicts.
Finally, the members of the UN Security Council need to come together for the future of the world’s water. It is in their interest to prevent ISIS from controlling dams and reservoirs. It is in their interest to boost economic growth in all shared river basins of the developing world. It is indeed essential to establish Blue Peace in every region and the World Water Day of 2016 is a good occasion to strengthen every effort in this direction.
Danilo Turk is former President of Slovenia and Chairman of the Global High Level Panel on Water and Peace convened by 15 countries from all parts of the world.
This post is part of a series produced by The Huffington Post in conjunction with World Water Day (WWD), which has taken place annually on March 22 since 1993. The awareness day is an opportunity to learn more about and take action on water-related issues. It has a different theme selected by U.N. Water each year; in 2016, WWD focuses on water in relation to jobs.
Distinguished former Latvian minister and diplomat joins international team of leaders on the GFI Board of Directors
Washington, DC – The Global Fairness Initiative (GFI), an International NGO working to create more equitable, sustainable livelihoods for the working poor, has announced that Aivis Ronis will join the GFI Board of Directors. Brining an extensive career in diplomatic service, Mr. Ronis joins a GFI Board comprised of leaders and luminaries representing government, civil society, labor, and private industry from throughout the globe.
"It is a distinct pleasure to welcome a fellow diplomat from my region to the Board of Directors.” said Former President of Slovenia and GFI Board Chair Danilo Türk. “Mr. Ronis brings both great experience and an essential collaborative spirit to this this excellent organization and he will be a great benefit to GFI’s important work.”
Ambassador Ronis is currently an independent business and NATO consultant. Previously he served as Latvia's Minister of Transportation, as Minister of Foreign Affairs of Latvia, as Ambassador to the U.S., and Ambassador to Mexico. He was with the Latvian diplomatic service since its re-establishment in 1991, where he served as Deputy Secretary for Foreign Affairs as well as ambassador to Turkey. Prior to his diplomatic career he was a TV journalist and Latvian youth chess champion. He has also served as Latvia's Ambassador to NATO and has worked in the private sector in Latvia.
“It has been my privilege to know and work with Ambassador Ronis from many years and it is with great enthusiasm that I welcome him to the GFI Board.” said Karen Tramontano, founder of the Global Fairness Initiative. “Aivis joins a Board of distinguished leaders from around the globe representing the multiple sectors central to GFI’s work, and we are lucky to have him.”
The Global Fairness Initiative is an International NGO that works to create a more equitable, sustainable approach to economic development, and to make our global economy work for those who need it most, the world’s working poor. For over a decade GFI has steadily built a track record of success through innovative programs to reduce poverty, enfranchise informal communities, and advance human rights and livelihoods in all parts of the world.
GUATEMALA, NOVEMBER 6 – On November 6th, Sololá’s central park was transformed into a hive of activity as vendors from as far away as Huehuetenango and Baja Verapaz lined the streets with booths offering a wide variety of seeds, plants, organic fertilizers, medicines, traditional foods, cakes, jams, shampoos, and textiles. A live marimba band kept the mood festive as buyers interacted with the women selling products created through GFI’s Sololá Agro-Industry Initiative.
SAII’s expo marked the debut of the “Braided Women of Sololá” logo, a collaborative effort in which GFI, CEIBA, and SAII producers had the opportunity to create and select a logo symbolizing interconnectedness and unity. At the expo, SAII producers labeled all products and stamped brown paper bags with the newly created image. Some women labeled bell pepper starter plants and natural fertilizer in recycled Pepsi bottles. Traditional sweets were packaged in clear plastic bags with a corn husk bow. Overall, the product presentation showed a newfound pride and professionalism, with one group even printing customized business cards.
The expo was a culmination of the market access training implemented by GFI over the past several months. Upon witnessing the women’s confident interpersonal interactions with buyers, Jessica Yarrow commented:
The women practiced some of the sales techniques we discussed in trainings, like offering samples to customers and talking about the benefits of their products. They also educated consumers about how to use their products; for instance, the women selling organic fertilizer educated consumers about how to apply it to plants.
SAII beneficiaries were pleased with sales from the expo, and recognized that the opportunity to present their products to the public was an important initial step towards gaining more clients. One potential buyer inquired about sourcing gallons of natural fertilizers for the farming communities in which he works. Additionally, the women of Sololá sold nearly 40 jars of pickled hot peppers, vegetables, and 25 bottles of shampoo. SAII producers were happy with the sales of the day.
The event garnered positive local attention, even attracting the local TV Station and national Guatevision, along with coverage in two daily newspapers. Most importantly, the fair was an opportunity to build the women producers’ confidence and increase local awareness and engagement. In the end, both buyers and producers seemed satisfied with the course of the day’s events.
by Twila Tschan
INDIA, NOVEMBER- Youth from remote villages in the rural areas surrounding Ahmedabad, Gujarat were among the first successful graduates of the Retail Opportunity Training Initiative, a collaborative effort by Global Fairness Initiative, the Self-Employed Women’s Association of India (SEWA), and the Walmart Foundation to provide essential confidence-building and practical skills training related to India’s rapidly expanding retail sector.
The trainings, which typically combine a period of classroom instruction followed by on-the-job training, focus on personal aspects such as communication skills, professional appearance, and confidence building while also covering essential retail and customer service topics such as product presentation, cross-selling, and marketing. For students with primarily agricultural or domestic backgrounds, the trainings provide a unique opportunity to become familiar with speaking in public, interacting with strangers, and even using computers for the first time. Said one participant of the experience:
"I was very quiet at the beginning of the training. But after three days I started to talk and contribute. For this I would like to extend my gratitude towards the Master Trainer as she put a lot of effort into helping us open up. A lot of role-playing practice during the session really helped me build up my confidence. I have never used a computer in my life, so appearing for the online test was a huge achievement for me."
For many participants, ROTI training marks the first time they have visited a city or entered a mall. One young woman commented:
"My parents are farmers. I used to spend most days doing household chores and helping out my parents in the field. One fateful day, SEWA’s coordinator introduced me to Retail Management Training and encouraged me to join. Typically a girl leaving the village is not entertained in our rural community and I had to face many challenges. However, I never gave up as I had already set a goal for myself and would not stop unless I achieved it. After ROTI training, I have become confident and am ready to face interviews. My decision to work has been acknowledged by my family and they support me wholeheartedly."
Despite the relatively short duration of the training, participants come away with long-term goals, plans, and excitement for the future:
"[ROTI] gave me insight into how I could do things differently in my career and even led me to start thinking of being an entrepreneur. My internship at Central Mall was a completely new and difference experience—the culture, people and environment were all new to me. I learnt so many things. I wish to open a garment shop in the future, thanks to ROTI training for providing me with the required knowledge of retail."
As ROTI heads into its second year, GFI looks forward to expanding program participation by incorporating feedback and lessons learned from these graduates, improving community outreach, and leveraging partner networks. By providing the skills and training needed to obtain jobs in India’s growing retail sector, GFI, SEWA and the Walmart Foundation will continue the work of empowering youth from low-income areas through full employment and sustainable livelihoods.
by Twila Tschan
NEW YORK, NOVEMBER 23- On Monday, November 23rd the CITI Foundation released Accelerating Pathways, a comparative framework of youth perceptions and their economic prospects around the world. The report, which was developed by the Economist Intelligence Unit and commissioned by the Citi Foundation, includes a novel Youth Economic Strategy Index which compares the 35 cities featured in the study across a wide set of indicators, and ranks the cities against these. An interactive database is also included that seeks to identify “which factors contribute most to an enabling economic environment for young people.”
Drawing upon surveys of 5,000 young people ages 18-25 across 35 cities, Accelerating Pathways assesses policies and conditions for youth based on four key categories: Government Support and Institutional Framework for Youth; Employment and Entrepreneurship; Education and Training; and Human and Social Capital. By focusing on these strategic areas, the report concluded “Improving opportunities for youth requires a multi-faceted approach, not a narrow set of policies.”
One surprising finding of the report is that Latin American youth, despite relatively low city rankings, are among the most optimistic for their future prospects, even outranking North America where formal institutions, access to finance, and skills training are more readily available. Latin American youth also expressed the highest level of interest in entrepreneurship, with 89% stating they want to work for themselves, and envision starting their own business.
The most pressing need identified by Accelerating Pathways is the skills mismatch or outright skills shortages linked to youth unemployment, which is on average 3.4 times higher for 15-24 year olds than for society as a whole. Unfortunately, low financial assistance for education and training, especially in Latin America, means vocational schools that serve as a key educational channel to build the skills necessary for starting a business or joining the workforce are out-of-reach for many young people.
The report was commissioned as part of Citi’s Pathways to Progress initiative which is also a driver of the Citi Foundation’s investment in Creando Tu Futuro (Creating Your Future) an innovative skills development program launched by GFI in 2015. The program was created in close partnership with Kuepa, an innovative Latin American education company that has delivered blended learning programs throughout Latin America, combining robust internet-based courses with classroom tutoring. Creando Tu Futuro is aimed at bringing practical “employability” training including technical and life skills knowledge to low income youth in Latin America. Through an innovative structure combining online learning with monthly in-person instruction including math, literacy, computer skills, personal finance, and other key tools, the central goal of the program is to empower youth with the necessary skills to pursue formal, secure employment while ultimately providing a foundation from which they can launch their personal future success. The program is currently being offered in Bogotá and Buenos Aires, two of the cities highlighted in the Accelerating Pathways report.
Learn more about Creando Tu Futuro.
by Twila Tschan
For Immediate Release: October 9, 2015
Contact: Caleb Shreve
Global Fairness Initiative
Washington, DC – The Board, staff and international partners of the Global Fairness Initiative (GFI) extend our deepest congratulations to, and solidarity with Houcine Abassi, Secretary General of the Union Générale Tunisienne du Travail (UGTT), and the other members of the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet, for their remarkable leadership and rightful receipt of the 2015 Nobel Peace Prize.
“I commend the Nobel Committee for their thoughtful selection of the Tunisian National Dialogue Quartet to receive this year’s Nobel Peace Prize,” said Danilo Türk, Chairman of the GFI Board of Directors. “I have had the opportunity to know Mr. Abassi through our work in Tunisia, and I greatly admire his leadership in helping transition his country to a more equitable, democratic nation and for his steadfast support of the working men and women of Tunisia.”
In April Mr. Abassi was selected by GFI to be the 2015 Recipient of the Global Fairness Initiative’s Fairness Award, an honor given annually to international leaders whose lives and leadership have helped create a more equitable, sustainable world for the working poor. Mr. Abassi will be presented with the Fairness Award at a ceremony in Washington, DC on November 2nd along with fellow award recipients Myrtle Witbooi, General Secretary of the South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers Union, and Paul Brest, former President of the Hewlett Foundation and Professor Emeritus at Stanford Law School.
“The Fairness Award has been our opportunity to recognize leaders who have created more equitable opportunity for the unrepresented poor and who have shown us what is possible when you put the greater aspirations of people first,” said Karen Tramontano, Founder of the Global Fairness Initiative. “We look forward to celebrating Mr. Abassi and all of our amazing honorees on November 2nd, it is always a night to remember.”
The Global Fairness Initiative is a not- for-profit international organization that promotes a more equitable, sustainable approach to economic development, ensuring that benefits and prosperity are extended to all people, including the working poor. GFI has been working in Tunisia since 2013 to advance the rights and economic opportunities for the nation's majority informal sector workers through partnership with local organizations such as UGTT and the Tunisian Association for Management and Social Stability (TAMSS). GFI’s Fairness Award was first presented in 2009 by Secretary Hillary Clinton to Ms. Ela Bhatt of SEWA, and has since be received at an annual ceremony by leaders such as Presidents Tarja Halonen and Joyce Banda, grassroots leaders Albina Ruiz and Zeinab Al-Momani, and a notable list of others. The 2015 Fairness Award ceremony will be held on November 2 at the Howard Theatre in Washington, DC. Learn more at www.fairnessaward.org.
TUNIS, SEPTEMBER 17 - On September 17th, members of the Tunisia Inclusive Labor Initiative (TILI) convened a meeting of local leaders from the private sector, unions, civil society and government to discuss plans for implementing Phase 2 of the TILI program, aimed at integration of Tunisia’s informal economy. Drawing on the roadmap recommendations and achievements of Phase 1, the goal of the conference was to engage all stakeholders in the development of Phase 2 program activities with a particular emphasis on strengthening the ability of labor inspection, social experts, and civil society to support informal workers on the path to formalization.
Chema Gargouri, President of TAMSS, opened the event with a warm welcome to the 30 participants. Following Ms. Gargouri’s remarks, several TILI partners including the Director of the Labor Inspectorate and the Director of Taysir, a Tunisian micro-finance organization, presented their pilot programs aimed at supporting informal laborers through training, coaching, local dialogues, and various financial and social incentives. A case study provided insight on the past efforts of TILI and GIZ to organize recyclers in the neighborhoods around Tunis. The presentation highlighted how establishing two workers’ associations and providing the recyclers with information on health and safety, as well as materials had markedly improved their quality of life and labor conditions. Furthermore, GIZ’s past experience of opening a liaison office to support recyclers in the formalization process was presented and a thorough discussion of their lessons learned analyzed. This provided the basis of the discussion around the one-stop-window formalization office that TILI is working on implementing in partnership with the government.
The second part of the conference consisted of a series of discussion-based activities that allowed attendees to actively brainstorm ideas, suggestions, and responsibilities related to four main subjects. Topics included:
1. The creation of a “one-stop-window” formalization office under a municipality or government ministry to provide individualized guidance and resources for workers who wish to formalize their activities and access government services and benefits.
2. Revision of current Social Security and Medical Coverage regimes.
3. Working with local CSOs to certify them as master formalization trainers.
4. Specific financial incentives for workers to formalize.
Overall, the event was a great opportunity to emphasize the benefits of formalization and cooperation across multiple parties. Our partners are enthusiastic, highly willing to learn, and eager to share with one another. As GFI continues to solidify government and civil society coalitions, we look forward to seeing continued progress in forming a more inclusive legal and economic framework for a stable and thriving Tunisia.
by Twila Tschan
NEW YORK, SEPTEMBER 27 - On September 27, 2015 GFI and Humanity United presented the joint panel discussion “From Response to Responsibility: Protecting Human Rights and Preserving Cultural Integrity in the Rebuilding of Nepal” at the Rubin Museum of Art in NYC. The goal of the event was to facilitate an active discussion on how to integrate a lens of decent work while advancing social and cultural protections during post-disaster recovery. Given its ongoing rebuilding efforts, Nepal was seen as a good example of the challenges and opportunities that come to light in post-disaster reconstruction.
The opening discussion highlighted the work being done through Better Brick Nepal (BBN), a collaborative effort of the Global Fairness Initiative, Humanity United and GoodWeave to eradicate child and forced labor within the brick kiln industry. Humanity United CEO Randy Newcomb provided an overview of the philosophy and motivation behind the BBN project, and described how the April earthquake had forced GFI and HU to take a closer look at existing strategies and adapt to the changes in demand for labor and supplies. He noted the challenge in advocating for fair, sustainable, ethical building materials in a market where demand is high, labor supply is low, and time is of the essence.
Dr. Danilo Türk, Former President of the Republic of Slovenia and GFI Board Chair, then introduced the members of our expert panel who represented a range of perspectives from NGOs, academia, and government. The panel included:
Dr. Neil Boothby, Allen Rosenfield Professor and Director of the Program on Forced Migration and Health at Columbia University
Catherine Chen, Director of Investments for Humanity United and head of the Partnership for Freedom
Steven Feldstein, Deputy Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, U.S. Department of State
Ashok Gurung, Nepal native and Director of the India China Institute at The New School
While the bulk of the discussion focused on the challenge of maintaining international attention and involvement during the long, slow, ill-defined process of recovery, our panelists each had cause for optimism. In describing his 20 trips to Nepal since the April Earthquake, Ashok Gurung noted, “For the first time you see strong collaboration across political parties, class, and ethnic lines. Everyone has to work together. Youth Groups, who have traditionally been written-off as unimportant, are performing a key organizing role and are now being treated with high regard in society.”
Steven Feldstein talked about the resiliency he witnessed having served with the State Department in Nepal at the time of the disaster. He posed the questions: “How can Nepal embed resilience into its rebuilding?” “What does sustainable recovery, beyond just infrastructure, look like?” “How do we bring about inclusive recovery?” Mr. Feldstein reminded audience members that on a psychological level, the earthquake and its aftershocks are going to continue to affect people for a long time, therefore it is imperative that recovery efforts be sustained and include social protections for individuals, families, and communities struggling in the aftermath.
Catherine Chen also drew on the theme of “resilience,” asking more broadly, “What does resilience mean for Human Rights?” She went on to say, “The earthquake didn’t come out of nowhere. What I mean by that, is it enhanced a lot of the social and economic issues already there.” Having done fieldwork in Nepal, Ms. Chen described the shortage of labor and the pervasive predatory lending practices that have arisen to make up for the shortfall. “Most adult males are leaving the region to work in Gulf Oil fields,” she said. “That shortage of labor has been counterbalanced by a child and forced labor situation where families with emergencies, say illness or disaster, will take out loans with 36-40% interest, which results in them having to work at these brick kilns for 10-20 years to pay off their debts. More often than not, the amount of money that could save families from this fate is less than $20.”
Dr. Neil Boothby closed the presentations by drawing on his experience with INGOs and local partners. He stated, “In the aftermath of the earthquake I re-engaged with the international organizations I had come to know on the ground in Nepal. Not one had received funding.” He related the story of colleague complaining, “This response and recovery effort is not a partnership, it’s a subcontract.” Dr. Boothby cautioned “You can be generous and ineffective at the same time. Organizations like the UN, Western NGOs, and ICRC receive by far the most money. However, that checkbook accountability is not leading to local action, innovation, and efficacy.”
Having worked with survivors of trauma, Dr. Boothby addressed the psychological needs underlying recovery and relief efforts. “In order to cope with tragedy, survivors need to be able to transfer tragedy into altruism. We have to make sure that local people on the ground are given the opportunity to activate altruism.”
After a short Q&A session, Dr. Türk concluded the event, thanking our panelists and summarizing “We have to define what resilience is possible, in what time. How can local energy transform the country in the long term? How will governments and INGOs define relief and recovery? Most importantly, how will we know when recovery efforts have been successfully completed?” The event proved to be a lively discussion, and our hope is that it fuels many more conversations in the coming months around disaster relief and sustainable planning.
For more details, check out the event’s live Twitter feed @globalfairness using #R2RNepal
The following piece was authored by GFI’s Guatemala Country Director, Jessica Yarrow. Jessica has lived in Guatemala since 1997, supporting a variety of local initiatives to improve labor rights, access to justice, economic development and end human trafficking.
GUATEMALA, SEPTEMBER 18 - Twenty-eight women from communities of Sololá spent three days at Las Gravileas training center in Santa Catarina Bobadilla just outside of Antigua, Guatemala. They were completing a seminar on how to make a variety of pastries. This training included an exercise in calculating the costs of raw materials, pricing the final product, and filling out a questionnaire to get participants thinking about market opportunities in their communities. Las Gravileas has supplemental funding from the Italian Archbishop, who provided each participant with materials including flour, sugar, an aluminum baking pan, and wooden rolling pin. This provision of raw materials and equipment allows the women to practice what they learned, and ensures they have the necessary “startup” ingredients. I asked women about the market to sell pastries in their communities and they expect there will be significant opportunities during special celebrations.
One challenge for getting women involved in the program has been that some husbands do not give their wives “permission” to attend such trainings since it requires leaving their communities for three days. Over time, some husbands have come around as they see what the women have learned. One women made her husband a cake for his birthday, which helped him realize that she was acquiring beneficial skills. He had a change in opinion and now supports his wife whenever she wants to participate in trainings.
Since the training’s location meant that the women were already near Antigua, I arranged a market access site visit to CAOBA Farms, an organic farm with organic store and monthly Farmers’ Market. Most of the women have only seen basic “tienditas” (stores) in their communities that sell limited basic goods and bags of junk food, larger stores in Sololá, and the local market. None of them were familiar with the concept of an organic store. Since organic produce practices are new to the participants, they were very interested to see an entire organic store. The store manager, Luis, spoke with the group about CAOBA Farms and what they look for when sourcing a new product. He spoke of the importance of hygiene, quality control, environmentally friendly packaging, organic practices, and gave a few product ideas. Visiting a potential buyer was a great experience for the group.
I am impressed that CAOBA Farms is interested in supporting community initiatives. This visit was a great lesson in market access, and was an important opportunity for the women to hear directly from a potential buyer regarding what they look for in a new product and the requirements to become a supplier. Luis said CAOBA Farms will gladly accept samples of products and provide feedback to see if it is something they want to offer in their store. Overall, we look forward to strengthening our relationship with COABA as we continue to expand women’s access to these types of skills-based trainings and opportunities.
by Jessica Yarrow
eKantipur, an online publication of the Kathmandu Post, recently documented the report submitted to the government of Nepal by engineers GFI and BCN sent to Nepal last May. The report underscores the importance of oversight for the enforcement of building codes in Nepal. The full text of the article can be viewed below.
KATHMANDU, JULY 25 - A team of structural engineers from the United States with global expertise in disaster assessment has analysed the key reasons for building failures in the recent earthquake and provided recommendations in an official report on how to improve the safety of Nepal’s buildings.
While Nepal’s current building codes and standards should be updated, taking steps to improve enforcement and the quality of construction is more important at this point than improving the Code, the report said. Many recommendations focus on the need for more accountability and oversight to ensure that buildings are not only safe on paper but in practice.
The report focuses on the main types of buildings found in Kathmandu and surrounding areas.
The majority of historic and older construction as well as new homes in rural areas are Unreinforced Masonry (URM) structures, comprised of either brick with mud mortar or adobe construction. These types were the worst performers in the earthquake, although URM structures with cement mortar appeared to outperform URM with mud mortar. The report advises banning mud mortar, with exceptions made only for low-rise buildings in rural areas.
It calls for accountability for the design team and contractors as well as on-site field investigations during construction to ensure that contractors follow the approved documents while erecting or altering buildings.
“The Code can say anything but means nothing if it is not followed or enforced,” the report warned.
“There are of course problems with the old bricks and mud construction, but that’s not used too much today. The real problem is the number of people adding additional floors on houses not intended for additional floor,” said Scott Douglas, a structural engineer.
The team of 16 experts from the US, New Zealand and Australia assessed over 3,000 buildings in the aftermath of the April 25 earthquake, including homes, schools, colleges, hospitals, heritage sites, high-rise apartments and public buildings.
Newer urban buildings tend to be Reinforced Concrete (RC) frame structures, but only a small percentage, such as high-rise apartments and business complexes, are engineered for the site. The vast majority of RC frame structures follow a prescriptive design using “mandatory rules of thumb” laid out in Nepal’s building codes, and are designed by builders without formal training.
“It is not easy to characterise the performance of these buildings because … significant height violations of the [prescriptive rules] were commonplace,” the report noted. “From what was observed, this design was used for buildings, in some cases, exceeding seven storeys in height resulting in overstressed beams, columns and foundations.”
When those buildings did not violate the code, were not compromised by shoddy workmanship, and were not built on soil that experienced liquefaction, a phenomenon common in former lake-beds such as the Kathmandu Valley where soil in a quake can behave like jelly, they were able to withstand the 7.9 earthquake with minimal damage.
One major cause of collapse, however, was the prevalence of soft storeys, meaning the tendency of buildings to include open storefronts or large open spaces on the ground floor. Another common damage was to infill walls, which was non-structural but could still pose a hazard. The report provides photographic documentation of different types of failures.
According to Yogeshwar Parajuli, commissioner at the Kathmandu Valley Development Authority, the report will be available on the KVDA website. “This report will serve as a useful reference to Nepali engineers and will be circulated widely among different departments,” said Minister for Urban Development Narayan Khadka while receiving the report. The structural engineers with expertise in disaster assessment, retrofitting and historic preservation were brought to Nepal by Global Fairness Initiative (GFI) and worked in partnership with the government of Nepal, Nepal Engineering Association, Brick Clean Group Nepal, Minergy, the Building Back Right campaign and volunteers.
“Many buildings were observed that either did not meet the code or were subsequently modified with interior renovations and vertical or horizontal additions, making them non-compliant,” the report said. “This document contains information that can be used by both engineers and non-engineers, along with lots of tips on what to do to strengthen houses,” said Homraj Acharya, Nepal country director of the GFI.
Based in Washington, DC, GFI has been working in Nepal with local partners and funding from Humanity United to promote sustainability and the elimination of child and bonded labour in the brick industry.
Read the full article on the eKantipur website here.
The following piece was authored by GFI's Tunisia Country Director, Asma Ben Hassen Darragi. Asma has been working with GFI in Tunisia for almost 3 years, where she leads the local implementation of the Tunisia Inclusive Labor Initiative (TILI).
TUNIS, JULY 15 - Once again, terrorism strikes our country. The treacherous and brutal attack has left us all in a state of shock. We are all well Saware of the gravity and seriousness of the situation. However, it’s not just the attack that worries us, but also the reality that lies behind it: an evil ploy that seeks to demolish the state, weaken its economy, and impede its democratic process.
We dreamed of a new Tunisia, a free, fair, and democratic Tunisia. But, here we are, with an abused and poor Tunisia that seems to be the victim of its own democracy. The new democratic process is now home to extremists that seek to create chaos in the country. Tunisia is still a young democracy at a perilous, embryonic stage that could easily perish in spite of the will of its people to overcome their differences and achieve the goals of their revolution.
No one can deny that the first months after the revolution have determined a new destiny of Tunisia, and still no government has been able to overcome the political, security, and economic vacuum in the country. The fall of the old regime and its repercussions on security matters are far reaching. Religious fundamentalists and arm dealers have infiltrated our borders and amid economic malaise and political instability, terrorists have taken root in one of the most moderate and inclusive societies in the Arab world.
The nature of the latest attacks confirms the motive to destroy the tourism industry, a key sector in Tunisia that was strongly affected by the revolution. The paralysis of the mining sector and the flight of foreign direct investment has caused the national economy to collapse dramatically, leaving many without work and threatening the national union of the revolution.
Poverty, unemployment, and regional disparities increasingly exclude and marginalize people who are now the first targets of the terrorist recruiting networks that falsely promise a more just life in the hereafter. Unsurprisingly, the winning of the Nidaa Tounis party in the last election was based on its campaign that promised national security and economic recovery. However, far from recovery, the situation has since soured. Tunisia’s democracy will pay the price for the lack of a thoughtful political, economic, and social strategy and a firm security policy that does not diminish Tunisians’ human rights and newly acquired freedoms.
Such a strategy should ensure political stability, the necessary condition for the establishment of an economic and social recovery program that affirms the inclusion of all Tunisians. As social tensions threaten to destabilize the country and continue to disrupt the government's efforts, civil society should foster awareness, disseminate Tunisia’s values, and protect a vulnerable youth targeted by religious fanatics.
Moreover, civil society must extend the implementation of an inclusive social and economic program that supports Tunisians and maintains our national union.
Although our revolution has led to a real democratic progress, the journey to consolidate our gains is still long. It is imperative to fight together against the single enemy that is "terrorism". Our politicians must rise to the challenge of strengthening and preserving our unity.
by Asma Ben Hassen Darragi
KATHMANDU, JULY 01 - The Building Back Right campaign for responsible reconstruction was launched on Wednesday. Nepali film superstar Rajesh Hamal was named as Goodwill Ambassador for the volunteer initiative.
“Buildings have to be technically sound, environmentally sound, ethically sound and reflect our own culture,” said Hama during the launching programme on Wednesday. He added, “We can’t just be so concerned with putting up a building that we’re blind when we see kids working at construction sites. We have to be careful what labor force we use and be concerned with rights and justice. This is an opportunity to reconstruct in an environmentally sound way, too, which in itself is an education.”
Building Back Right is a volunteer-led campaign to encourage the public, international donors and Nepal’s government to rebuild after the April 25 earthquake in accordance with principles that support heritage, ethics and the environment as well as the highest possible safety standards.
“It’s really about ‘right action’ and ‘right livelihood,’ as the Buddha articulated thousands of years ago. People often try to ignore those responsibilities by saying it’s not the right time to worry about those things. But if now isn’t the right time to be ethical, sustainable and support our heritage, the right time will never come,” said campaign co-founder Homraj Acharya.
“We’ve been saying ‘we’ll do it better later’ for the past 50 years in this country. I think we’ve said ‘later’ enough. We need to build back right, and we need to do it now,” Hamal added.
The Chief Guest at the event, Deputy Prime Minister Bamadev Gautam, said “This campaign is very much needed. We should be able to change the kind of dialogue we have nationally on how to rebuild our country.”
The multi-partisan group of Distinguished Guests included Ram Karki, parliamentarian from UCPN (Maoist), and Arjun Narsingh KC, former minister, current parliamentarian and senior leader of Nepali Congress.
“These are very good ideas, but there is one component that should be added, which is making it politically right,” Karki noted.
KC said the issue should be brought to the parliament to include in the policy discussion. “These are very timely and important ideas to bring into the public arena,” he said.
Also among the Distinguished Guests were actress Sushma Karki, Rajendra Khanal, IUCN program director, and General Secretary of the Nepal Engineers’ Association Kishwor Kumar Jha. Out of all municipalities, only 10 are using the code at the moment, and the code itself is due for significant revision, Jha said. Enforcement is another area where government needs to be serious, he said.
As Nepal rebuilds, the environment must be brought to the forefront, Khanal said. “Wherever we migrate, we migrate on the same planet, which is earth. How best can we repair this planet? If we don’t have this planet, there’s no meaning in saying we’re American, Nepali, Finnish or whatever. Our citizenship is of this planet, and when we build, we need to pay attention to those things.”
Read the full article on the eKantipur website here.
Distinguished business leader and former Las Vegas Mayor joins the GFI Board of Directors
Washington, DC – The Global Fairness Initiative (GFI), an International NGO working to create more equitable, sustainable livelihoods for the working poor, has announced that Jan Jones Blackhurst will join the GFI Board of Directors. A respected business leader and former Mayor of the City of Las Vegas, Jones Blackhurst joins a GFI Board comprised of distinguished leaders and luminaries representing government, civil society, labor, and the private sector.
"It is a pleasure to welcome Jan to the Global Fairness Initiative Board of Directors,” said Dr. Danilo Türk, Former President of Slovenia and GFI Board Chair. “She is an exemplary leader who throughout her career has bridged the relationship between business and community interests, and the governments that serve both, and I am so pleased to have her as a colleague on the GFI Board.”
Jan Jones Blackhurst served as the first female Mayor of the City of Las Vegas. During her two-term tenure as Mayor, she lead Las Vegas as the fastest-growing metropolitan area in the United States and pioneered numerous successful public-private sector partnerships, making Las Vegas the best American city for entrepreneurs, according to Inc. Magazine. The various capital projects she oversaw as Mayor include the $70 million Fremont Street Experience, a $90 million Federal Courthouse, and a $170 million regional Justice Center. Jones Blackhurst is currently an Executive Vice President at Caesars Entertainment Corp. Her work at Caesars Entertainment includes the development of industry leading responsible gaming systems and a company wide focus on environmental awareness and promoting diversity.
“We are thrilled Jan will be joining our fantastic Board of Directors,” said Global Fairness Initiative founder Karen Tramontano. “She is a strong and collaborative leader who I have admired from her time in government and the private sector, and we are lucky to have her as part of GFI.”
The Global Fairness Initiative is an International NGO that works to create a more equitable, sustainable approach to economic development, and to make our global economy work for those who need it most, the world’s working poor. For over a decade GFI has steadily built a track record of success through innovative programs to reduce poverty, enfranchise informal communities, and advance human rights and livelihoods in all parts of the world. To learn more about our important work visit www.globalfairness.org.
The Rising Nepal, an online publication, details the urgent need of international demolition contractors in Nepal. High rise buildings damaged by the recent earthquakes pose a dangerous risk to adjacent structures and their inhabitants and the people of Nepal needs the expertise of experienced demolition contractors. The full text of the article can be viewed below.
KATHMANDU, MAY 29 - While the government and general public are perplexed about pulling down the high-rises damaged by the tremors in the Kathmandu Valley, a team of international experts has suggested inviting demolition contractors from other parts of the world.
Speaking at an interaction programme here today, professors and engineers from the United States, Australia and New Zealand underscored the need to demolish the derelict high-rises as they posed threat to occupants in adjoining houses.
The engineers were presenting their opinions and suggestions after visiting Kathmandu, Sindhupalchowk and Bhaktapur and assessing about 800 houses and cultural monuments damaged by the earthquakes. The visit was coordinated by the Global Fairness Initiative Nepal and other organizations.
"Nepal urgently needs the support of demolition contractors. There are professional companies having expertise in such operations. Hence, I suggest Nepal government to invite those contractors," said Jason Ingham, professor of Civil, Environmental and Mine Engineering at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.
Ingham, who has expertise in structural engineering, however, suggested engaging such contractors with the local engineers.
"It is not happening only in Nepal. There is a lot of learning from other countries," said Ingham who has worked in the reconstruction and planning after the Canterbury earthquake in 2011 in New Zealand.
The government is seeking international assistance in demolishing the high-rises since it lacks the tools and equipment required to pull down the houses taller than four storeys.
Sonny Fite, Structural Engineering Manager at Target Corporation, USA suggested that the houses that sustained the jolts also needed to be evaluated since they might have been weakened internally.
"The damage assessment must be done by the structural engineers and they should communicate the finding to the house owner immediately," he said.
The experts also suggested not to demolish any building without detailed engineering.
The April 25 earthquake and powerful aftershocks completely damaged 500,000 buildings while more than 270,000 buildings were partially damaged.
According to the Ministry of Home Affairs, thousands of partially damaged houses in the Kathmandu valley needed to be demolished while the derelict buildings that pose threat to the people and houses nearby must be pulled down immediately.
Up to 30 storey buildings in the Valley
The engineers and experts said that 25 to 30 storey buildings can be constructed in the Kathmandu Valley.
However, they should be properly engineered, well conceived and reinforced, they said.
"The devastating earthquake and aftershocks have damaged the walls of the apartment buildings in the valley, their structure is fine. Therefore we suggest making a reinforced concrete wall at the centre of the building," said Art Schultz, an engineer from the US.
The engineers suggested not erecting buildings taller than two storeys if it doesn't use concrete structure.
"Don't vie for taller structure for non-engineered house, instead make short building and use bamboo and other light materials," opined Michael Griffiths, professor of Civil, Environment and Mining at the University of Adelaide, Australia.
The experts also said that the government's jurisdiction ability must be enhanced and there must be somebody to be held accountable.
Read the full article on the Rising Nepal website here.
eKantipur, an online publication of the Kathmandu Post, recently documented the work of engineers organized by GFI and BCN in Nepal. The article details the scope and likely cause of damage to Nepali homes. The full text of the article can be viewed below.
KATHMANDU, MAY 22 - Only 20 percent of the 1,500 house inspected by the Global Fairness Initiative (GFI), the US-based non-profit organisation, were found uninhabitable due to extent of damage caused by the April 25 Great Quake.
The GFI has estimated that 40 percent house in Kathmandu Valley are safe to live while another 40 percent are in need of repair.
GFI estimation was based on initial report presented by a group of American structural engineers who carried out damage assessment of residence, hospitals and schools recently.
Though it is not a statistical sample, it suggests the level of the challenge.
The organisation plans to come up with detailed report of findings and share the observation of housing in Nepal and make recommendation after going through the statistics.
Engineers said most of the problems in urban areas stem from the growing trend among people to take clearance for one or two-storey house and later adding more flats without fulfilling the legal and technical requirements.
“There are of course problems with the old bricks and mud construction, but that’s not used too much today. The real problem is the number of people adding additional floors on houses not intended for additional floor,” said Scott Douglas, a structural engineer.
An initial study of the government found that most of the high rises destroyed during the earthquake had initially acquired clearance to build two or three-storey structures for residential use.
Homraj Acharya, country director for GFI, said a group of nine Americans and equal number of local engineers had provided free damage assessment service to 200 houses for one week. Acharya said they are deploying the engineers in cluster in various areas.
“They’re looking at as many houses as possible in a neighbourhood, and not just looking at the one who made the call.
A lot of times, people don’t know where to call or are too anxious to call, so we decided to take that approach so that as many people as possible have the benefit of the engineers’ experiences,” said Acharya.
The GFI has also submitted a detailed plan for stabilisation of Hanuman Dhoka Durbar Square at the request of the Nepal government and Unesco.
Read the full article on the eKantipur website here.
American structural engineer (left) and GFI Nepal Country Director Homraj Acharya (right) inspecting buildings in Kathmandu Valley.
KATHMANDU, JUNE 2 - In the wake of the earthquake in Nepal and its subsequent aftershocks, many whose homes remain standing are still electing to take shelter in open space outside. Many homes and buildings have survived the disaster intact, save minor damages and fractures, but most of their inhabitants remain anxious about returning indoors without an evaluation of the structural integrity of their homes. Families are waiting outside in makeshift shelters for local engineers to conduct rapid structural assessments to determine if homes are habitable.
The Nepal Engineers’ Association, among others, whose engineers are providing rapid assessments of damage to homes, has yet to reach thousands of families. In addition, many families do not know what work can or should be done to repair their homes and, therefore, are left waiting for a detailed assessment and repair recommendations from the already overstretched Nepali engineers.
The Brick Clean Group Nepal (BCN) and the Global Fairness Initiative (GFI) have organized two teams of eight engineers with experience conducting rapid and detailed assessments after natural disasters, such as the 2010 Haiti earthquake and the 2011 Christchurch earthquake in New Zealand. In coordination with Nepal’s Ministry of Urban Development and Kathmandu Valley Development Authority, the teams of engineers arrived over the past two weeks and have covered 130 locations across the Kathmandu valley and Kavrepalanchok and Sindhupalchok districts including some of the areas most severely damaged by the earthquake.
To date, the engineers have conducted over 3,000 assessments, helping families, small business owners, students, teachers and medical teams return indoors with the peace of mind that their family, businesses, hospitals, schools and public buildings are safe. After buildings were assessed and found safe for operation, management was briefed on the next steps. The broadest possible scope of Nepali building styles have been assessed, from traditional mud-brick homes to recently engineered structures, to enable the engineers to provide a report to the Government of Nepal on common issues and challenges in current structures and recommendations on safe building construction in the future.
GFI and BCN, in conjunction with engineers from the NEA and MinErgy, have been working to assess upwards of 200 homes day in the Kathmandu Valley along with detailed assessment of large complexes such as hospitals. The work of the engineers has directly impacted an estimate of at least 75,000 people. GFI and BCN are committed to provide the technical engineering resources to assess Nepali homes and businesses affected by the quakes. Once the severity of damage is properly assessed, the next phase of reconstruction can begin to build Nepal back right.
by E. Jose Perales
Photo showing courtyard wall of royal palace of Hanuman Dhoka (above) leaning outward.
KATHMANDU, JUNE 2 - Inside the dangerously shattered walls of one of Kathmandu’s most important landmarks, the former royal palace of Hanuman Dhoka, treasures of the past have been trapped and unreachable since a 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck Nepal on April 25.
The Hanuman Dhoka palace and museum are an integral part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Kathmandu’s central Durbar Square, but the quake caused the most destruction to heritage of any disaster in history, and the loss and damage was so extensive that no one knew how to make the sprawling five-acre complex with its now-buckled and cracked walls safe enough to get out the artifacts.
That’s when Global Fairness Initiative stepped up to the plate. A team of US structural engineers skilled in post-earthquake building assessment had just arrived in Kathmandu at the behest of GFI when we learned that Nepal’s Department of Archaeology and UNESCO needed a plan to stabilize the building and remove the artifacts. The GFI team included a structural engineer with global expertise in both earthquake damage and historic preservation, David Biggs, whose credits range from the World Trade Center to the tomb of King Midas in Gordion, Turkey.
At the request of UNESCO and the Government of Nepal, GFI went to work to create a plan to shore up Hanuman Dhoka before the ongoing series of aftershocks tumbled the walls or the impending monsoon poured through the gaping holes.
“We are very worried about this building,” said Christian Manhart, head of UNESCO in Kathmandu. “It has great importance for the cultural identity of the Nepali people, and it has a very important collection. This wing is now totally disintegrated.”
Most of the engineers with GFI’s response team were working from dawn to dusk to assess Nepal’s homes, colleges, hospitals and public buildings in the wake of the quake, assisting Nepal’s limited number of structural engineers, but a heritage team was also formed to answer the engineering challenges of Hanuman Dhoka.
Among the artifacts at risk if the building crumbled were the coronation throne used by generations of Nepal’s kings, a massive chaise longue-type affair, backed by heavy gilt coils and a canopy shaped as a nine-headed serpent, typically lifted by up to 10 people. Unfortunately it’s located on the third story of the most damaged wing of Hanuman Dhoka, along with a royal arsenal of guns, swords and a cannon and an ancient stone slab with the only inscription ever found that mentions the Kirat Dynasty, which ruled the Kathmandu Valley until around 200 BCE.
“(The inscription) is a very, very rare thing,” said archaeologist Bishnu Raj Karki, former Director-General of Nepal’s Department of Archaeology, who is directing the conservation of a major section of Hanuman Dhoka. “It can never be replaced. We have nothing else like it.”
The proposal developed by GFI became the first plan to stabilize the heritage site. GFI also crafted an alternative proposal to utilize shipping containers instead of bracing to allow artifacts to be retrieved safely. Based on the experience of New Zealand after its earthquake, that option was developed by GFI team member Jason Ingham, professor of engineering at the University of Auckland in New Zealand.
Ingham and Biggs worked on the heritage team with Nepali engineer Sanu Dangol of MinErgy, part of Brick Clean Group Nepal (BCN), GFI’s partner in the Better Brick Nepal (BBN) program to incentivize the production of bricks that are sustainable and free of child and bonded labor.
As of this writing, the Hanuman Dhoka Museum is working to implement the plans to rescue Nepal’s heritage before the rains begin.
“The engineers we brought are some of the best engineers in the world, with very precise kinds of expertise and skills, and they’ve worked day and night to use their skills to save our heritage at this time of overwhelming need,” said GFI-Nepal Country Director Homraj Acharya. “We’re very excited to be able to assist in this important effort and at this World Heritage Site, which is close to the heart of every Nepali and is part of the cultural heritage of the entire world.”
by Sally Acharya
American structural engineer Scott Douglas (left) inspects the house of Lalita Thapa (right) in Ekantakuna, Lalitpur. Photo by: Kathmandu Post photo
The Kathmandu Post has highlighted the work of a team of U.S. engineers organized by the Global Fairness Initiative and the Brick Clean Group Nepal to provide home and building inspections to the areas affected by the recent earthquake and aftershocks in Nepal's Kathmandu Valley. The full text of the article can be viewed below.
KATHMANDU, MAY 18 - Lalita Thapa had been spending nights in a makeshift tent since the Great Quake that reduced thousands of buildings to rubble on April 25.
The four-storey house that her family built selling their ancestral property in Pokhara had withstood the quake when many other buildings in Ekantakuna area were pancaked.
But the house had suffered several minor cracks in the walls, passage and columns. The cracks and scores of aftershocks compelled the anxious Thapa family to move out to an open space for shelter.
As the days passed, the Thapas realised that theirs was not the only house to sustain such fractures. She found that many families who stayed out in the open for some days after the main shock had returned to their houses after consulting with engineers.
Thapa decided to consult professional engineers one week after the quake but she could not find one. She called everywhere and even enlisted her name in the Lalitpur Municipality office for engineers, to no avail.
Thapa’s ordeal ended on Sunday after Scott Douglas, an American structural engineer, thoroughly examined the cracks of her house before deeming it habitable. Upon getting answers to all their queries, the Thapa family was convinced that the house was safe to live in.
An increasing number of families like Thapa are returning to their houses after consultation with an engineer. Many others continue to live outside--in tents, vehicles and even under the open sky--due to the cracks in their houses, coupled with fears of another major quake.
Like most other house owners, Thapa was keen to get answers to question such as whether her house is safe to live, if there is something she could do to make it ductile and if the hairlines and cosmetic cracks in the walls and columns are something to worry about. “We feel relieved now. We will now live at home,” said Thapa.
“Her house has some minor cracks but no structural strength loss. The ground may have been settled up a couple of millimetre for some reasons to cause the cosmetic damage and hairlines. It’s usually serious when the wall sustains big diagonal cracks. When the wall loses its strength, the column has to take all the load and then it collapses in most cases,” said Douglas, who worked in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake. Thapa was suggested to make minor repairs in the damaged parts of the house.
Global Fairness Initiative (GFI), a non- working on post-disaster damage assessment in collaboration with Nepal Engineers’ Association, said most of the 500 buildings examined in Kathmandu Valley over the weekend were found safe to live in. The organisation has employed 16 structural engineers from the United States and several local engineers for the task.
“We thoroughly examine the damage and provide our initial assessment. We have returned hundreds of people to their homes as their houses are safe to live in,” said Homraj Acharya, country director of the GFI. His organisation has also been involved in assessing the damage at Basantapur Durbar Square in collaboration with Unesco and the Nepal government.
The NEA has also been providing the service to people in outside Kathmandu. The association’s recent random survey of around 2,500 building in Kathmandu Valley found that most of the houses are unsafe.
But several thousand people are still languishing in makeshift shelters as they have not found an engineer for consultation about the safety of their houses.
Nabin Shah of Kusunti, who was at the NEA office on Sunday looking for an engineer, told the Post that he could not find one despite visiting the association for many days.
“The NEA has some 100 engineers on the list but no one is available,” said Shah.
Though some 16,000 engineers have registered with the NEA, most have gone for overseas jobs creating a shortage of the most needed human resource at this time of need. There are only 400 structural engineers in Nepal.
Experts say there has been little damage to residential houses that had followed the building code, while others violating the building code had crumbled.
Read the full article on the Kathmandu Post website here.
Washington, DC (May 6, 2015) -- The Global Fairness Initiative and the Boris and Inara Teterev Foundation have continued their partnership to call for aid to Nepal and support for the organizations working on rescue and recovery in the quake-hit nation. As part of Latvia's stewardship of the European Year for Development, the Boris and Inara Teterev Foundation has been asked to highlight its development work throughout the world. The Foundation has taken this opportunity to draw attention to the need for continued support to Nepali organizations throughout the recovery process after last month's devastating earthquake.
Posting to the European Year for Development website, the Boris and Inara Teterev Foundation has released a call to its partners and every citizen of the world to join in expressing solidarity with Nepal and to support the relief organizations that are tackling the immediate needs of the Nepali people.
Boris Teterev, founder of the Boris and Inara Teterev Foundation and Goodwill Ambassador of the European Year of Development, stated "Foundation and GFI have had the honor of working alongside the exceptional people of this beautiful country. Their optimism and tireless work to create a more just and prosperous nation have truly inspired us. Even now, when hundreds of thousands of Nepalis struggle in the aftermath of the terrible earthquake, we have still heard a strong voice of hope and resilience from our friends and partners there. This country that is unconquered in history and unconquerable in spirit needs relief. The support is needed not only now but after the camera lenses turn away."
Bhaktapur, Nepal (May 1, 2015) -- Squatting on the mud by the quake-shattered chimney of the brick kiln where she works and lives, 21-year-old Samjana Pariyar cradled her one-year old, whose forehead bears a crusted wound from the bricks of the shack that collapsed in the earthquake.
During the quake, the workers at this Bhaktapur kiln were fortunate. No one was hit by the towering chimney as it split and fell, and they dug their children alive out of the piles of bricks that had been their shacks. But as a shell-shocked Kathmandu struggles with catastrophe, the kiln workers, who come here from distant mountain villages and India, are stranded and afraid. “People will die here of disease and hunger,” Pariyar told the Global Fairness Initiative team that came to Shree Sarswoti Brick Industry after the quake to assess the situation.
Two hundred brick workers have been living in the kiln since the earthquake without access to food, water and proper shelter. The team returned to feed all the workers and their children with water purifying tablets, ready-to-eat noodles, beaten rice, and dalmat, a high-protein pre-packaged lentil snack. Workers were also provided with chlorine tables to purify drinking water by GFI and first-aid supplies by Nepal GoodWeave Foundation.
Brick workers are already the poorest of the poor, living at the kilns in low shacks of piled bricks and often in debt to middlemen, which can leave them in bondage and take years to repay. GFI has been working to break the cycle of bonded labor and child labor that keeps so many workers in poverty.
All around Kathmandu, which is circled by brick kilns, the tall chimneys have fallen, their stubs still towering into the sky. The earthquake has left many kilns with so many damage that workers don’t feel safe in the firing zone. The cracked chimneys and quake-shifted walls of the firing zone pose safety hazards, and GFI has offered to make arrangements for workers to return to their homes and unite with their family members.
Photo Credit: Sally Acharya
The brick-firing team from India, fearing a possible health epidemic and scarcity of food and water, are looking to return to their villages. GFI has informed the Indian Embassy about their situation and has provided the firing team with information on how to contact the embassy.
While the impact of the earthquake was comparatively minor in the Midwestern hill region of Rolpa and Salyan, home to many of this kiln’s migrant workers, they report that their own homes in the village have suffered damage. After a year of frequent unseasonable rain that reduced brick production, capped off with the devastation of the earthquake, their earnings are unlikely to enable them to sustain their families and repay the debt to the middlemen who brought them to the kiln. One worker, Muna Pun, 21, said it may take her family as long as three years to repay the remaining debt.
As the brick season has mainly ended, molders had already returned to their villages before the earthquake. They are from the districts hardest hit by the earthquake, particularly Sindhupalchowk and Kavre, and GFI will follow up to learn their situation and the condition of their villages.
Write up by Sally Acharya in Nepal
The Global Fairness Initiative began implementing the Tunisia Inclusive Labor Initiative (TILI) in 2012 as a program to address the large informal sector in the country. More than two years later, the team reflects in this short film on the progress that TILI has made.
GFI, in partnership with the International Labor Organization (ILO), the Italian Ministry of Development and Cooperation (IDC), and the Tunisian Association for Management and Social Stability (TAMSS), held a conference in Tunis that brought together government and civil society stakeholders to present the results of GFI’s Tunisia Inclusive Labor Initiative (TILI) and discuss integrating Tunisia’s informal sector into the formal economy.
TUNIS, Tunisia – Economists, Government Ministers, Members of Parliament, activists, professors, and concerned citizens joined together in Tunis this past week to review the progress of GFI’s Tunisia Inclusive Labor Initiative (TILI) and chart the next steps toward integrating Tunisia’s informal sector into the formal economy. Held on March 19, the Informal Employment in Tunisia at the Heart of the Social and Economic Development Plan conference provided an opportunity for thought leaders to review and debate progress on Tunisia’s economic growth and the role that the informal sector may play in the nation’s economic and social development.
Convening less than twenty-four hours after the attack on Tunisia’s Bardo Museum, the conference opened with a moment of silence in solidarity with the victims of the attack. Opening statements from the conference’s hosts, GFI, ILO, IDC and TAMSS, all recognized the tragedy and pledged to continue working to develop Tunisia’s economy and democracy in the face of terrorism.
Following the opening statements, the ILO’s Frederic Lapeyre—a specialist on informal economies—presented research conducted by the ILO since 2002 on the informal economy. His research found that 42-50% of Tunisian workers are in the informal economy, with 36% of young Tunisians in the informal economy. According to ILO research, the informal sector in Tunisia is highly concentrated in rural areas, and a large proportion of informal work is done in the service and construction industries. Mr. Lapeyre presented a number of conclusions from the ILO’s research, including the determination that formal sector growth in Tunisia is presently insufficient to fully incorporate the informal sector.
Mr. Lapeyre’s presentation was succeeded by the first of two expert panels. The panel, “The Extent of the Informal: Approaches, Definitions, Measures, and Perspectives”, featured experts on informality, including GFI’s Founder and President, Karen Tramontano. Ms. Tramontano was joined by Mr. Lapeyre, representatives from Tunisia’ largest trade and employer unions (UGTT and UTICA, respectively), and Ezzedine Saidane, a founder and former CEO of the Arab Banking Corporation, Tunisia. The panelists discussed emerging definitions and approaches to informality, and Ms. Tramontano shared insights on GFI’s experience addressing informality in Tunisia and Guatemala. Much of the conversation centered on ensuring that informality is not understood purely as a criminal act, but rather as a means by which society makes up for gaps in the formal economy. The panel agreed that in order to address informality, all stakeholders must be brought to the table and given an opportunity to share their experience and inform future economic policies and regulations. Further, panelists praised Tunisia’s new constitution for its strength in mandating democracy and free expression, but decried it for its limits on business and the economy. Soulef Ksontini, a Member of Parliament from the Ennahdha Party, who was also in attendance, agreed that reforms need to occur in order to improve Tunisia’s economy and address the informal sector.
The second and final panel, “Informal Employment Among Young People and Women: Presentation of Local Experiences and International Support to the Transition to the Formal Economy” featured GFI’s Tunisia Country Director, Asma Ben Hassen. She was joined by Tunisia’s Directors General of the Ministries of Finance and Employment, as well as the Director of Tunisia’s Labor Inspectorate, the Director General of the Technical Center of Mechanical and Electrical Industries, and a representative from the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ). This panel included presentations on two projects that worked with informal workers to transition them to the formal economy: the TILI project and a program implemented by GIZ to formalize waste pickers. Aicha Karrafi, the Director General of the Ministry of Finance, also introduced a new initiative from the ministry that would aim to certify businesses and educate consumers on the importance of supporting the growth of the formal economy by purchasing from certified, formal businesses. This initiative also may include a flat tax for small businesses, to make paying taxes simpler and encourage formalization, according to Ms. Karrafi. Questions and debate from the panelists and audience members focused on the appropriate role of government and civil society in regulating the informal economy. One audience member, a woman who worked as an artisan in a handicraft village in El Kef, recounted for the audience how she worked with the TILI program to formalize her activity and gain access to social security and labor protection from the government.
Throughout the event, audience members repeatedly interjected to insert their opinions or expertise in the debate, and there was a palpable sense of purpose among the participants in the conference. In implementing the Tunisia Inclusive Labor Initiative, GFI strived to push the issue of transitioning informal workers to the formal economy into the national agenda. With the success of this conference, it is apparent that the TILI team is meeting that goal.
Washington, DC and Ahmedabad, India – With support from the Walmart Foundation, the Global Fairness Initiative (GFI) and the Self-Employed Women's Association (SEWA) have launched a robust program to deliver high-value, opportunity–driven training in retail sales and management to more than 30,000 women in India. Tailored to employment in the retail sector, and rooted in SEWA’s highly regarded life skills training methodology, the Retail Opportunity Training Initiative (ROTI) is certificate-level instruction designed to help bridge the opportunity gap between India’s underemployed women and the country’s fastest growing economic sector.
"We are thrilled to be working with the support of the Walmart Foundation on this game-changing initiative,” said Karen A. Tramontano, President, Global Fairness Initiative. “We applaud the Walmart Foundation’s leadership in launching programs that help empower and create more equitable opportunities for women producers and workers.”
The Retail Opportunity Training Initiative’s goals are to:
• Develop and deliver a world class, certificate-level curriculum on Retail Sales and Management emphasizing essential technical and “life skills” necessary for full and successful employment • Create a center for excellence in retail sector leadership and employment within the highly regarded SEWA Manager Ni School • Matriculate and graduate more than 30,000 women trained and empowered for a career in retail sales and supported by a robust job placement platform aimed at promoting women, and placing women certificate holders, in India’s organized retail sector
“The Walmart Foundation is proud to support this collaboration between the Global Fairness Initiative and the Self-Employed Women’s Association. Working together and drawing on their complementary skills and expertise, these organizations will help thousands of women build successful careers in retail, leading to greater economic mobility and stronger communities,” said Kathleen McLaughlin, President, Walmart Foundation.
Certificate-level courses will be administered in SEWA Training Centers and will be available to any applicants, female and male, meeting basic criteria and including those from SEWA’s nearly 1.5 million members throughout India. The trainings courses will be led by SEWA’s Manager Ni School (SMS) which brings an exceptional reputation for excellence in leadership development, and draws on an unparalleled network of Master Instructors.
"We are pleased to be partnering with our friends at GFI to launch this important program with the Walmart Foundation's support," said Reema Nanavaty, General Secretary of the Self-Employed Women's Association. “It is a most welcome and valuable opportunity to further the SEWA mission of empowering women with the essential tools and knowledge they need to realize their personal and entrepreneurial goals.”
The Global Fairness Initiative (GFI) aims to change the global poverty cycle through market-based initiatives that benefit small-holder producers and workers around the globe. Through community-based programs in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, GFI leads strategic partnerships and interventions that enable more equitable opportunity and drive full-employment for the working poor. GFI’s critical programs emphasize social protections and economic access, and ensure that the voices of the poor are integrated into public policy and echoed by decision makers in order to create a more equitable social and economic environment for small and marginalized producers. Focusing on the bottom line, namely strengthening wages, market access, decent work, and livelihoods as a whole, GFI has helped to improve the lives of thousands of workers and communities worldwide. To learn more about GFI visit: www.globalfairness.org
About Philanthropy at Walmart
Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are committed to helping people live better through philanthropic efforts that draw on the strengths of Walmart in the arenas of sustainability, economic opportunity, and community. As part of our commitment to creating a more sustainable food system worldwide, Walmart and the Walmart Foundation are leading the fight against hunger in the United States. They recently exceeded a $2 billion goal to fight hunger one year ahead of schedule and have donated more than 1.5 billion pounds of food to those in need across the country. To learn more about Walmart’s giving, visit www.foundation.walmart.com.
February 12, 2015
by: RUBY RAUNIYAR
Establishment of Child Development and Training Center gives families of brick factory workers new hope KATHMANDU, Feb 11: Laborers at Shree Champimai Brick Factory in Lalitpur have a reason to smile. Their children will benefit from the recently established child development and learning center that is the joint effort of the factory and Global Fairness Initiative (GFI), an NGO. Earlier, they had no option but to carry their children around while working. But after the establishment of the center, their children can be seen playing or resting in the three-roomed center in the factory premises. Kalpana Pariyar, 20, feels a huge sense of relief. Until a couple of months ago, she was worried that carrying her child with her while carrying bricks would hurt him. “But now, with this new child center, I can work without worries,” says Pariyar who has been working at the factory for two years along with her husband. Another mother, Pooja Ghimire, is equally happy about the new center. Bringing her child to work meant exposing him to the excess smoke and dust which caused cough and cold, eye burning, etc. Now her 18-month-old child receives proper care and nutritious food. - Click here to read the full article:
It has been more than two years since the Global Fairness Initiative began it's program to integrate the informal economy in Tunisia: the Tunisia Inclusive Labor Initiative (TILI). View the graphic below to see all that the TILI team has accomplished these past two years.
Download a PDF version below.
Distinguished diplomat and advocate for women in leadership joins international team of leaders on the GFI Board of Directors
Washington, DC – The Global Fairness Initiative (GFI), an International NGO working to create more equitable, sustainable livelihoods for the working poor, has announced that Zohreh Tabatabai will join the GFI Board of Directors. An admired representative of the UN and ILO, and a resonant voice for women in leadership, Ms. Tabatabai joins a GFI Board comprised of leaders and luminaries representing government, civil society, labor, and private industry from throughout the globe.
"It is a distinct pleasure to welcome my former UN colleague to the Board of this excellent organization,” said Former President of Slovenia and GFI Board Chair Danilo Türk. “Zohreh’s energetic leadership and collaborative spirit will bring great benefit to GFI’s important work.”
Zohreh Tabatabai is a thirty-year veteran of the United Nations and is a familiar face in the diplomatic and global business arenas, having spent many years in high profile positions at the United Nations in various capacities, including three years as the Focal Point for women for the United Nations system. Most recently she served at the International Labor Organization (ILO) in Geneva as a senior member of the Director General’s Cabinet as the Director of Communications. Throughout her tenure in the UN System, she pioneered methods for bringing in outside partners to work on extending the UN’s visibility and effectiveness across a broad range of initiatives.
“We are thrilled to have Zohreh join our fantastic Board of Directors,” said Karen Tramontano, founder of the Global Fairness Initiative. “Her work to promote women as leaders and her unique ability to bring disparate groups together around a common purpose is central to our work and ethos at GFI.”
The Global Fairness Initiative is an International NGO that works to create a more equitable, sustainable approach to economic development, and to make our global economy work for those who need it most, the world’s working poor. For over a decade GFI has steadily built a track record of success through innovative programs to reduce poverty, enfranchise informal communities, and advance human rights and livelihoods in all parts of the world.
Nani Zulminarni, GFI's 2014 Fairness Award Grassroots Honoree, was featured in the most recent edition of IndoGo!, an Indonesian magazine that aims to educate and inspire local communities. The article illustrates Nani Zulminarni’s work toward women's empowerment, as well as her accomplishments in different organizations around the world. The Global Fairness Initiative is honored to present such an accomplished and impactful woman with the 2014 Fairness Award!
For an in depth description of Nani’s incredible accomplishments, check out the Indogo! article, which is featured below in its entirety.
After thirty years of unsuccessful negotiations, the Guatemalan government has agreed to compensate 33 different indigenous communities affected by the construction of the Chixoy Hydroelectric Power Station. The government agreed to pay the communities over $155 million for damages. Located in the Northern region of Alta Verapaz, the hydroelectric power station negatively affected over 2,300 families, including the death of over 400 local farmers. The agreement not only contains provisions for “repairing houses, land, sanitation, and the improvement of health” but also illustrates the growing influence of indigenous communities in the the actions of the Guatemalan government.
Read more here
Learn more about GFI's work in the region here
Write up by Chase Claflin, GFI Intern
Richard Nordstrom, a member of the Global Fairness Initiative Board of Directors and CEO of NorthStream Global Partners, LLC and Liberate Ideas, Inc. was featured on the most recent cover of Healthcare Marketer's Exchange, a monthly media magazine published for the pharmaceutical industry. Mr. Nordstrom, who is also a member of the national board of Jobs for America's Graduates (JAG), wrote an article about his experience working with GFI and JAG for Healthcare Marketer's Exchange, which is distributed to more 7,500 pharmaceutical media and marketing professionals.
Describing his work with GFI as "truly transformative", Mr. Nordstrom writes that GFI is "innovative in its approach to freeing women from the shackles of unfair trade practices." Read more from Mr. Nordstrom's wonderful article, which is included in full, below.
India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi has committed to key labour reforms, as the majority of India’s labor laws date back to the British period. In attempts to increase the involvement of India in the global manufacturing business from 15% to 25%, India’s factories will be held to a higher standard, including random factory inspections, and a push for more transparency. As India’s struggling economy begins to recover, PM Modi hopes a revival of the manufacturing business will contribute to the economic growth.
Read more here.
Write up by Chase Claflin, GFI Intern
September 22, 2014 (New York, NY) – The Global Fairness Initiative (GFI) and The Boris and Ināra Teterev Foundation held a roundtable in NYC that explored development initiatives and investment strategies for West Africa’s transitions economies. The event, which was held in the New York Athletic Club, featured such participants as the European Union’s Commissioner for Development, the Ambassador of Latvia to the UN and the Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the UN. The roundtable also included senior representatives from the World Economic Forum, New York University, Humanity United and the impact investing community. Dr. Danilo Türk, GFI Board Chair and former President of Slovenia (2007-2012), served as the moderator for the roundtable.
Participants shared their experiences on development initiatives and building impact investment portfolios in West Africa. Ed Marcum, Vice President of Investments at Humanity United, discussed his experience in helping design the Liberia Philanthropy Secretariat, a cooperation with the Liberian government created in 2009 to coordinate international donors and maximize the impact of their investments. The Deputy Permanent Representative of Japan to the UN, Yoshifumi Okamura, informed the group about his time as Ambassador to Cote d’Ivoire and Japan’s investment in Africa through the Tokyo International Conference on African Development. Participants also spoke about the World Economic Forum’s Grow Africa program, the European Commission’s development strategy in West Africa, and GFI’s programs in Guinea Bissau.
The Boris and Ināra Teterev Foundation, a Latvian foundation started in 2010 by philanthropist Boris Teterev and his wife Ināra, supported the roundtable. The foundation supports development programs around the world, including work with GFI in Guinea Bissau, Guatemala, Peru and Nepal. More information about GFI programs supported by the Boris and Ināra Teterev Foundation can be found by viewing Our Programs.
Top Photo: (From left to right) Boris Teterev (Founder of the Boris and Ināra Teterev Foundation), Hon. Andris Piebalgs (European Union Commissioner for Development), H.E. Yoshifumi Okamura (Deputy Permanent Representative of the Japan to the U.N.) and Ed Marcum (Vice President of Investments at Humanity United) discuss West African development at GFI’s September 22 Roundtable in New York City.
About the Boris and Ināra Teterev Foundation:
In 2010, Boris and Ināra Teterev established a family charity foundation whose aim is to support distinguished and socially important charitable initiatives. The Teterev family are particularly keen on supporting culture, education, and community development organizations in cities and rural areas of the country. They help groups of people with low income and families at risk. The foundation operates internationally and supports charity projects abroad.
In 2011, the Teterev Family Foundation was awarded Special Annual Prize for benefactions by the State Inspection For Heritage Protection of the Republic of Latvia, UNESCO National Commission Latvia and the association ‘ICOMOS Latvia’. Also in 2011, the Foundation was awarded a diploma for high quality work for the people and significant contribution to promoting volunteer work in Latvia by the Ministry of Education and Science within the framework of the European Year of Volunteering.Photo Credit: Maris Mednis/MRS Grupa
GFI President Karen Tramontano confers with Boris Teterev, Founder of the Boris and Ināra Teterev Foundation, at the joint roundtable held on September 22, 2014 in New York City.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
October 1, 2014
Robert B. Zoellick, Karl-Johan Persson and Nani Zulminarni
To Receive Global Fairness Award on November 24th
Event to Celebrate International Impact and Leadership in Grassroots Efforts
(Washington, DC)--- The Global Fairness Initiative (GFI) annual awards dinner on November 24th will honor three outstanding individuals who have made a significant difference in the world. The honorees are: Robert B. Zoellick, former President of the World Bank Group (2007-2012); Karl-Johan Persson, President and CEO of H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB, and Ms. Nani Zulminarni, Founder of Perempuan Kepala Keluarga (PEKKA), Indonesia. Emmy winning local news anchor Andrea Roane will MC the event. The event will also feature a musical performance by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Darlene Love.
The Fairness Award was created five years ago to recognize the role of collaborative leadership in removing the barriers to economic and social opportunity for poor and marginalized communities around the world.
WHO:Karen Tramontano founded the Global Fairness Initiative along with the leadership of President Bill Clinton as the first Board Chair. The organization was formed to promote a more equitable, sustainable approach to economic development for the world’s working poor by advancing fair wages, equal access to markets, and balanced public policy to generate opportunity and end the cycle of poverty. GFI has steadily built a track record of success through innovative programs to reduce poverty, enfranchise informal communities, and advance human rights and livelihoods.
WHAT: GFI's 2014 Annual Fairness Award will honor Mr. Robert B. Zoellick, former President of the World Bank Group (2007-2012); Mr. Karl-Johan Persson, President and CEO of H&M Hennes & Mauritz AB, and Ms. Nani Zulminarni, Founder of Perempuan Kepala Keluarga (PEKKA), Indonesia. Andrea Roane, WUSA 9 Anchor will be the 2014 Fairness Award Mistress of Ceremonies. The event will also feature a musical performance by Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee Darlene Love.
WHEN: Monday, November 24th, 2014
6:00 to 7:30pm Honoree Reception
7:30 to 9:30pm Awards Ceremony
The Historic Howard Theatre
620 T Street, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20001
About the Fairness Awards
The Fairness Awards started in 2010. More than 2,000 invited guests including members of the Cabinet and Congressional leaders, Ambassadors and media personalities gathered at the Kennedy Center Opera House to honor Ela Ramesh Bhatt, Founder of the Self Employed Women's Association of India (SEWA) with Hillary R. Clinton, 67th United States Secretary of State, presenting the first Fairness Award. Each year the Global Fairness Initiative selects honorees from the grasstops who have enabled and supported marginalized communities and from the grassroots who have led communities in building a stronger voice and finding a place in the global community. By honoring these outstanding individuals, GFI hopes to inspire a new generation of leaders to dedicate themselves to economic justice, fairness, and equality. For more information visit: http://www.fairnessaward.org/
About the 2014 Fairness Award Honorees and Special Guests
2014 Grasstops Honoree Robert B. Zoellick is the Chairman of Goldman Sachs’ International Advisors. He serves on the boards of Temasek, Singapore’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, and Laureate International Universities, as well as on the international advisory board of Rolls Royce. Zoellick is also a Senior Fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government. He is a member of the board of the Congressionally-created National Endowment for Democracy and the Peterson Institute for International Economics.
Mr. Zoellick was the President of the World Bank Group from 2007-2012. He served in President George W. Bush's cabinet as U.S. Trade Representative from 2001 to 2005 and as Deputy Secretary of State from 2005 to 2006. From 1985 to 1993, Zoellick worked at the Treasury and State departments in various capacities, including as Counselor to the Secretary of the Treasury and Under Secretary of State, as well as briefly in the White House as Deputy Chief of Staff. He was the lead U.S. negotiator in the 2 + 4 process for Germany’s unification, serving under Secretary James A. Baker III. The German Government awarded Zoellick the Knight Commanders Cross for his work on unification. The Mexican and Chilean Governments presented him their highest honors for non-citizens the Aztec Eagle and the Order of Merit, respectively. Zoellick holds a J.D. magna cum laude from Harvard Law School, a master's degree in public policy from Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, and a bachelor's degree (Phi Beta Kappa) from Swarthmore College.
2014 Grasstops Honoree Karl-Johan Persson is President and Chief Executive Officer of H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB, one of the largest fashion retailers in the world. Prior to taking over as CEO in 2009, Mr. Persson held an operational role within H&M from 2005, including working as head of expansion, business development, new business and COS. Since 2000 Karl-Johan Persson has been a member of the boards of H&M’s subsidiaries in Denmark, Germany, US and the UK. From 2006 to 2009 he was also a member of the Board of H & M Hennes & Mauritz AB. Under Mr. Persson’s leadership, his most recent accomplishments include launching H&M’s first product made with recycled fibers from H&M’s garment collecting initiative and H&M’s Fair Living Wage roadmap, marking an important contribution towards fair living wages in the textile industry. Mr. Persson is a member of the board of the H&M Conscious Foundation and his current external board assignments are the Swedish Chamber of Commerce in the UK and the GoodCause foundation. Mr. Persson is a graduate of the European Business School in London where he earned his degree in Business Administration.
2014 Grassroots Honoree Nani Zulminarni has been working on women empowerment at the grass root level since 1987, when her career began as a field worker and community organizer at The Center for Women’s Resources Development (PPSW). In 1995, she was appointed as the director of PPSW and currently sits on their advisory board. In 2001, with the support of PPSW and as part of the National Commission on Violence against Women (Komnas Perempuan), Ms. Zulminarni created PEKKA, which organizes poor women heads of households in post conflict areas with the goal of economic empowerment and leadership development of the grass-roots women. Currently PEKKA works in 19 Provinces of Indonesia, facilitating the growth of more than 1,200 organizations. PEKKA delivers a wide set of services such as village-level capacity building trainings, savings and loan schemes, and education, but economic empowerment is the pillar of the organization.
Ms. Zulminarni is also the founder of ASPPUK; a National Network of NGOs working on Women in Economic issues, and served as the chairperson of the executive committee from 1995-2001. She was elected executive council member of The Asia South Pacific Association for Basic and Adult Education (ASPBAE) for two terms (2000-2008). She is currently chairing the executive committee of SEAPCP (South East Asia popular Communication Program) and is the regional advisor of JASS-SEA. Ms. Zulminarni has also recently become a member of the International Advisory Group of MUSAWAH and a member of ALIMAT; a following initiative of MUSAWAH in Indonesia. In 2007, she was the recipient of the ASHOKA Fellowship and in August 2010, she received the Saparinah Sadli Award. At the beginning of this year, Ms. Zulminarni also received the Lotus Leadership Award from The Asia Foundation and Lotus Circle.
2014 Mistress of Ceremonies Andrea Roane joined WUSA 9 in August of 1981 as the Sunday evening and 6:30 a.m. weekday anchor. Andrea is best known to viewers for her passionate reporting on breast health issues and promoting the importance of early detection in the fight against breast cancer. In 2006, Andrea was named one of Washingtonian Magazine’s “Washingtonians of the Year” for her continued work on breast cancer awareness. A native of New Orleans, Louisiana, Andrea earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech Education and a Master of Arts degree in Drama and Communications from Louisiana State University in New Orleans, now the University of New Orleans.
Featured Performance by Darlene Love
Rolling Stone has proclaimed Darlene Love to be “one of the greatest singers of all time.” When 20 Feet from Stardom won the Oscar at the 2014 Academy Awards for Best Documentary it was legendary singer Darlene Love who ‘stole the show with her soulful approach to the acceptance speech’. Darlene Love featured prominently in the Award-Winning Documentary –a riveting film about back-up singers and their crucial vocals performed with world-famous musicians such as Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Mick Jagger and The Rolling Stones, and legions more.
Darlene Love began her career in the 1960’s and eventually became a background singer as part of Phil Spector’s ‘wall of sound’ hit factory for various artists such as Marvin Gaye, Same Cooke, and Elvis Presley. In addition to her singing career, she has had roles in films including Lethal Weapon, Hairspray, and Grease. She continues to captivate audiences world-wide with her warmth, gracious stage presence and sensational performances.
Currently, Darlene Love is busy in the studio recording songs written for her by artists including Bruce Springsteen, Elvis Costello, Stevie Van Zandt and more.
Darlene Love is a Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee and was introduced by Bette Midler. The two sang a duet and are now working on another project together. It’s no wonder The New York Times raves: ‘Darlene Love’s thunderbolt voice is as embedded in the history of rock and roll as Eric Clapton’s guitar or Bob Dylan’s lyrics.’”
About The Global Fairness Initiative (GFI)
The GFI approach includes:
Engaging multiple players – workers, employers, private enterprise and government – to find economic solutions and create economic opportunity.
Partnering with community based organizations to have the greatest impact and leave behind lasting results and institutions.
Leveraging international networks of respected experts, political and social luminaries, trade and finance stakeholders, and business leaders to maximize the inputs and impacts of GFI initiatives.
September 22, 2014
Global Fairness Initiative
Today at the Clinton Global Initiative Annual Meeting, Karen Tramontano, Founder of Global Fairness Initiative, and Reema Nanavaty, Self Employed Women’s Association, announced a CGI Commitment to supporting women salt workers in India through the Salt Worker’s Economic Empowerment Program (SWEEP).
SWEEP is a collaborative project of the Global Fairness Initiative and the Self Employed Women's Association (SEWA) designed to improve economic opportunity and empowerment for women salt farmers through environmentally sustainable energy solutions. SWEEP is aimed to give 30,000 women salt producers of the Surendranager District tools, access, and voice to better realize profits and maximize their personal and community livelihood goals.
Learn more about the Salt Workers Economic Empowerment Program by clicking Salt Workers Economic Empowerment Program.
I believe that few people could name more than five members of the UN Security Council. The U.S., Russia and China certainly. Think hard and you would probably add in the United Kingdom and -- maybe -- France, as the countries who hold the power of "nay" or "aye" over key actions of the United Nations, including how the UN addresses conflicts arising around the world.
There are 10 other countries who are non-permanent members elected for two-year terms by the General Assembly.
This October, New Zealand, Spain and Turkey will contest two vacant seats in the UN Security Council. Two seats, three contenders.
My country Timor-Leste is actively supporting New Zealand for one of the two seats.
I have lived with and aged with the UN Security Council, since December, 1975, when I first addressed the Council at age 25, on the Indonesian occupation of my country, Timor-Leste (formerly East Timor). And while the voice of the superpowers and other developed nations such as the European members are indispensable, the council, being the only group in the UN with real teeth, is far too important to be an exclusive club of the powerful.
Read the full Oped at: Huffington Post
Read all of Dr. Ramos-Horta's HuffPost Entries Here: Ramos Horta on Huffington Post
Please consider joining Global Fairness Initiative for this year's 2014 Fairness Award to celebrate the collaboration and successful collective of grass-roots and grass-tops efforts around the world.
We have 3 INCREDIBLE honorees this year who have done much to effect marginalized communities and have a positive impact on the livelihoods of thousands - especially women!
The 2014 Fairness Award will take place on November 24, 2014 at the historic Howard Theatre in Washington, DC. Ticket sales will be available soon. In the meantime, you can purchase your ticket or view the sponsorship and advertisement opportunities at: www.fairnessaward.org.
Please see the "Save the Date" attached as a PDF for more information.
June 1, 2014 was the "National Day of Recyclers" in Peru to commemorate "The Law of the Recycler" which was inaugurated June 1, 1999. This law was the first in Peru to regulate recyclers' work with the clear intention of formalizing recyclers and promoting the efficient management of reusable solid waste. Ciudad Saludable was a leader in drafting this law as a response to Peru's municipal and waste management challenges and to promote the formalization of outcasted and undermined waste-picker and recycler workers within the country.
June 1, 2014 in Lima, 15 Recyclers Associations along with, community leaders, NGOs and local citizens, gathered to celebrate this historical day in the district of Barranco.
To read the full press release by Ciudad Saludable please see here:
To hear Ms. Painter's speech upon receiving Bulgaria's Golden Laurel award click
Sally Painter, COO of Blue Star Strategies LLC and H.E Elena Poptodorova, Ambassador of Bulgaria, U.S.
April 29, 2014
Global Fairness Initiative visits Guinea-Bissau at invitation of SRSG
"09 September 2013- A mission from Global Fairness Initiative (GFI) is visiting Guinea-Bissau from 9-12 September at the invitation of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Guinea-Bissau, José Ramos-Horta, to look into the possibility of investment in economic projects.
Led by the GFI founder-president, Karen Tramontano, who served as Deputy Chief of Staff to former US President Bill Clinton, the mission includes representatives of potential donor organisations. It aims to meet with individuals and organizations to learn more about Guinea-Bissau’s short and long-term goals as well as its development challenges and opportunities, and to discuss with multiple stakeholders opportunities for partnership and investment.
On Monday 9 September, the delegation paid a courtesy visit on SRSG José Ramos-Horta, who had invited GFI to visit the country during a meeting held in Washington in May 2013. The SRSG is a member of the GFI’s board of directors, made up of various outstanding personalities, including former presidents, top private sector executives and leaders of non-governmental institutions.
On Monday, the GFI delegation met with the UN Country Team, which comprises representatives of the UN Integrated Peace-Building Support Office in Guinea-Bissau, UNIOGBIS, and United Nations agencies that operate in the country. At that meeting, Ms Tramontano explained that GFI was interested in investment in initiatives that can have a major impact on the development of livelihoods.
The agenda of the GFI delegation further includes meetings with Guinea-Bissauan state officials, discussions with national private sector representatives, meetings with representatives of male and female farmers, fishermen and fisherwomen, textile weavers and traders, as well as visits to agricultural and other projects in different parts of the country."
Video: Development cooperation in Guinea-Bissau (Africa) 2014
Watch this three minute video on Guinea-Bissau to learn about the challenges the country and it's citizens face today. This video, on behalf of the Boris and Inara Teterev Foundation, goes inside Guinea-Bissau to capture these challenges first hand and speak with representatives such as, but not limited to, His Excellency Jose Ramos Horta, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Guinea-Bissau and Mr. Gana Fofang and UN Deputy Special Representative and Resident Coordinator in Guinea-Bissau.
A recent report from the International Trade Union Confederation indicates that 1,200 migrant workers have died while working on World Cup projects in Qatar. Migrant workers from India and Nepal have been traveling to the country for construction jobs in preparation for the 2022 games in Qatar since 2010. Lusail City workers have reported squalid working conditions, withheld pay, the confiscation of passports and unhealthy demands, including working in 122 degree heat with no rest nor food.
The Guardian has dubbed this migrant worker exploitation in Qatar "modern day slavery" while the ILO has called on Qatar to implement necessary reforms. The ITUC also predicts that 4,000 migrant workers will die by the time that the games begin. Most shocking, however, is the Qatari World Cup Committee's denial of the situation, claiming that the ITUC's statistics are both "incorrect and misleading." Efforts are reportedly being made to investigate the situation and institute reforms to end this offense to human rights.
Write-up By: Mersadies Burch, GFI Intern
(Photo via Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
March 26, 2014
“Tunisia's presidential and parliamentary elections will go ahead as planned later this year despite delays in approving a new election law, authorities said on Wednesday.
No date has yet been set for the elections, the second ballot since the 2011 uprising that ousted autocrat Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali and the first since the adoption of a new constitution praised internationally as a model for transition to democracy.
‘The second elections after the 2011 vote will be more difficult because the standards will be tougher,’ said Chafik Sarsar, head of the Independent Election Commission (ISIE).
‘Elections should be held on time in 2014, despite all the difficulties,’ he said.
Sarsar acknowledged hurdles to overcome, including the fact ISIE does not yet have a headquarters and delays to the new electoral law meant to provide a framework for running the ballot.
Three years after its revolt, Tunisia is in its final steps to full democracy, with a new constitution adopted and more political stability than in Libya and Egypt, which also ousted long-standing leaders in 2011…”
Click on the link above to read the full article or visit: http://www.voanews.com/content/tunisia-to-hold-elections-in-two-thousand-fourteen-despite-delays/1879609.html
FILE - Tunisia's Speaker of the Assembly Mustapha Ben Jaafar casts his vote over the composition of an election commission that will oversee a vote later this year, Tunis, Jan. 8, 2014.
Around 3,000 informal miners took to the streets of Lima, Peru last Thursday to pressure the government to extend its deadline for registering mining activities, due to expire next month. On Monday, protestors blocked roads around the country, in total leaving at least 1 dead and 12 injured. The government, which has dispatched 5,000 police and 1,000 army troops in response, refuses to extend its April 19 formalization deadline and intends to press charges against 40 informal mining group leaders. Around 70,000 of the country's estimated 100,000 informal workers have signed a declaration committing to formalization.
Illegal and informal miners produced around 12% of Peru’s gold output in 2012, generating about $3 billion in annual revenue. However, debate over the issue is ripe, as unregulated gold mining is destroying the rainforest and causing mercury contamination of water and fishing sources. Miners, meanwhile, protest the legislation’s deadline, arguing that it could destroy the livelihood of thousands of small-scale miners and their families, and support a 2-year extension as well as a more integrated legal framework to sustain formalization.
Write-up By: Mersadies Burch, GFI Intern
(Photo via AP-Rodrigo Abd)
Amazon Smile is an exciting new program where Amazon donates 0.5% of your purchase to a charitable organization of your choice. You can use this new feature to support the Global Fairness Initiative when you shop at Amazon (http://smile.amazon.com)!
Your generous support will be directly invested in our work to create broad and inclusive economic empowerment programs for working poor communities around the globe. As a small non-profit organization focused on doing far more with less, we promise you that every dollar of your support will be more than doubled by our effort and commitment.
Like all of our work, many hands play a part in creating solutions to the disease of poverty. With this contribution our supporters have joined an intimate cycle that begins with a thoughtful contribution and ends with the hope and opportunity created for an impoverished worker engaged in our programs.
We would like to thank everyone of our supporters who have used this feature to support GFI.
GFI Founder and President, Karen Tramontano, writes an incredible article on Informality as a part of the Council on Foreign Relations' Development Channel series on global justice and development.
"Sixty percent of the labor force in most developing countries works in the informal economy. Even though the informal economy is vibrant and provides essential services and goods to many communities, most governments disregard it. If governments instead sought to bring informal economies into the fold, they could enjoy substantial economic benefits. Even more important, granting economic and legal rights to these overlooked workers and producers could lift thousands out of poverty—simply because social security is one of the most effective poverty-fighting tools that a government can utilize."
"The Global Fairness Initiative (GFI), a non-profit organization I founded, works to expand livelihood opportunities for the poor through market-based interventions. In 2008, we launched a project in Guatemala to prove that formalizing workers and enterprises is feasible and can directly reduce poverty. Because the Guatemalan government had almost no data on the informal sector prior to the project, GFI first surveyed informal workers and small enterprises to understand the dimensions and economic value of the sector. The results shed light on both the strengths and challenges of the informal economy. Community discussions, interviews, and surveys that GFI conducted revealed that workers were eager to escape the shadows of the informal economy, voice their opinions, and be taken into account by the government and its leaders. We found that many workers and producers were completely excluded from their country’s economic and legal framework: they lacked access to legal protections, fair wages, safe working conditions, and social safety nets and services. As a result, these men and women often worked harder and longer hours than their formalized counterparts and were among the most exploited and the least protected from harsh labor conditions.".....
To Read more, please visit the link at the top of the page.
Dr. Danilo Türk to take leadership of the Global Fairness Initiative Board of Directors assuming role from José Maria Figuerez, Former President of Costa Rica steps down
Washington, DC – The Global Fairness Initiative (GFI), a leading NGO dedicated to improving livelihoods for the working poor, announced today that Former President of Slovenia, Dr. Danilo Türk will head the GFI Board of Directors replacing outgoing Chair José Maria Figuerez.
“I am honored to serve as Chair of the Board of the Global Fairness Initiative and to join my fellow Board members in a collective spirit to develop the work of GFI in the future,” said Dr. Turk. “I would also like to emphasize my deep respect and gratitude for the work done by President Jose Maria Figueres who has governed this organization with great distinction and his vision will continue to inspire us.”
Dr. Türk served as President of the Republic of Slovenia from 2007 to 2012 and was the first the Slovenian Permanent Representative to the United Nations. At the UN he was a non-permanent member of the Security Council as well as a member of UN Human Rights Committee. Later he was appointed UN Assistant Secretary-General for Political Affairs before returning to Slovenia where in 2007 he was elected as the third President of Republic of Slovenia where he served until 2012. A former professor and director of the Institute for International Law of the University of Ljubljana, Dr. Türk served on the Constitutional Commission of the Slovenian National Assembly co-wrote the human rights chapter of the 1991 Slovenian Constitution.
“Dr. Türk will lead an exceptional Board rich with grassroots and grass tops leaders and luminaries,” said José Maria Figuerez, former President of Costa Rica and outgoing GFI Board Chair. “I am pleased to transition a role I inherited from Former President Clinton to such an able leader as Danilo, and I am honored to have been part of this organization for these past 10 years.”
The Global Fairness Initiative is an international NGO that works towards a more equitable, sustainable approach to economic development through innovative programs to reduce poverty, enfranchise informal communities, and advance human rights and livelihoods. Founded in a decade ago by Karen Tramontano, GFI has implemented programs that strengthen rights and livelihoods, and generate opportunity for the working poor in Africa, Asia and Central America.
“We are thrilled that Dr. Türk has agreed to Chair the GFI Board. His intellect, leadership and sheer depth of experience will bring enormous value to GFI as we enter a new decade of work to advance the rights, livelihoods and enfranchisement of the working poor,” said Karen Tramontano, Founder of GFI.
Promoting labor rights and peaceful labor relations is important for attracting investments that create growth and improve livelihoods. Growing trends such as Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and the importance of brand reputation means that multi-national companies now view decent working conditions and protection of local community rights as fundamental to the longer term sustainability of their operations. In Guatemala and El Salvador, GFI brought fair labor standards to the forefront of national agendas by leveraging bilateral trade agreement labor obligations and CSR interests. In bringing together such diverse actors as labor unions, international textile and apparel brands, and local private sector and government representatives, GFI helped pave the way for an unprecedented set of agreements that have created the basis for improved conditions and competitiveness in the textile and apparel industries.
The Tunisia Inclusive Labor Initiative (TILI) is a partnership between GFI, Partners for Democratic Change and the Tunisian Association for Management and Social Stability (TAMSS), a local Tunisian civil society organization. The goal of the TILI program is to catalyze opportunities and policies to create greater inclusion of Tunisia’s informal sector into the formal economy. The TILI program is working with government and civil society to increase Tunisia’s capacity to create policies that promote formalization, and to educate informal workers on core livelihood benefits accompanying formal participation in the economy. The program supports public institutions in better measuring and engaging the informal sector, it helps develop the capacity of informal workers to register and participate in government and provides support for the establishment of mechanisms that facilitate the extension of social protections.
GFI’s experiences have demonstrated the importance of workforce development for achieving tangible results such as improved working conditions, fair wages, empowered women, and increased market access. Whether in post-conflict Guatemala, the challenging political environment of Nicaragua, or post-revolution Tunisia, GFI creates the common linkages that bring Government, Private Sector and Workforce communities together to solve economic challenges and broadly impact poverty reduction goals.
Read about all of GFI efforts to build inclusive and formalized economies for the world's working poor below:
It has been 40 years since the International Labour Organization first used the term “informal sector” to identify the now billions of unprotected workers engaged in legal but unregistered enterprises outside formal economic structures. Since then, the world’s economies, large and small, have undergone extreme booms and busts; and the most vulnerable have been those with the largest rates of informality. Today we face the challenge and opportunity to promote inclusive growth across interconnected and interdependent economies.
Informal workers WORK – often incredibly long hours under harsh conditions and for little pay. A large informal sector can improve a country’s overall economy by boosting innovation, production, and income levels—but only for the short term. Leaving these workers on the periphery means that as much as two- thirds of the world’s working population remains undeveloped and that we lose a potentially thriving addition to the mainstream economy. A sustainable global economy requires the integration of all workers.
With four decades of successes and failures in integrating informal workers into mainstream markets, we have the knowledge to imple- ment real and lasting change. Bringing together all stakeholders—workers, business, and governments—will move us beyond short-term, immediate (and, ultimately, ineffective) fixes to a concerted approach for inclusive economic growth.
We would like to thank the many people and organizations who continue to promote the rights and interests of the poorest workers around the world. Together we can ensure that everyone can realize the promise of a global economy.
Karen Tramontano & Caleb Shreve
Founder and President & Executive Director
Read the Summary Brochure "Informality Matters"
Read the Full Report "Informality in Emerging Markets: A Cross-Country Examination"
The Global Fairness Initiative announces the publication of Informality in Emerging Markets: A Cross-Country Examination. Launched on November 8th, 2012 by President Karen Tramontano at the Pell Center for International Relations and Public Policy - the report highlights the need for policy makers, multilateral organizations, and grant makers to understand and address informality. If we hope to create truly sustainable and inclusive markets and end the cycle of poverty, we must address informality.
Because informal workers operate without registration, determining their exact number is difficult. In the case of agriculture workers-often temporary, migrant, or working in remote areas-quantifying informal participation is even more of a challenge. Current estimates put informal agricultural employment at more than 65% of total wage employment, with rates as high as 80% in regions that rely heavily on agriculture.
It's about including a marginalized group into social and economic structures that allow for productive and rewarding participation in increasingly interconnected markets, ultimately enabling stable sustainable economies with decent lives and livelihoods for all.
- Sound employment statistics gathered independently by each government
- Direct surveying of workers to understand needs and perceptions
- Development of country-specific and sector-specific policies that can progressively transition workers and enterprises to the formal sector
- Affordable and accessible tax regimes that progressively create tax revenue
- Collaboration of government and the private sector to increase compliance
- Investment in missing middle financing to increase size of local enterprises, increase productivity, and decrease informality.
- Promotion of youth-flexible trade and entry-level placements for the integration of new workers to the formal labor market
- Aid to specific countries tied to improved legislation for the integration of the informal sector
Read the Summary Brochure "Informality Matters"
Read the Full Report "Informality Matters"
At GFI we believe that women represent the greatest potential for putting an end to the cycle of poverty that undermines development around the globe. GFI programs work with women agricultural and textile producers to remove the economic, technical and public policy barriers that prevent women from bringing their good to sustainable markets at a fair price.
Agricultural and textile production, carried out primarily by women, is the foundation of most developing country economies. In many developing economies as much as 80% of women are employed full or part time as small-scale producers in the agricultural sector and account for the majority of food security production for both their families and the communities where they live. Despite carrying such a heavy burden of the productive work, women are often marginalized to the informal sector of developing and even established economies where they find themselves ineligible for social services and social protections afforded the formal sector. The result is a deep cycle of poverty and social inequality experienced by women producers that keeps them isolated from mainstream capital markets and government social programs.
At GFI we see a deep and sustained investment in women producers as one of the single most effective strategies to break the cycle of poverty in the developing world. Empowering women farmers and textile workers requires a multi-faceted, multi-stakeholder engagement process aimed at creating opportunities for improved input, access to credit, removal of institutional and supply-chain barriers, access to high-value markets and policy reform targeted at enabling women to sustain real economic growth and improve livelihoods.
GFI's core set of program tools follows a process that targets barriers and creates opportunity through the following steps:
- Building Local Capacity
- Providing Technical Assistance
- Market Analysis
- Policy Evaluation
GFI has implemented numerous programs aimed improving the livelihoods of women around the world. GFI's Building Inclusive Shea Economies won a SEED Award in 2010, recognizing the program as one of the most "innovative small-scale and locally driven entrepreneurships around the globe which integrate social and environmental benefits into their business model."
GFI's South-South Collaboration brought together women entrepreneurs from India's SEWA cooperative and Ghana's Pagsung cooperative to share best practices and swap experiences managing women-owned and operated enterprises.
GFI's Ghana Shea Nut Economic Empowerment Program has received a 2010 Seed Initiative Award along with 30 other programs recognized as "innovative start-up ventures." The Ghana program, with the Pag Sung Shea Nut Association, is aimed at providing better access to markets, financing and economic empowerment for women Shea nut producers in Northern Ghana.
Secretary of State Hillary Clinton joins 2000 other special guests to honor Ela Bhatt, founder of SEWA, at the 2010 GFI Fairness Award at the Kennedy Center Opera House.
GFI Board Member Reema Nanavaty of SEWA shared the stage with former President Clinton and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at the 2011 Clinton Global Initiative to recommit her leadership around the goal of introducing millions of clean cookstoves to rural families in India.
At this year's Board of Directors meeting in New York City the Global Fairness Initiative proudly welcomed a distinguished new member to the Board, Mr. Pablo Muñoz, Group President, Tupperware Brands Corp.
The 2nd Annual Fairness Award was presented to Ms. Albina Ruiz of Peru by GFI Board Chair President Jose Maria Figueres at an inspiring event at the historic Lincoln Theatre this evening. Ms. Ruiz has led a global effort to bring economic opportunity and personal dignity to the 15 million waste pickers throughout Latin America and the world.