International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women – November 25

This blog post was researched and written by Intern Jocelyn Inlay.

One act of violence can cause a chain of events that impact not only the victim, but their family and society at large as well. That is why November 25 is International Day for Elimination of Violence Against Women.  Once again, the United Nations will bring international attention to the issue through the Secretary General’s UNiTE campaign “Orange YOUR Neighborhood”. The 16 day campaign lasts from November 25 to December 10, Human Rights Day. During this time, ordinary people take the UNiTE campaign to their community by organizing “Orange Events”. They want people across the world to join together in saying “No” to violence and “Yes” to human rights.

Last year, men and women across the world stood together in solidarity, asking for an end to violence against women. They held events in their communities, in their workplace, and at their schools to raise awareness. FOU20 Awareness Initiative in Ciaro Egypt hosted a cycling event to show the power of community in advocating for gender equality. In Kubal, UN Women held a contest and cultural performance event to increase awareness of laws in Afghanistan which protect women and girls from violence. More than 100 people gathered to test and show their knowledge of laws on women’s rights. In Mexico, students lined the streets with signs and information about human rights.

"Orange your Journey" – Bangkok, ThailandSource: unwomen.org

Within the past months we have seen a lot of attention brought to the issue of domestic violence against women in the United States. In 2010 alone, 1,095 women were killed by their male partners. Approximately 42 million women in the United States will experience physical violence, rape and/or stalking by an intimate partner during their lifetime.

Unfortunately, the problem of violence against women is not confined to the United States. Women around the world suffer daily from violence in the form of physical, sexual, psychological, and economic abuse. Worldwide, approximately 30% of women who have been in a relationship have experienced domestic violence, and in some regions that number is even higher. Some national studies report the numbers being as high as 70%.

Empowering women regardless of whether or not they have been a victim of violence is a crucial step towards gender equality and ending the violence. Right here in Pittsburgh, there are many organizations working hard every day to help women.  Check out these organizations to see what part they play in saying “Yes” to human rights.

Women’s Center and Shelter of Greater Pittsburgh

The mission of Women’s Center & Shelter is to advance the safety and wellbeing of victims of intimate partner violence and prevent and respond to intimate partner violence through social change.

Bethlehem Haven of Pittsburgh:

Bethlehem Haven’s mission is to provide a continuum of care for homeless women that leads toward self-sufficiency. Bethlehem Haven’s vision is to end homelessness through collaboration with the community and the people we serve.

The Center for Women Finding Solid Ground

The Center for Women helps women in transition achieve and maintain economic independence by providing and referring career, educational, and financial resources.

YWCA Greater Pittsburgh

YWCA Greater Pittsburgh empowers women and their families, advocates for fair and equitable conditions, and challenges social and racial injustice.

Strong Women Strong Girls

The mission of Strong Women, Strong Girls is to raise ambition for women and girls by fostering cycles of mutual empowerment through mentoring.

Pennsylvania Women Work

Pennsylvania Women Work is dedicated to empowering women in transition through job readiness, emotional growth, education, training and employment. Pennsylvania Women Work provides free services to thousands of women each year.


Multi-lingual Santa Claus – Thursday 11/20/2014

santaglobalAttention multilingual families of Pittsburgh! Like any professional working in international affairs, Santa Claus has mastered several different languages over the years in order to communicate better with children all over the world. In addition to English, he speaks American Sign, Chinese, French, German, Japanese, Spanish, Swahili, and some Ukrainian. This Thursday morning at 10 a.m., Santa will be at his set on the lower level of the Robinson Mall. He is looking to meet with children who speak any of the languages above so that he can get a head start on Christmas preparations this year. The event will be covered by National Public Radio (NPR) and it is possible that local media will be present as well. If you have any children ages 2-16 who are multilingual and would be okay with speaking to the press (and Santa, of course!) stop down on Thursday to see him. You can also contact Carrie Butler, the Public Relations Consultant at The Mall at Robinson for more information: carrielynnbutler@gmail.com or 412-897-6177.

Consider taking your children out to support this globally-minded Christmas tradition.


International Internship and Study Aboard Opportunities

2013 Global Travel Scholar Josh Patton atop Machu Picchu in Peru.

2013 Global Travel Scholar Josh Patton atop Machu Picchu in Peru.

There is a lot to be learned outside of the classroom! Whether you are thinking about college applications or possible career plans, a summer internship, study, or travel opportunity is worth considering, and with summer just around the corner many high school, undergraduate, and graduate students are doing just that.

To help start the search process for opportunities available this summer and throughout theschool year, we’ve compiled a list of some great internships, study abroad, and travel experiences in international affairs across a wide range of organizations. Use the information below as a beginning guide on your search, but be sure to do some research on your own as well! To help you out, we have listed some additional resources for more information.

Internship Opportunities             

Amnesty International – Internship Opportunities: Amnesty International is a human rights organization that provides unpaid summer, fall, and spring internships to rising college juniors (and above) in New York, Washington D.C., Atlanta, San Francisco, and Boston.

Arms Control Association Internships: The Arms Control Association and Arms Control Todayoffer research and journalism internships in Washington, D.C. This internship program, offered in the spring, summer, and fall, is best suited for undergraduate students.

Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Internships: APEC is an international affairs and economic organization that provides unpaid internships to graduate-level students who are nationals or permanent residents of APEC member economies. In some cases a financialstipend may be available. The Secretariat seeks candidates from a variety of academic disciplines, specifically those who have a strong interest in the work of international organizations and, in particular, international affairs and international economics.

The Carter Center Internship Program: Semester-long internships are open to undergraduate and graduate students and recent graduates in areas such as health, peace, and operations. These internships are unpaid and may take place in cities across the nation and abroad. Internship opportunities are offered year round.

Center for Strategic and International Studies – Internships: CSIS offers full and part-time internships in the fall, spring, and summer for undergraduates, advanced students, and recent graduates who are interested in gaining practical experience in public policy.

Central Intelligence Agency – Student Opportunities: The CIA has competitive internship opportunities available to undergraduate and graduate students in a range of fields, including analytical; business, IT, and security; clandestine service; language; and science, engineering and technology. The student opportunities page also includes information on scholarship and co-op programs, as well as ongoing opportunities for students of all ages. Due to the extensive application and background check required, interested applicants should apply 12 months prior to their desired start date. Applications for the Summer 2015 internship program are due March 31, 2014.

Council on Foreign Relations Internships: CFR offers volunteer internship opportunities for college students, graduate students, and recent graduates focusing on international relations and who are pursuing a career in foreign policy or a related field. Interns are recruited year-round on a semester basis to volunteer in both the New York and Washington, DC offices, and all internships are filled on a rolling basis.

Doctors Without Borders – Paid Internship Program: A very competitive program, Doctors Without Borders offers internships in many departments, including HIV/AIDs, Human Resources, Marketing, Medical Editing, Planned Giving, Public Events, Press, and Web. Internships take place in New York City. The deadline to apply for a summer internship is April 11, 2014.

European Union – Washington Delegation Internships: Open to college/university students and recent graduates, internships with the Washington Delegation are unpaid and preference is given to applicants who are available full-time. Internships are offered during the fall semester, spring semester, and summer.

Human Rights Watch Internships: Internships are available to undergraduate and graduate-level students, both within the U.S. and abroad.

International Monetary Fund Internships: The IMF offers approximately 50 paid summer (June – October) internships each year to highly qualified PhD students.

Korea Economic Institute Internships: Applicants to KEI should be graduate students (or exceptional undergraduate students) with a background in political science and/or economics as well as an interest in Asia-Pacific issues, especially Korea. Internships are offered for the fall, spring,and summer.

NATO Internships: The application window for a NATO internship is from March-April for the following year. Internships last 6 months, beginning in either September or March, and are based in Brussels, Belgium. Application requirements include an online application form, CV, and letter of motivation.

United Nations Internships: The UN Programme on Youth provides a list of internships available with the United Nations. Please visit each link for specific details and applicant criteria.

United States Commercial Service Internships: The U.S. Commercial service offers student volunteer internships at U.S. Field Offices, Headquarters, and International Field Offices. This page provides more information about applying to the different locations.

United States Department of State – Student Programs: This page offers information for high school, college, and graduate/post-graduate opportunities within the State Department. Please visit each opportunity for details and applicant criteria.

United States Office of Personnel Management – Student Jobs (USAJobs.gov): This website is the portal to all job and internship applications for the federal government for students and recent graduates. Internships can be found by searching the site for “internship.” This page also offers information on the Pathways Program, the Presidential Management Fellows Program, summer jobs, and volunteer experiences.

United States Senate or House of Representatives Internships: Many offices of government officials in the House of Representatives and United States Senate offer internships for high school students, undergraduates, and graduate students. A variety of opportunities can be found at the link provided. You are also encouraged to visit the professional website of a representative, senator, or committee for more detailed information.

USAID Internships: The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) offers paid and volunteer-based internships, both domestically and abroad, for college and graduate students.

White House Internships: Applicants for a White House internship must be U.S. citizens who will be at least 18 years old on the first day of the internship, and must be enrolled in an academic program. A completed application for this competitive program includes two essay questions, two letters of recommendation, and a resume.

World Affairs Councils: Like the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh, many World Affairs Councils across the country offer internships at their organization. This link goes to the World Affairs Councils of America list of member Councils.

World Bank Internships: The World Bank offers paid internships in the summer (June-September) and winter (December-March), primarily in Washington, D.C. Applicants are required to be graduate or PhD students who have ideally completed one or more years of graduate-level education at the time of the internship.Globe study

Summer Travel and International Learning Opportunities

American Field Service (AFS)-International Programs: AFS is dedicated to building a more peaceful world through international student exchange.  They offer many diverse study abroad programs for summer, semester, or academic-year terms to destinations around the globe for both high school and college students.  They also maintain a detailed database of merit and need-based study abroad scholarships that will help fund your once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Amizade Global Service-Learning: This Pittsburgh-based nonprofit organization offers experiences for individuals and groups to travel abroad to participate in service-learning opportunities. There are also accredited study-abroad opportunities, offered in partnership with West Virginia University.

Council on International Education Exchange (CIEE): CIEE provides many international living options for students, including study, volunteer, gap-year and work exchanges in 15 countries.  They also fund a limited number of full and partial scholarships for both high school and college study abroad programs.

 

Global Citizen Year: During this year-long total immersion program, offered to recent high school graduates, students will develop critical skills, master new tools, and learn from recognized experts all while living abroad and being fully immersed in a new culture. Programs are offered in Brazil, Ecuador, and Senegal, and last from the summer following high school graduation to the following April.

Global Scholar: An intensive two-week academic enrichment program that offers rising high school juniors and seniors the chance to sharpen their understanding of international affairs in a university setting. Global Scholar Prep is held at American University in Washington, D.C.

Kosciuszko Foundation Summer Study Abroad Programs: A variety of study abroad programs are offered by the Kosciuszko Foundation for study at the Catholic University of Lublin and Jagiellonian University of Cracow in Poland. Programs range in length and include courses in the Polish language, history, and culture with sightseeing trips on weekends. The deadline to apply is May 15, 2014.

National Geographic – Student Expeditions: Students completing 9th through 12th grades are eligible to participate in National Geographic Student Expeditions. There are four types of trips offered: expeditions, field workshops, photo workshops, and community service programs.

Summer at Georgetown: Georgetown University’s Summer Programs for High School Students include a range of activities, such as Institutes on International Relations and National Security/Counter-Intelligence; Fundamentals of Business: Leadership in a Global Economy; and summer courses on a range of international topics. The deadline to apply is April 15, 2014.

Summer Seminar on Global Issues: New in 2014, the Summer Seminar on Global Issues is a two-week, non-residential program offered by the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh in partnership with the Global Studies Center and the University Center for International Studies at the University of Pittsburgh. Open to rising high school juniors and seniors, the Summer Seminar will expose students to a range of interdisciplinary global issues, and will include language study, presentations from regional experts, simulation and scenario activities, among others. The deadline to apply is April 30, 2014.

World Learning: A partner of the World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh’s Global Travel Scholarship Program, World Learning offers travel learning opportunities for high school and undergraduate students. The Experiment in International Living offers 3-5 week programs for high school students in 30 different countries, while SIT Study Abroad offers college students more than 70 semester, academic year, and summer programs around the world.

Youth for Understanding (YFU): YFU is a non-profit educational organization that offers opportunities for young people around the world to spend a summer, a semester, or a year with a host family in one of over 50 countries.  They also offer guidelines and tips for raising the money necessary to study abroad and encourage checking in with a local YFU organization about available scholarships.

 


Women in Elected Leadership Worldwide: Guess Who’s on Top?

Women make up 64% of the lower house of the legislature in the country that leads the world in elected female representatives.  Can you guess which country this is?

It’s not the United States. For all of the opportunities it affords women, the U.S. ranks 85th in women elected with 18.3% female legislators. The United Kingdom? No, they rank at number 64 with 22.6% of women elected to Parliament. Many would then guess one of the Nordic countries. Still not correct, but close; Sweden is number five with 43.6%.

You probably wouldn’t guess that it is Rwanda, an African country which 20 years ago was in the midst of one of the most violent civil wars in history. Following the war, the new constitution implemented provided for a gender quota in Parliament, reserving 30% of its seats in the lower house for women. This decision was based on a study by the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women marking that particular percentage as a benchmark. With a majority of its lawmakers as women, Rwanda met this quota and then some. And that’s only the lower house of Parliament; Rwandan women are involved in politics from the local level, through the Parliament, and even to the national judiciary. Half of Rwanda’s Supreme Court Justices are women.

RW Collage

Sources: nationsonline.org, CIA World Factbook

After the war, in which approximately 800,000 people were killed in genocide, Rwanda began to rebuild and Rwandan women had an integral role in the country’s healing. There are many factors  that can be attributed to Rwanda’s progress and many are because, not in spite of, the 1994 conflict.

Women were responsible for most, if not all of the post-war reconstruction. This was mostly because of the demographic realities of the time: as a result of the genocide, over 70% of Rwanda’s population was female for the first few years after the war. Women cared for orphaned children, implemented a massive adoption campaign, supported widows, and gradually rebuilt the country’s infrastructure. Many of the current men in leadership were raised by single mothers in refugee camps. For them, seeing women as leaders is normal, not a benchmark. Gender-based repression and violence before and during the war was also a huge factor in the advancement of women in elected leadership. In the trials after the war, rape was prosecuted as an act of genocide and laws have since been enacted to prevent violence against women.

IPU partial tableSource: ipu.org

What can the rest of the world learn from Rwanda?

In order to get more women in public office in the U.S., more political recruitment may be in order. Psychologically, women have a tendency to be less self-confident than men and will judge their failures and accomplishments more harshly. Publicizing failure in a run for public office is likely a deterrent for many qualified women that simply lack confidence. Another strong deterrent for women is concern about balancing personal life with time commitment and other the obligations that come with public leadership.

It may be especially beneficial to have women in elected political leadership in developing countries. A study by Columbia Business School and Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management  showed that electing women to leadership positions in politically and economically fragile states is correlated with a significant increase in GDP.  This is particularly true of states that have strong ethnic divisions and high economic inequality. Women have a more inclusive and democratic style of leadership which can be attributed to the correlation between female leadership and economic growth.

In an era where there are so many young democracies struggling to maintain political stability and economic growth, this lesson is especially notable. Regardless of the political, economic, or institutional strength of a country, diverse and proportionate representation is one of the hallmarks of successful democracies and thoughtful studies that aid these efforts always valued.


Halloween Around the World

The tradition of Halloween traces back to a pre-Christian Celtic Festival celebrated across present day northern Europe. The festival, called Samhain (pronounced Sah-ween) marked the beginning of a new year. On the last night of every year, it was believed that the dead wandered amongst the living waiting to finally pass through to the otherworld once the new year began. People gathered food and lit bonfires to aid the dead on their journey.

Hundreds of years later, when Catholic missionaries sought to convert the Celts to Christianity, they changed the name and altered the purpose of the celebration. Samhain became All Saints Day or All Hallows. They still celebrated the wandering dead, but now the dead were thought to be only evil and the food was seen as a way to keep them at bay. People began to dress like ghosts, fairies, and demons, and eventually All Hallows Eve evolved into the Halloween we celebrate today.

Halloween has been long popular in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, and the United States. It was not until recent decades that the holiday spread to other countries. Japan is amongst those areas where Halloween is a relatively new holiday. It is seen as a great excuse to dress up and have parades. This past Sunday, the city of Kawasaki threw a Halloween parade with 2,500 participants and more than 100,000 spectators. However, trick-or-treating has yet to catch on. The same is true for most European countries as well, where Halloween seems to be mostly celebrated by young adults. In recent years, people in Russia and Jordan began to celebrate the holiday as well. However, both countries have placed restrictions on the holidays. Jordan’s Interior Ministry banned all celebrations this year saying they posed security risks. Some Russian Politicians called for a ban against public celebrations of Halloween for reasons of safety and preserving culture.

japantimes

Children in Japan celebrate Halloween – source: Japantimes

Another similar celebration in Mexico and other Latin American countries is Dia de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead). The three-day celebration honors the dead. Traditionally, many families tidy up and decorate their relatives gravesites, and then burn candles and incense to help the dead find their way home. At home, the families construct an altar to the dead which is decorated with flowers, photographs, candy, drinks, and the favorite foods of the deceased relatives.

November 1 is All Saints’ Day. For some, Halloween is the eve of All Saints’ Day, and All Saints Day is part of the celebration of the second day of Dia de los Meurtos. Catholics around the world celebrate by attending mass and decorating the graves of deceased relatives with flowers and candles.

all saints day Poland catholic-org

A graveyard on All Saints’ Day in Poland – source: catholic.org


Ebola Pandemic: This Time is Different

Ebola Outbreak Map - BBC

This blog post was written and research by World Affairs Council Intern, Erin Elliott.

In mid-September President Obama announced the commitment of 3,000 U.S. troops to aid in international relief efforts. In the aftermath of the first direct Ebola case inside the U.S., the President has raised that number to 4,000. While Texas officials were careful to avoid panic and many insist that the U.S. would be able to contain the virus, the current Ebola outbreak remains the worst seen since its discovery in 1976.  At the current rate, the CDC estimates that cases could rise to 1.4 million within four months’ time.

The fatality statistics of Ebola since 1976 are one way in which this is illustrated:

  • 1976: 318 cases, 280 deaths
  • 1995: 315 cases, 250 deaths
  • 1996: 99 cases, 66 deaths
  • October 2001-December 2003: 300 cases, 253 deaths
  • March 2014-October 2, 2014: 3,974 cases, 2007 deaths

Underlying each new development in the pandemic is the question: what factors are exacerbating factors of this outbreak? The 2014 outbreak has been called “the perfect storm” and it seems like an accurate assessment. Countries of West Africa all have similar hallmarks that exacerbated the pandemic: they are all in various stages of recovery from civil wars, weak governance, poor infrastructure, and debilitated healthcare systems. Aside from limited the administrative capacity of the affected countries, globalization is most to blame for the rapid rates of infection. The outbreak began between Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea in a highly populated area. Since it is now a lot easier to travel from one place to another—even from one continent to another—it’s no surprise that Ebola has infected and killed so many. This, combined with governance and infrastructural handicaps are what make this outbreak different from past outbreaks.

Global health authorities have been criticized for being unprepared in their response and crisis management. Many are calling for quarantines, closed borders and travel bans until the outbreak is quelled. However, there are serious human rights concerns whenever the freedom of movement is restricted.

In addition to the health crisis, the increased magnitude of Ebola is now creating other problems:

The severity of Ebola is now unquestionable and it is clear that the disease poses an international threat. The United Nations, along with other international and humanitarian organizations, has formed the Global Ebola Response Coalition in order to provide care and services to those countries that are suffering the most and to stop the outbreak and prevent future outbreaks. There is no cure for Ebola, but several vaccines and treatments being developed by pharmaceutical companies worldwide which will be tested and used on Ebola patients in West Africa by November. This includes the unconventional plasma therapy for Ebola patients using the blood of other Ebola survivors.

While the threat remains high, the international community will no doubt be watching intently in the hopes that it can be stopped and a cure or treatment can be developed before more fatalities accumulate.


The Scotland of Tomorrow?

16767-scotland-flag-grunge

This blog post was researched and written by World Affairs Council inter, Erin Elliot.

Tomorrow Scotland will hold a referendum on becoming independent from the United Kingdom. Current political polling puts the referendum in a statistical dead heat: there is a 50-50 chance that tomorrow Scotland will be a brand new country.

Scotland has been part of the Kingdom of Great Britain with England and Scotland since the Acts of Union in 1707. Prior to then, it was an independent country united under a single monarch since 1603. The question of independence has always been present in Scottish politics but the recent bid was driven by the Scottish National Party after they won a majority of seats in the 2011 National Parliamentary election. The SNP has led the push for independence since it was founded in 1934 uniting the National Party of Scotland, a left pro-independence party, with the Scottish Party, who are more politically conservative but are in favor of home rule.

This vote is different than past attempts at independence. Prime Minister, David Cameron says the UK will not block the vote. This means that if the referendum passes, Scotland will be on its own once and for all. Given the gravity and finality of this decision, the referendum has the potential to ripple outward through continental Europe and into the rest of the world. There are already factions in Spain, Italy, and Belgium that are expressing interest in starting their own bids for independence. Just last week during Catalonia’s National Day in Spain, there were rallies in the streets of Barcelona. The Northern League in Italy and the Flemish community in Belgium are among others that have expressed self-deterministic desires.

Most observers are focusing on the economic implications of an independent Scotland. Many financial firms are nervous about the effect of Scottish independence on business and have relocated to Great Britain, including the Royal Bank of Scotland. Critics say that Scotland would face a long and difficult challenge in the monetary and fiscal issues alone. Some Scots maintain that they could continue to use the British pound, but Britain would have to give its permission which looks unlikely at this point. Scotland could adopt the Euro, but to do this they would have to join the EU. Also, given the instability of the Eurozone, it would be a risky monetary decision for a new country. They would also have the option of establishing their own currency.

Further analysis of the economic and political implications for Great Britain are equally complicated. If Scotland votes yes, Prime Minister Cameron will suffer political setbacks and pressure to resign for allowing the referendum in the first place. Additionally, if Scotland leaves the United Kingdom it will take the oil industry with it. Cameron’s criticism would be compounded by the loss of this asset. The loss of Scottish seats in British Parliament won’t have a detrimental affect; most of the Scottish seats are in the Labour party, but the Conservative party holds a majority even if Scotland remains in the UK.

On the other hand, Scotland requires a significant amount of British social welfare. If Scotland votes yes, the low income earners in Scotland will be the most vulnerable. Great Britain, however, will be at an advantage because they will no longer have a financial responsibility to Scotland.

There are also other questions about Scotland’s future, such as security, defense, health care, childcare, and education. Concerning foreign policy and international affairs, there is also the question of Scottish membership in the European Union and in NATO. Would independent Scotland seek to become members of either organization? If it did would it be able to join? How long would the process take and what would be the requirements?

Since there are so many practical concerns, it is interesting to see so much popular support in for the referendum. The Economist lends an interesting perspective to the drive for Scottish independence. According to the article, a sweeping sense of nationalism is the driver of the movement for self-determination; practical concerns like the economy and defense are in the periphery. The national identity of Scotland has always been strong, but genuine independence has continued to elude them. As the author suggests, this may be for historical reasons: unlike the Irish, the Scottish have had a relatively good relationship with the British. As such, the incentives to continue to be a part of the United Kingdom have tended to outweigh popular support for independence.

Even if Scotland votes no tomorrow, they still win; their government will become even further devolved from the British Parliament. Scottish Labour, Scottish Conservatives, and Scottish Liberal Democrats have laid out proposals to Scotland as contingency for a no vote expanding upon the Scotland Act of 2012. Most of the proposals would grant more taxation responsibility to Scotland while continuing to allow Britain to manage oil, defense, foreign policy and the economy.

Both sides of the debate have their own web presence and social media campaigns. Yes Scotland, the side favoring independence, and Better Together, the side favoring continued UK partnerships, have continual updates on each of their respective sites and social media pages.

The next twenty-four hours will be a very exciting time for Scotland and we eagerly await the results!


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