08 March 2018
Agenda 2030 counts on cooperation as a tool for advancing the gender equality that is being publicly demanded
“On International Women’s Day, we must commit ourselves to doing everything possible to overcome entrenched prejudices, support participation and activism, and promote gender equality and the empowerment of women”. These are the words of António Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, on International Women’s Day. Another 8 March for reflecting on what has been achieved and what remains to be done in terms of equality.
In 1995, almost 200 governments signed a historic road map in Beijing for achieving equal women’s rights. Two decades later, movements in favour of that equality continue to fill the streets and social networks throughout the world. In the face of this joint and global progress, international cooperation can be a key tool to achieving this equality.
Mar Merita, a technician specialising in gender with the EUROsociAL+ programme – which is funded by the European Commission and managed by FIIAPP – affirms how much innovation has taken place regarding the role of women in the Agenda 2030 framework for cooperation.
From ensuring that children have an equitable and high quality education, through ending all forms of discrimination and violence against women and girls throughout the world, to making equality one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) established by several world leaders for a better world in 2030.
Equality in the EU
Gender equality is also one of the founding values of the European Union, which closely follows these development objectives. It also analyses progress towards these objectives through a periodic study.
The latest one (Sustainable Development in the European Union, 2017) provides data on four specific areas that serve as indicators when evaluating the goal of equality: gender violence, access to education, employment and positions of responsibility.
Gender violence is a reality in the EU in 2012. Where one in three women say they have experienced physical or sexual violence since they were 15 years old. This problem is the cause and consequence of inequality, and the fight against it begins the moment children gain access to education.
However, the fact that men drop out of school earlier and women are more successful in this area is not reflected in the employment rate of recent graduates, which is higher for men. In addition, the proportion of men of working age in employment exceeds that of working women by 11.6%.
Employment is one of the areas that is most linked to gender roles, family responsibilities and traditions. And it is reflected in the wage gap: in 2015, according to the same study, women earned 16.3% less per hour than men. The same difference as 5 years ago.
Progress has a cost in what Mar calls the “third generation of rights”, which would include this difference in wages that continues to be significant in most countries. According to the expert from EUROsociAL+, despite the progress in the recognition of political rights, there is still work to be done regarding social, cultural and economic rights; through which that “real equality” would be achieved.
The distribution of political positions and positions of responsibility also reflects inequality, since women do not usually have as much representation as men in decision-making processes. While the proportion of seats held by women in national parliaments has increased since 2003, women still held less than one third (28.9%) of these seats in 2017.
Cooperation as a tool
Many of these issues, such as the wage gap and sexual harassment, are the focus of current events. These have included public denunciations, with a strong international impact, which nevertheless need “processes for dealing with these problems”.
Dominique de Suremain, coordinator of the gender equity policy area for the EUROsociAL+ programme, believes she sees “less visible work for change” when these demands materialise and are reflected in the system.
This is where cooperation comes into play, it has an essential role in the implementation of public policies that take these demands into account. It is important, according to Dominique, “to introduce that concern into the design of the projects” from the outset. It is a cross-cutting issue that must not only be applied in social projects, but it is also relevant for all the themes.
An example would be the gender focus workshop organised by ARAP Ghana – an anti-corruption project managed by FIIAPP – or the inclusion of this perspective in the activities of Euroclima+. In the end, inequality is inherent in the society in which it occurs and it influences the problems that society addresses.
However, this approach is often insufficient to achieve real equality. We must go beyond the diagnosis, the indicators, to quantify how many women have benefited: “We must take advantage of cooperation projects in order to play a proactive role,” according to Dominique.
Perhaps for this reason, EUROsociAL+ is one of the first programmes to create an exclusive thematic area to address this problem. A strong gender component or axis that has direct actions and a team of people exclusively dedicated to it.
Cooperation is based on an exchange of experiences, which is also important for Mar Merita: “you can fight inequality by promoting examples and good practices that arise in countries”, by learning from each other.
“Equality is a universal cause” and a realistic objective that, within the framework of the projects, needs public policies in order to make practical progress. Although in the end what is really important, according to the expert, is to believe in it.
Listen to the programme dedicated to International Women’s Day on our space on Spanish National Radio
15 February 2018
Cities are becoming key hubs from which to fight climate change. In Latin America, Euroclima+ supports mitigation policies to reduce emissions"Sustainable cities" are one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG)
When pollution levels increase, public transport in Paris is free. And only “clean” vehicles can enter the city. In Brussels and Copenhagen, priority is given to bicycles. Or the speed limit is reduced, as in Madrid. While London, Oslo and Stockholm use tolls to restrict traffic.
Other measures taken by the transport sector to reduce urban air pollution include prizes for green cars and controlling traffic flow and parking, encouraging car sharing and public transport. Urban air pollution is one of the most visible effects of climate change in cities around the world.
Outside of Europe, Tokyo monitors pollution in real time, with indexes that can be viewed online. Checks on the street, fines and lists of offenders are some of the other measures taken in one of the most populated cities in the world.
And the majority of the world population lives in cities. Making the adoption of an urban perspective on climate change necessary, as it is estimated that 70% of the population will be urban in 2050. Uses associated with the network of cities produce more than 70% of CO2 emissions.
Climate change and health
An article reflects on whether we are aware of what urban air pollution means. On whether we are aware that poor air quality affects our health. And on whether we are aware that it causes thousands of premature deaths a year. And it is backed up by data: 1,032,833 deaths per year in China, 621,138 in India, 54,507 in Ukraine, 32,668 in Turkey, 26,241 in Brazil, 26,160 in Germany and 16,798 in Mexico.
Euroclima+, the European Union-financed programme to tackle climate change in Latin America, supports the development of mitigation policies directly related to the reduction of greenhouse gases and other emissions.
In addition, other specific plans with this objective are being developed in the industrial and transport sectors. They are necessary because a growing population means that current production and consumption patterns are running up against limited resources. A calculation of the ecological footprint shows that if no action is taken by 2030 we will need the equivalent of two planet Earths to cover our needs.
The programme is present in 18 Latin American countries and works in accordance with the United Nations Convention on Climate Change and according to the needs of a region that hosts some of those expanding cities.
Climate change in the Sustainable Development Goals
The climate governance component of Euroclima+ is being led by FIIAPP. Another of the programme’s tasks is to evaluate these climate policies, which will allow the associated actions to be redefined or redesigned in accordance with the framework agreements or compliance with the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG). These are the 17 goals several world leaders established in 2015 for a better world in 2030. And which, in summary, aim to “end poverty, fight inequality and stop climate change”.
Among them, number 11 refers to “sustainable cities” with a section on “environmental impacts” and number 13 focuses on action against climate change.–– But, how are things progressing with them?
The European Union is studying progress towards these goals. In its latest study (Sustainable development in the European Union, 2017) it determined that the concentration of population and industry continues to be a risk for air quality. Despite the advances, the levels of air pollution continue to be above those recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
However, as part of its strategy for 2020, the EU set the goal of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by 20%, compared to 1990. The goal for 2015 has already been exceeded, with a reduction of 22%.
The cities are also commited
In this context, cities are aware they need to be involved. And they advocated this at the last UN Climate Summit (COP23), held in Bonn in November 2017, by calling for more tools to combat climate change.
Specifically, the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions was addressed with the ultimate aim of slowing down global warming. The objective remains that terrestrial temperatures do not increase more than 2 ºC by 2050. To achieve this, emissions must be reduced by 80%.
Euroclima+ also attended the meeting, where it met with ministers from several countries in the region to follow up on the objectives they have already committed to under the Paris Agreement (COP21) and to strengthen the dialogue on climate policies.
Many of the cities that met in Bonn also belong to the C40 network, which brings together more than 90 cities to combat the impacts of climate change by working collaboratively. The main objectives include “reducing greenhouse gases and increasing the health and well-being of citizens”.
This network alone represents “more than 650 million people and a quarter of the world economy”, making cities a priority when it comes to addressing this problem.
An example of this commitment is reflected in the short documentary released on the internet on the work of 6 cities: Bogota, Cape Town, New York, Paris, Portland and Seoul.
In reality, the next step is for us, as individuals, to also be aware that these measures are not intended to make our lives more difficult. On the contrary, they will allow us to live in the future.
The trick is to change some habits, with small gestures, however insignificant they may seem. More than 7,000 million small gestures can defeat climate change.
12 January 2018
The First Journalistic Feature Contest organised by SC-CONALTID and FIIAPP seeks to make the fight against these crimes visible within the framework of the project to support Bolivian institutionsRepresentative mural of La Paz (Bolivia)
“At 27, Noelia has experienced more than anyone of her age; she is one of the five women who are interned in the Drug Dependants ward at the San Juan de Dios Psychiatric Hospital in Cochabamba, for polydrug use…”
Thus begins Moments of pleasure in exchange for a life of suffering, the winning story in the First Journalistic Feature Contest “Prevention of Drug Taking and Fight Against the Smuggling and Trafficking of Persons”. Laura Manzaneda Barrios, a journalist for The Times in Bolivia, narrates the life of a drug addict who loses custody of her children and arrives at an institution to rehabilitate herself.
According to the Latin American Observatory on Drug Policy and Human Security, 97% of the population considers drug use to be a social problem. Moreover, the fact is that the country is the epicentre of drug trafficking.
The portrayal of positive experiences in the prevention of drug use or in the fight against the trafficking and smuggling of persons is the goal of this contest organised by SC-CONALTID and FIIAPP, within the framework of the project to support the fight against drug trafficking and related crimes.
A story that seeks to provide training for Bolivian institutions in the fields of operational criminal investigation, intelligence, the control of borders and merchandise, money and asset laundering, people smuggling and trafficking.
This last problem is the subject of the second award-winning story: I woke up from the network, I dodged people trafficking, from the presenter of Red Bolivisión Víctor Hugo Rojas Chávez.
“Accepting an unknown yet attractive person as a contact was the quickest way to misery, a ticket she acquired when answering the first “hello, how are you?” in a web chat… the rest only a game of warm and flattering words in the midst of a vibrant plague of emoticons of kisses and hearts… that was the journey that led her along this path, a path of no return and at the highest price”.
The fragment reflects the principle of the many cases of what UNICEF considers “a modern form of slavery”. The main victims of human trafficking are children, adolescents and women who are seduced for the purpose of sexual exploitation or forced labour.
According to United Nations (UN) estimates, more than 2 million people are victims of human trafficking every year. And a study promoted by the Organization of American States (OAS) noted that Bolivia is one of the countries with the highest rate of people smuggling and trafficking in the region.
Institutional action is fundamental
The project managed by FIIAPP – funded by the European Commission and the State Agency for International Cooperation for Development (AECID) – focuses on the formation of Bolivian institutions so that they can cope with the problem.
Making it visible with activities like this is the first step. But there is a need for coordinated work by public and international entities. And in the end, the involvement of these institutions is fundamental. Thus, the third prize winner, professor of Social Communication (UMSA) Ramiro Reynaldo Quintanilla Ramírez, says at the end of his story: People trafficking is a silent crime that threatens Bolivia.
“Mothers will continue to look for their daughters, victims will try to extricate themselves from the horror which surrounds them and the money will never be enough to deal with such a lucrative and dangerous crime. However, there is hope for society as long as there are institutions that care about the pain of others.”
To read the full stories, click here
16 November 2017
The European Commission Programme aims to give technical assistance to countries to guarantee the safety of their citizens
In Latin America there are 23 homicides for every 100 thousand inhabitants. This figure is double the amount for Africa and five times the amount recorded in Asia. What’s more, with only 9 per cent of the world’s population, Latin America accounts for more than 30 per cent of the violent killings committed worldwide each year.[i]
Many of these are related to organised crime. This is one of the reasons why the sense of insecurity experienced by citizens has increased in recent years, making it a priority for these countries.
For many years, different policies to combat organised crime were tried out in Latin America. Some were repressive and others more moderate (such as “mano dura” or “iron fist” and the converse “mano blanda” approach applied in Guatemala from 2007 to 2015), with the feeling that the problem was not effectively dealt with. The reasons are many and varied, but the periodical and “short-term” nature of these policies may explain their ineffectiveness. One of the main lessons learned was the correct use of more global and long-lasting policies to identify and end insecurity in the region.
This is where EL PAcCTO (Europe Latin America Assistance Programme Against Transnational Organised Crime) comes onto the scene. A European Commission programme with pioneering content as it is the first time the whole criminal justice chain is dealt with as a whole. More specifically, it focuses on three areas (police, judicial and fiscal and the prison system) with five transversal work focuses (cyber crime, corruption, human rights, gender and money laundering) and the inclusion of two intrinsically linked projects (AMERIPOL and another project managed by Interpol). It is, therefore, an ambitious and complex project which will try to tackled the problem of organised crime in the most global and effective way possible by providing technical assistance to 18 Latin American countries (Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela).
The International and Ibero-American Foundation for Administration and Public Policies (FIIAPP) and Expertise France (EF) coordinate the project along with two partners, the Italo-Latin American Institute (IILA) and the Camoes Institute.
The Programme will facilitate peer learning, South-South cooperation and the transfer of best European practices, and will be focused on public administrations. To do this, it will have the support of the Spanish General Council of the Judiciary, Ministry of the Interior via the Civil Guard, National Police and Prison Institutions, Ministry of Justice, the Public Prosecutor and their analogues in France, Italy and Portugal.
EL PAcCTO seeks to create concrete guides and tools for international action, approval and cooperation, both regionally and between Latin American countries and EU Member States. This way, it aims to eliminate border using legal and technical solutions that make Latin America a free and safe space united against organised crime.
The Programme is trying to respond now to all of the urgent demands from the countries because the aim of the programme is to build a safer society which benefits everyone. This is why it is important to increase social awareness about the dangers of organised crime. It is a matter of great importance to guarantee people’s rights, freedom and lives.
[i] Highest murder rates in the world by city (2016), World Atlas. Available at http://www.worldatlas.com/articles/most-dangerous-cities-in-the-world.html
María Jesús Martín is a Communication Technician at EL PAcCTO (Europe Latin America Assistance Programme Against Transnational Organised Crime) comes onto the scene.
13 October 2017
Representatives of the Ministry of Health, the Institute of Social Security and the Institute for Access to Public Information travelled to Madrid with the support of EUROsociAL+ to find out more in situ about the Spanish experience with managing hospital medical records
When Margarita went to her Social Security hospital in El Salvador for her regular type 2 diabetes check-up, her medical record had disappeared. After hours of fruitless searching, she went in to see her doctor with a temporary (empty) file so that he could prescribe the appropriate medicines. Due to the lack of medical information, the doctor told her that he could not prescribe her glimepiride, one of the key drugs for treating her diabetes, until he had some accurate analyses of her medical condition. Margarita had to wait almost a month to get the result of the new clinical analyses, without receiving proper medication in the meantime. After nearly three months, the file was finally found, surprisingly, among the records of those who had died.
Managing medical records properly is essential for improving the treatment of patients and the exercise of their rights, as well as the effective and efficient functioning of the healthcare system. However, this is a daunting task that requires confronting huge challenges, such as a lack of storage space or human and financial resources. At the same time, the patients’ personal details must be properly protected and the complex process of transferring the files from a paper format to an electronic one must be carried out in stages.
Well aware of the pressing need to tackle this issue in El Salvador, the Institute for Access to Public Information (IAIP), the Ministry of Health (MINSAL) and the Salvadoran Institute of Social Security (ISSS) have joined forces with the aim of building the foundations for a new era in the management of medical records in this Central American country’s public healthcare sector.
The EUROsociAL+ Programme, funded by the European Commission and managed by the FIIAPP, is helping El Salvador with this process. As a first step, between 25 and 28 September, representatives of the three Salvadoran institutions visited Madrid to find out about the progress made and the challenges faced by Spain in this area. For a week, they were able to exchange experiences and lessons learned with the Ministry of Health, Equality and Social Services, the Castilla-La Mancha Health Service (SESCAM), the Community of Madrid’s Hospital Clínico San Carlos, the Ministry of Education, Culture and Sports General Sub-Directorate of State Archives and the Spanish Data Protection Agency. The visit included a tour of the Hospital Clínico San Carlos archives and the Central Archives of the State Administration in Alcalá in addition to a presentation of the lessons learned from the Tunisian electronic file project headed by the FIIAPP and funded by the European Union.
This activity was the first step in promoting inter-institutional dialogue in El Salvador, advancing toward creating operating instructions and new regulations, and promoting cultural change, which is needed in order to improve the quality of healthcare in this Central American country.
Borja Díaz Rivillas, Senior Officer of Democratic Governance. EUROsociAL+
28 September 2017
To date Ghana does not have a Freedom of Information law but it has made some positive strides to ensure transparency and accountabilityEU funded Accountability, Rule of law and Anti-corruption Programme (ARAP)
In the past years, Ghana has made some positive strides to ensure transparency and accountability within its governance reforms. Some concrete commitments include the development and roll out of a 10 year National Anti-Corruption Action Plan (NACAP) as well joining in 2011 the Open Government Partnership.
As part of these efforts, there is also the five-year EU funded Accountability, Rule of law and Anti-corruption Programme (ARAP) currently implemented by FIIAPP. The objective of the programme is to contribute to current reform processes to reduce corruption and improve accountability, and compliance with the rule of law, particularly when it comes to accountability, anti-corruption and environmental governance. It does so through support key institutions, while at the same time increasing the ability of the public, civil society organizations and the media to hold government to account.
On one hand the programme works with state institutions to improve and strengthen the services to report, prosecute and adjudicate corruption cases. On the other, it strengthens state institutions, civil society and the media to create the conditions for citizens to demand accountability from the government and report corruption cases.
Against this backdrop, access to information is a critical stepping stone for anyone who wishes to hold the government to account. It is no surprise therefore that access to information has become a cornerstone of good governance and an important anti-corruption tool. Information is fundamental to make informed decisions. Information is also power. Where it is not freely accessible, corruption can thrive and basic rights might not be realised. People can hide corrupt acts behind a veil of secrecy. Those with privileged access to information can demand bribes from others also seeking it.
Today, 28th of September, is the International Day for Universal Access to Information. Citizens and organizations across the world call on their leaders today to act upon the fundamental premise that all information held by governments and governmental institutions is in principle public and may only be withheld if there are legitimate reasons, such as typically privacy and security, for not disclosing it.
The International Day for Universal Access to Information was declared just over two years ago by UNESCO. Not many know however that this UN initiative has its roots in Africa, and is an outcome of advocacy of the African Platform on Access to Information (APAI). This is a concerted effort to remind us all – regardless of our job and daily life – that accessing information held by government officials and institutions is a fundamental human right established under international Law, covered by Article 19 of the International Declaration of Human Rights and Article 19 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.
Over the past 10 years, the right to information has been recognized by an increasing number of countries, through the adoption of a wave of Freedom of Information (FOI) laws. In 1990, only 13 countries had adopted national FOI laws, whereas there are currently more than 90 such laws adopted across the world.
To date Ghana does not have a Freedom of Information law, despite it has been debated in the country for almost 20 years: the actual bill being drafted in 1999 and then reviewed in 2003, 2005 and 2007 and is currently in Parliament. There are however, positive signs from the government affirming that the bill will be approved in the coming year together with the Office of the Special Prosecutor for Corruption.
Riccardo D’Emidio, Civic Education Expert – Accountability, Rule of law and Anti-corruption Programme (ARAP)