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Weekly Wire: The Global Forum

Roxanne Bauer's picture

These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.

Tomorrow’s world: seven development megatrends challenging NGOs
The Guardian
As we move into 2015, many UK-based NGOs are wondering how to meet the challenges of a crucial year. What is the unique and distinct value that each organisation, and the UK sector as a whole, brings to international development, and how might this change in future? To help the sector get on the front foot we have identified seven “megatrends” and posed a few questions to highlight some of the key choices NGOs might need to make. At the end of next week we’ll be concluding a consultation with DfID on the future of the sector – all your thoughts are welcome.

Why emerging markets need smart internet policies
The Alliance for Affordable Internet (A4AI) has released its latest study into, well, the affordability of internet access. The study shows how big the challenge is on that front in emerging markets – for over two billion people there, fixed-line broadband costs on average 40 percent of their monthly income, and mobile broadband costs on average 10 percent of their monthly income. The United Nations’ “affordability target” for internet access is five percent of monthly income, so there’s clearly a ways to go in many developing countries. Almost 60 percent of global households are still unconnected and, unsurprisingly, those who can’t afford to get online tend to be poor, in rural communities and/or women.

The Failure of Multiculturalism
Foreign Affairs
Thirty years ago, many Europeans saw multiculturalism—the embrace of an inclusive, diverse society—as an answer to Europe’s social problems. Today, a growing number consider it to be a cause of them. That perception has led some mainstream politicians, including British Prime Minister David Cameron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to publicly denounce multiculturalism and speak out against its dangers. It has fueled the success of far-right parties and populist politicians across Europe, from the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands to the National Front in France. And in the most extreme cases, it has inspired obscene acts of violence, such as Anders Behring Breivik’s homicidal rampage on the Norwegian island of Utoya in July 2011. How did this transformation come about?
Leapfrogging traditional service delivery constraints in Africa through mobile technologies
Despite heavy investments directed towards the provisions of social services in Africa, service delivery outcome in terms of quality and access remains disappointing—especially in health. A large volume of empirical evidence shows that, for many developing countries, there is only a weak connection between spending on public services and service delivery outcomes. Merely increasing the amount of resources devoted to a service does not necessarily translate into positive results. The reasons for this outcome are inefficiencies and weak accountability across service delivery chains, compounded by a paucity of functional infrastructure that make it difficult and costly for the poor to access services. This is especially true for the poor in rural areas and in areas of high concentration of poverty in urban slums. Service delivery is also complicated by fragility, especially in conflict and post-conflict countries.  But mobile phone-based technological innovations are changing the service delivery landscape in Africa, especially among poor populations and those living in fragile states.
Even the Internet Can’t Escape the Gender Gap
Women in low- and middle-income countries are 21 percent less likely to have a mobile phone than men, according to a new report on gender equality by the United Nations, while overall only 36 percent of women (and 41 percent of men) have access to the Internet.   The U.N. Women report, to be presented to the United Nations by Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to U.N. member states on Monday, does note that women represent half of all social media users worldwide and three-fifths of bloggers.  So while some progress has been made toward gender parity, such as the adoption of legislation promoting equality and criminalizing gender-based violence, the report—released on Friday to coincide with International Women's Day (which is Sunday) and the 59th Commission on the Status of Women—also details specific areas of failure in 167 countries.
Internet Access Is Key to Gender Equality
ON ISSUES FROM education and healthcare to discrimination and leadership, the status of women and girls worldwide has improved dramatically over the last two decades. The maternal mortality rate has dropped by half, and the number of boys and girls with access to primary education has nearly balanced out.  But as a report compiled by the Clinton Foundation and Gates Foundation confirms, we’ve still got a long—long—way to go to fully close the gender gap worldwide. The report, released today, is a product of No Ceilings, an initiative the Clinton Foundation launched last year in hopes of taking stock of what’s changed since 1995. Its findings comprise 850,000 data points, spanning a 20-year period, collected over the years by the United Nations, The World Bank, and other research and non-profit organizations. By pulling from so many disparate sources, the report signals an important shift for non-profits, which are finally coming around to an idea that the tech industry has long embraced: to solve any big problems, you need big data.

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