I recently ran a fascinating workshop with colleagues at Intermón Oxfam (Oxfam’s Spanish affiliate) at which the different country programmes brought examples of change processes at work. One that particularly struck me was about our work in Colombia on sexual violence and conflict. Here’s the write up, jointly authored with Intermon’s Alejandro Matos.
The campaign began in 2009, jointly agreed by Intermón Oxfam and 9 national women’s and human rights organizations. The main aim was to make visible, at national and international level, the widespread use of sexual violence as a tactic by all sides in the armed conflict, and the gaps and failings in the responses of the Colombian state, in terms of prevention and punishment, the end of impunity and the care of women victims.
As we all watch the events unfolding in the Middle East, transfixed by the politics and social and economic ramifications of it all, it occurred to me that it might not be a bad idea to look at what the Arab World was reading by way of fiction. I could not locate a best-sellers list covering the region but work on putting together such a regional list is ongoing. So I turned to the 5th International Prize for Arabic Fiction (IPAF), a literary prize managed by the Booker Prize Foundation in London, and funded by the Emirates Foundation in Abu Dhabi. The prize is for prose fiction by Arabic authors, very much like the Man Booker Prize in the UK.
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
“For the first time ever, Twitter has issued a transparency report card that sheds light on how often it's been asked by government officials to delete tweets and hand over user information -- and how frequently the social media site has complied.
Twitter's inaugural Transparency Report, based on activity during the first half of this year, details government requests for user data, authorities' efforts to have tweets removed and copyright takedown notices. It suggests officials are taking a more active interest in Twitter users' activity: Twitter's legal policy manager Jeremy Kessel writes, ‘We’ve received more government requests in the first half of 2012, as outlined in this initial dataset, than in the entirety of 2011.’” READ MORE
Allow me to take the occasion of the 236th “birthday” of my native-born country (celebrated on July 4th here in the U.S.) to go far afield and discuss a topic that, while grounded in empirical social science, doesn’t touch directly on impact evaluation. The topic is how the personality traits of an individual may be related to his or her relative wealth.
If you miss me at the back of the bus, and you can't find me nowhere
Come on up to the front of the bus, I'll be ridin' right there
I'll be ridin' right there
I'll be ridin' right there
Come on up to the front of the bus I'll be ridin' right there
The digital divide for voice services is closing at a rapid pace in Africa due to the spread of the basic mobile phone. With 500 million mobile phones on the African continent, more than in the US or European Union, Africa is the fastest growing region in the world.
Long-established bureaucracies can, sometimes, appear to be a little cynical. Toward their mission, toward their work routines, toward their staff, toward their chances of success. This cynicism can damage morale and become a self-fulfilling hypothesis. So it doesn’t hurt when bureaucratic organizations get an infusion of optimism from time to time that lets them rethink goals, capacities, and strategies.
The strength of a country, and especially the strength of a city, is its ability to react to, and repair, the social fissures that originate wherever three or more humans live together. Social tectonics is the natural fracturing along societal lines like wealth, education, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, even color of skin, shapes of noses, or sports team preferences. Humans are amazingly adept at finding things in others to be wary of.
Social tectonics is active everywhere. No government or leader can stop it – but much can be done to reinforce our societies, institutions and cities, as well as reducing stresses. Like observant seismologists, social scientists sense where stresses are increasing and approaching breaking points. For example, the Occupy Movement that has popped up in many American cities represents growing stress in people who see too much concentration of wealth. The Arab Spring is a fracture between the general populace and the few who concentrated political power.
I am very pleased to announce the launch of a new recruitment drive for Arabic speakers, called the SMART (Strategic MNA Arabic Recruitment of Talent) program, which will provide a small cohort of the best and brightest Arabic speakers with a unique opportunity to pursue a career at the Bank. We are very excited to introduce young, dynamic professionals to the MENA region of the World Bank and in this small way contribute to the expansion of the Arab talent in the World Bank’s MENA Region.