Eskinder Nega was arrested after raising questions about arrests under Ethiopia’s anti-terrorism legislation in September 2011. Now he serves an 18 year sentence thanks to the very law he questioned.
“The Ethiopian government is treating calls for peaceful protest as a terrorist act and is outlawing the legitimate activity of journalists and opposition members,” said Amnesty International‘s Ethiopia researcher Claire Beston at the time of sentencing.
Rights groups raised attention to the use of the law to circumvent speech and dissent. Nearly a year later, Nega remains in jail. His attempt to appeal the ruling two weeks ago failed. The judge upheld the sentencing decision, saying it was correct.
“The truth will set us free,” said Nega to the public following the ruling. “We want the Ethiopian public to know that the truth will reveal itself, it’s only a matter of time.”
A year and a half of truth later and Nega is still in jail. He is not the lone victim of Ethiopia’s crackdown of opposition figures and abuse of its terrorism law. Ethiopia is one of the worst places in the world to be a journalist. 79 journalists fled Ethiopia between 2001 and 2011, the most of any country in the world. The press freedom index categorized Ethiopia among the most difficult countries for press. Continue reading
- Daniela Papi
Businesses with multiple bottom lines (ie. beyond profit), want to show the impacts they are making on the lives of their employees and/or clients.
Stories are used to tell how lives are transformed as a way to measure impact and market to potential customers. Some social impact businesses use the stories of their staff as a marketing tool. Rachel Faller, who runs a clothing shop in Cambodia called KeoK’jay is turning away from the practice. She tells Daniela Papi in Forbes:
“We had an issue last year,” Rachel said, “where a staff member who was not HIV positive was accused of having HIV by a member of her community after she modeled for us. Even if someone chooses to share their experiences on their own, we don’t want to use that to sell products, as people might stigmatize all of our employees, many of whom want to move away from their pasts.”
“We’d rather just show that it’s possible to make good products while paying people fairly, being good to the environment and having a social impact, which I believe many fashion companies don’t take seriously enough.”
Papi raises some questions as to whether marketing the traumas and hardships faced by employees can cause harm. In many ways, this links well with the poverty porn discussion from Tuesday. In both cases, people connect to the stories of individuals. For businesses, the stories can increase sales which in turn can lead to better wages and increased employees.
Is Faller’s moral stance reasonable or does it put her business at a disadvantage?
In the case of companies like these, where the core social benefit is the employment of people from diverse backgrounds, the questions they are asking themselves might be, “Is it a waste of a competitive advantage to overlook this marketing opportunity and in effect gain more support for the employees?” But perhaps more need to be asking, “Can marketing the social impact end up harming the people we are trying to help?”
Jokes naturally followed the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation’s new report extolling the virtues of eating bugs.
The most popular tweet was a variant on “Let them eat cake.” Others pointed to the scene in the Disney movie the Lion King where Timon and Pumba introduce bugs to Simba. They assure Simba that bugs are “slimy, yet satisfying.”
It’s all in good fun and probably got more people to pay closer attention to an issue (hunger) in a report that would have otherwise only been discussed within development wonk circles.
Setting aside jokes and a gross-out-factor, bugs turn out to be a pretty awesome food. They pack some real protein punch and are better for the environment as compared to cows, pigs and chickens.
The Economist shows how: Continue reading
- This Pulitzer Prize winning photo by Kevin Carter during the ’94 Somalia famine is poverty porn, say some critics.
New York City - Criticism of pornography centers on the morality of its depictions and the exploitation of people involved.
News reports and fundraising campaigns about poverty run into similar traps when stories strip people of their dignity and, in a similar sense, objectify them. Activists decry this as poverty porn.
Today, at the New York University Woolworth building, filmmakers, NGO staff, foundation representatives and UN agency workers came together to discuss the problem of poverty porn and the potential power of social media to prevent it. The discussion was conducted privately (in accord with so-called Chatham House rules) in order to protect the identity of the participants and encourage a more honest conversation.
Part of the problem here is poverty porn makes money.
Marketing and communications teams for NGOs rigorously test messages to determine the best way to raise money. It’s clear that people connect more to the story of an individual, usually a child, as opposed to a family, community or group of people. Poverty porn is borne out of a well-intended attempt to raise money for poverty alleviation programs. Continue reading
- Dhaka Savar Building
The death toll from the garment factory collapse in Dhaka has now surpassed 1,100 people and the rescue effort has ended.
In the two weeks since the tragic incident, which brought world attention to the abuses of the garment industry, laborers in Bangladesh appear to be making small gains. Major retailers are signing on to pacts aimed at improving worker safety. The Bangladesh government says it is prepared to increase the minimum wage and allow workers to form trade unions without factory owner permission.
Worker and community protests this weekend in Ashulia, a manufacturing hub located outside of Dhaka, caused about 30 factories to suspend work and closed down the city’s main highway. Cries for the death penalty for the owner of the Rana Plaza complex, Sohel Rana, were a focus of the protest.
Bangladesh garment factory workers have long had reasons for protest. But now, the world is paying attention.
Neither the garment industry or government has done much to improve worker safety and wages as this country over the past decade has become the second largest player, behind China, in the international system of clothing manufacturing. Continue reading
It is estimated that one billion people living in rural parts of the world do not have rights to their own land.
That means they have no way of either proving that they own the property on which their homes rest or purchasing a deed to the land. Without land rights, it becomes much easier for governments to forcibly evict residents or large companies to buy a family’s property from right under their feet.
There is a direct link between land rights and land grabs, says the IMF. Countries with better governance and land rights laws are less likely to agree to large-scale land purchases by foreign investors.
That makes sense, but the additional claim that smallholder land ownership directly increases family farm productivity and income is now coming under question. Continue reading
There is a (relatively) new kid in town to the international reporting scene.
VICE, the magazine founded in Canada and moved to the US hipster capital of Brooklyn, is bringing its reporter-drive and raw style of reporting around the world. You may remember that former NBA star Dennis Rodman went to North Korea a few months back. He joined the Harlem Globetrotters and VICE tagged along to document the story.
The style of reporting is winning fans and critics alike. People stick of stodgy reporting from the standard bearers like the New York Times and the Guardian are drawn to the personal nature of VICE’s reports. Others find the magazine’s approach too negative, lacking in context and self-absorbed. Continue reading
The birth of a child is usually met with celebrations and joy. But for more than one million mothers around the world every year, it is a day of mourning.
Save the Children estimates that more than one million children die each year on the day of birth. Another two million children do not survive their first month of life, says the 14th State of the World’s Mothers report.
Released around Mother’s Day every year, the report from Save the Children scores countries on the health and safety of mothers. This year, the index calls attention to child survival in addition to maternal health.
Nearly two-thirds of global newborn deaths occur in ten countries. They include larger nations like Nigeria, India, China and Indonesia as well as nations with high infant mortality rates such as Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Tanzania.
“Saving newborn lives will prevent incalculable suffering. It is also a vital piece of the global development agenda,” says Melinda Gates in the report introduction. “Children surviving and staying healthy means more children in school and able to learn, which in turn means productive adults who can drive sustained economic growth.”