Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Ideas, Actions, and Inspiration for a Better Tomorrow - September 13 Edition

Women, Afghanistan

"The young women of Sahar Speaks can tell Trump what the U.S. has been doing in their country for most of their lives. Trillions of dollars of U.S. taxpayers’ money has been spent, mostly on supplying U.S. troops and training a large Afghan army and police force. Billions of dollars of aid money was notoriously misspent. Civilian deaths are at their highest in 16 years, and Afghan troops are being killed in ever-greater numbers. Islamic State has made inroads. The current unity government led by President Ashraf Ghani is incredibly weak: as of the start of this year, the Taliban controls almost half of the country. 

Many of the women also benefited from U.S. intervention. They learned English at American-funded institutions and were given the opportunity to attend university, despite their gender. They were encouraged. They enjoyed some semblance of civil society. They were given a glimpse ― albeit some would say fleetingly ― of what it looks like to live in a world where women have more rights.

But now, where once there was hope, there is a vacuum. The young women of contemporary Afghanistan live under the long shadow of a void, of what was meant to be a better life. This is reflected in their stories, which are told with a mixture of poignancy and urgency, a reaction to what many see as a broken promise."    


"MOSCOW — Since the waning days of Bill Clinton’s presidency, Svetlana has walked the dogs of American diplomats in Moscow.

The 52-year-old Russian is not a U.S. Embassy employee but has come to this work through recommendations by American pet devotees, lovingly passed down by word of mouth through the years. Svetlana, who gave only her first name, doesn’t remember how many dogs she’s looked after. “It’s definitely under 100,” she says, pushing her oval glasses up the bridge of her nose. “But more than 60.”

Soft-spoken and extremely affable, with her charcoal-colored hair pulled back into a loose ponytail, Svetlana never set out to work for foreign diplomats. But what started out as a side job to earn a bit of cash while raising her children has become her life. She doesn’t speak any English, only Russian, but “language doesn’t matter,” she tells me. “Dogs are like babies. They automatically know when someone is a good person.”"

Hurricane Harvey, Kindness

I desperately wanted to replace that broken cup. The world is a broken place, but also a place of great strength, dignity, and personal courage. That’s what I wanted to honor. Also, I figured that the cups could also be from her mother, just a long way around, hopping a few decades in the journey.”

Women, Football

"Beth Mowins took the microphone in the broadcast booth for the Monday Night Football game between the Los Angeles Chargers and the Denver Broncos and became the first woman to call an NFL game in 30 years.

She dreamed of that moment her whole life, from her days as a young girl in Syracuse, New York, broadcasting neighborhood kickball games into a toy microphone and then later calling high school games as a teenager. The last woman to call an NFL game was Gayle Sierens in 1987, and when Mowins was a kid, her dad cut out a photo of Sierens from a newspaper and gave it to his daughter.

She thought then, “I can do it, too,” she told CNN recently.

She was right."

Impact Investing, Economics, Finance

"INVESTORS might be expected to run a mile from a deal on offer in a conflict-torn part of Africa. At best, it will pay an annual return of 7%; at worst, 40% of the original investment is lost. But a dozen social investors have pooled SFr26m ($27m) to finance the world’s first “humanitarian impact bond”, issued by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). It will pay for three rehabilitation centres to be built and run in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Mali and Nigeria.

The ICRC’s obligations are backed by “outcome funders”, ie, donors, mostly governments. The bond is an example of “impact investing”, in which private investors seek out social and financial returns, and of “blended finance”, in which public funds help them to do so. Variants have included a bond aimed at educating girls in India and a World Bank-led initiative to raise money to respond to pandemics. The novelty in the ICRC’s bond is that the money raised will be used in conflict zones.

Of the 90m disabled people in the world in need of a mobility aid, the ICRC estimates only 10% have access to adequate rehabilitation. So centres that make wheelchairs, crutches and prostheses, and train people to use them, can have a big impact. The ICRC helps build and run such centres all over the world. But its budgets are set on an annual basis, and it has been hard to plan ahead. Bond markets can help."

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