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How a team of grandmothers and a bench can tackle depression

Zimbabwe’s grandmothers are providing mental health support in their communities through a remarkable program called “The Friendship Bench”. Since 2006, over 400 Zimbabwean grandmothers have been trained in talk therapy, which they deliver for free in more than 70 communities across Zimbabwe.

Grandmother Chinhoyi, who has been with the Friendship Bench program for over ten years, helps others on an almost daily basis. She regularly meets with HIV-positive individuals, drug addicts, people suffering from poverty and hunger, unhappy married couples, lonely older people, and pregnant unmarried young women. Regardless of their background or circumstances, she begins her sessions the same way: “I introduce myself and I say, ‘What is your problem? Tell me everything, and let me help you with my words."

You can read more about the work of Zimbabwe’s counsellor-grandmothers and how this remarkable program began by clicking here.

Faidah Suleiman, Police Officer and Gender Specialist

We are now just one month away from the beginning of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-based Violence, marked annually around the world under the theme of “Orange the World”.  As we get closer to the Days of Activism, we are inspired by stories of those working daily to raise awareness and prevent violence against women and girls. 

One such human rights defender is Faidah Suleiman, Superintendent of Police, Gender and Children’s Desk in Tanzania, and member of the national Female Police Network.  She shares, “Being a police officer and being a gender specialist enabled me to help not only my mother, but others in my family too. … I’m proud that through my job I’m making changes in my family and in the society.”

To read more of Faidah’s story click here.

To read more about the UN’s Orange Campaign and GRAN’s goals for this year’s campaign, click here.

Congratulations Kenya!

Pensions for older women and men are the most widespread form of social protection around the world.  However, according to the most recent World Social Protection Report issued by the International Labour Organization, only 29.6% of seniors across Africa receive some form of old-age pension.  The lack of social protection for the majority of older people across the continent leaves many vulnerable to poverty, inequality, and social exclusion.

And yet, statistics don’t tell the whole story.  There is also good news and reason to celebrate.  This year Kenya instituted a universal pension for its citizens over the age of 70, the new program fully owned and funded by the national government. 

Read more about Kenya’s leadership on pensions by clicking here.

October 11 – International Day of the Girl Child

October 11th is marked each year by the United Nations to highlight and address the needs and challenges girls face, while promoting girls' empowerment and the fulfillment of their human rights.

Recently Canada showed leadership in the area of girls’ education by co-hosting a high-level UN event entitled, “12 Years to Break Barriers and Leave No Girl Behind”. 

In his opening remarks, Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau highlighted the necessity of accelerated action on girls’ education. “For each Malala that we know, there are thousands of others that we don’t know….We must work with them…. We must give them the ability to be successful,” he urged. The event culminated in the commitment of over 500 stakeholders -- including governments, leading multi-lateral agencies, and civil society organizations -- to take concrete action to dismantle barriers and increase access to education for girls, with a special focus on those who are marginalized. Click here to read the specifics in the joint commitment and call to action. 

Celebrate International Day of Older Persons October 1

Monday, October 1, is the International Day of Older Persons. The day is an opportunity to reflect on the rich contributions seniors have made and continue to make to society.

 

As we celebrate older persons around the world, we cannot forget that too many are forgotten and left behind. Inequalities remain a major obstacle to improving the lives of older persons, particularly older women.

 

But there is cause for celebration and hope. This past July, the United Nations member states began discussing the rights of older persons, renewing calls for a convention on older people’s rights.

 

For more on this remarkable development and Canada’s position: Click here

Growing Up too Soon -- Child Marriage in Africa

Child marriage persists across Africa.  In fact, the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates that, based on current trends, by 2050 almost half the world's child brides will be African. 

Ending the practice of child marriage and enabling girls to fulfill their potential is one of the goals of the United Nations UNiTE to End Violence Against Women campaign.  

To read more about child marriage in Africa click here.

To learn more about this year's UNiTE Campaign: Orange the World: #HearMeToo  click here.

 

OECD Criticizes Canada’s Foreign Aid Spending

The Paris-based Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is urging the Canadian government to increase spending on international assistance.  In a recent report which was the subject of an article in the Globe and Mail, the OECD says Canada should, "...increase foreign aid flows in line with its renewed engagement."  The chair of the committee that prepared the report adds, "It is important now to set out a path to increase weight to Canada's global advocacy role".  In other words, like many civil society organizations in Canada, they are saying that it is time we "walk the talk" when it comes to investing in international assistance.  Click here to read the full Globe and Mail article. 

 

The Bigger than our Borders campaign , https://www.biggerthanourborders.ca/ which GRAN has recently joined, is building a movement of Canadian supporters to encourage our government to increase its spending on Canadian aid. 

 

Tuberculosis, the Curable Disease

“I’m living testimony that you can be clear.” One Woman’s TB Survival Story

Tuberculosis: The Curable Disease on the Rise and How to Tackle It

Money Doesn’t Matter?  It Does When It Comes to Ending Tuberculosis

These are the titles in a recent series of articles published in the Guardian newspaper by the STOP TB Partnership.  The articles clearly lay out the scope of the emergency, put a human face on the crisis, and outline the steps and commitments necessary to end TB.  Click here to read each instalment of this informative and compelling series.  And please share the link with family and friends to help raise awareness of this worldwide health emergency that so many Canadians mistakenly think of as a thing of the past. 

Moving the Fight Against TB up the Priority List

Many Canadians believe tuberculosis (TB) to be a disease of the past, when in fact it has now surpassed HIV/AIDS and malaria as the world's deadliest infectious disease, killing over 1.7 million people each year.

And Canada is not immune.  Rates of TB infection among the Inuit people of Canada are among the highest anywhere in the world.  

What can Canada do at home and abroad to address this urgent global health crisis?  Read more here in an article by Dr. Madhukar Pai, Director of the McGill International TB Centre.

"Miles to Go" -- A UNAIDS Wake-up Call

UNAIDS warns that progress is slowing and time is running out to reach the 2020 HIV targets.  Its just-released report, Miles to Go: Closing Gaps, Breaking Barriers, Righting Injustices, is a stark wake-up call.  “We are sounding the alarm,” said Michel Sidibé, Executive Director of UNAIDS. “Entire regions are falling behind, the huge gains we made for children are not being sustained, women are still most affected, resources are still not matching political commitments and key populations continue to be ignored. All these elements are halting progress and urgently need to be addressed head-on.”

To read more, including a link to the full report, click here.

Pages

Canada Pushing for Debt Relief for Africa

May 20, 2020

It is encouraging to see this report about Canada's leadership on debt relief and to learn of the government's plans to respond to the UN global appeal for contributions to help fight the... Read more

Protecting Girls during COVID-19

May 13, 2020

The impact of COVID 19 on adolescent girls in Africa is likely to have devastating long term effects.  The pandemic will exacerbate the inequalities already faced by young girls.  Read the... Read more

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