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December 10 -- Human Rights Day

Women and men are entitled to the full and equal enjoyment of all of their human rights and to be free from all forms of discrimination. Yet discrimination against women persists in many areas, directly and indirectly, through laws and policies, social norms and practices, and gender-based stereotypes.

Throughout their lives, women and girls in Sub-Saharan Africa are often denied their human rights and are at risk of experiencing physical, sexual and emotional violence.  Grandmothers are at particular risk of deprivation and neglect due to widespread age and gender discrimination throughout Africa. Child, early and forced marriage and school-related sexual violence keep girls from getting an education and reaching their potential.  Women and girls bear the brunt of many of the harmful consequences of armed conflict. 

Read the message of UN Women Executive Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka on Human Rights Day:

”Today, on the final day of the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence against Women, we are reminded that one in three women worldwide is still subjected to violence. That is nothing short of a global pandemic and a massive human rights violation. ...  It is time to match laws, policies and programmes to protect women’s rights with adequate budgets to ensure their implementation.”

- See more at:


Final text of TPP reveals a very bad deal for access to drugs in developing countries

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) spokesperson warns the US House of Representatives that the text of the final TPP agreement extends patent protection in ways that will decrease competition, raise prices and limit access.  It will also hamper innovations such as pediatric formulations of essential medicines.   Read MSF's powerful testimony:




UN Girls Education Initiative (UNGEI) joins #16days to fight #SRGBV

Gender-based violence (GBV) is a pervasive human rights issue.  It often goes unrecognized and unreported, is accepted as part of the nature of things and is shrouded in a culture of silence. 

School-related gender-based violence (SRGBV) is defined as acts or threats of sexual, physical or psychological violence occurring in or around schools and/or on the way to school. Girls are particularly vulnerable to SRGBV, which often stems from deeply rooted cultural beliefs and practices, power imbalances and gender norms.  It includes acts of bullying, sexual or verbal harassment, physical violence, corporal punishment, non-consensual touching, rape and assault.  It is a serious violation of human rights, increasing vulnerability to HIV and can have a negative impact on school attendance and the ability to receive a quality education.

SRGBV is widespread in sub Saharan Africa.  Direct attacks on schools, armed conflict and sexual intimidation and exploitation at school and on the way to school often result in parents keeping their daughters at home rather than expose them to risk of harm. Moreover, the direct and indirect effects of widespread sexual violence can continue long after conflicts end. Children affected by HIV and AIDS are also at increased risk of sexual violence and being targeted for bullying.

Violence and abuse can have serious detrimental effects on children’s health and well-being and their ability to learn to their full potential. The consequences of SRGBV can have serious psychological consequences including low self-esteem, under developed social skills, and general anxiety. This in turn, impacts on concentration, may increase dropout rates and lead to reduced academic achievement. SRGBV prevents children, especially girls, exercising their right to a safe, inclusive and quality education.

There is a need for a coordinated, multilevel and multifaceted approach to tackle violence in schools, and one that recognizes the interrelated nature of different forms of violence both within and outside the school environment. The education sector has an important role to play in helping prevent GBV through gender-transformative teaching and learning approaches, supported by well-trained teachers and education personnel.

UNESCO along with UNGEI (United Nations Girls Education Initiative), UN Women, Plan International and partners have joined together to highlight Gender Based Violence with the campaign “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.” In addition, The Global Working Group to End SRGBV has joined the 16 Days campaign to raise awareness and the urgency with which SRGBV must be addressed.  They have launched a ‘Call to Action’ during this period which highlights the major actions that need to be taken to end SRGBV.  To see the Call to Action, daily blogs and further information, go to:

World AID's Day - 2015

Today, December 1, is World AID's Day.  It has been celebrated since 1988, to raise awareness about the AIDs pandemic and to remember the millions who have died.  The toll that this disease has taken and continues to take, particularly in the developing world is beyond tragic, it is a global embarrassment that the slow progress to eradicate HIV/AIDS is condoned.

Although important gains have been made in access to treatment, it is still the case that in 2014 only 32% of children and 41% of adults living with AIDs are actually receiving treatment.  Unfortunately statistics on women and men over 50 years of age are not collected.  It has been known for years that putting all patients with HIV on antiretroviral medicines not only prolongs their lives but significantly reduces their ability to spread the virus.

We know that women and girls are especially vulnerable.  The UNAIDS Strategy 2015 - 2017 states that "Gender inequality - including denial of women's and girls' rights to protect their sexual and reproductive health and bodily autonomy - remains the most pervasive form of inequality, with direct implications for women's risk of acquiring HIV".

There is a wealth of information on the UNAIDS website for those who would like to take a few minutes on this World AIDS Day to contemplate "how AIDS has changed our world" -

Is progress being made in ending violence against women and girls?

"As the problem of violence against women and girls is elevated in global policy circles, the activists (i.e. women's groups) who put the issue on the map are increasingly being left out of the discussions." So says an editorial in the recent issue of the Lancet.  Click here to read this insightful article.  And let's make our voices heard - for girls and women of all ages.

Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP)

Shortly before our recent Federal election, an announcement was made that an agreement in principle had been reached on the Trans Pacific Partnership agreement.  It still took some time before the actual contents of the agreement were made available for scrutiny.  As expected there are points, which have now been verified, which will make access to affordable medicines even more difficult than before.

We invite you to read a letter from the Global Treatment Access Group (GTAG), of which GRAN is a member, written to the Prime Minister, the Minister of International Development, the Minister of Health and the Minister of Trade.  This letter spells out the on-going concerns we have which seems to be more about corporate power than it is about trade.  Click here to read the letter.

November 20 is the International Day of the Child

Teachers Play a Crucial Role in Peacebuilding

Sustainable Development Goal 4 states that inclusive and equitable quality education is needed to ensure the learning of all students. Although it is recognized that well trained teachers are the key to a child’s receiving a good quality education, to date, not much attention has been paid to the role that teachers play in peacebuilding. However, a recent review undertaken by a team of experts at the University of Sussex shows not only that education is crucial to ensure a peaceful future, but also that teachers play a central role in peacebuilding. Although teachers can be victims or even perpetrators of violence during conflict, they are a vital part of the solution when rebuilding a post-conflict educational system. Attention must be paid to recruitment, training, support and remuneration of teachers in order to realize their full potential as agents of peace and social cohesion.

To read more, click on this link:

Orange the World: End Violence Against Women and Girls

The 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence is an international campaign which runs from November 25 (International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women) to December 10 (Human Rights Day).

During the 16 Days Campaign, the United Nations’ UNiTE to End Violence against Women invites governments, civil society organizations, and individuals to mark the 16 Days of Activism by increasing awareness, and calling for political commitments to be matched with action and adequate resources to end violence against women and girls. The UNiTE Campaign uses the colour ORANGE as a uniting theme symbolizing a brighter future.

In sub-Saharan Africa, violence against women and girls is both a cause and a consequence of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, making grandmothers and the children in their care particularly vulnerable.  There is a strong connection to be made with all GRAN’s advocacy issues:  deprivation and neglect of grandmothers and women of all ages in sub-Saharan Africa; access to health care and medicines; child, early and forced marriage; education and school-related violence; and sexual violence against women and girls in conflict zones.

The 2015 UNiTE Campaign INVITES us to “Orange the World: End Violence against Women and Girls” by participating in, or organizing “orange events” in support of this international campaign.  For more information:

GRAN encourages your groups and friends to participate in this global action.  By acting locally in this global campaign you will help increase public awareness of violence against women and also raise the profile of GRAN and our work. Please click here for the GRAN resource and suggested actions.


November 12: World Pneumonia Day

Established in 2009, World Pneumonia Day is marked every year on November 12th to increase awareness and advocacy efforts to combat pneumonia, promote interventions to protect against, prevent and treat pneumonia and generate action to combat pneumonia.

Pneumonia is the world’s leading killer of children under the age of five, one of the most solvable problems in global health and yet a child dies from the infection every 20 seconds. It causes more deaths in children under five than AIDS, malaria and measles combined.

Even though a vaccine to prevent pneumonia is available, 75% of children around the world remain unprotected against pneumonia. Combating pneumonia is essential to meeting Sustainable Development Goal 3.2 which aims to reduce preventable child death.

World Pneumonia Day is an opportunity to raise awareness and advocate to combating pneumonia so that all children, regardless of where they are born, can have access to life-saving vaccines and medicines.

To learn more about the issue: view this 1:49 minute video “What if this was your friend’s child”, at  and/or World Pneumonia Day website

To add your voice to help children beat pneumonia please sign A Fair Shot petition by clicking here.

To spread the word and enlist the support of families, friends and communities, a Petition Text/Signatures Sheet as well as a Petition Instruction Sheet can be downloaded at,  scroll down to Resources.

Adding your voice can help win the fight against pneumonia. Will you join us?

How Big Pharma got the better of Ottawa

Big Pharma has not kept its commitment to invest in Research and Development, according to an article written by Paul Christopher Webster (Globe and Mail’s Report on Business, October 29th).  Angela Quinlan of GRAN’s Access to Medicines Working Group has presented the following very interesting and helpful summary. 

Three Canadian scientists hope to enlist the support of both government and venture capitalists to relaunch a Research facility in Montreal, one of many abandoned since 2010. According to the scientists, Canada has a history of researching and developing pharmaceutical drugs but has failed to profit from them. For example, an arm of the Public Health Agency of Canada recently developed a vaccine for Ebola virus, which it licensed to a U.S. company for $205,000, who then flipped it to Merck for $50 million (U.S.).

Most of the recently abandoned drug laboratories in Montreal were built in the 1990s after the federal government passed legislation that substantially increased drug patent protection to 20 years. In return, international Pharma companies promised to sink 10% of Canadian annual sales back into R&D in Canada. That quid pro quo was negotiated by then Prime Minister Brian Mulroney in a prelude to the 1988 U.S.-Canada Free Trade Agreement. In 2011, according to the Canadian Generic Pharmaceutical Association (CGPA), the brand-name drug makers spent as little as 1.4% of sales revenue on discovery science. Instead drug companies are spending lavishly to acquire new drugs through acquisitions rather than developing them in their own labs. In 2014, the total value of mergers and acquisitions in the life-sciences sector (of which Pharma is by far the largest component) topped $300 billion (U.S.).

Over the 10 years ending in 2012, the 11 largest global drug companies made $711 billion (U.S.) in profits; their CEOs took home a total of $1.6 billion (U.S.).

The CGPA states that the generic industry fills 67% of Canadian prescriptions, yet accounts for only 23% of the $23 billion Canadians spend on them annually, for a savings to governments of $13 billion.

Marc-André Gagnon, a professor of public policy at Carleton University who specializes in the Pharma industry, says that the industry’s argument is as empty as west Montreal’s abandoned research centres. While the industry formally committed to increasing R&D in return for stronger patent protection from the Mulroney government, Gagnon notes, it has offered no such commitment while pressing for even stronger protections within the CETA and the TPP agreements.

The TPP is one of the largest trade deals negotiated, mainly in secret. The brand-name giants pushed for extended patent protection not just for traditional drugs but also for the new class of biotech-derived drugs known as biologics.

To read the entire article go to: