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Video guest: Josephine Mwangi

April 2019
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EDITO
Thursday, 25 April 2019
Exracts of the joint European Commission and UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund
“Equal rights for men and women are a basic condition for development, as essential in education and access to work as it is in the provision of health services. We call for concerted action to advance on gender issues, notably in the area of reproductive health and rights.” Sixty years ago when the United Nations was founded, 2.5 billion people shared our planet. Today, that number is 6.5 billion with more than half women and girls. Gender equality is a key issue in building communities, reducing poverty and helping to save lives. More than 500,000 women currently perish each year in childbirth owing to an absence of emergency obstetric care taken for granted in wealthier countries. Millions of children will die because they were orphaned by HIV/AIDS or because their mothers were too sick, too poor or too ill-educated to feed, nourish and care for them. Through gender action we can save women from HIV/AIDS by empowering them through information, education and negotiation of condom use with their partners. The costs of inequality are high. They include harmful traditional practices that place the lives of women and girls at risk. They include lost productivity, high health care costs and generations destined to an endless cycle of poverty and want. For tens of millions of girls, early marriage and childbearing mean an incomplete education, limited opportunities and serious health risks. The solutions are well known and effective. They include universal education for all girls and boys; guaranteed access to reproductive health services; the equal participation of women in the workforce, economic and political life and anti-discriminatory laws and policies that promote and protect the full range of internationally agreed-upon human rights. On gender equality, the Commission is supporting a variety of projects worldwide such as actions to increase property rights and security for women in Afghanistan, and promotion of women holding parliamentarian seats in South Africa and Mozambique. Equality is a goal that demands sustained political leadership.
Today, on World Population Day, we urge leaders at every level to speak about the great gains that equal rights for women and men offer the entire human family and to take action to make these rights reality. Indeed without the support of men, equality will remain a distant dream. We know what the solutions are, what we need is the political will.
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Monday, 11 July 2005
The European Union has pledged an extra 300 million euros a year Wednesday to help the world’s poorest countries trade effectively, bringing the total annual support from the EU up to 1 billion euros.
European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso made the announcement at the gathering of the Group of Eight (G8) leading industrialised nations at Gleneagles, Scotland, where fighting African poverty is a priority.
Barroso said the extra funding would help poor countries to boost their trading capacity with projects such as improving roads and waterways and modernising customs services.
"I want this announcement today - along with the EU's agreement last month to get on track to double aid - to send a powerful European message to the G8 table about the level of European ambition in this crucial year for development," Barroso told media representative ahead of the G8 summit.
The EU is already the biggest aid donor in the world, contributing 55 percent of overall aid. But Barroso said the EU executive "can" and is "determined to do more." The Commission chief, who is at the G8 summit as the "9th man at the G8 table", pointed out that even if world markets are made more open many developing countries are badly suited to take advantage of new export opportunities.
"We must build Africa’s capacity to seize the opportunities of free and fair trade. If sub Saharan Africa could regain just 1 per cent more of global commerce that would be worth seven times more income every year than the continent currently receives in foreign aid and in debt relief. Africa’s share of global trade is in steady decline, from 6 percent in 1980, it has fallen to 2 percent in 2002, according to figures from the Commission.
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At an important juncture for EU research policy, this month saw the inauguration of the UK Presidency’s R&D (Research & Development) and innovation portal. Top billing on the Union’s research agenda during Britain’s six-month stint at the helm goes to the forthcoming Seventh Framework Programme for Research (FP7).
The Commission’s proposal for FP7 was launched during the Luxembourg presidency, which has mediated the initial discussion among Member States. According to the proposal, FP7 is set to become bigger and more ambitious than its predecessor, the current FP6 (2002-2006).
If given the green light by Member States, FP7 will have nearly €65 billion at its disposal. The proposed budget is double the current annual spending in FP6.
FP7 revolves around four specific programmes: co-operation, ideas, people and capacities; and nine themes. It places more of an emphasis on research that enhances European competitiveness – through technology platforms and other public-private partnerships – and on themes rather than instruments. FP7 would represent a tenth of total public R&D spending across the EU, and should help inch the Union closer to its target of investing 3% of its gross domestic product (GDP) in research. The UK Presidency’s R&D and Innovation Information Service – which came on-line on 1 July with the hand-over of the EU presidency – was developed jointly by the UK’s Department of Trade and Industry and CORDIS, one of the EU’s research and innovation information services.
The website provides insight into the Presidency’s research and innovation priorities, as well as the UK’s own R&D and innovation policies. This portal also contains a wealth of links to other important web resources, both at national and Union level. The European Commission is also organising a number of R&D-related events over the next six months, including a major conference on the knowledge-based bio-economy on 15-16 September 2005, and an international conference on communicating European research on 14-15 November 2005.
A French and German proposal to introduce a voluntary tax on airline tickets to finance development aid has found support from the United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan. The idea - first floated by French President Jacques Chirac - to introduce a tax on air tickets to fight global poverty "seems to be taking hold," Annan told the Financial Times as the G8 prepares to discuss the issue on 7 July.
The proposal was endorsed by EU finance ministers at their meeting in May (EurActiv, 17 May 2005). They requested the Commission to come up with a proposal but the EU executive has since made its opposition to the plan known.
Instead of a concrete proposal, it prepared an analytical study which will be presented to economic and finance ministers at their meeting on 12 July.
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The European Parliament has rejected a controversial measure that would have legalised software patents in the European Union. Out of 729 members of the European Parliament 648 voted Wednesday to reject the proposal, called the Computer Implemented Inventions Directive, which would have widened the extent to which software could be patented. The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure, or FFII, described the decision as a 'great victory for those who have campaigned to ensure that European innovation and competitiveness is protected from monopolisation of software functionalities and business methods'. While many software developers have spoken out against the directive from the start, large companies have lobbied in its favour, often via campaign groups such as the Business Software Alliance, CompTIA and the Campaign for Creativity.
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