Every Month, STAND brings you a quick fire Q&A from people who work in NGOs, with government or in community projects. This month we speak to Peter Schouten, who has been Spokesman for War Child since September 2014. Based in the Netherlands, War Child helps children affected by war in 14 countries all around the world.
Can you tell us a bit about what you do?
I’m the spokesman for War Child Holland, which means being accountable for all media and press relations. I do this through managing spokespersons, initiating and coordinating press conferences, press releases, briefings, trips and media events. Our objective is to position War Child as the expert when it comes to children affected by conflict, being able to influence key stakeholders and contribute to our mission: ‘No child should be part of war. Ever.’
What do you love most about your job?
Since I’m a real news addict I really love to work with and for media and to be up to date 24/7. It’s never a dull moment. I like the diversity in my daily work. It’s not only working from behind your desk but also travelling to the 14 countries in which War Child is active. During such field trips I bring journalists with me in order to show them how, why and what we do to help children affected by war.
What do you dislike most?
A thing that I can’t get used to is the stories I hear from the children who I visit in our program countries. It’s sometimes really heartbreaking to hear their experiences. At the same time it gives me that new energy boost to let their voices be heard in the (inter)national media in order to help them and their peers.
How did you get into this area?
I graduated in both International Relations and Journalism. After working for 5 years at the Dutch Prime Minister’s Office in The Hague I decided to join War Child in 2014. I came across the organisation in Uganda and I was really impressed by how my colleagues were dealing with the war children. From that moment on I started following War Child and once the function of spokesman became vacant, I applied immediately.
What advice would you give to students who want to work in this area?
If you would like to be a spokesman it might help you to have some experiences as a journalist as well. In that case you know best of both worlds which enables you to do your work as a spokesman better.
War Child helps children affected by war. It offers them a combination of psychosocial support, protection and education. War Child was founded in 1995 and is an internationally acknowledged expert on children affected by armed conflict. Last year approx. 300,000 children participated in its programmes.
For more information see warchild.org.
Twitter: @schoutenpeter / @warchildholland
Photo courtesy of Peter Schouten / War Child.
Laoise McGrath looks at Kiribati, a country which could soon be ‘Home’ to the world’s first climate refugees.
What is Kiribati?
The Republic of Kiribati is made up of a patchwork of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The country is so remote that its nearest neighbour is more than 5000 km away. Although the country is dispersed over 3.5 million square kilometres it has only 110,000 inhabitants – and that number is declining.
How is climate change affecting the country?
The people of Kiribati are likely to become the world’s first climate refugees. All of the islands are between one and two metres above sea level, and in 1999 two Kiribati islets disappeared entirely underwater. Due to the patterns of the tides the atolls are constantly changing shape, making life for the inhabitants of Kiribati very unstable and their future uncertain.
The country faces the constant challenge of protecting itself from flooding and providing permanent housing that is not washed away by the sea. The landscape of Kiribati is unsuitable for farming, and thus the country relies heavily on imports and the sea to provide its food; it is considered one of the least developed countries in the world.
As sea levels rise, the Kiribati people are being put under more pressure. They live a paradoxical life which is intimately connected with the ocean; it is the biggest threat to their livelihoods, and yet they depend on it as a primary food source.
In a world where climate change is becoming more apparent, Kiribati and its inhabitants could become the first climate change refugees as their home land disappears before their eyes.
Above photo: Kiritimati island, part of the Republic of Kiribati. By Calvin Smith via Flickr.
Broadcasting in both radio and television has consistently been an area within the journalism industry that has presented a lack of female representation at home and abroad. It is an issue that unfortunately is not researched on an annual basis.
The most recent study available is a survey of gender balance in the Irish and UK media in 2015. It was conducted by Dublin City University’s Institute for the Future of Journalism alongside the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI), as part of the Global Media Monitoring Project.
The report called “Hearing Women’s Voices,” found female voices on radio got an average of only 28 percent of broadcasting time on current affairs shows, with Newstalk at 18 percent female representation.
Furthermore, research led by City University in the UK found that the on main news bulletins across BBC and ITV, male experts being interviewed outnumbered their female counterparts by almost four to one. An Elon University study in 2013 found that in the US, male reporters had 5.5 male sources for every one female source.
At home, the NWCI called upon the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland to monitor the Irish airwaves for gender balance on a yearly basis in January of this year. The authority has yet to confirm that they will follow through with this.
Photo by Sam McGhee on Unsplash
Universities have long been seen as places of open discourse, championing the pursuit of knowledge above all else. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that college campuses have been the incubators for one of the most fascinating – and successful – academic movements of recent years: the campaign for the decolonisation of knowledge.
Simply put, the decolonisation movement aims to address the overwhelming lack of discussion around the impacts of colonialism in universities around the world. While their aims are varied and nuanced, two of the main goals championed by students and academics alike include the removal of monuments or institutional totems celebrating links to imperialism and racism, as well as re-evaluating the Euro-centric bias of many university departments.
The need for decolonisation
While to some, the arguments for decolonisation may seem nebulous and abstract, outdated curricula and colonial erasure can have real consequences. Research conducted in 2014 found that white British students were 16 per cent more likely than students of colour to graduate with a first or 2:1 degree. In analysing such attainment gaps through interviews with BME students, Britain’s Higher Education Academy found overwhelming evidence that universities were not doing enough to help students integrate during their higher education experience. Further research has found that a third of students feel that their educational environment leaves no room for their personal perspective, with some respondents explicitly citing the Euro-centric content of their reading lists.
Of course, there are many factors which contribute to attainment gaps and educational disadvantage, but the evidence suggests that decolonisation of campuses could at least go some way towards reducing these disparities.
Origins of the movement
Many associate the decolonisation movement specifically with African universities, after all, the University of Cape Town saw the inception of the original Rhodes Must Fall movement. This campaign, which sparked myriad protests throughout South Africa, saw students work towards the removal of a statue of colonialist Cecil Rhodes. Even now, African universities seem to lead the way in diverse education, with the recently opened African Leadership College in Mauritius building its social sciences curriculum entirely around a platform of decolonisation.
But the movement is by no means limited to Africa. In the UK, students have challenged their lecturers to engage with the colonial past their institutions were built upon. Oxford famously had its own Rhodes Must Fall protests, and in Cambridge, efforts are being made to include postcolonial analysis in the teaching of sciences,and classics.
Outside of Oxbridge, The National Union of Students’ Liberate My Curriculum movement has garnered the support of universities throughout the UK, from Reading and Brighton Universities to LSE. Edinburgh University, meanwhile, has committed itself to encouraging an attitude of colonial interrogation throughout its teaching.
Further movements, such as the Reclaim Harvard Law Campaign or the Malaysian Multiversity Group, which organises regular conferences to discuss decolonisation and the commodification of knowledge, show that the decolonisation campaign is quickly becoming an international movement.
As campuses become increasingly commercialised, and issues such as access to education continue, the decolonisation movement acts as a welcome wake-up call, reminding us of the history of interrogation, analysis and intellectual exploration upon which universities pride themselves.
Photo by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash
Though America has recently come under fire for its human rights violations at the Mexican border, the practice of Direct Provision should be coming under greater scrutiny.
If you are a single adult in Direct Provision in Ireland, you will most likely be sharing a room with at least one other person. In some cases, you could be sharing with up to 5 people. However, it is not possible to know how many people are sharing rooms, as statistics are not collected. This also means it is impossible to know how long single people have been sharing rooms in Direct Provision.
A statement released by the Department of Justice and Equality explained that centres “have a limited number of rooms for single adults” and ‘the capacity of each room is entirely dependent on the size of the room as per building regulations.”
However, this practice may be in breach of the human right to privacy. Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrines this right:
No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.
By not providing asylum seekers in Direct Provision with sufficient space for privacy, people’s human rights could be infringed.
Photo by Josh Shaw on Unsplash