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Women’s rights progress is challenged globally

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A civil rights march on Washington, D.C. / [WKL]." Original black and white negative by Warren K. Leffler. Taken August 28th, 1963, Washington D.C, United States (@libraryofcongress). Colorized by Jordan J. Lloyd. Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA
Despite being marching since the 60s, there is a $360 billion annual deficit in spending on gender-equality measures | Photo: Warren K. Leffler

Instead of widespread celebrations, International Women’s Day 2024 sparked heightened global alerts with the “rollback in rights” that challenged women’s rights. The UN Women underscored that a key challenge to achieving gender equality by 2030 is “a staggering $360 billion annual deficit in spending on gender-equality measures.”

“We must do more to invest in women’s rights organizations. These organizations must have flexible and predictable financing that matches the scale of need with the power of their movement and voice,” said Sima Bahous, UN Under-Secretary-General and UN Women Executive Director, at the opening of the 68th session of the Commission on the Status of Women in early March.

The heightened backlash against gender equality worldwide, including in the U.S., has resulted in what the U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called a “rollback in rights” for women and girls worldwide. Emphasizing how “globally, poverty has a female face” and patriarchy “is regaining ground,” he pressed: “We cannot accept a world in which grandmothers fear their granddaughters will enjoy fewer rights than they had. We must speak out, loud and clear: Not on our watch.”

“Women are still significantly underrepresented in negotiations and peace processes. Yet the research shows that when women and civil society are involved, a peace agreement is more likely to be reached and 64% less likely to fail.  In today’s conflict-ridden world, gender parity in all aspects of peace processes is an existential imperative,” says Cynthia Lazaroff, Founder of Women Transforming Our Nuclear Legacy & NuclearWakeUpCall.Earth.

Sanam Naraghi Anderlini, Founder and CEO of the International Civil Society Action Network (ICAN), points out the “age of extremism, characterized by the weaponization of Ethno-national and religious identities, hyper-masculinity, and subjugation and control of women.  The ban on abortion and the Taliban ban on girls’ education are indicative of this phenomenon.” Furthermore, living in “the age of impunity” she says, has resulted in unprecedented “levels of violence against women in many contexts, especially in fragile and conflict-affected contexts. The Israeli genocide against Gaza is a case in point.”

“Finally, we are also living and witnessing the age of women’s power and leadership – not in the stereotypical political realm but in communities across countries globally. We see this in our work at ICAN and the WASL network we spearhead–they are challenging extremisms, working on community security, mitigating violence, and building peace in the world’s toughest spots. 

It’s not easy to challenge the powerful, but a clear sign of impact is when the powerful react. So, we are witnessing the power of the backlash against them. But we must persist and not allow the backlash to dominate.”

Extreme Poverty And Climate Change Affect Mostly Women

Consider these facts published by the U.N.

  • 1 in 10 women worldwide lives in extreme poverty and on less than $2.15 a day.
  • Women earn only 51 cents for every dollar that men earn.
  • With over 614 million women & girls living in conflict zones—they are 8 times more prone to extreme poverty.
  • Over two-thirds of those killed and injured in Israel’s military operations in Gaza are reportedly women and children.
“We see more and more men stand together with women for a more fair, open, and humane world,” says journalist Nadezda Azhgikhina

“Women’s struggle for their rights has already changed the world and global environment in politics, economy, peacebuilding, and culture. More and more women focus on broad issues and suggest new ways of solving very critical problems. Today it is clear that women work not only for women but for everybody. At the same time, we see more and more men stand together with women for a more fair, open, and humane world,” says Nadezda Azhgikhina, Russian journalist, writer, and board member of Women’s World and New Amazones groups.  “But many basic points we believed established forever, are challenged. Fundamentalism, nationalism, and populism all attack and undermine human rights and universal standards–but first and foremost they attempt to attack, divide, and try to deceive and use women. It is a global trend.”

Another issue affecting women is drastic climate change. Some 80% of people displaced by climate change are women. By 2030, it is estimated that 236 million more women and girls will be hungry because of climate change. 

“In legislation, women’s rights are moving forward, but slowly. In protection, it’s deteriorating with refugees, health-related support, and the right to live. One-third of people in the MENA are facing major crimes, including genocide in Palestine, and rapes in Sudan,” says Shirine Jurdi, Lebanon-based WPS (Women, Peace, and Security) expert.

In 2024, the UN confirmed Afghanistan as the world’s most repressive country for women and girls as the Taliban’s takeover in August 2021 increased harsher restrictions on women’s participation in education, workforce, freedom of movement, and dress code. The gender apartheid–exacerbated by prolonged drought and the 6.3-magnitude earthquake in the northwestern province of Herat–further heightened the severe humanitarian crisis

“While the world celebrated International Women’s Day this year, Afghan women’s rights are systematically stripped away—be it in education, work, freedom of movement, dress/attire restrictions, to public participation, bodily autonomy, freedom of expression….the list goes on,” says Malalai Habibi, Amnesty International USA, Afghanistan Advocacy Fellow. “The international community must unequivocally convey to the Taliban leaders that their discriminatory treatment, policies, and restrictions towards women and girls constitute crimes, including gender persecution under international law and will not, under any circumstances, be tolerated.”

While women cultivate and grow between 60-80% of the world’s staple crops–more women continue to be food insecure. If women farmers were afforded equal resources and financial backing as men, they could tackle food insecurity and lift some 150 million people around the globe out of hunger. Yet, there’s a backlash.

Dr. Nazand Begikhani–poet and Vincent Wright Chair at Sciences Po Paris–cites how “Research around the world demonstrates that women’s rights have recently faced a serious backlash from reactionary patriarchal forces. According to my fieldwork in the Middle East, this backlash is rooted not only in multiple worldwide political and economic crises but also in reaction to the progress women have made in the last few decades.”

Begikhani cites how in Kurdistan, for instance, “women who experience multiple intersectional forms of oppression and discrimination have been in the forefront of the fight against traditional social norms, terrorism, and radical ideologies. Men, for whom masculinity and virility are especially highly prized personality traits, have felt destabilized by the progress women have been making. Also, they appear to misunderstand the aims and objectives of feminism and gender equality movements.”

The Council on Foreign Relations Global Conflict Tracker lists 32 ongoing conflicts worldwide including in Israel-Palestine, Ukraine, Nagorno-Karabakh, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, the Sahel, Myanmar, Haiti, Taiwan, Sudan, and Congo among others. While in 2023, violent conflicts killed nearly 147,000 people worldwide–the gendered cost of wars for women is exposure “to the repeated assaults and enduring destruction of conflict.”

Begikhani believes “women need to engage with and work alongside men as much as they work on and with women themselves.” She underscores how women must “lead a mutual struggle to pave the way for better understanding of women’s freedom and gender equality. In Kurdistan, this movement could take root from Kurdish women’s history, women’s resilience, and resistance, like that of my mother, rather than always referring to Western feminist history and the controversial concept of gender. To avoid antagonism and further acrimony we must find common values rather than focusing on what divides us. I am a reconciliatory feminist who does not compromise on my principles, yet at the same time, I try not to antagonize men, who could be my son, my brothers, my father, and my partner.”

“But women’s solidarity is also a global reality with deep roots in history and our contemporary life. Women will manage. Women work for the future, peace, openness, dialogue, respect for others, development, and progress, and cultural and people-to-people, citizens exchange. And women’s work is never done,” believes Azhgikhina.

Jackie Abramian is committed to amplifying the work of women peace-builders, change makers and social entrepreneurs. She is a social enterprise advisor and the founder of Global Cadence consultancy.

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How to talk about your university degree in an interview

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A degree student being interviewed by a university panel
Keeping your answers concise and framing them positively are key steps for a successful interview | Photo: Andrea Piacquadio

For lots of school leavers, the decision to go to university is based upon the professional prospects it can offer. Over this three or four-year period, students will acquire new (and hone existing) skills that’ll play a pivotal role in their success post-graduation.

Employers in a range of different industries value the importance of a university degree, so it’s a common line of questioning for lots of interviewers to venture down. As a job candidate, it’s important to be prepared for this.

Your education will stay on your CV throughout your career. However, the earlier on in your professional journey you are, the more value your uni experience will hold in an interview. This is because you’re unlikely to have the professional experience to draw upon to answer questions, so it’s important that you become comfortable talking confidently about this important chapter of your life. Here are some key things to remember whenever you’re asked about your university degree in an interview.

Be honest

At the heart of any conversation about your educational background, it’s important to be honest, since exaggerating your qualifications or experiences could end up working against you. For recruiters today, it’s easier than ever before to check up on candidates and the accuracy of their answers, and providing false information will work against your credibility in their eyes.

If you didn’t quite achieve the grades you were hoping for, being honest doesn’t mean you have to talk about your experience negatively. Instead, you might choose to focus on the positive aspects and how you think they have helped to shape you into a competitive candidate for whatever role you’re applying for.

Don’t neglect your soft skills

Gaining a university degree is primarily about learning the specific skills that will help you to be successful in the world of work. Even if your course isn’t necessarily a vocational one, you’ll constantly be developing hard skills that can be applied to a range of different jobs. While you won’t find them listed on the syllabus, you will also have the opportunity to develop a plethora of soft skills throughout your course, and these shouldn’t be forgotten.

Especially if you haven’t yet gained much professional experience and had the opportunity to demonstrate these skills in the workplace, talking about your time at university is a good way to show you possess the soft skills necessary to succeed in the role. For example, think back to any presentations you had to do as part of a module, where you had the opportunity to work on communication and teamwork skills. Or, think about a term when you had to balance deadlines in different modules, speaking to your time management skills.

Look beyond the lecture hall

Everyone who goes to university will have spent lots of time in the classroom with their tutors, and while it is important to talk about what you did in that setting, you also want your account of uni life to be a little different from other candidates.

What could set you apart from another interviewee when reflecting on your experiences is the stuff that goes on outside the classroom. As part of your interview prep, you should equip yourself with anecdotes and experiences that played an integral role in your university journey, beyond the standard curriculum. This could be a term that you spent studying or in industry abroad, or maybe a way in which you contributed to the institution beyond your academic merits. This could be through sporting efforts or perhaps your involvement with a society that was important to you.

Common interview questions

There are lots of different ways your degree could be brought up in an interview. Understanding the types of questions that might come up will help you to focus your preparations. Often, interviewers will use open-ended questions, leaving you to call upon the most important aspects: “Tell me about your educational background”. Others might direct you to a more specific answer about a particular element of your experiences: “What skills did you learn at university that’ll help you succeed in this role?”. It’s important to remember that your answers can be applied to different questions, so come prepared with a bank of key points to call upon.

Even if they don’t explicitly frame a question through the prism of your educational experiences, you can always call upon them to answer common situational questions. For example, you could be asked about a time you had to overcome adversity, and it’s perfectly acceptable to draw upon your time at university to answer this.

Preparation is key

As we’ve alluded to, reflecting on your time in higher education should be a key part of your interview prep. Don’t rely on recalling odd memories from this period as and when a question comes up – note down a few examples of challenges you overcame and skills you developed during this period that could be adapted to answer different types of situational questions. As with any other question, keep your answers concise, and make sure to frame them positively.

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‘Influencer’ among UK children’s top 10 dream jobs 

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A female influencer filming content indoors.
5 billion people use social media, around two-thirds of the global population

‘When I grow up, I want to be insta-famous’. Young Brits look to social media for their dream job, new research by pocket money card and app nimbl can reveal.

The role of influencer, someone able to monetise followings on websites and apps like Instagram and YouTube, was the sixth-most popular career choice among UK children aged 6 to 171.

About 1 in 20 chose it as their top occupation, hoping to follow in the footsteps of homegrown internet celebrities like gamer- entrepreneur KSI, and lifestyle guru Zoe Sugg.

While teacher was the favourite profession in the study amongst over 1,500 children interviewed – followed by doctor and vet – influencer elbowed out traditional careers including nurse, police officer and musician.

Influencers make money through sponsored content, negotiating with brands to offer paid endorsements or earning share of advertising revenue. The amount they earn can depend on popularity, with Instagram users typically able to monetise content once they have gained a few thousand followers.    

According to YouGov, Joe Wicks is the UK’s most famous influencer, with four in five Brits recognising the fitness coach. About 5 billion people use social media, around two-thirds of the global population.

“Social media has driven expansion of our digital lives, providing connection and transforming entertainment and news. It’s also providing jobs – and the most high-profile influencers are inspiring young Brits careers. “Although long-standing occupations still dominate dream jobs, it’s clear influencers are having an impact, and school careers advisers will need to brush up on their hashtags,” says Alana Parsons, Chief Executive of nimbl.

“For concerned parents it’s important to recognise that – behind the social media sheen – the biggest online stars have built their platforms through hard work, drive and perseverance, qualities that younger generations can learn from.”

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Samsung’s ‘Newfound Equilibrium’ design exhibition closes today

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Samsung’s ‘Newfound Equilibrium’ design exhibition closes today
“Newfound Equilibrium" is showcasing the brand’s user-centered design philosophy

Samsung Electronics today announced that it will hold its design exhibit at Milan Design Week’s Fuorisalone 2024 from April 16 to 21.

A design exhibition located at Le Cavallerizze, in the Leonardo da Vinci National Museum of Science and Technology in Milan, Italy, will come to an end this evening.

Samsung’s Corporate Design Center’s exhibition, “Newfound Equilibrium,” is showcasing the brand’s user-centered design philosophy, “Samsung Design Identity 5.0: Essential∙Innovative∙Harmonious.

“Design must fully take the human experience into consideration, and Samsung’s design principles achieve this,” says TM Roh, President and Head of Corporate Design Center at Samsung Electronics. “With our human-centered design philosophy, we aim to create a future that harmonizes with the lives of our customers through innovation with purpose.”

The multi-sensory experience, featuring immersive installations, guides visitors through five spaces that express Samsung’s design identity. The spaces are titled “Essence,” “Innovation,” “Harmony,” “Infinite Dream” and “New Dawning.” As visitors approach the screens in the spaces, translucent elements change into specific shapes and textures, and the shapes beyond the window appear as if they are approaching onlookers, allowing them to immerse themselves in the dream of an infinite future drawing nearer.

Through collaborations with the human craftsmanship of ceramic masters MUTINA, and wood veneer wizards ALPI, the Bespoke Refrigerator and AirDresser have also been reimagined considering the co-existence of people and technology.

Samsung’s “Newfound Equilibrium” exhibition is located at Via Olona, 6 bis, Milan and offers free entry until 6 PM today.

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