Friday, December 28, 2007

Liberia needs police, women step up to the plate (with the UN's help)

This week over 100 Liberian women completed basic training for the Liberian National Police (LNP). The women participated in a program sponsored by the UN, the Liberian Government, and the LNP. The program was designed to help Liberian women conquer some of the challenges they face. The goals of the program are to increase the number of women on the police force to 20% of the total force, as well as help raise women's educational level to high school graduate, which is needed to qualify for the force. Today about 10% of LNP officers are women.

The UN and the Liberian government hope that more women in the police force will be allow the LNP to be more effective in handling sexual and gender violence against women and children. The President of Liberia, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, commended the women for their role in nation building and along with the UN sees women's empowerment as an important step towards good governance.

For more information about this program and others: click here

Friday, December 21, 2007

Learn something, feed people

You enrich your vocabulary while putting rice on a hungry person's table somewhere in the world. That is the basic plan Free Rice, the vocabulary game that is sweeping through the halls of DC think tanks and high school writting classes.

It is much easier for you to play it than read about it... so click here and spend 3 minutes. You will get addicted or feel inferior, either way you will earn some rice for hungry folks and learn something about the English language.

Ok, you are still reading and want to know how it works? Well, basically there is an ad banner on the site and the advertisers pay for the rice that you win in the game. The rice goes to the United Nations World Food Program for distribution to those who need it most.

What a good idea!

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Youth: Lots of them, lots of opportunity

There are 1.2 billion people who are between 15 and 24. That's a lot!

To take a look at the major issues, opportunities, and challenges facing these young people, on Tuesday the United Nations released The UN World Youth Report 2007.

In addition to talking about youth as a postivie force for dealing with world problems, it identifies 15 priority areas inlcuding employment, education, health, poverty and violence.

Check it out at

Friday, December 14, 2007

Helping the People of Iraq

Some good news from the Iraq operations of the UN Refugee Agency, UNHCR this week:

  • Earlier this week they announced that over 20,000 Iraqi Refugees have been resettled this year. While it is horrible that these individuals have suffered trauma and have had to leave their homes, UNHCR is working hard to make sure that these people have the chance at a normal life in their new nations. For a sense of what this entails, check out this story on UNHCR's website.
  • For the most desperate of the 2.2 million Iraqi refugees that are still in refugee camps on in Syria and Jordan, on Sunday UNHCR will begin providing finanical assistance via ATM cards with $100-200/month. Cash assistance helps families to purchase necessities when they need them. It is expected that 7,000 families will initially benefit from this emergency relief.
  • To top it off, UNHCR is helping the Iraqi Government to help 5,000 families (about 30,000 individuals) who wish to return to their homes by providing them support packages and repair kits.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Nicole Kidman says "Say NO to Violence Against Women"

Nicole Kidman and UNIFEM (the UN Development Fund for Women) have teamed up to bring us a short awareness raising video about the fact that 1 in 3 women suffer from violence. The video can be found at and there is an online petition that you can sign.

While Nicole is fun to look at and listen to, the real neat stories can be found in the Stories from the Field that UNIFEM has pulled together. Our favorite is the Jurisprudence of Equality Program run by the International Association of Women Judges (IAWJ) in Southern Africa. This program basically works to help judges examine their personal "gender bias" while making rulings.