How Can Women Be Empowered and Gender Gaps in Economies and Societies Be Narrowed Down?

Majority of poor people worldwide are women. The reasons for this are manifold, with large regional differences, starting with a global illiteracy rate of 17 %. Two thirds of all illiterates are women, which makes gender equality even more difficult to achieve. 37 % of all 775 million illiterates worldwide are Indian, followed by China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Egypt, Brazil, Indonesia, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. Three regions predominate in illiteracy rates: South Asia, West Asia, and Sub-Saharan Africa. 

In addition to the illiteracy problem, women continue to face many barriers in entering labor markets, holding not only women back, but also being an obstacle for economic growth and development in countries with large gender gaps.

Worldwide, between 2002 and 2007, women’s employment-to-population ratio remained constant at about 49 %, compared to about 73 % for men. On a global level, differences are large, with regional narrowings in the Developed Economies and European Union, Latin America, Caribbean, and in the Middle East. Only Central and Eastern Europe, and East Asia increased their gender gaps in employment.  

Furthermore, a lack of knowledge, together with deeply rooted cultural traditions and expectations as well as a complexity of the labor market, are general reasons for gender inequality – affecting and hindering women from having equal access to the labor market. 

Whereas conventional economic analysis is a comprehension of economic actors in mainstream economics, it excludes much of unpaid work, and sees people simply as labor inputs to production processes. Even in developed countries, most unwaged (home)work is still done by women – more than 60 BILLION hours per year including childcare, and women providing 59 % of unpaid services. In general, women ́s home work is ignored, classically “feminine” jobs are poorly paid, and of low status. 

A number of local and global organizations, either independently or/and in co-operation with the private and public sectors, are driving changes in order to improve women’s lives worldwide, and to narrow down gender gaps, including UN Women as perhaps the most widely known.

Gender equality is more than a matter of social justice – it is a fundamental human right, making good economic sense. Women having equal access to education, and women participating fully in business and economic decision-making, are a key driving force against poverty. Women with equal rights are better educated, healthier, and have greater access to land, work, and financial resources. The enhancement of women ́s control over decision-making in households, gender equality also leads to better prospects and greater well-being of children, reducing poverty of future generations. (UNDP. Gender and Poverty Reduction. 23.10.2014).

Women need to drive these changes, but equally, strong support from men is relevant, including an understanding of why gender equality is so important for humanity in the first place. 

Sources (quoted 23.10.2014): 

Coe, N., Kelly, P., Yeung, H.W.C. Economic Geography: A Contemporary Introduction. 2007.

Elborgh-Woytek, K. & al. IMF Staff Discussion Note. Women, Work, and the Economy: Macroeconomic Gains from Gender Equity. September 2013.

ILO. Global Employment Trends for Women. 2012.

Mapsofworld.com. World Illiteracy Map.

UNDP. Gender and Poverty Reduction.

Unesco. Statistics on Literacy. 

UNFPA. State of World Population 2002. Poverty and Gender. 

UNWOMEN.ORG. Economic Empowerment. 

world.time.com. 29.1.2014. 37 % of All the Illiterate Adults in the World Are Indian. 

 

 

 

 

What is Your Purpose & Responsibility in Society?

We Are All Actors. Being a Citizen is Not Living in a Society. It is changing it. (Augusto Boal)

What kind of country do you live in? Are you living in a developing economy, or in a welfare state? Or, in a transitory state? Or, in a failed state? If in a failed state, you are most probably not even capable of reading this post, since a failed state is a) either in some sort of crisis (e.g. war) or b) not allowing its citizens to surf the Internet, or even participate in social networking, and social networking/professional business sites, such as LinkedIn.

Market fundamentalism is out, as is belief in comprehensive state interventionism. (Gylfason & al. Nordics in Global Crisis. Vulnerability and resilience. 2010. 20.)

Whichever kind of state you are living in, it is worthwhile noticing that your state, including its governance and legal aspects, have a major influence upon the economic development, and possibilities, for the country’s citizens. Many citizens in countries, feeling unempowered, believe they have no influence upon their surroundings. This, however non-empowering it may sound, is a false belief. Every citizen has a voice, and the possibility of influencing the economic, and thus societal, developments in their country.

In Welfare States, including Finland (situated in Northern Europe) the outbreak of the financial crisis in 2008, often compared to the Great Slump of 1930 ́s (or even worse), and the economic events of the past years, together with the current economic situation both on micro and macro levels, intertwined with estimates and forecasts for the future have certainly given many, not only economists, but in general citizens of the world food for thought.

Milton Friedman about Welfare State Dynamics

Many countries have been hit hard by the crisis, and have not yet recovered – including several small, open economies, vulnerable to, and severely affected by, global developments. However, some of the shocks were internally created, leaving some of the responsibility of “cleaning up the mess” to domestic institutions, and policies. (Gylfason & al. Nordics in Global Crisis. Vulnerability and resilience. 2010. 21).

Coe, N., Kelly, P., and Yeung H.W.C. Economic Geography: A Contemporary Introduction. 2007, have discussed the role of different kinds of states and firms in the economy, with a purpose to pinpoint how these, together with supra-national institutions, shape economic processes. The discussion about the changing role of the state in an era of globalization, together with the demonstration of why geographical scales matter when re-configuring a state, is also out of most relevance.

A state has several functions:

– A state is the guarantor and institution of economic activities dealing with financial crisis, guaranteeing national economic instruments, securing international economic treaties, property rights and the rule of the law.

– A state is the regulator of economic activities such as market regulation, and the regulation of economic flows.

– A state is the architect of the national economy, including trade policies, strategic industrial policies, attractor of FDI (foreign direct investment), and regional development policies.

– A state is an owner of public enterprises.

– A state is the provider of public goods and services, such as infrastructure, healthcare, transport, and education.

– A state has also political-economic influence upon mergers and acquisitions, through regulatory control.

– On a geographical scale, a state plays a role in international, macro-regional, intra-national, and local levels.

The vast amount of different types of states existing today is divided into:

– Neoliberal states (North America, Western Europe, and Australasia).

– Developmental states (Asia and South America).

– Transitional states (Eastern Europe, Russia, China, Southeast Asia).

– Welfare states (Nordic countries and some European countries).

– Weak and Dependent states and

– Failed states

In a reconfiguration of the state, following can be taken into consideration:

– A State is a dynamic set of institutions.

– The nation-state is a dynamic entity capable of self-transformation

– Rise of corporate power and global finance

– A nation-state is powerless in controlling inward and outward investments, or is it?

– The political-economic geographies, together with the mutually dependent relationship between state/firm

– The different power-relationships between states within the global economy

– The interaction between states/firms/markets.

– Nation-states shape profoundly the economic activity within and across their borders.

– The state itself is always implicated or involved in directing processes through conscious decisions.

– Nation-states remain critical institutions through which international, regional, and local economic issues are evaluated and acted upon.

– Economic governance on international and sub-national scales, upscaling: international organizations such as UN, IMF, World Bank, and WTO, together with macro-regional groupings such as the EU, APEC, NAFTA, ASEAN, NEPAD, SAARC, CARICOM, and MERCOSUR.

– Hollowing out the state = state functions taken over by public-private partnerships and private forms of regulation QUANGO = Quasi-Autonomous Non-Governmental Organizations

– Leading business media Beyond the State?

– State control is uneven in its operation and effectiveness

Traditional welfare states, such as Finland and Sweden, have not avoided the global crisis, the reasons for which include the level of openness, and the dependence on exports of investment goods. Both Finland and Sweden experienced an equally severe slump in the early 1990 ́s with the difference that it was at large homemade. Lessons learned from the 1990 ́s crisis include that early signs of financial fragility need to be taken seriously, and policy planning needs to base upon worst-case scenarios. The current crisis, still ongoing, includes problematic consequences: public finances have deteriorated, unemployment is high, and significant structural changes in the economy are taking place. (Gylfason & al. 2010. 21; 118).

Restoring public finances can be taken care of in many ways, as suggested by Gylfason & al. (2010. 28):

– Public consumption and transfer payments can be cut

– Composition of expenditure directed in a growth-friendly way

– Smooth flow and functioning of infrastructures, including communication

– Well-functioning education system and funding of research

– Broadening the tax base by raising the employment rate

– Changing the structure of taxation in a way that encourages economic growth, i.e. reduction of taxes on productive economic activity, corporate and labor taxes, and an increase in taxes on consumption, natural resources and real estate.

Due to globalization, the mutual interdependence between countries is stronger than ever, suggesting that there is a need for stronger international, and global, cooperation in areas including trade policy, financial regulation and supervision, macroeconomic policy and actions to prevent climate change. (Gylfason & al. 2010. 31).

However complex policies are, the maintenance of a welfare state, and economics, includes the following:

A democratic system with equal rights and possibilities for all citizens

– A solid infrastructure in terms of access to services such as education, and healthcare

– A balanced economy, with little deficits

– A lucrative, innovative environment attracting FDI and sustainable economic growth

– A taxation policy attracting firms, which in turn create jobs and employ citizens

– A taxation policy that is attractive for all kinds of firms, including small enterprises 

These are measures that, in a welfare economy, are expected to be taken care of by the state, and therefore, through public policies. Firms, on the other hand, choose to operate and invest in markets capable of offering them attractive conditions, and an optimization of factors included in a PESTLE analysis.

However important the role of the state, or a nation, a state is always being constructed by its citizens. Citizens who have the possibility of influencing their direct and indirect surroundings, including their personal lives, their neighborhoods, the politics of their country and so forth. In fact, every single action, and every single effort made by an individual in a country, has direct and indirect impacts upon the developments in the nation in question.

Thus, your personal efforts, however small they may seem, always do have an impact upon the society you are living in. Never underestimate your capability of influencing, changing, and developing society and people around you, because often, small actions and improvements lead to giant leaps and changes in (economic) development.

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I am an international business management professional with an MBA from Haaga-Helia UAS, Finland, communicating fluently in several languages. I am also a certified investment adviser/specialist (Aalto University/Federation of Finnish Financial Services) with years of experience from investments and business advisory services through education and professional activities.  

Currently I study adult pedagogy at Tampere University of Applied Sciences. My vast international experiences and passion for humanity and ethical leadership make me a Global Citizen. I believe that advanced communication, empowerment, continuous learning and development lead to sustainable economic development and a sustainable future for individuals, organizations and nations across our Globe. 

For business inquiries/job offers/projects, please contact me through: 

fi.linkedin.com/in/annemariayritys

Twitter: @annemariayritys

Website: https://www.annemariayritys.com

My previous posts on LinkedIn can be accessed at: 

http://bit.ly/LinkedInPublicationsAMY

 

How Do Technology and Creativity Reshape Economies and Societies in the 21st Century?

Followed by the industrialization age, the digital revolution is, and has contributed to major changes in all possible industries globally, given birth to a knowledge economy, where automation and computerization have led to increased productivity resulting in job loss. Technological advancement, with the Internet reaching a critical mass in the early 1990 ́s, has affected and reshaped economies, created new kinds of jobs, giving the opportunity to an emergence of completely new, creative ways of conducting business, networking, and global communications made possible for anyone. 

Automation and global competition has, in the developed economies, led to labor being obliged to move into tasks that are not easily automated. Traditional middle class roles disappear, forcing the affected individuals to become mind workers (knowledge workers), or settle for low-skill, low-wage service jobs.

Although, in many developing countries, agriculture is still the most important source of income, developed countries have for a long time been dependent upon the services industries. In Europe alone, the services sector holds a share of 70,7 % of Europe’s GDP (This Day Live. ILO: Weak Employment Growth Depressing Consumption. 21.10.2014; ESF – European Services Forum. Facts and Figures. 21.10.2014).    

According to Potts J.D. (2009. Why Creative industries matter to Economics of Innovation and New Technology) the service economy is continuously giving birth to new industries, in which creative industries form a significant part. Economic growth and development is an ongoing process, where an evolved order of agents, markets, enterprises, and laws result in an industry. Creative industries literally constantly contribute to creating the future, through experimentation, adoption, and retention of novelty.

In whatever direction evolution is heading, the fact is that the information age has changed, and affected, economies and societies on a global level. Technology has, at least on a virtual level, eradicated distance, affected global trade, given birth to a number of social media platforms and today, global enterprises that, through pioneering, have become global success stories, including names such as eBay, Amazon, Google, Yahoo, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, just to mention a few among many others. 

O ́Brien (1992), presented an idea about a state of economic development where geographical location would no longer matter e.g. in finance, giving rise to “placeless” production, networks, satellites, 24/5 trading in different time zones.  

Technology truly is a social process facilitating and enabling change, including space-shrinking versions and those which change production processes. Technological development has also led to the emergence of completely new industries, such as biotechnology and new (alternative) sources of energy. From an evolutionary perspective, technological development has led to advancement in transportation systems, communication systems, changes in manufacturing processes and spatial disintegration of service activities (offshoring). Production process technologies have evolved from Fordism to After-Fordism, including flexible specialization, Fordist mass production, Japanese Flexible Production, and Just-in-case, and Just-in-time systems. Socioeconomic interaction requires relational thinking, with some operations requiring location, and spatial proximity.

Sources: 

Coe, N., Kelly, P., Yeung, H.W.C. Economic Geography: A Contemporary Introduction. 2007. Quoted 21.10.2014. 

Creativeclass.com. Services and Economic Development. Quoted 21.10.2014. 

ESF (European Services Forum). Facts and Figures. Quoted 21.10.2014. 

Potts, J. 2009. Why creative industries matter to economic evolution. Economics of Innovation and New Technology. Quoted 21.10.2014. 

Technology Source.org. Technology and Change for the Information Age. Quoted 21.10.2014. 

This Day Live. ILO: Weak Employment Growth Depressing Consumption. Quoted 21.10.2014. 

Wikipedia. Information Age. Quoted 21.10.2014. 

Wikipedia. The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. Benkler, Y. 2006. Quoted 21.10.2014.  

World Bank. Growth of the Service Sector. Quoted 21.10.2014. 

 

How to Identify Weak Signals Before They Become Strong Trends?

“Interpreting weak signals into useful decision-making takes time and focus. It starts with the capacity of identifying them in the first place”. 

Weak signals are first symptoms or early signals of a change telling about a strengthening trend and bringing information that is not yet seen e.g. in statistics. Usually, there are several signals indicating to a similar development. Weak signals have to pass filters in order to influence the strategy process, being the phenomena that influence a company and its operational environment by being new and surprising in the framework of the receiver. 

Weak signals reveal threats and opportunities for a company, but also represent a chance to learn, grow and develop. They could also be defined wild cards that change the development and are unpredictable when turning up. Weak signals are events below the surface, overlooked, but that may be signs of big evolution. The approach to weak signals is experiencing a renaissance in strategic planning and they are to be found in the context of strategic flexibility of an organization. Successful organizations look for weak signals actively and continuously. As decision-making is a sense-making process, management has to secure the flow of knowledge from outside to the business and decide the actions based on it.

A weak signal has no history and no basis to build a pattern onto. They are unique, and not recurring. A weak signal can be recognized by its strangeness and its being an odd phenomenon. In order to be able to recognize weak signals one has to have a sufficient level of understanding firstly in that behind each change there are several driving factors and on the other hand by the fact that each emerging fact signals its environment in many different ways. No signals should be rejected in advance. The recognition, analysis and interpretation of each signal are only work processes that follow the creative and unbiased observation period.

In general, possible identification and interpretation methods of weak signals are: Think-tank groups, brainstorming, Delphi method, or a pattern management framework, which means collecting signs of weak signals from magazines, mainly economically related. General observations from one’s surroundings and environment are another way of identifying weak signals.

In the analysis of weak signals, it is useful to take into consideration at least the following: 

– To whom and for whom weak signals are identified? 

– How comprehensive/wide is the search area and fields? 

– How complete is the analysis?

The identification process of weak signals occurs before or simultaneously with an identification of trends. In a Delphi-study, experts must decide when a phenomenon should be defined as a weak signal. Challenges occur, when weak signals are not searched in right places or enough (detection filter). This is also the case when right persons are not looking for them (interpretation filter). Another challenge could be that discovered findings or made interpretations are invalidated or denied (power filter). To succeed in the identification, the identifier of weak signals should have a position or forum where to tell about opinions and impressions freely. The organization in question should be receiving and the environment should enhance creativity.

Most issues change very slowly while some are expected to change fast and very radically. Others are expected to remain always the same. Surprises may come from foreseeable sources that change slowly (e.g. China phenomenon, virtual technology, globalization and EU-integration). Common issues that may face surprising changes are the importance of home, the conception of time, importance of salary or money, ownership and ethics.

Pattern management (Kuosa 2010) suggests that the existence of phenomena is concluded in the same way as the existence of black holes or planets of near-by solar systems by observation of refraction of light, changes in the orbits of near-by planets, quantity and movement of energy etc. It uses the same way that also phenomena in our own operation environment can be concluded. There clearly exists information and signals in our environment that belong together and can be clustered. Several phenomena can rise from one observation. Phenomenon emerges through signal observation.

 

1.Totally unexpected

Observation is not linked to any other known clear trend

2. Changes in trends

Observation indicates a change in trends

3. Drivers of change

Phenomenon that leads to an observation or has a legal commission

4. What keeps us in the old?

Trends, mega trends and main stream

Figure: Four-step observation frame for weak signals (Source: Tuomo Kuosa). 

Weak signals are a continuous or non-stop process which should be taken seriously in any sector of business. The anticipation phase shows the opportunities of the future and helps in minimizing risks. The appropriation phase is where strategies are made by realizing how the future might affect the community in question. In the action phase, changes of the future and effects of chosen policies and operations are carried out in practice. As an example – although it might seem that e.g. the financial sector is static, there are always changes taking place, and these changes are caused by the actions of human beings not only in the industry itself, but by everyone who is somehow involved in the financial sector. A bank itself would be no bank without investors, loan takers, private persons keeping their money on their account etc. This is why the financial sector is as vulnerable as any other industry, and should respond to the market in a similar way as any other sector of business. 

(Pfeffer, J. & Sutton, R.I. 2000. The Knowing-Doing Gap. How Smart Companies Turn Knowledge into Action. Boston: Harvard Business School Press;Kamppinen, M., Kuusi, O., Söderlund, S. 2002. Tulevaisuudentutkimus. Perusteet ja sovellukset. Senior, Barbara and Fleming, Jocelyne, 2006. Organizational Change. 3rd Edition. FT Prentice Hall; Kuosa, T. 2012. The Evolution of Strategic Foresight – Alternative Futures).

 

 

 

Global Finland – How Can a Global Climate Catastrophe Be Avoided?

Global Finland, communication unit for development of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs of Finland, arranged a summer school day in Pori on July 16th, 2014. 

Pori Theatre

 

Agenda of the day: 

10-10:15 a.m. Opening

Minister for International Development Pekka Haavisto and rap artist Signmark

10:15-11:15 a.m. Can Climate Catastrophe Be Avoided?

Rachel Kyte, The World Bank

Jukka Uosukainen, UNEP

Kaisa Kosunen, Greenpeace

11:20-12:00 Workshops

1) Why is democracy needed? Demo

2) Human rights and taxes in developing countries – The ABC of CSR (Corporate Social Responsibility). SASK and FinnWatch. 

3) The World Post 2015. UNA of Finland and UN Youth of Finland. 

12:00-13:00 Lunch

13:00-13:25 A World of Conflicts – Is Peace a Utopian Dream?

Minister for International Development Pekka Haavisto

13:30-14:45 Workshops

1) Somalia/Finn Church Aid actalliance

2) Syria and exile/Red Cross Finland

3) Middle East/CMI (Crisis Management Initiative/Martti Ahtisaari Centre)

15:00-16:30 New Challenges of Finland´s Foreign Policy

Minister for Foreign Affairs Erkki Tuomioja,

Minister for International Development Pekka Haavisto, 

Minister for European Affairs and Foreign Trade Leena Toivakka, and 

Researcher Hiski Haukkala. The discussion was lead by Press Counsellor Leena Brandt. 

Can Climate Catastrophe Be Avoided?

Notes taken based upon the discussion: 

– In terms of Climate Technology, a positive signal is that technologies are available, although we are running out of time.

– The public sectors and governments must take the initiative, but of course also the private sector and corporations need to take action.

– A New Green Economy (renewable energy sources) is emerging, and the time of negotiations is hectic at the UNEP which is also serving developing countries, and (thanks to which) whole new bodies have been found in order to accelerate development.

– Implementation must be taken care of quickly, all over the world, since we are running out of time. 

– Climate change has to be fought against in order to assure prosperity for everyone.

– In the past 20 years, remarkable improvements have been made in terms of pollution control (see e.g. OzonAction Programme). 

– Incentives must be taken in the economy, both on macro and micro levels. Currently not even the G20 discuss the topic enough. The IMF and finance ministers of the world do discuss to some extent, although not enough. 

– NGO ́s need to create change and pressure. 

– The coal boom of China is coming to an end faster than thought since people understand their need of clean air.

– The trends of alternative energy sources are amazing, and costs are coming down fast. The amount of wind energy worldwide has tripled in a short period of time, and solar energy is now used tenfold. 

– Paris 2015 deal? => End of fossil fuel era? The breakthrough of renewables is now unstoppable. 

– Consumers can create pressure by expressing their opinions, and providing politicians with constructive feedback. Networks can be helpful when communicating needs. There are many ways of influencing.

– There are many new faces in the climate scene throughout societies. 

– Change can be made visible through education. Long-term decisions need to be made NOW. Children can also teach their parents e.g. in terms of recycling. Students change their own schools and universities through demanding renewables.

– Correct choices must be made in politics, although e.g. in Finland there are not so many environmentalists in the parliament. However, more and more climate groups exist on a national level and people are more busy acting than debating. 

– EU 2030: More radical actions needed. 

– Business coalitions (e.g. Richard Branson ́s coalition of companies). 

Pori, Finland.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Child Labor, Corruption, and (Ethical) Consumption – How Can You Make a Difference?

Since repetition is the mother of learning, the father of action, and so the architect of accomplishment like Zig Ziglar once wisely quoted, let me repeat some of the cruel facts about the state of ethics and moral on planet Earth: 

CHILD LABOR

-The total global number of child labor has decreased in the past decade, but still, an estimation of 168 million children worldwide are forced to work, more than half of whom are involved in hazardous work. 

– The geographical regions where child labor is at its highest: 

  • APAC (Asia and the Pacific) with almost 78 million 
  • Sub-Saharan Africa with 59 million
  • Latin America and the Caribbean with 13 million
  • Middle East and North Africa with around 9 million

The major part of these children work within agriculture (almost 100 million), followed by services (54 million) and industry (12 million). (ILO-IPEC. Making progress against child labor. Global estimates and trends 2000-2012. 2013. Quoted 30.6.2014). 

Read the detailed definitions of child labor in ILO Conventions: 

http://bit.ly/1iS3bq9

Children participating in work not affecting their health, personal development, or interfering with their education is different, but being trapped in other kinds of activities, including the cruelest forms such as slavery in armed conflicts, forced labor, or commercial sexual exploitation, drug trafficking, and organized begging, are ruthless violations of children´s freedom and human rights. (UN. Child Labor. Quoted 30.6.2014).

CORRUPTION

Corruption, literally “utterly broken”, was already used by Aristotle and Cicero, adding the terms bribe and abandonment of good habits. In political terminology, corruption is the illegitimate use of public power to benefit a private interest. Corruption is also an action to secretly provide goods or services to someone in order to influence certain actions benefiting the corrupt, a third-party, or both. The moral dimension of corruption can either refer to a mentality problem, or to external circumstances such as poverty, inadequate remuneration, inappropriate work conditions, weak or very complex procedures demoralizing people thus letting them look for alternative solutions. (Wikipedia. Quoted 30.6.2014). 

Worldwide, there are a number of organizations and national institutions dealing with, and providing information about, corruption, including OECD with its slogan “Better Policies for Better Lives” (OECD. Bribery in International Business. Quoted 30.6.2014), and UNCAC (The United Nations Convention against Corruption), a multilateral convention negotiated by members of the UN. (UNODC. United Nations Convention against Corruption. Quoted 30.6.2014).

Read the complete report of the UN Convention against Corruption:

http://bit.ly/1sQpWyX

Transparency International, a global movement working to end corruption worldwide, publishes a Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) each year, ranking countries and territories based on their level of corruption in the public sector. To see the current results, and to test your knowledge, please visit Transparency International: http://cpi.transparency.org/cpi2013/. (Transparency International. Quoted 30.6.2014). 

These are only two major global problems, among many others.

The question is, how can YOU, and your organization, make a difference?

As a private household consumer, it is not always easy to know all the work included in a certain product, unless you have produced it yourself of course. This is why it is so important that organizations operate with a high level of transparency and inform their customers about their level of standards in all of the organization´s business practices. Most progressive organizations, these days, are concerned with how they produce, or at least organizations and corporations should be socially responsible, and so make it easier for consumers to know what they are buying. 

As a consumer it is possible to invest some time in finding out more about the product, its origins, and the kind of work included in the process. If you, as a consumer, are unsure about whether a company is bringing “ethically clean” products to the market, you can always choose to ask the company, and demand supplementary information about a specific product. If it is not available, or given to you, another possibility is to change your consumer behavior and choose products that you know are ethically produced. 

Ethical consumption, first popularized by the UK magazine the Ethical Consumer, favors ethical products, empowering consumers to make ethically informed consumption choices and providing reliable information on corporate behavior. These criteria-based ethical and environmental ratings have become commonplace both in providing consumer information and in B2B, CSR and sustainability ratings. (Wikipedia. Quoted 30.6.2014). 

It may all sound somewhat complex to start with, but don´t we all want to spend our money wisely and ethically?

The next time you go shopping, start by asking yourself, why a certain product is so cheap? The price is not always an indicator of unethical production, but it could be.

 

Paradoxes of Planet Earth

World population is growing exponentially:

1980: 4,4 billion

1990: 5,3 billion

2000: 6,1 billion

2010: 6,9 billion

Today, on the 27th of June 2014, the world population is 7,2 billion. According to estimates/calculations made by the UN, the world population will continue growing as follows:

2020: 7,6 billion

2030: 8,3 billion

2040: 8,8 billion

2050: 9,3 billion

Currently, the top 20 largest countries by population (Worldometers. Quoted 27.6.2014) are:

1. China – 1,3 billion

2. India – 1,2 billion

3. U.S.A. – 322 million

4. Indonesia – 252 million

5. Brazil – 202 million

6. Pakistan – 185 million

7. Nigeria – 178 million

8. Bangladesh – 158 million

9. Russia – 142 million

10. Japan – 127 million

11. Mexico – 123 million

12. Philippines – 100 million

13. Ethiopia – 96 million

14. Vietnam – 92 million

15. Egypt – 83 million

16. Germany – 82 million

17. Iran – 78 million

18. Turkey – 75 million

19. Democratic Republic of the Congo – 69 million

20. Thailand – 67 million

Other hard facts:

– Currently, an estimated amount of 168 million children are forced to work. A child is anyone under the age of 18. Child labor is unacceptable.

– According to estimations of the U.N., two-thirds of total world population will live in water scarcity in 2025. In only 11 years from now. 2/3 of total world population in 2025 means that around  5,3 billion people will live in water scarcity.

To check your personal water footprint, visit the following page and calculator:

http://www.waterfootprint.org/?page=files/YourWaterFootprint

According to the UN Environmental Program, by 2025, agriculture is expected to increase its water requirements by 1,3 times, industry by 1,5 times, and domestic consumption by 1,8 times. (UNEP. Freshwater use by sector at the beginning of the 2000s. Quoted 27.5.2014).

Learn how to decrease water consumption at home:

http://www.savewater.com.au/how-to-save-water/in-the-home

To borrow Dalai Lama:

THE PARADOX OF OUR TIMES

“We have taller buildings, but shorter tempers

Wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints

We spend more, but we have less.

We have bigger houses, but smaller families

More conveniences, but less time.

We have more degrees, but less sense

More knowledge, but less judgement

More experts, but more problems

More medicines, but less wellness.

We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values.

We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often

We have learnt how to make a living, but not a life.

We have added years to life, but not life to years.

We’ve been all the way to the moon and back

But have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbour.

We have conquered outer space, but not inner space.

We’ve cleaned up the air, but polluted our soul.

We’ve split the atom, but not our prejudice.

We’ve higher incomes, but lower morals.

We’ve become long on quantity but short on quality.

These are the times of tall men, and short character;

Steep profits, and shallow relationships.

These are the times of world peace, but domestic warfare,

More leisure, but less fun; more kinds of food, but less nutrition.

These are the days of two incomes, but more divorces;

Of fancier houses, but broken homes.

It is a time when there is much in the show window, and nothing in the stockroom.

A time when technology can bring this letter to you,

And a time when you can choose,

Either to make a difference …. or just hit, delete”.

UN Millennium Development Goal 6: Combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases

Malaria, a mosquito-born disease caused by a parasite, is a silent catastrophe. Each year, hundreds of thousands of people die because of malaria. In 2010, 660.000 people worldwide lost their lives due to malaria infections, mainly in Africa, which was home to more than 90 % of the deaths. The same year, the total number of malaria cases rose up to 219 million on a global level. Every 45 seconds one child dies because of malaria. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, quoted 14.5.2014; UNA of Finland. Printed material. 2014).

One of the UN Millennium Development Goals is to combat malaria, tuberculosis, HIV, and other severe diseases. Still today, despite of the progress made, more than one million people worldwide die because of tuberculosis. However, in 1990, the amount of deaths caused by tuberculosis was twice as high as today. Malaria deaths decreased with about 25 per cent between the years 2000 and 2010. Even the amount of HIV infections decreases each year, although still 2,5 million people get infected with HIV every year. (UN Millennium Development Goals, quoted 14.5.2014; UNA of Finland, Printed Material. 2014).

In 2011, the amount of HIV positive people worldwide was 34 million. In the combat against HIV, knowledge and education is of out most importance, as well as using condoms during sexual intercourse.

HIV infections can occur:

– During unprotected sexual intercourse (of all kinds, even oral)

– Sharing syringes/needles (e.g. drug injections)

– In blood contact, e.g. through blood transfusions or through other blood products

– From a mother to a child during pregnancy or labor

– In breastfeeding

(Red Cross Finland. Quoted 14.5.2014).

Poliomyelitis, which was almost abolished, is again a threat in certain countries including Pakistan, Cameron, Syria, and a number of other countries. Civil wars are a huge threat in spreading the disease, whereas healthcare workers vaccinating against polio have even been killed by extremists and political radicals. (Helsingin Sanomat. 5.5.2014. Quoted 14.5.2014; WHO. Quoted 14.5.2014).

In the worldwide combat against these diseases following actions are of out most importance:

– Spreading knowledge and educating people in high-risk regions of the importance of good hygiene and the use of protection during sexual intercourse of any kind

– Efficient vaccination programs

– Malaria nets for people living in malaria regions

There are numerous organizations working towards abolishing severe diseases. As an example: NetsForLife – A partnership for Malaria prevention in Africa. (NetsForLife. Quoted 14.5.2014).

Can we work together towards a world without diseases?

  • suojaamattomassa yhdynnässä, myös suuseksissä
  • yhteisten neulojen, ruiskujen tai muiden ruiskeen antamiseen liittyvien välineiden käytössä
  • verikontaktissa, kuten virusta sisältävän veren siirron tai muun verituotteen kautta (nykyään kehittyneen terveydenhoidon maissa kaikki verituotteet testataan)
  • äidistä lapseen raskauden tai synnytyksen aikana
  • rintaruokinnassa.

– See more at: http://www.punainenristi.fi/node/3203#sthash.jsRus27S.dpuf

  • suojaamattomassa yhdynnässä, myös suuseksissä
  • yhteisten neulojen, ruiskujen tai muiden ruiskeen antamiseen liittyvien välineiden käytössä
  • verikontaktissa, kuten virusta sisältävän veren siirron tai muun verituotteen kautta (nykyään kehittyneen terveydenhoidon maissa kaikki verituotteet testataan)
  • äidistä lapseen raskauden tai synnytyksen aikana
  • rintaruokinnassa.

– See more at: http://www.punainenristi.fi/node/3203#sthash.jsRus27S.dpuf

UN Millennium Development Goal 5: Improvement of Maternal Health

Mother´s usually do a lot for their families, which is a very good reason to take care well of all mothers. 

“The goal of the UN is to decrease maternal mortality by 75 % by year 2015”. 

Facts about mothers worldwide: 

– Improvements in accessibility to maternal healthcare all over the world. 

– Healthcare and sufficient nutrition of significant value in preventing birth-related deaths. 

– Compared to mothers in Nordic countries, the risk of mothers dying during pregnancies and during childbirth is 500 times larger in development countries. 

– Every year almost 300.000 women die due to complications during pregnancies or when giving birth. 

– 99 % of all maternal deaths occur in development countries. 

– Despite of major improvements all over the world in the reduction of maternal mortality, there is still a lot to do before the goal has been reached. 

– In East Asia, North Africa and South Asia maternal mortality has decreased up to 2/3 in comparison to the situation in 1990. 

– In 2011, midwives/educated labor personnel was at hand only in 53 % of all child births in development countries. The percentage was 84 in urban areas. 

– Only half of all pregnant women in development countries have access to proper healthcare

(UNA of Finland. Printed Material. 2014).   

According to Save the Children´s “Surviving the first day – State of the World´s Mothers 2013” report, Finland is the best country in the world for mothers. Nice news for all mothers in Finland, especially with the upcoming Mother´s Day, celebrated on the second Sunday in May every year. Every child has the right to a mother, and every child needs a mother, is not that correct?

The same report indicates that the Democratic Republic of the Congo in Central Africa is the roughest state to be a mother. Save the Children´s report classifies 176 countries in terms of how these have succeeded and failed in supporting mothers. The index estimates mother´s welfare using measures such as a girl´s or woman´s risk of dying during pregnancy or during labor, children under the age of five mortality rates, the educational levels of children, national income levels, and the political status of women. Link to Save the Children´s “Surviving the first day – State of the World´s Mothers 2013” report: 

http://www.savethechildren.org/site/c.8rKLIXMGIpI4E/b.9126825/k.3E86/Download_the_2014_SOWM_Report.htm

According to Save the Children, the high number of maternal deaths in sub-Saharan Africa can be explained through the fact that mothers are often very young, and their bodies are not yet ready to give birth to children. Other reasons include the low amount of contraception, insufficient healthcare during childbirth and a huge lack of healthcare employees. (Save the Children Finland. Quoted 9.5.2014). 

With these words I want to wish my mother, and all other mothers, a happy Mother´s Day on Sunday, May 11th 2014. You rock.
 

UN Millennium Development Goal 4: Reduction of Child Mortality

UN Millennium Declaration:

“By the year 2015, we will have reduced under-five child mortality by two-thirds”.

Facts:

– Child mortality is decreasing

– Still, more than 20.000 children under the age of five die every day 

– Common causes for death: pneumonia, diarrhoea, malaria

– Child mortality is high in 67 countries, of which only 10 can, with the current pace of change, achieve the goal set for 2015. 

– Child mortality is at its highest in sub-Saharan Africa. 

What affects child mortality: 

– Sufficient and healthy nutrition

– Access to clean water

– Hygiene

– Vaccinations and access to healthcare

– Lack of education for girls and women

(UNA of Finland. Printed material. 2014). 

In Finland, child mortality today is one of the lowest in the world, thanks to national vaccination (campaigns). In the beginning of the 20th century, every second child born in Helsinki died before the age of five. In the late 1930´s almost every 10th born child in Finland died under the age of one. 40 % of these children died of birth-related injuries, development misplacements or innate weakness. Today, in Finland, only a few per mille children under the age of one die, most commonly due to inborn deformities. (UNA of Finland. 2014; Statistics Finland. Quoted 8.5.2014).

UNICEF, United Nations Children´s Fund, is the world´s most influential organization supporting children (under the age of 18) in need. Founded in 1946, after the 2nd world war, UNICEF focuses on helping children. A year after its foundation, the organization launched its first vaccination campaign. At that time, Finland was among the countries receiving aid from the UNICEF. In the year of the Helsinki Olympics, 1952, UNICEF began its battle against malaria, and in 1965 UNICEF was awarded the Nobel Peace Price. In 1988, UNICEF is working on launching a worldwide society working on abolishing polio. Once again, in 1998, UNICEF rises up to continue the battle against malaria. In 2006, UNICEF is one of the most important emergency aid givers, despite of the fact that still 80 % of the fund´s budget can be used to long-term development work.

(UNICEF Finland. Quoted 8.5.2014).

To fully understand the universal rights of children (everyone under the age of 18), please visit:

UNITED NATIONS Human Rights => Convention on the Rights of the Child

Since we cannot assume that children under the age of 18 are (fully) aware of their rights as children, especially if living in conditions where they may not even have access to education, it is necessary for adults to protect the rights of children.

The world has long ago made a promise to do everything to protect and to promote the rights of children, their survival, learning and growth, and listening to children. Despite of much progress made, there are still problems all over the world concerning the rights of children, and in some regions the situation may even have gotten worse. 2014 has been declared as a year of innovation at UNICEF, whereby the fund activates change-makers everywhere to rethink and drive improved results. (UNICEF. Quoted 8.5.2014).

In addition to the many local offices of UNICEF around the world, there are other independent organizations working to improve the life of children worldwide. These include Plan, World Vision, Save the Children and many others.