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ComVoMujer: Fighting against violence in an extremely violent continent towards women

Once again this November 25 the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women will be commemorated, in remembrance of the brutal assassination of the Mirabal sisters in 1960 in the Dominican Republic. It is no coincidence that it was in Colombia, during the First Feminist Encounter in 1981, that this commemorative date was proclaimed: Latin America continues to be an extremely violent continent towards women. The numbers of the region are shocking: between January and December 2010 Peru officially reported 130 femicide victims; in Bolivia, the Manuela Observatory registered 157 femicide cases in 2011 and 97 cases have been counted in the year in course; in Quito, Ecuador, 1831 femicides were reported between 2000 y 2006. Three to five of every ten women living in Peru, Ecuador, Bolivia y Paraguay is a direct victim of gender violence.

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The III International Report on Gender Violence, published by the Institute of Studies on Violence Reina Sofía of the International University of Valencia (VIU), which draws a comparative analysis based on the state of gender violence in 45 countries during the period 2000- 2006, reveals that eleven of the fourteen countries where femicide incidence is higher than on the international average are Latinamerican; Bolivia and Paraguay are amongst the most violent.

According to UN Women, 603 million women still live in countries that do not consider domestic violence a crime. Latin America and the Caribbean turn out to be one of the most advanced regions in this regard: most Latin American countries have adopted the Belem Do Para Convention, an instrument designed specifically to prevent, punish and eradicate violence against women, and they also count with legislation that acknowledges gender violence as a violation of human rights. But as the figures show, the gap between the law and a reality that is just beginning to reveal itself is enormous. In order to bring change, it does not suffice to promote the enforcement of the law, socio-cultural changes must be introduced as well.

Moreover, gender violence manifests itself regardless of cultural, class or nationality barriers, as can be clearly observed in multiethnic and multicultural societies such as those in Latin America. It is a problem based on structurally and historically unequal power relations between men and women, and takes form in societies that are deeply marked by patriarchalism, discrimination and racism.

The influence of the most conservative expressions of the local catholic church, the social and institutional acceptance, to the point of naturalization, of gender violence, are just some of the factors that hinder its treatment. In addition, the reports tend to underestimate the magnitude of the problem, resulting in lack of information on the topic, due to the fact that domestic violence is generally silenced and kept secret by the same victims. To shake these women out of their isolation and silence is no easy task, especially in countries with large rural and indigenous populations.

ComVoMujer, a program of the German cooperation organization GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit), is an ambitious attempt to revert this situation. Specifically designed to focus on the needs of indigenous, afroamerican and rural women living in Bolivia, Ecuador, Paraguay y Peru, ComVoMujer’s objectives are to bring about a change in mentality in order to protect women against gender violence and to eradicate discriminatory practices based on prejudices and stereotypes.

The actions and measures carried out as part of the program pursue a double strategy: on the one side, to develop capacities in those actors considered relevant, on the other to effectively bring to enforcement the regional treaties and national action plans against gender violence through local financial support and assistance. This comprises the improvement of public and non public services in rural areas as well as the promotion of an entrepreneurial culture to actively fight against gender violence from the workplace.

A central aspect of the program is its collaborative and participative approach in directly involving “the three most important pillars of society – government, private sector and non governmental organizations” in order to work towards its goals, as Christine Brendel, the regional program’s director explained. ComVoMujer is based on the idea that “only by working together can such a multidimensional problem like gender violence be confronted efficiently and effectively, since its solution necessarily requires the efforts of all those involved.” Brendel gives top priority, therefore, to the promotion of collaborative instances amongst these actors through actions that link and bring them together, promote dialogue and exchange, generate networks and such. Collaboration, in fact, takes place at different levels: on the national level, amongst the aforementioned actors within each country, on the regional level amongst participating countries, and on the international level between Germany and the involved countries. ComVoMujer acts then as a platform for South-North knowledge exchange. The program, , as technical assistance service provider to the federal Economic Development and Cooperation Ministry (BMZ), contributes its experiences, systematizes them and makes them available to the German state.

In the context of the inaction and lack of protection offered by the state to victims of gender violence in these countries, ComVoMujer shows that there is yet much to be done, and in doing so deployed a wide range of intersectorial measures at all levels. Agreements were subscribed with industry representatives committing businesses to tackle gender violence in the workplace, training courses were destined to personnel of the numerous entities involved in law enforcement: from police stations -such as the Family Protection Brigades of Bolivia-, shelters for women, courts and district attorney’s offices, dialogue encounters with local associations organizations were held, information booths and legal assistance services were promoted, prevention and promotion activities were held in local communities together with women organizations, legislation projects received support and publicity, information campaigns at local and national level were designed and promoted, just to name a few of the activities and lines of action of the program.

An example of ComVoMujer’s focus on indigenous populations is the audiovisual document “Voces de dignidad” that the Sunu Group of intercultural action in Paraguay is now finishing, based on their research on gender perception and violence related issues in several indigenous communities. Mariana Franco, a member of the Sunu Group that took part in the field work, explained that this is the first time ever that the indigenous communities of Paraguay are asked about gender issues, while pointing out that the entire material including hours of interviews has been recorded.

Once the discussion on gender was initiated, Franco told of the interviews, the topic of violence arose in all cases, with no exception. She emphasized the fact that “100% of the women knew of a case of violence in their own community”. Amongst her conclusions she stressed that these women felt their voices go unheard, and this was perceived by them as a form of violence: “even if there is participation, they manifested… that their voices are not taken into consideration”. Triggered by the interviews and the discussion on gender matters, the women showed an enormous need to know more about their own rights; for the researchers, a concrete demand for more training on this issue was detected. Franco also pointed out to the absence of the state in responding to the needs of women in the more isolated regions of these countries. As a consequence, women are used to recur to communal instances of justice, but when they do, explained the interviewed women, it is of no use: the coexistence of the two judicial systems often implies that victims seeking legal help end up being revictimised by both systems. Since the cultural norms and the communal judicial systems of indigenous communities are very different from the official ones, “amongst the unresolved tasks that the State has yet to face is the assembly of intercultural codes, in several languages, in order to respond to the cultural and linguistic realities of these countries, and the training of communal promoters that would provide legal advice and information related to women’s rights”.

Regarding the involvement of the private sector in ComVoMujer, Brendel explains that gender violence specifically hinders full economic development and thus the region’s economy. “Once businessmen/women see the impact that violence against women has on their own businesses, they commit to take action in an assertive way through their Corporate Social Responsibility policies”. Such was the case in the floriculture industry of Ecuador, where companies adopted gender violence indicators in the Flor-Ec certification process, in addition to providing training courses for their staff and establishing critical support routes for derivation to public services in crisis situations,. Similar training instances took place in 21 public water utilities and in the fishing company TASA in Peru.

The successes of ComVoMujer can be measured in terms of the provision and the strengthening of capacities and tools, in the appropriation and adoption of joint measures within the region and in the generation of innovative lines of action to try to reduce gender violence in the participating countries. Brendel adds that the technical assistance of the program and its work process have led to a greater visibility and an important perception of the issue for the region. Proof of this was the incorporation, for the first time, of gender violence to the “concept for Latin America” of the German cooperation ministry (BMZ). The experiences and examples originated in the program, moreover, could be of use for other regions, thus expanding the international cooperation circuit: the German ministry, in fact, already counts with competences, proved examples and material to define innovative strategies in future gender violence projects.

 

Vagamundos: teachers reflect about their education in Chile
School teachers in Latin America face a tough job: they deal with educational systems that are inadequate and poor on a day to day basis, and quite often they lack the time or monetary recognition to carry out a task that is key for these societies. In this region, however, it is common to identify teachers that are utterly devoted to the improvement of education. Such is the case of the Vagamundos, a group of Chilean teachers that has been meeting, sharing and producing knowledge on a voluntary basis for the last 15 years.

Mónica Bravo Álvarez, one of the founders of the Vagamundos and a teacher in vulnerable areas for the last 23 years, explains that their name goes back to the time of the saltpetre industry in the north of Chile, where workers from all over the country met workers from abroad, came in contact with the international labour movement and carried these ideas back home with them. In reference to this acquisition and appropriation of knowledge away from home, the Chilean historian Gabriel Salzar called these workers “Vagamundos” (a pun based on the similarity with vagabundos, or vagabond). Asserting their identification with this tradition, the Chilean teachers adopted the name for themselves. In the words ofBravo, who is also mediator in the school system and school council member, the one aspect that defines the “vagamundano” teacher is “his/her interest in taking part in a reflection about the educational system”.

Vagamundos was created in 1998, after one of the first cohorts of Chilean teachers returned to Chile from their exchange in Germany, financed by the Chilean Ministry of Education and InWEnt’s program for practitioners. Bravo recalls that the programme of visiting schools and educational institutions in Berlin for two and a half months had a “tremendous content”, together with a feeling of magic which accompanied the experience. Bravo attributed this to several factors. For many, it was the “first face to face encounter with a Europe that you had only gotten to know in books or TV.” In addition, a special connection and communication, which were extraordinary in comparison to that experienced by other exchange groups, were generated thanks to the reception offered by the facilitators from the Paulo Freire Institute (hired by InWEnt/GIZ) in Berlin. According to Bravo, Ilse Schimpf-Herken, who was the local coordinator, was the key person in invigorating the exchange and in giving continuity to the initiative of the Vagamundos founders. Yet another particularity for this group was the protagonism of issues concerning historical memory in their discussions and reflections as the educators, who had the Pinochet dictatorship still fresh in remembrance, were confronted with the German Nazi past, learned about the concentration camps and other remnants of the Third Reich. The reference to historical memory was also motivated by their encounter with another group of Chilean teachers resident in Berlin and that had been in exile in the German city during the Pinochet regime.

Upon their return, the teachers had to implement a project in their own educational institutions in order to apply the lessons learned during their exchange. A group of recently returned teachers decided to go a step further as they took the initiative and began organising informal annual meetings of ex-exchange teachers; 15 years later Vagamundos is still coming together, and has managed to put together year after year a rich programme of activities including diverse instances for reflection. In recent years the offer ranged from seminars and workshops about interculturality, conflict management, theater forum, critical pedagogy and related subjects to new exchange programs and research projects, amongst others; numerous connection and collaboration channels were established with other professional educational associations, as well. Examples of this are the collaboration with Professors with no Borders from the Paulo Freire Institute, a group of German teachers that has been travelling regularly to different points in Chile in order to give workshops and miniseminars, the publication of the book Discovering ourselves in the other in the year 2002, and the research project about historical memory that was handed over to the Ministry of Education in 1999.

Convinced that Chile`s educational system lacks transformational potential, as it fails to integrate students that are left out of the system, thus resulting in social segregation, the Vagamundos share a critical position towards the educational policy dominant jn their country. As part of this criticism, they deeply question the current role of teachers in Chile and identify practices that need to be reviewed – such as prescribing amphetamines to hyperactive kids. The Vagamundos see their reflection as part of a common search for pedagogical strategies in a globalised world; their main challenge lies in “developing pertinent practices for the integral development of our students based on the tools that we share in the vagamundane space, taking into consideration the context in the first place”, says Bravo.

According to this teacher, the Vagamundos managed to consolidate as a group by working democratically, moving from one place to another, and through years of shared work, but essentially thanks to the “space of freedom” that they managed to generate by means of an “intercultural pedagogic dialogue”. Intercultural issues have always been present in their reflection due to the heterogeneous nature of a group that includes teachers coming from all corners of Chile, as well as to the group’s international projection; its creation, in fact, was closely associated to the above mentioned scholarship program for travelling abroad of Chile’s Ministry of Education, a successful example of intercultural and global learning- and to the group’s initial contact with another reality, culture and educational system.

Proof of the vitality of the Vagamundos are both the motivation and commitment of its members; when they make themselves present at their meetings, they do so with “body and soul”. This may explain the reason why past efforts undertaken to incorporate new communication technologies to the group have been put aside. Bravo remembers the attempts made with InWEnt’s collaboration to generate a web platform for the group and though the initiative encountered much enthusiasm, the page did not manage to succeed due to Internet coverage limitations outside of Santiago: access to digital communications varies from city to city in Chile, and thus many members were left out of the web.

Fact is, the face to face encounters have endured the challenges of time and what is more, they have managed to keep alive and well a group that is reaching and enriching many teachers all over the country. The Vagamundos teachers have newly invited the practitioners from 2009, 2011 and 2012 to a new meeting in September 2012 with the first groups of ex-exchangers. Now that the theme of the exchange trips has shifted from values and the objectives of education to math teaching, the challenge this time is surely to be new, and will center on the possibility of dialogue between these two different thematic orientations.

Collective construction of knowledge at the Universidad Indígena Intercultural

Though many Latin American countries have large indigenous populations, these groups have been discriminated against and left out from many participation spaces. The educational system is just one example: on average, indigenous people attain lower educational levels than the rest of the population, and they rarely manage to continue studying beyond primary school. On the one side, the education imparted by the state does not meet the educational and training needs of the indigenous population, on the other, there is no place for traditional indigenous knowledge in the curricula.

In many countries, this situation has been changing thanks to the growing recognition of society´s multicultural nature and the rights of indigenous groups. A series of changes in legislation has promoted increased participation of these sectors in official social and economic structures, but fact is that qualified professionals of indigenous origin are very scarce.

Against this backdrop and in response to the demands of indigenous organizations, the Intercultural Indigenous University (UII) was created in 2005; the first graduate programs were launched in 2007. Promoted by the Indigenous Fund based in Bolivia, its goal is to contribute to the formation of professionals and indigenous leadership with potential to assume participation and decision making roles from an intercultural perspective in order to have an impact on their respective societies. Through a network that includes 26 associated academic centers, 11 Latin American countries and Spain take part in this initiative.

The UII has its focus on intercultural education based on diversity, an aspect that is well reflected by its student body: as of 2010, more than 100 indigenous groups and 20 Latin American countries had been represented by the UII student population. Cultural diversity, moreover, is intrinsic to the vision of the UII, as is an integral aspect of its programs – and shapes its contents, methodology and teaching staff.

In this sense, the most innovative aspect of the university is the IIC, or Itinerant Indigenous Chair, a course that is part of all graduate programs of the UII. This class brings to the university indigenous experts, leaders, scientists and those persons considered wise by their communities. The indigenous representatives recur to participatory methodologies and intercultural approaches that duly respect the indigenous cultural worldview and spirituality in order to achieve an intercultural dialogue in class.

Thus the IIC generates an integrative movement that is manifold: on the one side it promotes the integration in higher education of persons, knowledge and experiences which are part of indigenous life and culture but have been traditionally excluded from the academic realm for being considered “non-scientific,” for not meeting the requirements or methodological rigor of academia; in the worst cases, the cause of exclusion was plain discrimination and racism. The intercultural dialogue approach aims at generating in indigenous subjects a growing awareness of their role in society, as this dialogue strengthens their own identity and history promoting a deeper self-appreciation of the subjects involved. And finally, integration takes the form of interculturalization in higher education, gradually achieved by incorporating the traditional knowledge and wisdom of indigenous peoples into higher education.

“For now we have just reached the point of incorporating indigenous knowledge and reflecting on it,” says Verena Blickwede, project coordinator for the GIZ. She explains that part of the problem is that the indigenous population is far from being homogenous; more than 600 groups coexist in the region, each with their own culture and knowledge. The necessary starting point is to accept knowledge is not monolithic. “The idea is not to westernize this knowledge, nor to measure it against the model of the West – that would make its acceptance impossible. Through the exchange and collection of indigenous experiences and wisdom we seek to develop collective knowledge.”

Instead of emerging as a new institution with its own infrastructure, the UII was created with the idea to take advantage of the existing resources, which was made possible by the formation of a virtual network that capitalises on the higher education experiences, infrastructure and capacities of its associated academic centers.

The courses vary in duration, from 4 to 24 months, and have a blended learning format. Their virtual component is due to the fact that most students work while studying, many are active in their communities and can not abandon them. But the virtual platform allows for the exchange of indigenous visions with origin in different countries, an exchange that is enriched by the internationality of students. Although the UII does not have its own virtual platform yet, this is a priority for this year.

The contents offered by the UII are those that are considered priority for the indigenous organizations. Among the courses that are already part of the UIIs graduate offer are Bilingual Intercultural Education, Intercultural Health, Indigenous Rights, Strengthening Indigenous Women’s Leadership, Development, Identity and Governance.

Currently the candidates for the UII are presented and endorsed by the indigenous organizations. Though students are required to have an academic background, the UII offers the possibility to study to those who play an active role in their community, are a local reference or possess wisdom validated by the indigenous group, even if they lack academic qualification.

In order to make available to Latin American governments and indigenous organizations qualified professionals to deal with indigenous and intercultural issues, the GIZ supports the UII since early 2005. Through process-oriented consulting and technical on site assistance aimed at the consolidation of the courses offered, and particularly the strengthening of the IIC, the GIZ is responsible for curriculum conception and design and training materials development, among other tasks. The UII also receives financial support from Spain and Belgium.

About to celebrate its first five years of life, the UII is now devoted to develop its own institutional profile. While the plan is to achieve international recognition, this will be “a long process,” according Blickwede: the recognition in the region stands on top of the list. The process implies assuming the indigenous cultural identity in the first place, and on that basis, obtaining academic recognition for the respectivae knowledge and wisdom. The 400 graduates, together with a graduation rate of 85%, show that these first steps are already well underway and most likely, the recognition of the UII as a university in the region is soon to come.

UII Broschure in English

http://www.reduii.org/apc-aa-files/documentos/items/brochure_2010_1.zip

Africa is already here: The project “Afrika kommt!” entered its second phase

“l’d like to achieve my dream of being the first female Chief Director of the Ministry”, says 34-year-old Sheila Kangberee, who is working as a Senior Commercial Officer in the Standards Division of the Ministry. In order to reach her goal the graduate accountant is taking part in the programme “Afrika kommt!” (“Africa is coming!”) Here Kangberee wants to learn how to take up leadership roles.

The programme „Afrika kommt!“ is supposed to lay the foundation for a sustainable and productive economic cooperation between Germany and the countries of Sub-Saharan Africa.

The capacity building initiative was set up three years ago by nineteen of Germany’s leading companies. The programme functions thanks to its intensive, practice-oriented exchange between young African executive managers and German companies.

Now, the second phase of „Afrika kommt!“ is running with 17 young executives who will be taking part in the programme until June 2012. “One phase always takes two years”, explains Lydia Jebauer-Nirschl, a GIZ project manager responsible for the planning and running of the programme. “Young people are working in all areas. There’s a managing engineer from Ghana, a personnel manager from Zimbabwe or a banker from Kenya”, says Jebauer-Nirschl. GIZ is responsible for the entire organisation and execution of the programme „Afrika kommt!“ including the choice of candidates.

“From 1.700 applications we chose 570 via online procedure, and communicated our choice to the companies.” Out of the shortlist were picked 64 candidates and invited to our Assessment Centre, a total of 17 managed to take part in our programme.

The first step for all participants is to take German language lessons in both Africa and Germany during several months. The second step is a special training programme for every participant developed by the German company he or she is going to stay in. This custom-tailored special training programme, for example, may include company´s organisation, communication or Change Management.

This year’s participants also visited the President of the Federal Republic of Germany. All trainings and excursions within Germany aim at deepening the knowledge, competences and practical experience of the participants during their nine-month stay in their German companies as well as promoting the building of networks.

Participant Brian Mukura is currently completing an internship at Commerzbank in Frankfurt. In his home country, Zimbabwe, the 31-year-old banker is working at the Reserve Bank of Zimbabwe. “I’m taking part in „Afrika kommt!“ to enrich my experience in banking and sharpen my leadership skills. As a banker, I strongly believe and I am convinced that such exposure is the key to the development of banking and financial systems in Africa.”

Sheila Kangberee wants to deepen her practical experience during her stay in Walldorf at SAP AG. For the future she hopes to be able to create a long-term network partnership between Ghanaian and German Industries. „My Ministry expects me to learn the German way of doing business and use my knowledge to help with the implementation of Ghana`s development agenda”, explains the 34-year-old Senior Commercial Officer.

There are many fundamental differences concerning corporate culture and work life in Germany and in Africa, says Lydia Jebauer-Nirschl. “I myself have lived in Africa for a while. There, people don’t really make a difference between job and private life.” When someone starts a new job it is normal for them to be invited by her or his new colleagues to their homes. And every morning when you go to work you have to greet each other with a handshake and ask about your colleague’s state of health and that of their families. “In turn, African participants learn that in Germany punctuality is very important, and every project has to be planned in detail.”

The good thing is that German companies can even profit from “Afrika kommt!”-exchange programme. According to Jebauer-Nirschl, it is much cheaper for German companies who want to do business in Africa to already have a number of qualified employees on site. “The main idea is that the participants of the programme “Afrika kommt!” would stay in touch with their German companies, and gradually build sustainable networks even after they have returned to their home countries”, says GIZ –project manager.

Sheila Kengberee wants to stay in touch with her German company. “In Ghana, the private sector is the engine of growth for the economy. Through this programme, I get to learn a first-hand knowledge of the German way of doing business and help introduce that knowledge in my country and Africa as a whole“.

Even Germany can learn a lot from Africa, for example, about the vast new business opportunities on the continent. „On the one hand, Africa is a continent rich in natural resources but without the necessary technology to extract and process them into finished products, and thus cannot benefit from these resources“, says Brian Mukura. „On the other hand we have Germany, not only a powerhouse in technology but the third largest economy in the world; and Germany requires raw materials from Africa. This status quo is a good catalyst for the growth and strengthening of win-win economic ties between the two countries“.

“Investing in a green economy can be positive for employment”

In the face of threatening environmental degradation and the fact that natural resources are becoming increasingly scarce, the emergent green economy is becoming more and more visible through the manifold efforts to arrest climate change. The promotion of green employment is crucial on the move towards a greener and more sustainable economy, and this has been one of the main goals of the Green Jobs Initiative, a partnership established in 2007 between the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the International Labor Organization (ILO), and the International Trade Union Confederation (ITUC)

The GIZ, which has already cooperated with the ILO on several projects, such as the first training course on Open ECBCheck held at the ILO’s International Training Center in Turin or currently a project in the Ukraine concerning HIV prevention, is moving in the same direction: its spotlight for this year is “Responsible economic action – sustainable development”. A greener economy, however, will require the creativity and collective action of all parties involved – including governments, enterprises, consumers and regional, international organizations.

In the following interview Peter Poschen, currently responsible for the coordination of the ILO’s Green Jobs Programme, explains how his organization involves different stakeholders in working towards a greener economy. Mr. Poschen has over 25 years of experience on four continents in sustainable development with a focus on the social dimensions of the use of natural resources. He has been working for the ILO since 1986, and is also Director of its Job Creation and Enterprise Development Department. Mr. Poschen holds a PhD in sciences from the University of Freiburg and a diploma in economic modeling and accounting for sustainable development.

How did green employment make the step from “ecological utopia” to becoming a reality?

There was a change in the earlier perception that protecting the environment necessarily implied a trade-off, that this must be bad for jobs. Over the last five years, this has been recognized as a myth. Increasingly, policy makers and the public realize that investing in environmental protection can be positive for employment. On balance, we see that there tends to be a positive effect for employment in all countries which have been studied. The net gain in employment can be more or less significant.

In addition to the direct positive environmental effects – e.g. workers who produce clean energy, there are also positive indirect effects in other sectors, e.g. workers who make the steel needed for a windmill. And, something that is particularly interesting is an additional, economy-wide effect. For every dollar you spend on energy, very few jobs are generated compared to buying other products and services. If you save energy or you avoid imports of fossil fuels by shifting to renewable energy, demand is shifted to more labour-intensive products and services.

But the most import finding was that it is not true that you have to choose between protecting the environment or creating jobs, you can do both at the same time.

What are the main goals and challenges of your department as part of the ILO?

Our goal in the Green Jobs Programme is to contribute to truly sustainable development, to work on the linkage between decent work, economic development and environmental sustainability. Part of the difficulty is that the debate has strongly focused on the cost, but barely on the benefits. Greater awareness of the contribution that a greener economy can make to development through better health, more employment and social inclusion would help bring industrialized and developing countries closer together. The challenge is that it is a hugely complex area and a lot more analytical work is needed to put into practice the things that we already know. We are especially pleased with Brazil, a country that has taken a number of green jobs ideas to scale.

What measures did Brazil adopt?

The government started to address a large housing shortage through a social housing program for very poor families. Providing solar heating made a big difference, you have much more hot water plus significant savings for the family, but lower emissions and cost to society. 240,000 houses will be equipped giving poor people access to cheap and clean energy, a good example of social inclusion practice.

Another interesting initiative is the new law on solid waste: it addresses the growing waste problem but also aims at integrating the existing ‘waste scavengers’ into a recycling economy, improving the quality of jobs and the level of incomes. The third measure has been the introduction of the ILO guidelines to the forestry legislation in the Amazon. Brazil has a large economy and population, but deforestation generates most emissions. The guidelines imply compliance with environmental as well as labor standards and promote sustainable forest management.

What is your role as Director of the Enterprise Department at the ILO?

Our work is to promote enterprise development: we help them establish, offer them training and technical assistance. We are also assisting countries in offering business development services, access to technology, policy advice and capacity building. We have a focus on entrepreneurship for youth and for women, as these are important to the economy. In addition we are promoting workplace practices, responsible and sustainable from a social as well as from an environmental perspective.

What has been the response of countries?

The 2008 report, “Green Jobs: Towards decent work in a sustainable, low-carbon world”, triggered a tsunami of interest, following rising awareness that environmental protection is a necessity that can be turned into an opportunity. Many countries came to us to ask if we could help them do something. The interesting thing is that we make similar experiences across a range of different countries. In all cases the sustainability issue turns out to be invariably very relevant. And it is always possible to identify interesting opportunities in which countries want to invest. These are usually two or three sectors which vary from country to country.

Where do the ICT and digital services industry stand in relationship to green employment?

This is one of the areas difficult to pin down. Some green jobs sectors are easy to identify, like workers in renewable energy or in sustainable transport systems, but there is another less visible group, which includes IT managers, facility and logistics managers, procurement officers and others whose decisions make a big difference on the use of resources. The systematic use of ICTs in buildings, factories, transport etc. could save greenhouse gas emissions equivalent to those of the United States, one of the biggest emitters in the world.

All UN agencies. including the ILO, are working towards the goal of becoming emissions neutral. This implies much more use of skype, teleconferencing and video links. In order to reduce emissions we now conduct many interviews using ICT, instead of flying as we did in earlier times. Teleworking is a welcome addition, because it reduces commuting as well as emissions. It can make a significant contribution, but I would hesitate to speak of teleworkers having green jobs. Generally we need to realize that there is no silver butter to achieve environmental sustainability. Many measures have to be taken.

What will be the most visible changes in the labor market in the future?

The labor market in many countries is shifting. The green sector is growing and attracting youth. For many existing occupations across a vast array of sectors, the profiles are changing. IT engineers, procurement managers are part of the invisible workforce in environmental protection- and all of these people will have an environmental aspect built into their profile, they will need to be able to act on this. Procurement managers, for example, need to learn that IT waste is very toxic and that stand-by functions consume lots of energy.

What is the role of education and e-learning in this topic?

I do think that e-learning is going to be an important medium to learn new skills, this can be done faster than without it. One of the big surprises that we had with the 2008 report, that was never printed, was that in the first six months after its digital publication it was downloaded 750000 times from the UNEP and ILO websites. This was an enormous response to a report that you could not give to anyone. We maintain an Internet presence, as it becomes more and more important.

We already see it starting to happen in our network in Asia, in the blended learning courses that the International Training Center (ICT) in Turin is giving: the Green Jobs and local economic development course, also the UN Climate Change learning platform. The training courses on green jobs have an e-learning component. A course for trade union members in Latin America is completely on-line. In Asia, our most developed region, the online platform is very active and creating the CoP knowledge base in the region is a matter of course. There are also private civil initiatives growing on the net, such as the US network “Building pathway for a green workforce”.

But some sectors depend on the specific trade. For very practical hands-on skills, such as for green construction, direct interaction is still needed. A combo of theory and practice is most likely more appropriate.

For economic equality, against poverty: GIZ’s programme CHANCE supports female entrepreneurs in developing countries

In many developing and emerging nations it is difficult especially for women to break into working life, particularly if they want to become entrepreneurs.

One essential reason for this problem is the lack of institutions able to support the difficult business start-up in a professional way.

“Often associations of women entrepreneurs in developing countries are not well-positioned, and their range of services needs to be improved”, says Inge Meier-Ewert, project manager of GIZ’s programme CHANCE (Chamber and Advisory Network and Cooperation For Women Entrepreneurs). Lots of essential questions such as “How do I create a business plan?” or “Where and how can I get favourable credits?” remain unanswered. Women entrepreneurs are left alone with their problems. “So women entrepreneurs significantly benefit from a better range of offered services”, says Meier-Ewert.

This is precisely where GIZ’s programme CHANCE enters. It aims to strengthen associations of women entrepreneurs in Africa, Asia and India in a sustainable way, to train and net them. With these measures CHANCE wants to lay the foundation stone for a stronger economic participation of women in developing countries because it is an important requirement for equality as well as important economic factor in fighting poverty. “Associations must become competent disseminators which develop and offer further trainings to their members and even foster an intensive exchange between them”, says Meier-Ewert.

To achieve that CHANCE is acting on three levels: regional, national and international. “On the national level we’re seeking direct contact to associations, for example, the Business Women Association South Africa, in order to know what kind of trainings about what topics are needed”, explains project manager Meier-Ewert. “In South Africa we’ve built a pool of trainers who offer a course ‘Training the trainers’.”

CHANCE’s educational work programme offers a wide range of courses as the individual condition of the associations and their training needs vary from country to country. While Tanzania or Zambia still need lots of construction work, a country like South Africa with the Women Association South Africa is already well positioned. Many women entrepreneurs are working successfully in every hierarchical level there. The Association of Lady Entrepreneurs of Andra Pradesh (ALEAP), for example, has been very active. ALEAP has rented a huge state area and built a business park for women entrepreneurs where they can establish and develop their businesses.

In some countries women are not allowed to own property. But without property they don’t have any collateral to get a credit. To break the vicious circle women necessarily have to rely on associations that can provide them with concrete help.

Intensive networking and exchange among associations can contribute to reach that goal. Therefore CHANCE is acting even on a regional level. Meier-Ewert: “In most cases, one country´s associations do not know about their counterparts in other countries. For example, the associations of women entrepreneurs in South Africa don’t know what’s happening in Zambia or Tanzania.”

Thus CHANCE cooperates, among other things, with the Gender Unit of Southern Africa Development Community (SADC). This regional organisation seated in Botswana and consisting of 15 member states intends to drive forward the economic and political integration in Southern Africa. Its Asiatic-Indian counterpart is the SAARC Chamber Women Entrepreneurs Council (SCWEC) that GIZ also cooperates with.

Every year, depending on its schedule, a CHANCE Summer Academy or winter school takes place. “We invite various associations of women entrepreneurs from these umbrella organisations, there we offer trainings to requested subjects, for example Strategic Planning, Financial Management or Leadership”, says Meier-Ewert. The practical relevance during these events is important too, women entrepreneurs talk about their experience and, for example, give advice on how to gain and keep new members or how to effectively do networking as entrepreneurs.

CHANCE wants to help associations of women entrepreneurs to enter into a dialogue with the whole world, for example, with Germany. There is a close link to the German Association of Women entrepreneurs (Deutscher Unternehmerinnenverband VDU). “Furthermore we try to stimulate the international dialogue inviting associations of women entrepreneurs to Germany, where they take part in conferences and trade fairs in order to learn more about self-presentation and marketing”, says Meier-Ewert.

On a longer term, a stronger economic power of women should have political consequences too, for example, by introducing a legal basis that makes it easier for women to start their own business.

“In some countries women are already networking well. With our work we want to achieve that associations in countries with a much more difficult situation have more courage to prevail. If one day the dialogue between associations and women reaches the political decision-making levels, it would guarantee success that will have many further positive effects.”

Economic revival with quality standards

Whether packaging sizes, materials or manufacturing processes: the entire production and value chain has become standardised. These standards are intended to facilitate international trade and commerce break down barriers. States that want to tap into international markets and be competitive, must comply with these directives. But many emerging and developing countries are still not connected to the international standard system that is able to boost their economy in a sustainable way.

Therefore, for the first time, Germany´s Physical-Technical Federal Agency (PTB) – in cooperation with the German Institute for Standardisation – designed, authored and organised a blended e-Learning course “Quality Infrastructure for Sustainable Development” (QuISP) for which Global Campus 21 turned out to be the proper platform. Organisers were also able to count on the technical assistance as well as the comprehensive e-Learning knowledge of InWEnt.

The course was aimed at participants from the Caribbean and Africa who take key political and economic positions. Course goal was to explain the economic importance of standardisation, technical rules and further elements of quality infrastructure and to give an impression of their dimension in the context of commerce. Course participants were expected to take this knowledge in the negotiations of economic partnership agreements.

Amongst others the European Union (EU) has made an Economic Partnership Agreement (EPA) with the Caribbean region. It is an agreement on liberalisation of commerce between EU and ACP countries, mostly former European colonies in Africa, the Caribbean and South Pacific. By knowing the value and importance of standards, technical rules and criteria of quality participants would be able to play a stronger role in the proceedings.

“Technology and sustainable development are crucial for Suriname as a developing country, therefore this course has given me an important input”, said Ginmardo Kromosoeto, Minister for Local Technological Development, and one of the course participants. The significance of standards and technical rules in the context of trade as well as the importance of calibration of measurement instruments have been particularly interesting. “Not only Suriname’s leading company for electrical engineering, Multi Electrical Systems, which has a leading position in our country benefits from that. By implementing these standards, we can match our work activities to other companies in the Caribbean Community and Europe in general.”

Group discussions and Media Wiki

Quisp started with a workshop in Guyana followed by a six-month online course supervised by a tutor, at the end of which all participants met in Braunschweig and Berlin for a final event. Important is that during the course the participants were supervised by experts of PTB and DIN. Group discussions about special topics supported not only the technical exchange but even the building of regional networks.

In addition, during their online phase course participants developed contents for a Media Wiki application that is available on GC21. To do so, first, they had to figure out what were the existing standards in their home countries. To gather the necessary information they had to contact many different people in companies and institutions, which was a first step to permanent and important contacts and networks. Media Wiki showed that countries often lack the existence of a national institution for standardisation. Furthermore, essential milestones of quality infrastructure have to be developed and supported.

Often even basic requirements are missing. “The education level of the population and consumerism in Haiti are very low, and there is a political instability,” said Serge Richard Petit-Frere, a course participant and Marketing and Quality Director at Société Financière Haïtienne de Développement S.A. (SOFIHDES), the sole private financial development corporation in Haiti. “There is a lack of qualified staff and competent decision-makers in key positions.” Nevertheless during the course the 33-year-old was given concepts to establish standards and quality that he would later use in his professional practice. “Quisp is definitely a step forward in the introduction of standards and quality in the Caribbean region. But Haiti has still a long way to go.”

[PTB: Information and publications]