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Monthly Archives: May 2013
“Human Security is a relatively new concept, which has emerged out of complex and cross cutting threats that affect survival, livelihood and dignity of human-beings. Human security addresses multi-dimensional aspects of life- through advocating and ensuring freedom from fear (peace), freedom from want (development) and freedom to live with dignity (human rights). It is a holistic and evolving approach which requires further knowledge and experience sharing. As a lot of efforts are being made in different locations from which we can learn, it is important to promote mutual learning for improving our understanding and actions towards human security” – Organizers of the Human Security Conference 2013 in Ghana.
The United Nations in Ghana says its Joint Human Security Programme (HSP) with the Government of Ghana has contributed to changing lives of many residents in 19 partner communities in the three regions of Northern Ghana. It further states that though the programme is coming to an end this month – May 2013, it has left a lasting impact on many lives in that part of the country by addressing long-term challenges and promoting sustainable human security.
Launched in December 2009, the HSP sought to help create an enabling environment and empower local institutions, communities and individuals to manage and prevent conflict in most conflict sensitive areas in Northern Ghana – Bawku Municipality in the Upper East Region, Wa Municipality in the Upper West Region, Tamale Metropolis and Yendi Municipality in the Northern Region – as a means to ensuring sustainable human security. The programme supported the following interrelated five-prong interventions:
- Local Capacity development.
- Conflict prevention mechanisms.
- Income generation/Job creation.
- Food, health and nutrition security.
- Mainstreaming and advocating the human security concept.
The programme has been jointly implemented by six UN agencies, namely UNDP, UNICEF, WFP, FAO, UNIDO and UNU-INRA, in partnership with the Government of Ghana, civil society, academia, community members and other key stake holders. Funding for this programme has been made possible by the Japanese Government through the UN Trust Fund for Human Security (UNTFHS).
As part of activities to mark the official closure of the programme and to provide a platform for sharing the outcomes of the HSP and exchanging innovative ideas among a wide range of stakeholders, an international conference was held on 22nd and 23rd May 2013 at the conference hall of the Noguchi Memorial Institute for Medical Research (NMIMR), University of Ghana, Legon- Accra.
The objectives of the conference were; To share the human security concept, approaches and practices applied in the HSP and progress/changes made in programme areas with a wide range of stakeholders; To facilitate mutual learning between HSP stakeholders- including the UN agencies, partner communities, local and national institutions and other non-programme stakeholders; To disseminate key knowledge from the learning process.
The two-day conference brought together participants from all works of life; stakeholders, researchers, practitioners, policy makers, media and other interested individuals- to share knowledge and experience in the area of human security from different perspectives. It is their hope that through mutual learning at the conference various forms of partnerships will be enhanced and together forge ways towards promoting human security in Ghana and across the globe. Certificates were awarded to the organizing team for their inputs in making the event a success.
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“The other day I was watching a documentary from Half the Sky Movement about the girls from Kibera School for girls and I could not stop radiating beams of joys. Seeing young girls so confident with themselves as they received an education sent me back down memory lane. Growing up in Kisumu, Kenya, life was difficult, but that did not hinder me from pursuing my goal of achieving an education.
My two brothers and I were raised by a single mum who did not have a stable source of income at the time. We depended primarily on my mother’s parents — my grandparents — for support. Yet, despite the huddles, my mother made sure that I went to school. In my rural community, very few girls had the opportunity to see the gate of a school, in some cases because they were married off at a very early age and became mothers without the skills and education necessary to support their families.
I took my schooling very seriously because I knew I was enjoying a rare opportunity acknowledging vividly where I had come from. I was awarded a full scholarship to one of the best high schools in Kenya — the Starehe Girls’ — for the whole four years. Being at Starehe Girls’ was a dream come true and the opportunity came when I needed it most since my family did not have the money to send me to high school. I made the best out of the opportunity — studying hard while also taking part in community work. I was inspired to do so by my former high school director, who told us at every assembly, “To whom much is given; much is required.” I am not sure if every student took these words to heart, but it resonated so much with my life experiences; I had been blessed with so many generous men and women who had invested in my education.
I knew that I could be of help to my community in Kisumu by sharing my experiences and working with the many children who yearned for education. I started off by helping my friends and neighbors with their homework on a volunteer basis, and it was priceless. I was so happy to see their grades improve and the girls I mentored became more confident in themselves. I was so satisfied with the experience that I kept looking for more opportunities to give back.
Soon after, I got an opportunity with Mama Maria clinics — an organization that provides healthcare to underserved communities — helping teach their staff members computer skills and I knew this was an opportunity of a lifetime. I moved away from home to the community where Mama Maria is located, and by the end of the two months that I was there everyone knew the basics of using a computer, including how to start and shut it down and how to type and enter data. I knew I was impacting lives because most people in the community did not have these computer skills, and it would help them earn a better living.
The power of giving is very strong and it has always been part of my DNA. My hero has always been my grandmother. She would always go the extra mile to help people in my community even though we did not even have enough for ourselves. It’s my opinion that when you do good without expecting anything in return you attract a lot of good from the world.
Last summer, I visited Northern Kenya with Sustainable Development For All — an organization that uses innovative approaches to increase access to education for marginalized children from pastoralist communities who are denied a chance to attend school during the day because of cultural barriers — where bright children, especially girls are required to herd livestock and perform other household chores during the day while their peers are in school. I was shocked to see young girls braving darkness, just for an opportunity to attend school through special night classes, offered by SDfA-Kenya, in conjunction with a local community partner. I tried to relate the challenges they faced to my own childhood, but they had even more challenges. By the end of that summer, I felt more energized to support girls’ education as I realized that so many marginalized girls could be where I am today if only they were given the support and opportunity.
I am thankful to everybody who ever invested in my education because without it I would not be where I am today. I am currently a junior student at Carthage College studying Business Administration, Biology and Economics. I am also involved with different organizations advocating for women and girls empowerment through education and healthcare for women and children. All this has been possible because of my education. As Sheryl WuDunn says, “When you educate a girl, there is a triple effect that goes beyond what you would get from a normal investment… When you educate a girl, you educate a village.” ”
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