• Emotional European Tour: Aung San Suu Kyi calls for foreign investment in Burma

    On Saturday in Oslo, Aung San Suu Kyi will give what is expected to be an emotional acceptance speech for her Nobel Peace prize - which she was awarded 21 years ago.

    This is the first time in 24 years that The Lady, as she is known, has visited Europe since returning from Oxford to her native Burma. Suu Kyi spent the majority of those years under house arrest.

    The head of the Nobel committee, Thorbjoern Jagland, said he thought her long-delayed acceptance speech "will be one of the most historic events in Nobel peace prize history."

    In London, Suu Kyi will address both houses of parliament in Westminster Hall - a rare honor usually accorded only to heads of state.

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    Aung San Suu Kyi's European tour: 

    ·      14 June: Addresses UN's International Labor Organization in Geneva, Switzerland

    ·      15-18 June: Visits Norway where she will receive her 1991 Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo

    ·      18 June: Arrives in Dublin, Ireland, and attends a concert in her honor. Later travels to the UK

    ·      18-25 June: Receives honorary doctorate in civil law by Oxford University and addresses both Houses of Parliament in London

    ·      25 June: Arrives in Paris


    Aung San Suu Kyi's travel to Europe comes as Burma president Thein Sein, whose government has been praised for recent reforms, struggles to contain sectarian violence in western Myanmar between Rakhine Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims. Reports (click here for more) indicate that at least 21 lives have been lost since last Friday. 

    Discussion starters:

    1.     Why after so many years do you believe President Sein and the military leaders of Burma are opening the country and allowing Suu Kyi to travel?

    2.     Do you think that the Nobel Peace Prize can be used as an instrument to promote real political change?


  • World Naked Bike Ride 2012 - A Greener World?

    Yesterday, Saturday, June 9, 2012, thousands and thousands of protestors took to the streets in over seventy cities around the world.  In Austin, San Francisco, London, Berlin, Madrid, Amsterdam, Guadalajara and in many other cities around the world, cyclists took part in the World Naked Bike Ride (click here for a Facebook page).

    Yesterday's protest was the 9th annual ride. The annual clothing-optional protests started in 2004 and aims to promote cycling as a greener mode of transportation, and encourage a body-positive culture (click here for a photo essay).

    Discussion starters:

    1.     Do you think that protest or awareness events like this actually change behavior and or policy? Do you think that the attitudes of people are opened and that some people become more aware of the issues and are encouraged to adopt a body-positive culture?

    2.     Why do you think it is that people have organized this protest or annual event?  

  • Will the Rio+20 Talks Produce Real Results?

    "Currently we are a long way from where we need to be in these negotiations," said WWF Director General, Jim Leape.  World leaders will arrive in Brazil in ten days for the Rio+20 Conference. Leaders, along with thousands of participants from governments, the private sector, NGOs and other groups, will come together to negotiate the reduction of poverty, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection on an ever more crowded planet.

    Rio+20 will focus on two themes: (1) a green economy in the context of sustainable development poverty eradication; and (2) the institutional framework for sustainable development (click here for more).

    Rio+20 negotiations have fallen into controversy, as country positions are just too entrenched and too far apart to provide a meaningful draft agreement. The most recent text is a significant weakening of previous drafts, particularly in the areas of valuing natural wealth, energy and ocean protection, and even this draft was privately rejected by a number of delegations (click here for the text).

    Leape stated, "When they gather in Rio, governments must restrain the flow of weasel words that is threatening to emasculate any agreement," (click here for more). 

    "They are not helping their people or the planet by 'noting', 'recognizing' or 'emphasizing'. We need to see time-bound commitment and action words like 'will', 'must' and 'deliver'," said Leape (click here for more from WWF and Leape).

    Discussion starters:

    1. WWF's recently warned that the world currently consumes 1.5 planets worth of resources. Do you think that the Rio+20 Conference can equitably bring consumption to sustainable levels?

    2. Do short-term election cycles hinder or help leaders make tough long-term decisions for sustainable development? 



  • OECD Report Details Gender Equality in Global North

    In his book, Half the Sky, Nicholas Kristof argues that, “In the nineteenth century, the central moral challenge was slavery. In the twentieth century, it was the battle against totalitarianism. We believe that in this century the paramount moral challenge will be the struggle for gender equality around the world.”

    Breaking down barriers to gender equality in education, employment and entrepreneurship would create new sources of economic growth and help make better use of everyone's skills, according to a new Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) report (click here for the complete report). 

    Despite numerous improvements in women's educational and employment outcomes, many countries have not achieved gender equality in economic opportunities and outcomes.

    To address the problems of gender equality, the OECD has embarked on a project to promote Gender Equality policy in three key areas: Education, Employment and Entrepreneurship.

    Across the Global North, nearly 60% of university graduate students were female. However, men and women are choosing different study and career paths.

    Why do career choices for men and women differ?

    More than 75% of health and social science graduates are women, while some 70% engineering, manufacturing and construction graduates are men.

    Discussion starters:

    1. Do you agree that new ways should be found to attract women to study and pursue careers in male-dominated sectors?

    2. Do you think that it is a problem that all across the global north that less than one-third of managers and only 10% of board members are women?