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From the Arctic Circle to Foggy Bottom, Building a Stronger, Healthier World

May 18, 2011

EXPANDING OPPORTUNITIES IN THE GLOBAL WORKPLACE: NO LIMITS CO-SPONSORS LANDMARK EVENT

This week, No Limits Foundation co-sponsored a landmark event addressing workplace discrimination. The event, also co-sponsored by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, convened principals from the U.S. Departments of State and Labor, AFL-CIO, U.S. Council for International Business and National Women's Law Center to review the report and develop strategies to implement fair policies.

We heard from the authors of the 2011 ILO report, which focused on workplace discrimination. The good news found in the report is that positive advancements have been made, with more policies and institutions in place to combat workplace discrimination. But we have much left to do: discrimination is becoming more varied and the institutional capacity to address it remains inadequate.

One of the authors of the report, Guy Ryder, made the important point from the business perspective: elimination of discrimination is good for the bottom line. In fact, 68% of companies surveyed saw benefits of having a diverse workforce. Fair workplace policies allow families to thrive, communities to flourish and economies to grow.

"Discrimination which devalues the contributions of workers because of sex or race or religion – or bars them entirely from participation at all – does not just injure the individual – it shackles the entire economy," No Limits President Ann Lewis said. "By building a world that welcome the talents, the energy and contributions of every person, we increase the number of consumers and producers in every society - and expand national economies."

Click here for more information about this important event.

SAVING WOMEN'S LIVES AROUND THE WORLD

While reproductive rights remain under attack here in the U.S., we must remember that many communities around the world have no access to family planning whatsoever. In Nicholas Kristof's recent New York Times Op-Ed, Mothers We Could Save, he tells the story of a Somali woman named Hinda Hassan. At 30 years-old she was the mother of eight children, one of them an infant when she found herself pregnant again. She lacked access to family planning, prenatal care and proper medical care. Early in her pregnancy she developed minor complications that spiraled out of control when she went into labor. After many painful hours and two trips different clinics, she died.

Hinda's story is tragic - and it's all too common. Each year 350,000 women die in childbirth, often leaving behind orphaned children. As Kristof pointed out, "The Guttmacher Institute estimates that if all the unmet need for contraception were met, the result would be 94,000 fewer women dying of pregnancy complications each year, and almost 25 million fewer abortions each year."

When the United States international operations budget comes before Congress this year, we expect further attacks on efforts to support badly needed family planning programs. Think of Hinda – and all the many, many Hindas whose names we don't know. Their lives are at stake - and we need to be ready to fight for them!

THE UGANDA ANTI-GAY BILL - OFF THE TABLE FOR NOW?

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill proposed in Uganda seems to be off the table - at least for now. The bill was proposed in October 2009, and was set for debate by the full parliament on last Wednesday, until it was dropped from the schedule on the last day of parliament. Under the proposed law, homosexuals would receive life imprisonment, "aggravated" homosexuality or those who were gay and HIV positive could be sentenced to death by hanging, and if a citizen knew of a homosexual person, and did not turn them in to authorities, he or she could be sentenced to seven years in jail.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has spoken out against this so called "Kill the Gays Bill". According to human rights activists in and outside of Uganda, harassment of gays has greatly intensified since the introduction of the bill. Governments, human rights organizations and people all over the world have condemned the bill. The future of this egregious bill is still unknown, but it is tabled until the parliament meets again.

FROM THE ARCTIC CIRCLE TO FOGGY BOTTOM, HILLARY IS MAKING A DIFFERENCE

Last week, Secretary Clinton traveled to Nuuk, Greenland for a meeting with members of the Arctic Council to discuss issues of climate change, environmental sustainability and regional cooperation. The Council signed an agreement to strengthen cooperation between the Arctic states and improve responses to emergency calls in the region.

Climate change was a major topic of discussion for the Council, as scientific reports show that climate change in the region was more extreme than previously thought. "Many of the indigenous people who are here at the Arctic Council meeting can give you very dramatic descriptions of how their land and the sea has changed in their lifetimes," Hillary said. "So there is no doubt, except among those who are into denying the facts before their eyes, that climate change is occurring, and it is contributed to by human actions at every level."

Read more about Secretary Clinton's trip here.

STRENGTHENING ALLIANCES, PROMOTING WOMEN'S LEADERSHIP AROUND THE WORLD

Last week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton met with participants in the inaugural event with the U.S.-China Women's Leadership Exchange and Dialogue (Women-LEAD). The program is designed to enhance exchanges and high-level dialogues between women leaders from the two countries; to tackle common challenges, and to raise the visibility of and opportunities for women and girls in both countries.

In an interview with Chinese television, Hillary talked of the importance of building people-to-people connections: "Our goal has been to build a positive, cooperative, and comprehensive relationship in which both of our nations have a very open and honest dialogue about areas where we agree and areas where we do not agree, because we think that's going to produce more understanding and build cooperation.

...At our just-concluded dialogue, we had many government officials from both nations, plus business leaders, plus women leaders and scientists and academics, and it was a very thorough discussion on everything from energy – clean energy to agricultural productivity to increasing people-to-people connections like more American and Chinese students studying in the other country."

Read more about the program here.

JOIN US!

Listen to our five previous members-only conference calls and join the ones to come! Become a member today. In every No Limits newsletter, we try to give you up-to-date information about the issues that matter. Our website, videos, and Facebook and Twitter outreach help spread the word, and members-only conference calls bring us the latest policy information.

THE LAST WORD

"Whether by supporting LGBT advocates marching in Belgrade, leading the effort at the United Nations to affirm the human rights of LGBT persons, or condemning a vile law under consideration in Uganda, we are committed to our friends and allies in every region of the world who are fighting for equality and justice. These are not Western concepts; these are universal human rights."

- Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, May 17, 2011, International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia.

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