Africa calls for strengthening of private initiatives for continental development

Strengthening the private sector, in its widest sense, depends on educating an efficient, supportive and capable public sector and improving economic and political governance, areas which require policy action by the African countries, the 13-member Panel’s report says.The private sector, the role of which is stressed in the report, must be assisted through such measures as providing credit, establishing clear property rights and providing technical assistance, wherever necessary, the Panel says. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Bank should put greater emphasis on the private sector’s role within the framework of national poverty reduction strategy papers (PRSPs), it adds.It cautions that reducing trade barriers must be carefully planned and the structure of African trade kept in view. “For instance, a reduction of agricultural subsidies in the European Union and the United States of America could harm, not help, the many African nations that are net importers, rather than exporters, of agricultural goods,” the report says.The reduction of African trade barriers could enable the African nations to benefit from trade between developing countries, it adds.While the number of bilateral and subregional preferential trade agreements are increasing in Africa, the Panel says the completion of the World Trade Organization’s (WTO) Doha Round of multilateral trade negotiations is an important priority for African nations and it urges NEPAD to show “fulsome support” for it.In this regard, to facilitate the completion of the Doha Round, the Panel says NEPAD can make a strong case for both compensatory and short-term, adjustment-oriented aid flows to those African countries seriously affected by the reduced value of their products as they gradually lose their most favoured nation (MFN) status.On aid, it says: “The Panel fully endorses the call for a substantial increase in aid levels (net of debt relief and humanitarian assistance), in accordance with the commitments made by the Group of Eight (G8) major industrialized countries in Monterrey, Mexico, and the pledge to channel at least one-half of this increase to sub-Saharan Africa.” read more

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Security Council backs new stability pact for Africas Great Lakes region

In a statement read out by its President, Nassir Abdulaziz Al-Nasser of Qatar, the Council commended the countries of the region for the successful conclusion of last week’s Second Summit of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, where the agreement was reached.It also welcomed the decision to establish a regional follow-up mechanism to include a Conference secretariat and to establish its offices in Bujumbura, Burundi.The Council extended the mandate of the Office of the Secretary-General’s Special Representative in the region for a final period of three months, until 31 March 2007, with a view to ensuring “regional ownership” of the follow-up mechanism and successfully completing the transition to the conference secretariat. In addition, the Council appealed for international assistance for the Special Fund for Reconstruction and Development in the region and for implementation of the Pact by the parties. Special Representative Ibrahima Fall told the 15-member body that the Pact came with a twofold commitment by the 11 countries involved to ratify it quickly and to respect its spirit pending ratification. The collective political will of the region’s leaders was reflected through the preparatory process, which included the participation of representatives of the private sector, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and others. “These actors made a contribution at every level,” he said.Attending the summit in Nairobi when the Pact was adopted were six Heads of State and one Head of Government, representing Burundi, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Kenya.A Protocol on Non-Aggression and Mutual Defence in the Great Lakes Region establishes the foundations to prevent conflicts. Member States also pledged to criminalize any act of aggression or subversion against other States by individuals or groups operating in their respective States.Among the many participants at today’s Council meeting was Liberata Mulamula, First Executive Secretary of the Secretariat of the International Conference on the Great Lakes Region, who said the body would face the “enormous” task of putting into place legal, financial and administrative processes for implementing the Pact. read more

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Brock research responds to genderbased violence

Jazz Kamal hoped to become an elite-level martial arts athlete, until the inappropriate behaviours of one of her coaches stopped her from pursuing her dream.Now a coach for trauma-informed, non-contact boxing program Shape Your Life, Kamal strives to inspire women to conquer their fears by changing the way they think about their bodies.“As a coach, I set the tone for participants,” she says. “I respect that women all have different bodies, abilities and experiences, but I also teach them our bodies are not cages that confine us or hold us back. Instead, they can be a source of freedom.”The Shape Your Life program uses a trauma-informed approach that accounts for the lasting effects of violence in the lives of its participants. Coaches are aware of the impact trauma has and are able to interact with program participants in an appropriate manner while being sensitive to the experiences they’ve had.“Trauma is held in people’s bodies. Healing from violence involves knowing and feeling that you are in charge of your own body,” says Associate Professor of Kinesiology and Shape Your Life program co-founder Cathy van Ingen. “This means our coaches primary responsibility is to make our participants feel safe in the gym and have an understanding of the kinds of experiences the women are bringing with them.”The program is founded on the idea that non-contact boxing can be used to connect with survivors of violence outside of the typical therapeutic approaches that don’t engage the bodies of women and trans people.“Coaches are not asked to be social workers,” van Ingen explains. “They do need to be participant-centred and foster safety, respect and empowerment.”One way Kamal works to create a safe space is by seeing boxing through the participant’s eyes.“When I first started doing this work, I needed to decide how I was going to present myself to our participants. I thought about the powerful women that lift me up and decided by taking pride in myself, I could be inspiring and help others to conquer their fears,” she says.Each program cycle is 14 weeks. In that time, Kamal says she tries to connect the participants to the feeling of strength, not the appearance of perceived strength.  “I tell the women this is your space to explore your power and express your rage. If you can’t do a push up, that’s OK, at least you tried,” she says. “It’s my job to show you options on how you can move your body correctly for optimal use, then you can be creative with that knowledge.”Shape Your Life has grown immensely since its inception 11 years ago, with more than 1,600 women having participated, van Ingen says.“Along with Associate Professor of Kinesiology Kimberley Gammage and thanks to funding from the Public Health Agency of Canada over three years, we’ve been studying the outcomes of the program by exploring the effects of trauma and pathways to recovery,” she says.Another addition to Shape Your Life is Head Coach and four-time amateur national boxing champion Melinda Watpool.“Having been a boxer for more than 10 years, I like to teach the technical aspects so that participants can see how they can benefit from correct blocks, stances and how to hold your hands when punching a bag,” Watpool says. “At Shape Your Life, I’m really focused on safety, structure and fun because this program is about building confidence, learning a new skill and talking about how to make improvements in other aspects of life.”Both Watpool and Kamal agree that while it is rewarding to see their participants make progress over 14 weeks, unfortunately, there is an endless need for this program.“Until I hear there have been zero acts of violence against women this year, I’m going to keep coming back,” says Kamal. read more

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