Emmy-winning journalist and Canadian Senator join acclaimed leaders to jury the Global Pluralism Award

Emmy-winning journalist and Canadian Senator join acclaimed leaders to jury the Global Pluralism Award

Ottawa, Canada – June 4, 2020Kim Ghattas, Emmy-winning journalist; the Honourable Ratna Omidvar, Canadian Senator; Ambassador Annika Söder, Chair of the European Institute of Peace; and Bishop Precious Omuku,Archbishop of Canterbury’s Special Representative on Conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa, are among the new jurors of the Global Pluralism Award. The jury of international leaders, chaired by the Rt. Hon. Joe Clark, former Canadian Prime Minister, will select the winners of the 2021 Global Pluralism Award.

The Award recognizes individuals and organisations whose high-impact, innovative initiatives are tackling the challenge of living peacefully and productively with diversity. The Award is a program of the Global Centre for Pluralism, an international research and education centre founded by His Highness the Aga Khan in partnership with the Government of Canada. 

“The breath of expertise among the jurors speaks to a core belief of the Centre: promoting pluralism is the work of everyone, from all spheres of life. We are delighted to have these new members join our esteemed jury to select the champions of pluralism who will be awarded the 2021 Global Pluralism Award,” said Meredith Preston McGhie, Secretary General of the Global Centre for Pluralism.

“In these uncertain times, global communities of individuals and organizations continue to work tirelessly and courageously to build bridges across divides and isolation. The jury has a great responsibility to select Award recipients who demonstrate that a more equitable and connected world can emerge from this pandemic,” said the Rt. Hon. Joe Clark, Jury Chair.

The members of the jury represent a range of sectors, including policymaking, peacebuilding, human rights, interreligious dialogue, education, media and civil society. In their own careers, they are actively promoting greater equity and fighting exclusion. Jury members all appreciate first-hand the extraordinary effort it takes to build societies where differences are valued and respected.

The jury will name the three winners of the Award, who will each receive a prize of CAD $50,000 to further their work in support of pluralism at a ceremony in Ottawa, Canada in the spring of 2022.

The jury includes (alphabetical):

  • The Right Honourable Joe Clark, former Prime Minister and Foreign Affairs Minister of Canada, Canada (Chair)
    • Ambassador Annika Söder, Chair, European Institute of Peace, Sweden
    • Ms. Kim Ghattas, Non-resident Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Lebanon
    • Ms. Paula Gaviria Betancur, Director, COMPAZ Foundation & Former Presidential Advisor on Human Rights, Colombia
    • Bishop Precious Omuku, Archbishop of Canterbury’s Special Representative on Conflict in Sub-Saharan Africa, Nigeria
    • The Honourable Ratna Omidvar, Senator, Canada
    • Dr. Siva Kumari, Director General, International Baccalaureate, United States

Read more about the jurors here.

For more information:

Calina Ellwand,
Global Centre for Pluralism
+1-613-688-0137
[email protected]

Novidade: Aplicativo Hand Talk agora traduz para a Língua de Sinais Americana

Novidade: Aplicativo Hand Talk agora traduz para a Língua de Sinais Americana

by Rosi Bertaglia AcessibilidadeAcessibilidade Digital   


Que a missão da Hand Talk é quebrar as barreiras de comunicação entre surdos e ouvintes, você já deve saber. Seguindo justamente com esse propósito, estamos lançando uma super novidade no nosso aplicativo! Além da tradução de português para a Língua Brasileira de Sinais (Libras), o Hugo agora faz a tradução de textos e áudios em inglês para a Língua de Sinais Americana (ASL).

A internacionalização do app sempre esteve nos planos da Hand Talk e esse grande passo foi impulsionado após a nossa participação no Google AI Impact ChallengeFomos uma das 20 organizações selecionadas, sendo a única brasileira, a receber um aporte milionário do Google.org para investir na melhoria da qualidade das traduções do Hugo, contando ainda com mentorias e auxílio dos profissionais de IA (inteligência artificial).  

Como já contamos aqui no blog, a Libras não é universal e existem diferentes línguas de sinais em todo o mundo. Escolhemos adicionar a Língua de Sinais Americana por ser muito utilizada. Estima-se que só nos Estados Unidos a ASL está presente na comunicação de 500 mil à 2 milhões de pessoasPaíses como Filipinas, Porto Rico, República Dominicana e em algumas partes do Canadá e México também fazem o uso dela. 

Muito amor e gente envolvida!

Além de toda a tecnologia, por trás dessa novidade está um incrível time especialistas em Língua de Sinais Americana. Por meio de um sistema colaborativo, eles gravam e etiquetam vídeos dos sinais e sentenças, melhorando a tradução do Hugo e construindo um vocabulário cada vez mais abrangente. Esses dados são o insumo essencial para que o sistema de inteligência artificial tenha um bom desempenho e,  assim, consigamos disponibilizar a tradução para uma língua tão rica e completa como fazemos com a Libras. 

Essa novidade marca um novo capítulo na história da Hand Talk. Nas palavras do nosso CEO, Ronaldo Tenório: “Agora, estamos dando mais um passo em direção ao futuro, ajudando a tornar o mundo mais inclusivo e a língua de sinais ainda mais difundida.”

Muitas barreiras de acessibilidade ainda existem, mas trabalhamos o tempo todo para que elas sejam cada vez menores! 

Se você ficou curioso e quer conhecer a ASL, entre em nosso aplicativo. A troca de idioma está disponível no menu superior esquerdo da tela inicial. Após selecionar a bandeirinha do Estados Unidos todo o conteúdo que pesquisar em inglês será traduzido para a Língua de Sinais Americana.

Champions of pluralism are now more important than ever Global Pluralism Award submissions are being accepted through to June 30

Champions of pluralism are now more important than ever

Global Pluralism Award submissions are being accepted through to June 30

April 15, 2020

Ottawa, Canada, April 15, 2020 – Given the unprecedented crisis of COVID-19 and the disruptions and uncertainty it has caused for so many organizations and individuals, the deadline for submissions to the Global Pluralism Award is now extended to June 30, 2020.

The Award, presented by the Global Centre for Pluralism, recognizes and supports individuals, corporations, academics, civil society and governments from around the world that are working in creative and high-impact ways to build societies where everyone belongs. Three winners are chosen by an independent, international Jury chaired by the Rt. Hon. Joe Clark, former Prime Minister of Canada to share a prize pool totalling $150,000 CAD. The Centre seeks to amplify the winners’ work with media opportunities, new partnerships, mentorship and other supports.

“Amidst the current global health crisis, and global inequalities it is surfacing, the work of pluralism needs to be recognized and supported more than ever. By extending the deadline, we want to help candidates from the most affected countries and regions complete their submissions for the 2021 Award. We also hope to receive submissions from some of the incredibly inspiring initiatives that have emerged in these times of isolation to build community connections and tackle exclusion,” said Meredith Preston McGhie, Secretary General of the Global Centre for Pluralism. 

The Global Pluralism Award is an initiative of the Global Centre for Pluralism. Founded in Ottawa by His Highness the Aga Khan in partnership with the Government of Canada, the Centre was created to advance positive responses to the challenge of living peacefully and productively together in diverse societies.

Following a thorough selection and due diligence process, winners will be announced in the fall of 2021.

Nominate a recipient or apply directly at award.pluralism.ca until June 30, 2020.

MEDIA CONTACT:
Calina Ellwand
[email protected]
+1-613-688-0137

Vescovi della Colombia: rafforzare la costruzione della pace

Vescovi della Colombia: rafforzare la costruzione della pace

January 13, 2020

Appello dei presuli colombiani dell’area del Pacifico e del Sud Ovest del Paese affinché si torni a camminare lungo la via della pace nel pieno rispetto dei diritti umani, dei popoli e umanitari di fronte all’escalation del conflitto.

Davide Dionisi – Città del Vaticano

“Voce di uno che grida nel deserto: Preparate la via del Signore, raddrizzate i suoi sentieri!” Rievoca il profeta Isaia l’appello dei Vescovi colombiani dell’area del Pacifico e del Sud Ovest che esprime “piena solidarietà” alla comunità del Dipartimento di Chocó, ai fedeli della diocesi di Quibdó e a tutte le vittime dell’escalation del conflitto sociale in corso nel paese. “In più occasioni abbiamo denunciato le difficoltà che molte persone stanno vivendo in queste aree e abbiamo chiesto alle autorità una pronta soluzione” si legge nel comunicato dei presuli. “Siamo di fronte ad una crisi umanitaria sempre più drammatica che sta coinvolgendo le comunità indigene e afro-colombiane che vivono a Bojayá, Bajo, Atrato e Urabá. Lo stesso vale per i residenti nelle aree di San Juan e Baudó (Chocó), Raposo (Buenaventura), nei comuni di Nuquí (Chocó), Magüí Payán, Olaya Herrera-Satinga (Nariño) e nel dipartimento di Putumayo, precisamente nel municipio di Puerto Guzmán” scrivono i vescovi.

I vescovi mettono in guardia dalle possibili collusioni tra forze dell’ordine e gruppi illegali

“Lanciamo un appello affinché si torni a camminare lungo la via della pace nel pieno rispetto dei diritti Umani, dei popoli e umanitari. Chiediamo al Governo e gli organismi preposti di ristabilire condizioni di vita dignitose e venga garantita un’adeguata protezione alle comunità, a Leyner Palacios Asprilla (uno dei maggiori sostenitori della riconciliazione nazionale ndr) così come a tutti i leader sociali minacciati”.  I vescovi continuano mettendo in guardia dalle “possibili collusioni tra le forze dell’ordine e i gruppi illegali”, peraltro denunciate già in passato dalle organizzazioni per la difesa dei diritti civili e dalla diocesi di Quibdó.

Trovare soluzioni politiche e pacifiche al conflitto armato

“I gruppi armati devono essere consapevoli del loro status di aggressori” chiarisce lo scritto, sottolineando che “all’inizio del nuovo anno, in mezzo ai disordini in cui vivono tanti cittadini, riaffermiamo la necessità di trovare soluzioni politiche e pacifiche al conflitto armato: con l’Eln per il raggiungimento di un accordo di pace, così pure con il Cga (il gruppo paramilitare Autodefensas Gaitanistas de Colombia ndr) e le organizzazioni simili per far prevalere la giustizia. Ci aspettiamo una risposta sincera, attraverso gesti concreti di vera volontà di pace” concludono i presuli. All’inizio dell’anno l’Agc ha cinto d’assedio isolandolo completamente, un villaggio nel dipartimento del Choc (Colombia nord-orientale), creando una emergenza umanitaria denunciata dalla “Comisin intereclesial de Justicia y Paz”. La ong ha precisato che l’emergenza riguarda il villaggio rurale di Pogue, vicino alla città di Bojay, abitato da circa 600 indigeni di discendenza africana.

Continuano gli omicidi di difensori dei diritti umani

L’ultima vittima è Gloria Ocampo, uccisa il 7 gennaio scorso in casa nel villaggio di La Estrella, nel dipartimento di Putumayo. Si tratta della prima leader sociale uccisa nel paese nel 2020. Secondo l’Istituto di studi per lo sviluppo e la pace (Indepaz) della Colombia, 623 leader sociali e difensori dei diritti umani sono stati uccisi nel periodo tra novembre 2016, quando furono firmati gli accordi di pace, e luglio 2019.

“El Estado debe reconocer la existencia del paramilitarismo”: Leyner Palacios

“El Estado debe reconocer la existencia del paramilitarismo”: Leyner Palacios

January 8, 2020

País 8 Ene 2020 – 9:00 PM

Por: Marcela Osorio Granados – @marcelaosorio24

El líder social de Bojayá habla de la crisis de seguridad en Chocó debida al accionar de las Autodefensas Gaitanistas y las amenazas de muerte en contra de los defensores y organizaciones sociales.

Leyner Palacios tiene la certeza de que su territorio lo es todo. Allá están su familia, su historia, su pasado y su vida. Por eso se niega a ceder ante las amenazas de los grupos ilegales que el pasado 3 de enero —a modo de sentencia de muerte— le dieron un plazo de dos horas para que abandonara el departamento de Chocó. “Yo no tengo para dónde irme. Soy un campesino, un líder social sin capacidad económica para sobrevivir en la ciudad. Soy una persona con vocación agrícola y pesquera, y en las ciudades esas posibilidades no las tengo. Obligarme a salir de mi territorio es decirme muérase”, asegura.

La intimidación llegó a raíz de las denuncias que Palacios y varias organizaciones sociales del departamento hicieron sobre la incursión paramilitar en el corregimiento de Pogue (Bojayá) el pasado 31 de diciembre, que derivó en el confinamiento de los habitantes de la zona. La alerta volvió a poner la lupa sobre la situación de violencia en el municipio chocoano que intenta recuperarse de las heridas que dejó la masacre perpetrada por las Farc en 2002 y en la que murieron 79 personas. Veintiocho de ellas eran familiares de Leyner Palacios.

Para él es claro que lo que sucede hoy en Bojayá y en otros municipios de Chocó ha sido anunciado desde hace varios años, sin que el Estado haya atendido el llamado de la comunidad e incluso de organizaciones internacionales. Por eso asistió este martes a la sesión de la Comisión Nacional de Garantías de Seguridad —instancia creada con el fin de detener el asesinato de líderes sociales y desarticular a las organizaciones sucesoras del paramilitarismo— para llevar ante el gobierno del presidente Iván Duque las preocupaciones de las comunidades del Pacífico colombiano ante el recrudecimiento del conflicto en sus territorios.

Tras la denuncia sobre la incursión paramilitar que tuvo lugar en Pogue el 31 de diciembre, hubo versiones oficiales que invitaban a una especie de calma. Lo hacían con el controvertido argumento de que no eran muchos los hombres armados que habían llegado a la región. ¿Cuál es la información confirmada?

Yo no puedo decir cuántos hombres armados llegaron a Pogue, porque no los vi. Pero los testimonios de pobladores de la región dieron cuenta de más de 600. Yo confío en las comunidades, porque son las que están viviendo el problema en el territorio. Lo que pasa es que aquí, como hay tanto temor y miedo, nadie se atreve a decir nada, pero la situación es bastante grave. Pero además, la violencia en Bojayá persiste desde hace mucho rato. La Diócesis de Quibdó, la Defensoría del Pueblo, el sistema de Naciones Unidas e incluso Amnistía Internacional han manifestado su preocupación al Gobierno Nacional. Allá hay muchas denuncias de la problemática, pero el Estado no ha actuado en coherencia y ha despreciado esas denuncias. Eso es lo que ha hecho que la situación hoy sea más complicada.

¿Cómo están operando estos grupos en el territorio?

Hay una práctica que todos los actores armados están implementando, que a mí me preocupa demasiado, porque es una forma de involucrar a la población civil en el conflicto. Lo han hecho el Eln en Chocó, haciendo eventos con niños; las Agc llevándoles regalos, y la Fuerza Pública haciendo jornadas cívico-militares. Me parece que en un contexto de guerra como en el que están estas comunidades, esas actividades deberían suspenderse porque agreden el principio de distinción de la población civil en el conflicto armado. Es un incumplimiento de acuerdos internacionales.

La medida inmediata del Gobierno fue aumentar el pie de fuerza en la zona. ¿Es una solución efectiva?

La verdad es que Bojayá no se ha recuperado del abandono de las autoridades militares en 2002. Ven con mucha desconfianza lo que pasó. Y hoy en día la comunidad está preocupada por ciertos niveles de complacencia o permisividad de algunos agentes del Estado con las estructuras ilegales que operan en el territorio. Mucha gente dice, por ejemplo, que en algún punto están los grupos armados y a cinco o diez minutos está el Ejército y no pasa nada. La gente no tiene confianza en las autoridades. Yo creo que es importantísima la depuración seria y profunda de las filas militares.

¿En qué deberían centrarse, entonces, los esfuerzos del Gobierno para empezar a solucionar la crisis?

Lo más básico es responder de manera urgente a problemas que tienen que ver, por ejemplo, con la atención en salud. En Bojayá no hay médico para el río, la gente se muere en los caminos, hay una necesidad de mejorar el sistema. Pero también se requiere que el Estado mejore la infraestructura educativa, que estén los docentes en las comunidades y que exista una interconexión eléctrica. Cómo es posible que más del 60 % de las comunidades no tengan fluido eléctrico. Eso implica un retraso impresionante. Y eso sin contar la crisis en materia de comunicación: en Bojayá pasa algo en una población o comunidad y uno no tiene información sino hasta cinco días después, porque no hay manera de comunicarse de ninguna forma.

Usted también ha insistido en la urgencia de implementar el Acuerdo Final de Paz…

Hay temas mucho más grandes que tienen que ver con la implementación profunda del Acuerdo de Paz, porque es necesario que el Estado colombiano avance en temas como los Programas de Desarrollo con Enfoque Territorial (PDET), las circunscripciones especiales de paz, todo el Sistema Integral de Verdad Justicia y Reparación. Se necesita una decisión política de fondo para empezara a recuperar, no solamente a Bojayá, sino a todas estas comunidades que el conflicto armado ha golpeado profundamente.

¿Cree que es posible el desmantelamiento de estas estructuras ilegales?

La situación es muy compleja, porque para tomar una decisión o pensar en una estrategia para desmontar los grupos ilegales, lo primero que hay que hacer es reconocer el problema. Mientras en Colombia siga el negacionismo del fenómeno del paramilitarismo, de su accionar y afectación a las comunidades, nunca se van a tomar las decisiones correctas. En el caso de Bojayá, las comunidades dan testimonio de cerca de 600 hombres armados y sin embargo las declaraciones de algunas autoridades militares dicen que no son más de 15 bandidos. Colombia debe decidir cómo va a abordar el tema: si son bandidos o si son estructuras grandes como las Autodefensas Gaitanistas.

¿Qué habría que hacer con las estructuras ilegales?

Una oportunidad única que tenemos en el país es la posibilidad de abrir esa mesa de diálogo con el Eln, de tal manera que se den muestras de compromiso y tengamos una paz completa y duradera. También es necesario abrir la posibilidad de sometimiento de las estructuras paramilitares como las Autodefensas Gaitanistas. Nosotros vamos a seguir resistiendo en el territorio. Somos un gran colectivo de organizaciones, Foro Interétnico Solidaridad Chocó, Diócesis de Quibdó, la Comisión Interétnica de la Verdad para los territorios del Pacífico, además de organizaciones de víctimas. Entonces, la pregunta es: ¿nos van a sacar a todos del territorio? Lo que se ha denunciado no es una voz de Leyner, no es una posición mía. Somos todos. Si los actores armados están incómodos tendrían que sacar a todo este colectivo, a todas las organizaciones. Aquí se está queriendo expulsar todo un proceso organizativo en el departamento del Chocó. ¿El Estado va a dejar que pase eso?

NDERITU: Buying a book? Make that by an African for Africans

NDERITU: Buying a book? Make that by an African for Africans

The East African

By ALICE WAIRIMU NDERITU
WEDNESDAY NOVEMBER 27 2019

Ghana’s Deborah Ahenkorah received the 2019 Global Pluralism Award In Ottawa Canada on November 20.

Few Africans remember reading children’s books written by African writers. They remember reading and trying to relate to, for instance, a Rapunzel from the German fairy tale whose golden hair, unlike African hair, could grow so long as to be used as a staircase. Then there was Snow White and the Seven dwarfs. The word snow itself was puzzling. What was snow?

We were taught to see African fables as worthy of oral sessions not easily translatable into books written in colonial languages. We didn’t question it.

AFRICAN STORIES

Deborah realised very early in life that she never saw anyone who looked like her, no dark skins and African hair, in the children’s books she read. She had grown up loving books but unable to afford them, prompting her to spend time in a library she had access to. She was lucky to get a scholarship to Bryn Mawr College in the US where she contributed, through a friend, towards building more libraries in Ghana. However, the problem she had realised as a child kept nagging her as the libraries were again stocked with books that had no one who looked like her.

She put her finger on the problem and found her calling with the realisation that there was a book shortage of African stories written by African writers. It was impossible, for instance, for a South African Xhosa child, to access the culture of a Ghanaian Ga child through a book. She wanted to find writers who could transport a Bambara child from Mali into the culture of a Baganda child in Uganda. She wanted African children to grow up loving their own cultures by seeing people who looked like them in books.

Deborah began working towards a world where anyone could walk into any bookshop in the world and find a high-quality African children’s book written by an African.

Deborah founded Golden Baobab and its prize, dedicated to finding, matching and supporting Africa’s most talented writers with illustrators of children’s books. She then connects them to skills development training and publishing opportunities. They have produced some of the best quality content one can find in the world, published by among others, African Bureau Stories, a publishing house Deborah also founded, Penguin Random House South Africa, Oxford University Press, Quramo Publishing and Cassava Republic Press. The books are by Ghanaian, Tanzanian and South African writers and South African, Tanzanian, Egyptian and Nigerian illustrators.

In a recent meeting with Deborah and Bibi Bakare Yusuf founder of Cassava Republic Press at the recently held International Publishers Association Seminar hosted in Nairobi, we reminisced on our book experiences. Deborah told us of her commitment to right the wrong of so many African children not seeing themselves in the books they read. We agreed with Deborah. When African children do not see themselves in storybooks, they begin to believe that what they see in the books is what life is and should be and their own African lives, not reflected in books is inferior.

CULTURE AND VALUES

As the tradition of oral storytelling diminishes, many children grow up effectively ignorant of the culture and values passed on through stories. Many people, however, realise the importance of changing this narrative of children not reading or having access to African stories written by Africans and African children still not seeing themselves in enough storybooks. Deborah’s books provide the mirrors African children need of their lived reality. They give children a connection between the past and the present.

In many of our major African cities as well as international markets, it is still not easy to find books written for African children by African writers. However, thanks to among others, Golden Baobab, the situation is changing for the better.

Next time you walk into a bookstore to buy children’s books, ask for books written for African children by African writers. Raise awareness of the existence of these books. Tell schoolteachers to popularise this genre of books.

Deborah, through Golden Baobab and African Bureau Stories, has taught us that a continent cannot outsource or delegate the telling of its own stories and what its children learn.

Read the article here.

We must recognize and honour the teachers who shape a new generation of thoughtful young people

We must recognize and honour the teachers who shape a new generation of thoughtful young people

October 15, 2019

SIVA KUMARI
CONTRIBUTED TO THE GLOBE AND MAIL

Siva Kumari is a Global Pluralism Award Jury member and Director General of the International Baccalaureate

Teachers have one of the hardest jobs on the planet. In a world where social-media echo chambers reverberate with hyper-partisan rhetoric and sensational voices, teachers are up against an overwhelming tsunami of information – drowning out time for deliberation and discussion to find the middle ground among widely different viewpoints.

Teachers have an opportunity to equip our students – our next wave of humanity – with the empathetic, critical and forward thinking needed to solve today’s local problems with a global mindset.

They must convey to their students that their actions and decisions, as tomorrow’s leaders, will not only affect the people around them – who look and think like them. Because of our interconnectedness, how students choose to invest their money, their time, their attention, how they consume, what they opt to say or not say will have a much wider impact.

Giving our young people a broader appreciation for the different viewpoints and values that exist around the world is crucial to a sustainable, prosperous and peaceful future for all. In the uncertain world that our young people will inhabit, this grounding in humanistic values will serve them ever more.

The Global Pluralism Award, offered by the Global Centre for Pluralism, was envisioned by the Aga Khan, chair of the centre’s board, as a way to celebrate pluralism in action. From among more than 500 applications from 74 countries, today we announced the winners. From the Balkans, Ghana and Myanmar, the winners are truly inspiring examples of educators and leaders shaping a new generation of thoughtful and open-minded young people.

In the Balkans, the challenge of introducing a more tolerant world view is complicated by teachers’ own biases. The “Learning History that is not yet History” project, one of the award winners, is run by history teachers from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia, who grew up amid the conflicts of the 1990s in former Yugoslavia. They have likely been brought up by family members who malign certain groups and heard their politicians leverage identity politics.

Now, they are coming to terms with the past and teaching their students to embrace the differences in their communities and push back against ethno-nationalism. They are pioneering approaches to teaching about the 1990s wars that critically assess narratives of exclusion. So when their students take on the leadership roles in their society, divisions along ethnic, religious and social lines will not be perpetuated. Such work is closely aligned with the mission of the International Baccalaureate.

Helping students understand multiple perspectives is particularly difficult when the resources are not available. For instance, the vast majority of books for youth in Africa offer only westernized interpretations of the world. How do children come to appreciate the richness of African culture without access to stories from their own continent? Award winner Deborah Ahenkorah of Ghana wants to change this. She started a social enterprise, Golden Baobab, dedicated to bringing African stories, written by African authors, to African children.

When children see themselves represented in literature, they develop a deeper appreciation for their own culture and their place in it, which makes them more open to engaging with the diversity of people around them. Ms. Ahenkorah’s books are making their way into African schools, where children are finally able to access stories they can relate to and develop a more pluralistic view of their world.

When youth are raised with the ability to empathize and build connections across difference, young leaders such as Aung Kyaw Moe emerge. A Rohingya humanitarian, he founded the Center for Social Integrity in Myanmar, the third award winner. He believes that building sustainable peace in Myanmar will require shifting the next generation’s attitudes on diversity. His organization is training youth from conflict-affected regions with the peace building skills to resolve tensions and mediate conflicts.

The only project of its kind in Myanmar, it is often the first opportunity for youth to interact with people from other religions or ethnic groups. Teachers are leading the charge and youth are responding. Inspiring, entrepreneurial young leaders such as Ms. Ahenkorah and Mr. Kyaw Moe are embracing the challenge to build a society that is not just free from harm, but one that is vibrant and cohesive – not despite its diversity, but because of it.

The Global Pluralism Awards will be presented on November 20, 2019 at a ceremony in Ottawa.

Global Centre for Pluralism Announces the 2019 Global Pluralism Award Winners

Global Centre for Pluralism Announces the 2019 Global Pluralism Award Winners

October 15, 2019

Deborah Ahenkorah (Ghana), the Center for Social Integrity (Myanmar) and ‘Learning History That Is Not Yet History’ (Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro and Serbia) recognized as outstanding leaders promoting inclusion worldwide

Ottawa, Canada – October 15, 2019 – Today, the Global Centre for Pluralism announced the three winners of the 2019 Global Pluralism AwardDeborah Ahenkorah – a young Ghanaian social entrepreneur and book publisher bringing African children’s stories to life; the Center for Social Integrity – an organization giving youth from conflict-affected regions in Myanmar the skills and voice to be leaders for change amidst the many overlapping conflicts ongoing in the country; and ‘Learning History that is not yet History’ – a network of history educators and specialists in the Balkans pioneering a new approach to teaching the controversial history of conflict.

Meredith Preston McGhie, Secretary General of the Global Centre for Pluralism, said, “The Centre is honoured to be supporting the work of this year’s award winners. Their creative initiatives offer hope that negative trends toward exclusion and division can be reversed. The impact of their work is proof that we can build more richly diverse, peaceful and inclusive societies. These are examples we can all learn from.”

Joe Clark, former Prime Minister of Canada and Chair of the Award Jury, said, “The jury was inspired by the vital work of the award winners and the hundreds of impressive submissions received. They are all deeply committed to equipping the next generation of leaders with the knowledge and empathy to respond to the biggest challenges to pluralism today and in the future.”

The Global Pluralism Award celebrates pluralism in action. As a result of their sustained achievements to promote respect across differences, the Award winners are helping to build more inclusive societies, in which human diversity is valued and thrives.

Award winner, Deborah Ahenkorah said, “I feel incredibly blessed to receive this award and after a decade of work championing the importance of African literature for children, this honour highlights how much closer we are to the goal of placing African
children’s literature on a deserving global pedestal. I continue to look forward to that day when you can walk into a bookstore anywhere in the world and find incredible African stories available for all.”

Aung Kyaw Moe, Executive Director of the award winner, Center for Social Integrity, said, “This award recognizes that change can come from within, and that what started out as a small-scale local initiative, can become a strong and meaningful movement. It is a great achievement to be able to depict Rohingya people advocating for tolerance and pluralism hand-in-hand with other ethnic and religious peoples. I hope that one day, diversity in Myanmar will not only be accepted but celebrated.”

Bojana Dujkovic, representative of the award winner, the ‘Learning History that is not yet History’ team said, “It is very significant to our team to be receiving international recognition for work we have been developing with minimal support for over 16 years. Dealing with the sensitive history of the 1990s Yugoslav wars in our classrooms is very difficult for teachers. We have personal connections to this topic and many, including this team, have buried the topic for decades. It is now the moment to face the past responsibly and to teach about the 1990s conflicts, in order to build a future of mutual understanding, peace and reconciliation.”

This year, the Global Centre for Pluralism received over 500 applications spanning 74 countries for the 2019 Global Pluralism Awards—more than double the submissions to the inaugural awards in 2017. All nominees undergo a rigorous review and jury selection process.

The Global Centre for Pluralism, founded by His Highness the Aga Khan and the Government of Canada, will recognize the three winners and seven honourable mentions at an award ceremony on November 20, 2019 in Ottawa, Canada. The three winners will each be granted $CAN50,000 and in-kind support to advance their work in promoting pluralism.

About the Global Centre for Pluralism
Founded in Ottawa by His Highness the Aga Khan in partnership with the Government of Canada, the Global Centre for Pluralism is an independent, charitable organization. Inspired by Canada’s experience as a diverse and inclusive country, the Centre was created to advance positive responses to the challenge of living peacefully and productively together in diverse societies.

For further information, please contact:
Calina Ellwand
[email protected]
T: +1 613 688-0137

Creating A Wave Of Change, One Conversation At A Time

Creating A Wave Of Change, One Conversation At A Time

September 22, 2019

Shaheena Janjuha-Jivraj

In the last month, how many awkward conversations have you had? How many times have you avoided an awkward conversation? Soliya is an organization that wants us to have more of these difficult conversations and has created a successful track record in demonstrating how to have them. Soliya works with students to teach them how to engage in some of the most challenging conversations they have ever faced. Their reason for doing this is apparent: Soliya is an organization committed to helping individuals recognize the value of diversity and pluralism by exposing students to immersive experiences forcing students to have tough conversations. To date, Soliya has worked with students from over one hundred universities in thirty countries across the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, Europe, and North America

Waidehi Gokhale, CEO of Soliya explains why this format works: “We all know that if you are taking a course or in a classroom with others it’s quite easy to walk away from information that is given to you bilaterally or unilaterally. It’s difficult to walk away when you have a shared experience with others in the room.”

Creating conditions where individuals have to take time to listen and consider an opposing and often difficult view compels individuals to discuss their reactions to others and become more self-aware and reflective.

Soliya creates conditions where individuals have no choice but to engage; whether it’s through University degree programs or other initiatives, including language groups, religious education centers, and youth camps. The crux of these programs lies in the power of the conversations, by actively listening to what is shared creates empathy, often between individuals from disparate backgrounds with very little in terms of shared experiences. Empathy is as a critical concept for leaders in organizations. Nobel Prize Winner, Daniel Kahneman in his book, Thinking, Fast and Slow, where he highlighted the importance of the following distinction: “We are not thinking machines that feel, we are feeling machines that think.”

As with many programs in the diversity and inclusion field, there is a risk these programs can generate a vast amount of goodwill, but the longer-term effects can be challenging to measure. Gokhale has taken a deliberate approach to measure progress working with a range of academic institutions and creating a strong evidence-base for the programs. MIT Saxelab evaluated the impact of the Soliya program in Spring 2013 by measuring attitudes towards Islam and Muslims following the Boston Marathon bombings. The research found American participants were insulated from increased negativity towards Muslims compared to the control group, indicating the ability to separate the action of two Muslim individuals rather than blaming the wider Muslim community for the atrocity. Gokhale attributes this behavior shift to a focus on identity overlap and measuring how this behavior changes before and after the program. For Gokhale, this is critical as she states: “If you feel your identity overlaps with someone else you increase humanization and connect with other people . . . if you feel your identity doesn’t overlap, you are more likely to dehumanize.”

The above example illustrates why the Global Centre for Pluralism has recognized the impact of Soliya, and this work as one of ten organizations supporting and promoting a shift towards creating pluralistic cultures. The Centre, located in Ottawa, Canada, has become a powerhouse for recognizing initiatives that work towards the global view of pluralism and a hub for projects to collaborate in sharing good practice and develop new opportunities to keep promoting pluralism. The awards are presented once every two years celebrating individuals, organizations, government, and businesses who have achieved remarkable success in supporting building more inclusive societies to enable human diversity to flourish. The Chair of the Jury Joe Clark, former Prime Minister of Canada, describes the importance of the awards in the current context: “At a time of heightened hatred and escalating tensions in communities around the globe, these winners embody the best of humanity. The emphasis on pluralism is much more important now than ever. In only a few years, we have moved from a time in which there was, at least, a general acceptance of difference, to a time where there is fear about it, and very often a contesting of it.”

The current wave of fear felt by many people lies in not knowing enough and insufficient empathy in how they relate to others where they feel little or no connection.

The impact of Soliya’s programs goes beyond the classroom; from changing how individuals consume information by humanizing the people in the articles to thinking about their role and influence in their workplaces and broader society. The value of this program is evident when freedom of speech is under more significant pressure, for example, students faced considerable barriers to continuing the program during the Egyptian Revolution in 2011, further hindered by shutting down internet access for University. The students relocated to local internet cafes but found the male students had to create barricades to ensure the female students could safely continue their sessions.

The examples of perseverance are compelling, and each person on this program recognizes they are part of a global tribe. By developing the skills of open and honest communication Soliya has created a fleet of individuals across the world who has the capacity to tilt the world onto different axies. It’s time to turn up the volume on these conversations and amplify the impact of this work.

Read the article here.

Si escucháramos a Rosa

Si escucháramos a Rosa

September 18, 2019

Por: Columnista invitado
Por: Leyner Palacios Asprilla*

Durante los tiempos más duros de la confrontación en el Chocó, los paramilitares quisieron cortar las líneas de abastecimiento de la guerrilla y decretaron un bloqueo del río Atrato. ¿Alguien cree que puede sujetar un río, detener su curso y cortar su corriente? La guerra pudo hacerlo, porque un río es mucho más que agua que corre: también es gente que vive y anda por él, gente que pesca y come a su lado, gente que se enamora al vaivén de la corriente.

Los comandos de las Autodefensas Unidas de Colombia requisaban pangas y botes, impedían el ingreso de alimentos y con frecuencia atacaban los botes de la población civil que desobedecían sus órdenes. La situación de hambruna y padecimientos que el bloqueo del Atrato provocó en las comunidades ribereñas fue tan dramática que desencadenó en una grave crisis humanitaria. Sólo las embarcaciones de la iglesia Católica convertidas en tiendas comunitarias lograron romper el bloqueo económico impuesto y llevar víveres, alimentos y medicinas a esos poblados donde el Estado es, casi siempre, un gran desconocido. El sacerdote Jorge Luis Mazo, quien entonces era párroco de Bojayá, lideró esta movilización que desafió a todo el poder paramilitar a través de la resistencia pacífica y organizada. Fue por eso que lo mataron el 18 de noviembre de 1999, cuando llegaba a la ciudad de Quibdo junto con Iñigo Eguiluz un cooperante del país Vasco.

De estas cosas quería hablar en estos días con tantos discursos encendidos y declaraciones que llaman a volver a incendiarlo todo. La semana pasada, las víctimas de Bojayá vimos con dolor e indignación el video donde Iván Márquez y Jesús Santrich anunciaron la fundación de una nueva guerrilla. Se queja Márquez de que el Estado incumplió sus acuerdos y traicionó a los guerrilleros que firmaron la paz, también él está incumpliendo los acuerdos cuando regresa a las armas. Nos incumple a nosotros, que confiamos en él cuando dimos nuestros testimonios, porque creíamos en su voluntad de paz y reconciliación.

Después, los micrófonos apuntaron a la cabeza del expresidente Álvaro Uribe, quién no ha descansado ni un solo día llamando una y otra vez a sepultar el acuerdo de paz, ahora lo hace bajo el pretexto de que la deserción Márquez y Santrich es una consecuencia natural del proceso. Más seguridad, piden sus seguidores, más inversión militar y planes contrainsurgentes, más fumigaciones con glifosato, más guerra y sufrimiento para nuestras comunidades, en resumen.

Es peligroso que el discurso esté otra vez a punto de caer en manos de los victimarios, es demasiado peligroso que en Colombia entremos nuevamente a normalizar la guerra y perdamos el horizonte y el lenguaje de construcción de la paz. Es peligroso que se cierre el espacio para las otras voces, diversas, múltiples, complejas, las voces de quienes no hicimos ni vamos a hacer nunca la guerra. ¿Por qué son de primera plana las escandalosas declaraciones de Márquez o las salidas de todo de Uribe, pero no hay micrófonos para las víctimas?

Rosa, mujer víctima de Bojayá que perdió a un hijo y a su madre durante la masacre, me dice ahora: “si Bojayá, con todo el dolor se hubiera quedado quieta, Colombia se hubiera perdido”. Ahora que la paz está en peligro debemos oír también los discursos de quienes apostamos firmemente por ella. Debemos escuchar a Rosa. Debemos, a pesar de tanto dolor y pesimismo, no quedarnos quietos.

La realidad de hoy nos convoca a todos a estar más firmes y decididos a fortalecer la implementación de la paz territorial, porque como dijo Rosa, si nos quedamos quietos podemos perdernos en la cadena de la muerte. El sentido patriótico de colombianos nos debe convocar a no aceptar perdernos en el camino que iniciamos.

Read article here.