Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Academy President Says It's Up To The Film Studios To Encourage Diversity In Hollywood

by Matthew Jacobs
Originally Published: September 30th, 2015

Seven months after the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite defined the lack of diversity among this year's Academy Award nominees, the head of the Hollywood voting body that hands out the prizes could be anticipating a similar drought. Cheryl Boone Isaacs, who has served as Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences president since 2013, said during a Los Angeles luncheon on Tuesday that it is the responsibility of studios and agencies to enhance diversity.
“The Academy has no power over Hollywood," she said, according to Variety, citing what she sees as frequent misperceptions among non-industry folks. "We have nothing to do with hiring.”
Boone Isaacs, who is the Academy's first black president, said that what the organization can do is encourage its members to pay more mind to diversity within the business. She said the breakdown often happens at entry levels, as “an issue for most film schools is lack of diversity.” But without the power to greenlight films or lord over the hiring process, the Academy can only mentor filmmakers in hopes of spurring a broader palate on sets.
Whether the #OscarsSoWhite theme will come into play again this year is in question. It's too early to declare definitive front-runners, which makes it hard to tell whether Idris Elba will score a Best Supporting Actor nod for playing a ferocious African war lord in next month's "Beasts of No Nation." At this point, Elba appears to be the likeliest person of color to make the shortlist when nominations are announced in January. Other contenders include Samuel L. Jackson for Quentin Tarantino's "The Hateful Eight," Michael B. Jordan for the boxing movie "Creed" and Will Smith for the NFL medical drama "Concussion" -- and that's pretty much where the list ends, at least in terms of the acting categories. (On the directing side, where women are frequently ignored, Angelina Jolie could slip in for "By the Sea" and Sarah Gavron will see her name mentioned as a contender for "Suffragette." Both face stacked competition among the stable of men in the running.)
A different type of diversity battle is happening with regard to the slate of films that register with the Academy. The term "Oscar bait" is used, at times pejoratively, to describe movies that are aware of their appeal to voters seeking so-called prestige. When asked why the Academy's tastes don't reflect those of average moviegoers who would rather see, for example, the new "Hunger Games" installment than an art-house drama, Boone Isaacs teased that one of this year's blockbusters could cross over. "How [Academy members] view the talent on the screen is in many places different," she said. "But this has been the year of the blockbuster ... and the big daddy of them all is coming: 'Star Wars.'"





Read the original article from The Huffington Post here:
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/academy-president-hollywood-diversity_560bd3e4e4b0af3706de9948

Gender Bias at Work Turns Up in Feedback

by Rahel Emma Silverman
Originally Published: September 30th, 2015

If companies are looking for gender bias in their workplace, here’s one place they may want to start: feedback.
Research suggests that men and women are assessed very differently at work. Specifically, managers are significantly more likely to critique female employees for coming on too strong, and their accomplishments are more likely than men’s to be seen as the result of team, rather than individual efforts, finds new research from Stanford University’s Clayman Institute for Gender Research. Those trends appear to hold up whether the boss making the assessments is male or female. 
The researchers say the differences are products of unconscious bias—hidden beliefs about women’s capabilities that can influence important workplace decisions. For instance, if bosses expect women to be more team-oriented and men to be more independent in their jobs, women may be more likely to be shunted into support roles rather than landing the core positions that lead to executive jobs, the researchers say. Many employees internalize these stereotypes over time, they add, sapping some women’s confidence that they or their female co-workers can handle more-demanding positions.
“Stereotypes shape our perceptions of competence. We hold women to a higher standard in evaluations, and women also tend to evaluate themselves to a higher bar,” says Caroline Simard, director of research at the Clayman Institute. Such hidden biases could ultimately lead to “cumulative disadvantage over a woman’s career over time, resulting in lower access to key leadership positions and stretch assignments, advancement and pay,” she says.
Big effect
The Stanford team is analyzing the language of hundreds of performance reviews from four technology and professional-services firms. The research is continuing, but so far it has shown that women received 2.5 times the amount of feedback men did about aggressive communication styles, with phrases such as “your speaking style is off-putting,” the study found. Women were described as “supportive,” “collaborative” and “helpful” nearly twice as often as men, and women’s reviews had more than twice the references to team accomplishments, rather than individual achievements.
Men’s reviews contained twice as many words related to assertiveness, independence and self-confidence—words like “drive,” “transform,” “innovate” and “tackle.” Men also received three times as much feedback linked to a specific business outcome, and twice the number of references to their technical expertise. 
“The magnitude of some of the differences and how consistent they were across the different samples was shocking,” Dr. Simard says.
Other research shows how such differences matter in promotions. When participants in corporate workshops about unconscious bias are asked which of two candidates they would pick to replace a top performer in their organization, about 90% select the person described in terms related to individual initiative—the same words that turned up more often in the men’s performance reviews in the Stanford study, Dr. Simard says.
Also, to outmaneuver those biases, women may spend more effort than men monitoring how they are perceived—and that can take time away from getting work done, says Herminia Ibarra, a professor of organizational behavior at Insead, the business school in Fontainebleau, France. “Too much focus on image and how you are being perceived is really counterproductive,” she says.
Raising awareness
Social scientists are still teasing out exactly why these gender biases persist—and how to combat them. A big reason is that many companies use vague criteria, rather than specific measures, to evaluate employee performance, management researchers say.
ENLARGE
But many companies are trying to do better, including Google Inc.,Facebook Inc. and Dow Chemical Co., which have stepped up efforts to increase the numbers of women and minorities on their staffs. MicrosoftCorp. now requires all employees to participate in an annual training program to educate them about unconscious bias. 
PHOTO: SHANNON FAGAN/ISTOCK/GETTY IMAGES
For the past two years, cloud-computing firm VMware Inc. has been training employees and managers to recognize unconscious bias in their behaviors, says Betsy Sutter, the chief people officer of the Palo Alto, Calif., firm, which has some 18,000 employees world-wide, 22% of whom are women. In addition, before managers write up performance reviews, Ms. Sutter’s team sends them a one-page memo reminding them about gender bias and potentially loaded phrases. For instance, the memo advises managers to avoid attributing women’s contributions to external factors or luck. 
Ms. Sutter says the guidelines have led to more awareness about gender bias, though it’s too early to tell whether they’ve increased the number of women getting promoted.
Lisa Dalebout, a regional sales director at VMware, says she’s now more careful of the language she uses with the seven employees who report directly to her, who are mostly men. She says she’ll try to use the same language to describe the performance of both men and women. “I’m aware of it now, and you can’t make the changes until you’re aware,” she says. 
When Kieran Snyder worked as a manager at Microsoft, she received performance reviews that advised her to be less assertive, she says. “There was often an element of ‘tone it down’ in my reviews,” says Dr. Snyder, who has a doctorate in linguistics. “I had one manager ask me explicitly to ‘make room for others.’ ” 
A Microsoft spokesman says: “We’re committed to a diverse workforce and to a workplace where all employees have the chance to succeed.”
A proactive approach
Dr. Snyder says she never compared her reviews to those of her colleagues. But last year, after she left Microsoft, she decided to run her own linguistic analysis of performance reviews in the technology industry.
Over social media, she solicited a sample of 248 performance reviews of high-performing male and female employees from 28 tech companies. The results were similar to those of the Stanford study. Men were more likely to be given constructive suggestions related to specific skills, while women were more likely to get critical feedback to pipe down and be less aggressive. The manager’s gender didn’t seem to matter. 
Those results led Dr. Snyder to cofound Textio Inc., a software company that analyzes language in job ads, aiming to help companies including Microsoft and Twitter Inc. avoid bias in job postings. Textio is also developing a performance-review product that sends prompts to managers if the language in a review appears to have gender biases.
“We want to help people before they make mistakes,” says Dr. Snyder.





Read the original article from The Wall Street Journal here:
http://www.wsj.com/articles/gender-bias-at-work-turns-up-in-feedback-1443600759

Sheryl Sandberg: When Women Get Stuck, Corporate America Gets Stuck

by Sheryl Sandberg
Originally Published: September 30th, 2015

At the current pace of progress, we are more than 100 years away from gender equality in the C-suite. If NASA launched a person into space today, she could soar past Mars, travel all the way to Pluto and return to Earth 10 times before women occupy half of C-suite offices. Yes, we’re that far away.
Today, LeanIn.Org and McKinsey & Co. are releasing Women in the Workplace 2015, a comprehensive study of the state of women in corporate America. In total, 118 companies and nearly 30,000 employees participated, sharing their pipeline data, HR practices, and attitudes on gender and job satisfaction.
Our research reveals that despite modest improvements since 2012, women remain underrepresented at every corporate level. And it turns out the drop-off in senior ranks is not mainly due to attrition. Women, on average, are not leaving these companies at higher rates than men. Rather, they face more barriers to advancement and are less likely to reach senior leadership positions.
Women see an uneven playing field—a workplace tilted against them. Women are twice as likely to believe their gender will make it harder to advance, and senior-level women view gender as a bigger obstacle than entry-level women do. 
The unfortunate reality is that women at every stage in their careers are less interested than men in becoming a top executive. Contrary to popular belief, this is not solely rooted in family concerns. Our research shows that even women without children cite stress and pressure as their main issue. This points to another possible explanation for the leadership ambition gap: The path to senior positions is disproportionately stressful for women. 
When women get stuck, corporate America gets stuck. There is a wealth of evidence that diversity helps teams and organizations perform better in terms of innovation, creativity, revenue and profits. Using the talents of our full population is critical to our economic growth, corporate productivity and individual happiness.
ENLARGE
To get more women into leadership roles, we have to address our culture’s discomfort with female leadership. Young girls are called “bossy” on our playgrounds, while young boys are expected and encouraged to lead. This dynamic carries over into the workplace, where women walk a tightrope between being liked and being respected—and men do not. This persistent bias creates a double bind for women that we must surface, acknowledge and fix.
Companies report that their CEOs are highly committed to gender diversity. Unfortunately, that message is not getting through. Fewer than half of employees believe that gender diversity is a top priority for their CEO. While a majority of companies surveyed offer career development and flexibility programs like extended leave or reduced schedules, few employees take advantage of them. Ninety percent of women and men—yes, 90%—believe taking extended leave will hurt their careers, and more than half believe it will hurt them a great deal.
Despite these concerns, mothers and fathers are more likely than childless adults to say they want to be promoted and become a top executive. It’s in a company’s best interest to figure out how to get employees to use the programs they offer to help balance work and home life so everyone can reach his or her goals.
This report is a reminder of how much is left to do. The first step to improvement is measuring progress. Companies that participated in this study have begun establishing benchmarks and goals and gathering data they can use to compare themselves with their peers. All organizations should be tracking their progress on diversity—measuring their pipelines in all functions and at all levels, as well as compiling cultural and attitudinal data.
Transparency and training are vital. If employees see real, measurable gender inequities in their organization, they will be more likely to work toward solutions. Implementing training so employees learn how to identify and counteract gender bias is critical, especially for managers, who shape the day-to-day work experience of most employees. 
Finally, women are hurt by having less access to senior-level mentors and sponsors in the workplace than men, and this needs to change. Peer support can be part of the solution. More than 650 companies have Lean In Circles, small peer groups that meet regularly to help women pursue their ambitions—and 83 percent of members say they are more likely to tackle a new challenge or opportunity as a result of the support their Circle provides.
Change is never easy. But we can achieve great gains faster than anyone believes. We reached the moon in eight years of concerted effort—not 80. Let’s bring that same urgency to this mission.We will achieve not just a stronger and more successful workplace, but also increased economic growth and benefits for all our workers and families.





Read the original article from The Wall Street Journal here:
http://www.wsj.com/articles/sheryl-sandberg-when-women-get-stuck-corporate-america-gets-stuck-1443600325

93% say employers should publish gender pay gap data

by Marianne Calnan
Originally Published: September 30th, 2015

Almost all (93%) of respondents believe that employers should have to publish the overall gender pay gap within an organisation, according to research by Business in the Community.
Its report, The gender pay gap: what employees really think, which surveyed 1,179 employees, also revealed that 87% of respondents think compulsory gender pay gap reporting will help to close the pay gap. 
The study also found:
  • 92% of respondents would use employers’ pay gap data to make a decision between organisations if they were looking for a new role.
  • Two-thirds (60%) of female respondents believe that a gender pay gap exists in their place of work.
  • 51% of all respondents believe that men and women working at the same level or doing similar work do not earn the same.
  • 60% of respondents say that they would ask their employer what action they are taking to close the pay gap.
  • 91% of respondents say they would speak about the gender pay gap issue at work, if reporting figures indicated that female employees were being paid less than male counterparts performing the same role.
Kathryn Nawrockyi, gender equality director at Business in the Community, said: “The report shows that employees really do care about the gender pay gap, and that they do not want to be kept in the dark about pay any longer. The overwhelming majority believe that mandatory reporting of the gender pay gap will help to close it in time. 
“Most organisations will invariably have a gender pay gap; it is a complex figure, influenced in large part by occupational segregation, that is, the concentration of women in particular jobs, functions and industries that are lower level or lower paid.
”Closing the pay gap is not simply a question of fixing unequal pay, though this is still a problem in the UK today; some survey respondents cited examples of pay inequity in their own organisation. Therefore any public reporting of pay data should be accompanied by a narrative to help people understand the context behind an organisation’s pay gap, as well as a clear plan of action to close the gap.
“The reality is that legislation is coming. Therefore our recommendation to employers is that they listen to what employees are saying and take action now to understand and publish their pay data ahead of the regulatory requirements. This is a real opportunity for employers to build their employees’ trust and to show their commitment to achieving real gender equality in work.”








Read the original article from Employee Benefits here:
http://www.employeebenefits.co.uk/home/93-say-employers-should-publish-gender-pay-gap-data/107607.article

Refugee Crisis Highlights Need for More Engagement Among Canadians

by Steven Zhou
Originally Published: September 29th, 2015

The global refugee crisis is likely to solidify as a significant election issue in Canada, and many have already lamented the Harper administration's response to the problem as slow and insufficient. Despite the Tory government's portrayal of its current refugee policy as highly responsive and generous, data from UNHCR shows that only about one per cent of the world's displaced population resides in Canada. In fact, Canada has yet to meet its own targets for refugee acceptance when it comes to the current crisis, which originates primarily out of Syria and Iraq. 
Canadians, especially Muslim Canadians, interested in changing this status quo now have a lot more incentive to show up on October 19 to vote and do their part in the political process. 
The world is now populated by more refugees than any other time in history, but it took the photo of three-year-old Alan Kurdi's corpse to galvanize international attention. Yet this new spotlight hasn't triggered the kind of pressure that would compel the Canadian political system to treat the problem in a significant and effective way. 
Stephen Harper has already cited his concern with letting too many Syrians and Iraqis into Canada because, in his thinking, refugees may actually be Muslim extremists threatening to ruin the country (though his administration has pledged more money and food to the region). 
The Liberals and New Democrats have, in their own respective ways, criticized this line of thinking, but Canadians should understand that serious solutions to the current crisis won't come without a high level of public pressure. This is probably true regardless of what party is in power, though one party may be easier to convince than the other. Many Muslim Canadians have family in Syria, Iraq and the region at large, which means they have a vested interest in seeing a swift humanitarian response from their government. In fact, data collected by The Canadian Muslim Vote (TCMV) shows that human rights and foreign policy are among the top concerns of Canadians Muslims. 
Yet the public discussions and debates of how to respond to the crisis is largely connected to and shaped by how Muslims are perceived around the world today. In other words, Canadian Muslims doing their part to influence this issue is directly tied to how the next government chooses to treat the refugee crisis. If the Muslim voice is missing, then chances of a weak or slow-moving government response goes up. 
TCMV has put together an ongoing canvassing campaign for all who are interested in getting Muslims to actually act on their political convictions. Regardless of where they stand on the refugee issue, or any other issue for that matter, TCMV is committed to get them engaged for 2015 and beyond. Those interested in participating in the canvassing can sign up to go door-to-door or even work the phones. The experience will give people a good idea of what it actually means to do grassroots work for political change. 
A good amount of change at the political level would have to happen for Canada to shift from its current position and open its doors to the displaced. Canada now prefers to support private sponsorship of refugees instead of funding directly, and has cutrefugee healthcare, among other things. Absent a change on this policy front, all Canadians should get in touch with local organizations with refugee sponsorship agreement holdings if they want to help. 
But if Canadians are truly interested in having their government act to ease the massive pressure that the refugee crisis is imposing upon the world, then elected officials will have to be lobbied again and again in order to be reminded that their party can almost always do more. 
Perhaps it's changing the federal and provincial systems' stifling refugee acceptance policies or getting the government to restore health care for those fleeing violence and tyranny. These are political problems are their root, and further highlight the importance of civic engagement for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. It's a reminder that this kind of engagement has real, lasting consequences on people's lives -- and they're not even always from this country. 
There's no way that Canada can solve this crisis on its own, but in the eyes of many it has yet to do its part. The issue has become highly politicized in a time of electoral uncertainty, and all parties with a shot are tied up in dozens of issues and concerns. But this is more reason to remind our candidates that some things deserve to bypass the web of partisan calculation.






Read the original article from the Huffington Post here:
http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/steven-zhou/refugee-crisis-canada-engagement-_b_8205200.html

The striking difference between companies with women on their boards and those without

by Ashley Rodriguez
Originally Published: September 29th, 2015

In case you weren’t already sold on the payoff for companies that prioritize the hiring and promotion of women, a new report shows just how much large, listed companies are losing by not employing female executives on their boards. 

Last year, publicly-traded companies with all-male boards lost out on a total of $655 billion in potential profits across India, the UK and the US, research by Chicago, Illinois-based accountancy firm Grant Thornton found.

The study, called “Women in Business: The Value of Diversity,” looked at 1,050 businesses—200 in India, 350 in the UK, and 500 in the US—and compared the companies with at least one female executive board member with those run entirely by men. It found that the diverse boards had a higher return on assets, on average, than the male-only boards. By comparing the rates at which each country’s diverse boards outperformed male boards with the country’s GDP, the firm estimated what it called the “opportunity cost,” or the increase in business profits the country might have earned if all businesses had at least one female executive directors.

The findings come on the heels of a report by the McKinsey Global Institute that showed $28 trillion could be added to global GDP by 2025 if men and women contributed equally to the workforce.

Up until now, researchers weren’t able to quantify the impact diverse boards had on businesses because there weren’t enough women sitting on boards of major companies, according to the firm.

Now, the tide is turning, and there are a notable number of female board members. But many are still employed in non-executive roles. Of the 990 companies in the three markets studied by Grant Thornton that had female board members, 127, or 13%, were employed as executives.

“Our research into the proportion of senior business roles held by women has revealed precious little movement over the past decade,” said Francesca Lagerberg, global leader, tax services and Europe, Grant Thornton, in a statement. “Perhaps businesses have simply not been aware of the value diversity brings.“





Read the original article from Quartz here:
http://qz.com/513160/the-striking-difference-between-companies-with-women-on-their-boards-and-without/

Top tips for students starting university with a disability

by Jennifer Urwin
Originally Published: September 29th, 2015

Going away to university for the first time can be daunting for everyone. But if you also have a disability and are leaving home, there can be additional factors to get nervous about – so it’s worth taking a little extra time to prepare. 

Figure out your surroundings 

Zoe Hallam, 24, studied PPE at the University of Oxford in 2011, and has muscular dystrophy. She says: “Going away to university was the first time I had to manage my own care. I had to try a few different sources before I found a support network that really worked for me.” 
If you use specific equipment that you need to be mobile, find a local maintenance service, so you don’t find yourself stuck, says Hallam. “When your wheelchair breaks down, as it inevitably will after a few nights out, you’ll need to have someone who can come out and fix it.”

Find out what support is out there for you

There are lots of services at universities to support students with disabilities. You just need to find out about them early on. 
Pippa Stacey, 20, is about to go into her third year studying psychology in education at the University of York. She has a chronic illness and an autoimmune condition. She says: “Talk to the university disability advisors and have a student support plan in place. 
“Even though this is automatically sent to all your lecturers, it’s better to also email each of them personally, explaining in your own words how your condition may affect their particular lectures and what they can do to help.” 
Sarah Wilson, 28, studied an MA in English at Edge Hill University. She has a chronic illness, and found the inclusions team at her university helpful. “Ask for a meeting to discuss your needs. I had learning facilitators that came to every seminar and lecture with me to take my notes and email them to me later that day. I wouldn’t have completed either of my degrees without them.” 
Wilson thinks the key to great support at university is communicating with the right people. “It’s important to make the university aware of your condition and they will suggest ways they can help you with your studies.” 

Make new friends

You’re thrown in at the deep end when it comes to making friends at university – you’re suddenly living with complete strangers. “The main thing I’d say is to be open to new experiences and try not to worry too much,” says Hallam. 
“In my first term I didn’t spend a huge amount of time getting to know people and going to social events – partly because I wasn’t sure if I would be able to participate. But I found that people’s attitudes to me were very open and accommodating, which wasn’t what I’d expected.” 
Remember that everyone starting university away from home is in the same boat, and they all want to make friends. You’ll find it easier to settle in if you go for it. 
Stacey says: “In your first term you’ll meet new people and have lots of opportunities to socialise. If your condition is something that affects socialising, be honest and open about this from the start. Denying it and pushing yourself too hard isn’t worth the suffering that could follow. The majority of people you meet will be understanding.” 

Remember to take a break

Make sure you use your time in between lectures and socialising wisely, and build in opportunities for self-care and relaxation. You don’t want to get worn out and end up having to miss lectures or spend your whole summer holiday recovering. 
“Throughout the academic year, and particularly at exam time, the workload can be tough to manage,” says Stacey. “It’s important to work hard, but don’t forget to factor in time for self-care. Know that it’s OK to take a break, relax and to do something that makes you happy. University can be tough and you deserve some time to focus on yourself.”

Don’t let your disability stop you

George Russell, 19, is in his second year studying law at the University of York. He uses a wheelchair and occasionally requires carers to help him with day-to-day activities. His advice is to always make sure you stand up for yourself. 
“Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Once you’re at uni, you’re in charge of what you do. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise. 
“If someone says you can’t do something, ask them why not and try and figure out a solution to the problem. I know there have been times in the past I’ve had to get creative to make things work but I’ve got there in the end and done more than I ever thought that I would.”
Russell is quick to tell people not to let disability cloud their choices or dampen their spirits. “You are just as good at what you do as everyone else. You have the same right as everyone else to attend uni and be successful.”
Emily Davison, 21, who studied English literature at Goldsmiths College and is visually impaired, says enjoy your time at university. “It’s a fantastic few years – I got to meet so many like-minded people who didn’t treat me differently because of my disability.”
  • Jennifer Urwin is the digital community and social media officer at disability charity Scope. She works on the organisation’s online community.







Read the original article from The Guardian here:

http://www.theguardian.com/education/2015/sep/29/top-tips-for-students-starting-university-with-a-disability

Subway Dreams: Disability, Inclusion and Identity in New York

by Paras Shah
Originally Published: September 29th, 2015

Gazing intently at the sign does not yield clarity. The illuminated white letters remain tantalizingly obscure against their black background. This would not typically frustrate me. After all, since I am legally blind, I encounter the situation, and others like it, daily. At restaurants, movie theaters, and street corners, posted signs present obstacles to circumvent. Tonight, however, I am in a hurry and eager to escape a late summer rain shower. Eventually, I pull out my phone and snap a picture of the sign, "14th Street Uptown and Queens" it reads. Perfect, exactly where I want to get on the subway.

I consider my options while descending the grimy staircase. Faint smells -- urine and cigarette smoke mixed with perspiration -- swirl up from three levels of subterranean train platforms, an end-of-the-workday greeting. Decisively, I remove my white cane from the gym bag slung across my shoulder, carefully assemble it, and walk along with this symbol of difference, of otherness, moving from side to side in front of me. The transformation manifests instantly. People move out of my way, three commuters pause in their evening journeys to offer assistance, and two elderly women, their efforts full of good intentions, link arms and guide me toward the wrong train.

I move between identities. Twenty-something young professional, a negligible fixture of the ordinary scene, is supplanted by young disabled man, likely lost and certainly confused by his complicated, unfamiliar surroundings. Accompanying the role change come acute attitudinal shifts: curiosity, uncertainty, and admiration co-mingle with uninvited pity.

Standing in the packed subway car I recall the reasons I came to New York and dream of an alternate subway trip I hope to make reality.

The World Health Organization estimates that one billion people, one in seven of the world's population, have some form of physical, sensory, or psychosocial disability. Taken as a class, people with disabilities have reduced access to healthcare, education, transportation, jobs, and overall quality of life. Moreover, around the world, people with disabilities face forced institutionalization, isolation from their communities, and often-insurmountable barriers to meaningful participation in decisions about their lives, marriages, financial choices, and legal representation. Disability is still understood and treated in medical terms: the individual is perceived by a lack of ability as compared to the "normal" population.

The Americans with Disabilities Act seeks to address many of these challenges, although obstacles remain despite progress. One of the ADA's major contributions has been to affirm people with disabilities as just that, people who face disabling barriers -- lack of wheelchair ramps, unavailability of braille, absence of sign language interpreters, dearth of voluntary mental health services -- to full participation in society.

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, the core international human rights treaty and legal instrument focusing exclusively on individuals with disabilities, further helps to define these rights globally.

My portfolio this year as the Gardner Fellow at Human Rights Watch focuses on inclusive humanitarian aid in the context of conflict and natural disaster. Humanitarian organizations and UN agencies often fail to account for the needs of people with disabilities, including in planning and emergency response processes. We hope to shed light on crises in which people with disabilities have been forgotten -- and push for more action, visibility, and attention.

I hope to work with governments, and partner with other organizations and advocates for people with disabilities to remove barriers and promote equity.

I want to deconstruct the stigma around disability. To create an environment in which I should have been able to put away the cane in the subway, not take it out. Please join me in these efforts. When you see some with a disability, treat them just like anyone else and raise your voice against barriers to inclusion and access.






Read the original article from The Huffington Post here:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/paras-shah-/subway-dreams-disability_b_8214494.html

Why are there no Canadian women on our money? Toronto councillor calls for change

by Gilbert Ngabo
Originally Published: September 28th, 2015

Coun. Mary Fragedakis doesn’t understand why there are no Canadian women featured on our money.
And she’s joining a movement to right what she considers a big wrong.
“Canadian women have added so much to Canadian life, yet we have a poor representation on Canadian money,” said the Ward 29 councillor who’s adding her voice to the national call for more female faces on currency.
She’s hoping to recruit some support from Toronto City Hall.
Fragedakis will introduce a council motion on Wednesday asking that the city formally request action from the Bank of Canada. Montreal passed a similar motion earlier this year, and Oakville is considering the idea, she said.
The issue’s actually been in the public spotlight for a while. Canadian historian Morna Foster launched a campaign in 2013 urging the Ministry of Finance and the Bank of Canada to represent women on bank notes. An online petition has been signed by about 56,000 people.
“Our society here is based on multiculturalism, inclusion and diversity,” Fragedakis said. “With women making up about half of the entire population, we should definitely honour them for their contribution to our society.”
Some countries around the world have done a better job of recognizing women’s contributions via currency. They include the UK, New Zealand, Japan, Norway, Argentina and South Korea, among others.
Canada did have a $50 bill featuring images of Alberta women known as the Famous 5, but they were replaced in 2011 by an icebreaker.
“I’m not really sure why we think an icebreaker is a more appropriate thing to have on our money than women,” she said. “There’s probably a rationale, but I don’t really understand it.”
Fragedakis isn’t campaigning for any person in particular to be represented. She, did, however note that women like Agnes Macphail – the first woman to be elected to the House of Commons – and Adrienne Clarkson – former governor general – would be great candidates.
Canada has celebrated women’s history month every October since 1992, and Fragedakis said it’s “only fitting that we should be discussing this issue now."






Read the original article from Metro News here:
http://www.metronews.ca/news/toronto/2015/09/28/councillor-calls-for-more-women-on-our-money.html