How Cultural & Creative Industries Can Power Human Development in 21st Century

Credit: UNDP Nepal

By Aaron Glantz
UNITED NATIONS, Mar 6 2019 (IPS)

Cultural and creative industries, which include arts and crafts, advertising, design, entertainment, architecture, books, media and software, have become a vital force in accelerating human development.

They empower people to take ownership of their own development and stimulate the innovation that can drive inclusive sustainable growth.

If well-nurtured, the creative economy can be a source of structural economic transformation, socio-economic progress, job creation and innovation while contributing to social inclusion and sustainable human development.

It is thus not by chance that the 2004 UNDP Human Development Report made a case for respecting diversity and building more inclusive societies through policies that recognize cultural differences and multicultural perspectives.

Cultural and creative industries (CCI) are generally inclusive. People from all social classes from the indigenous to the elite participate in this economy as producers and consumers. Work in the sector tends to favour youth and women compared with other sectors.

For example, a 2015 UNESCO publication highlighted that CCI sectors in Europe typically employed more youth than any other sector. The study also highlighted that though women account for only 47% of the active population, they accounted for more than 50% of people employed in the United Kingdom’s music industry in 2014.

A recent UNDP/HDRO paper also shows how women play a dominant role in making creative products in the developing world. In countries such as Rwanda and Uganda, for example, women sustain the practice of making baskets, mats and other craftwork.

In Turkey and South Asia, women have been playing a major role in making carpets and other ancient crafts for millennia. Another UN report pointed out how creative industries offer eco-friendly solutions to sustainable development challenges, giving examples such as eco-friendly fashion, including jewelry, handicrafts and interior design products as well as protecting biodiversity by marketing natural health and cosmetic products that work in harmony with nature.

Though these examples show the cultural and creative sectors help achieve inclusive development, the intensification of the creative economy is also exacerbating existing income inequalities and marginalisation of certain population groups.

For example, Richard Florida in his new book, The New Urban Crisis: How Cities Are Increasing Inequality, Deepening Segregation, and Failing the Middle Class – and What We Can Do About It highlights how the cities that have the most innovative and creative economies are often associated with the worst social and economic inequality.

The book shows a strong correlation between the presence of the creative class in metropolitan areas and income inequality. This is because the creative industry generally employs skilled workers which led to a rise in the relative wages of more educated workers.

Yet, the creative industries have become an increasingly important contributor to GDP growth. Data show, over the past 15 years, that the creative economy is not only one of the most rapidly growing sectors of the world economy, but also transformative in generating income, jobs and exports.

According to UNESCO estimates, in 2013 CCI generated $2.3 trillion (3 percent of world GDP) and 29.5 million jobs (1 percent of the world’s active population). An Oxford Economics study estimated that CCI account for over 10 percent of GDP in Brazil and the United States.

Global trade in creative goods and services is also increasing rapidly. Globalization and new technologies have accelerated cultural interactions among countries and the export of creative goods has been growing at about 12 percent per annum in the developing world in the last 15 years or so.

However, these gains are not equality distributed across the globe. Asia and the Pacific, Europe and North America are seeing rapid and unprecedented growth in the creative economy.

These regions account for 93% of the global CCI revenue and 85% of jobs. By contrast Africa, the Middle-East, and Latin America and the Caribbean have not yet capitalised on their potential.

For these regions, the CCI represent untapped economic potential, and a chance to contribute to the innovation economy and other sectors through supply chain effects.

This is an opportunity for policies that accelerate and sustain a dynamic creative economy that contributes to human development progress. Growing a dynamic creative economy depends in part on how proactive countries are in grasping opportunities and tackling challenges across many areas—including technology, education, labour markets, macroeconomic policies, gender issues, urbanization, migration, and more.

Cultural and creative activities are usually diverse and multifaceted. And while no “one-size-fits-all” solution will work in this sector, we advocate some policy options as follows.

First, in line with the 2030 Agenda and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), countries need to integrate the opportunities and challenges related to CCI into their national development plans, strategies and budgets.

Second, greater effort needs to be devoted to protecting intellectual property rights. Failing to properly reward creators is holding back growth. Legal frameworks that protect the rights of creators and secure fair remuneration for them is key.

Third, culture often transcends borders. And so improved international, regional and South-South cooperation is important.

Fourth nurturing talent is vital for CCI. The cross-fertilization of ideas, leveraging new technologies and learning from mistakes are important for any economic sector, but these play a fundamental role in the cultural and creative sectors.

Governments and higher education institutions have an important role in attracting, developing and retaining talent.

Fifth, a sound understanding of the challenges and opportunities is vital for planning and policy making. Collecting and analysing CCI data should be a priority to support better policies.

The UN has made a concerted effort to promote the cultural and creative economy in the last decade, through a series of joint UNESCO, UN Convention on Trade and Development and UNDP knowledge products and meetings.

The United Nations will continue to provide a platform for governments, business and others to consider long-term goals and partnerships in an area that can make an important contribution towards achieving sustainable development for all.

Veteran Diplomat Challenges Security Council’s Imbalance of Power, Offers Solutions for Reforms

Arul Louis, a New York-based journalist who covers the United Nations, is a non-resident senior fellow of the Society for Policy Studies.

By Arul Louis
UNITED NATIONS, Mar 6 2019 (IPS)

A reexamination of the role of the United Nations and a tallying of its successes and failure get underway as it prepares for the 75th anniversary next year in the world of the 21st century while its core entity, the Security Council, is trapped in the time warp of 1945, its founding year.

Being both a critique and analysis of the Council’s role as well as a work of encyclopedic proportions about its history, the political philosophies girding it and its evolution, former Indian diplomat Dilip Sinha’s book is a valuable resource for these debates that are gaining urgency from the milestone anniversary.

The title may give the impression that it is about the legitimacy of the Council’s power, but it actually questions the Council’s legitimacy in the exercise of power as seen from the perspective of a diplomat with an insider’s view of its working, both when its members gather in its chamber around the circular desk under the painting of Phoenix rising, and when the real business takes place in negotiations far from public view.

Sinha handled United Nations affairs for India from New Delhi as a special secretary during its 2011-12 tenure on the Council and he has also served as New Delhi’s Permanent Representative to the UN in Geneva.

The main mission of the UN is maintaining international peace and security and UN Charter assigns that role to the Council, but in public perceptions its failures reflect on the entire UN.

While most of the other parts of the UN and other international organisations have been “developing processes of inclusive decision-making and modified their mandates,” he writes, “the Security Council remains mired in its archaic politics of power.”

When the UN Charter was adopted with 51 members in a world emerging from the trauma of World War II, its victors assumed the veto-wielding permanent seats on the Council as spoils of war and the veto powers of the five permanent members – the P-5 made up of Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States – is at the core of the Council’s functioning — and its consequent dysfunction.

In his critique of the veto powers, Sinha says that it either reduces the Council to “a dictatorship of the hegemons” or it functions as a “safety valve,” but concedes that “it is at best an unpleasant necessity.”

While the veto powers have made it impossible to take decisive action to end the multi-dimensional civil war in Syria or Yemen – as it has failed numerous times in its history – where vital interests of the P-5 clash, the Council is expanding its reach beyond the Charter-mandated primary role of maintaining international peace and security in a mission creep that now includes, among other things, human rights, women’s empowerment, climate change and terrorism, Sinha points out.

But beyond the dysfunction, “the permanent membership of the five violates a basic principle of democracy,” he says.

The non-representation of the developing counties, which make up more that two-thirds of the UN membership (unless one adds the economic superpower China to their number) in the ranks of the permanent members is at the heart of the imbalance in the power equations.

Meanwhile, the 28-member Group of Western European and Other States has two permanent members, Britain and France, (or three, if the group’s observer, the United States, is included). But Latin American, African and the Middle Eastern nations have none.

While there is near consensus that African countries – the largest group in the UN with 54 members or 28% of the 193 membership, and from the continent home to most peace operations mandated by the Security Council – deserve representation, the demands of other countries – notably Brazil, Germany, India and Japan that make up the Group of 4 or G-4 – are more controversial.

While these glaring inequalities may cry out for reform that changes the composition of the permanent membership, Sinha is not optimistic it can happen.

For the US and the European Union, “UN reform means giving more powers to the organisation to regulate the internal affairs of member states” on issues like human rights and good governance, he writes.

And on the other side, among the developing countries and others, there are differing interests and clashing opinions, as he points out.

As an illustration of the difficulties before G-4 and others in finding their way to a permanent membership, Sinha writes, “The permanent seat aspirants face the impossible challenge of satisfying the larger membership of the General Assembly without displeasing the permanent five.”

Sinha instead introduces the idea of weighted voting as a starting point for the reforms. The concepts of the equality of member states in the General Assembly and their inequality in the Council “are outdated,” he points out because “all countries are not equal” given the disparities in population and economic and military powers, among other things.

The P-5’s permanent veto power, moreover, “violates the principles of constitutionalism” and “has crippled it.”

As a remedy, he suggests, “Weighted voting can partially address the concerns of the permanent five and introducing the requirement of a super-majority for resolutions under Chapter VII (for taking military action) will allay the concerns of others.”

“A moderate increase in the size of the Council will improve regional representation,” he adds.

(Arul Louis can be contacted at arullouis@spsindia.in and followed on Twitter at @arulouis)

*Legitimacy of Power: The Permanence of Five in the Security Council;
Author: Dilip Sinha; Publishers: Vij Books India Pvt Ltd, New Delhi, and Indian Council of World Affairs, New Delhi; Price: On Amazon: Hardcover $65; Paperback $39.95; Rs.940

INTERNATIONAL WOMEN’S DAY – Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change

International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made by women and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.

By IPS World Desk
ROME, Mar 6 2019 (IPS)

In an increasingly connected world, innovation and technology should provide unprecedented opportunity. But the truth is alarming, as trends indicate a growing divide.

Every year, an estimated 15 million girls under the age of 18 are married worldwide, with little or no say in the matter.

Every year, at least 1000 honor killings occur in India and Pakistan each.

 

 

To this day, the barbarism of female genital mutilation affects more than 200 million girls and women in over 30 countries.

According to the UN Foundation, 62 million girls around the world are simply denied an education.

And a 2016 study by the UNDP found that approximately 95 Billion Dollars are lost in sub-Saharan Africa each year because women have lower participation in the paid labour force.

International Women’s Day is a time to reflect on progress made by women and to celebrate acts of courage and determination by ordinary women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities.

The 2019 theme Think equal, build smart, innovate for change focuses on innovative ways in which we can advance gender equality and the empowerment of women, particularly in the areas of social protection systems, access to public services and sustainable infrastructure.

On 8 March, join us as we celebrate a future in which innovation and technology creates opportunities for women and girls to play an active role in building an inclusive world.

The Future Women Want: Free of Violence

As the world reflects on gender equality this International Women’s Day, guided by the theme, “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change” how can we challenge ourselves – as individuals and collectively – to question the norms and systems that keep women down. What do we need to question within ourselves? Within our workplaces? Within our communities? How can you speak out and start to create an environment that supports non-violence and equality?

Credit: Raising Voices.

By Maureen Kangere
KAMPALA, Mar 6 2019 (IPS)

Bakera excelled in school. As a girl who grew up in a rural, poor community, she had, against all odds, realized her education goals and was elated to go to the capital city, Kampala where she would now work.

She had studied Statistics – a field where women were few. She knew many girls and women over the years who either didn’t have a chance at education or who dropped out. Bakera saw the common threads of women’s experience that limited them. In her small hilly village, she had seen many Aunties, physically abused by their husbands and resolved to get educated as she believed this was her way out.

At her first job, Bakera was excited to work for a Company where she would be their first female Statistician hire. Excited about this experience, Bakera worked with passion. At her company, she saw first-hand the sexual harassment that her female colleagues were experiencing. She realized that what she had experienced while at the university was happening at work now,.

In her Kampala neighborhood, Bakera regularly heard women scream for help; one morning the noise was so loud it startled Bakera out of her sleep. It was her next-door neighbor who was being beaten by her husband calling for “help”. Bakera couldn’t sit by, she went to their door, knocked loudly. Her neighbor was badly beaten and needed medical care. She took her to the hospital for medical attention where they spent the day nursing her to health.

Bakera had to explain her absence to her employer – but didn’t feel she could be honest without putting her job on the line. It was a turning point for Bakera – she felt that the violence was too much.  She thought about how so many women’s lives were interrupted by violence. She reflected on what it meant for women who were in intimate partner relationships and the constant fear they lived in — without control over their own bodies, sexuality or even to be able to feel safe at home – a most basic right every person should have.

When women as a group are at risk for violence because they are women, this means it is not just a result of an individual woman’s behavior or choices – it means that the violence is systemic. This means that the systems – social, legal, economic, educational – ignore, allow and perpetuate the inequality that allows violence against women to happen.
Bakera’s experience is one we can all identify with and relate to. When someone asks: Why should we care about equality? Why should we care about violence against women?

We must care because violence against women and girls is a profound symbol of gender inequality and social injustice. It hurts women and girls’ bodies, minds and hearts, prevents participation, hinders social and economic development and costs families, communities and nations. No one should have to live in fear.

While more women enter the workforce, let us think about whether they can enjoy their most basic human right of safety in both private and public spaces.

When women as a group are at risk for violence because they are women, this means it is not just a result of an individual woman’s behavior or choices – it means that the violence is systemic. This means that the systems – social, legal, economic, educational – ignore, allow and perpetuate the inequality that allows violence against women to happen.

These systems are upheld by norms – or our individual and collective beliefs and actions. Inequality and violence against women is the norm – but just like Bakera, we need to ask: is this normal?

Addressing negative norms through approaches like SASA! means helping communities identify and question unspoken barriers to women’s empowerment. Rather than focus on negative norms, we can encourage communities to explore how positive power can benefit both women and men in intimate partner relationships and enhance wellbeing.

#Metoo and #AidToo campaigns and other programmes are further breaking the silence, revealing that regardless of their location and achievements, women are still at risk.

According to World Health Organisation, 1 in 3 women is likely to experience physical or sexual violence, making this a public health issue that requires many voices and actions to create change so every girl and women live free of violence.

As the world reflects on gender equality this International Women’s Day, guided by the theme, “Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change” how can we challenge ourselves – as individuals and collectively – to question the norms and systems that keep women down. What do we need to question within ourselves? Within our workplaces? Within our communities? How can you speak out and start to create an environment that supports non-violence and equality?

How can we get more creative and innovate to advance gender equality? How about we each take more action to increase men’s accountability to women’s basic human rights? How can we commit, this Women’s Day to stop tolerating any form of violence.

Article by GBV Prevention Network coordinated by  Raising Voices

Ethiopia’s Remote Afar: an Ancient Way of Life Continues in a Modernising Country

Even the Afar can be shy: Here a young Afar woman consents to be photographed, though only after covering part of her face. Afar women often have intricate frizzed and braided hairstyles, and wear bright coloured bead necklaces, heavy earrings and brass anklets. Many Afar women cover their heads in public. This helps ward off the relentless sun. At the same time, the vast majority of Afar are Muslim. Despite Afar’s ancient trade links with the Christian highlands to the west, Islam was widely practiced in the region as early as the 13th century. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

By James Jeffrey
ADDIS ABABA, Mar 6 2019 (IPS)

Once made infamous through explorers’ tales of old, Ethiopia’s remote northeast Afar region both conforms to and contradicts stereotypes.

Tough neighbourhood: Ethiopia’s remote northeast Afar region contains the Danakil Depression—the hottest place on earth where temperatures in the naked plains frequently soar above 50 degrees centigrade, exacerbated by the fierce blowing of the Gara, which translates as Fire Wind. Such inhospitable conditions haven’t stopped the Afar, who regard themselves as the oldest of Ethiopia’s ethnic groups having occupied their arid homeland for at least 2,000 years. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

 

Armed but amiable—fortunately: Here a young Afar man unsheathes the sword he carries attached to his waist. Historically, the Afar menfolk gained a reputation for ferocity and intolerance of outsiders, including the habit of cutting off the testicles of any foreigner found in their territory. The reality now is far removed from the stereotypes of travellers’ tales—the majority of Afar that the author met proved friendly, as well as patient about his photographic requests. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

Less on the move nowadays: A kite bird of prey rests on a rooftop in the town of Asaita overlooking the Awash River, beside which can be seen distinctive dome-shaped Afar homes. Traditionally the Afar are nomadic pastoralists, living in light, flimsy houses which they transport from one location to the next on camel back. Recent decades have seen a trend towards an increased dependence on agriculture in the fertile and well-watered areas around the likes of Asaita. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

Pastoralist past not forgotten: Here a woman weaves palm frond into the matting used to cover traditional Afar homes. Afar women are typically responsible for constructing a family’s nomadic home from the ground up when a family moves to another location. Despite a visitor encountering friendliness, you still sense a robust mentality among the Afar, shaped by that tough nomadic pastoralist past, and which still continues, evidenced by the camels continuing to plod across the desert, and the clusters of domed houses dotting the parched plains. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

What’s that shimmering in the heat haze?: In the plains surrounding Asaita an enormous sugar factory towers over surrounding Afar homes, evidence that there appears to no longer be any part of Ethiopia immune to the country’s ambitions to develop. In recent years the government has made a concerted effort to establish sugar factories to meet growing local demand, create jobs and boost economic growth. This has included locating factories in remote areas instead of being concentrated in one region. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

Even the Afar can be shy: Here a young Afar woman consents to be photographed, though only after covering part of her face. Afar women often have intricate frizzed and braided hairstyles, and wear bright coloured bead necklaces, heavy earrings and brass anklets. Many Afar women cover their heads in public. This helps ward off the relentless sun. At the same time, the vast majority of Afar are Muslim. Despite Afar’s ancient trade links with the Christian highlands to the west, Islam was widely practiced in the region as early as the 13th century. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

Renowned for distinctive hairstyles: It’s not just Afar women who embrace eye-catching hairstyles. Afar men often wear their hair in thick Afro style or equally distinctive long curls, and dress in a light cotton toga. While these two men aren’t armed, Afar men rarely venture far without a sword or dagger, and these days the traditional knife can be supplemented or replaced by an AK-47 slung casually over the shoulder. Such weapons are still frequently put to fatal use in disputes between local clans. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

Trading salt and more: The main thoroughfare through the city of Logiya sees a constant stream of trucks on the way to and from ports across the nearby border in Djibouti. At the same time more modern goods are being taken into Ethiopia to sustain the growing needs of its developing population, the Afar continue to load up camels with bars of salt, cut out of the desiccated ground, to transport to the region of Tigray along the ancient caravan routes. Until modern times, the Afar region effectively served as Ethiopia’s Mint, producing the amoles—salt bars—that served as the main currency in the highlands. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

Beguiling mix: At Asaita the Awash River cuts a green swathe through the desert, evoking images of Egyptian pastures watered by the Nile. As the sun begins to set over Asaita, the muezzin can be heard calling the faithful to prayer, while electric lights start appearing in the sugar factory in the distance. It’s a striking impression of old and new, tradition and modernisation co-existing together. “Things are simpler here,” Yohannes, a young man in Logiya, says about the local way of life. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS

Still embracing the low-tech way of life:
Despite Ethiopia undergoing great changes as it rapidly develops, the nomadic lifestyle lives on in Afar away from its urban centres. Afar men can be seen driving their precious camel herds alongside roads, or as small specks in the distance stretching out across the sands before finally disappearing in the hot horizon. Traveling around Ethiopia and the likes of the Afar can leave a visitor pondering what countries in the Global South might teach more developed countries rushing headlong into a high-tech-focused future about better balancing tradition and modernisation. Credit: James Jeffrey/IPS