IFTR Conference Focus on Democracy and Theatre

The International Federation for Theatre Research (IFTR) will hold a conference in Hyderabad, India, on July 5 to 19, 2015 that will focus on democracy and the theater. The theme of the conference, “Theatre and Performance in African/Caribbean Cultures of Democracy,” is concerned with what  links ideas and practices of democracy to the cultural domain of human life.

The IFTR is currently calling for papers that respond to the wider conference theme with African and Caribbean perspective, for the 2015 meeting of the African and Caribbean Theatre and Performance Working Group of IFTR,. The IFTR invites participants to explore how theatre engages democracy with attention to various historical and culturally specific practices, institutions, notions, principles, etc.

Proposed papers should explore theatre and performance in Africa and the Caribbean as key aspects of the cultural domain in which democracy is defined: as important sites where the scope and meanings of inclusion, marginalization, representation, access, political legitimacy, power, authority, control, censorship, freedom, voice, rights, etc. are contested, negotiated or consolidated within/against the frameworks of beliefs, values, traditions, customs, conventions, and/or protocols.

Visit: http://www.iftr2015hyd.infor more information on the submission process.


Global Forest Watch, World Resources Institute Announce Small Grants Fund

Global Forest Watch (GFW) and World Resources Institute are calling for applications to the 2015 Global Forest Watch Small Grants Fund. The fund aims to strengthen civil society organizations working on local forest management and conservation practices. It also aims to encourage civil society groups to conduct evidence-based advocacy and campaigning, and/or promote transparency in the forest sector.

Following the launch of the GWF platform in 2014, the Global Forest Watch Small Grants Funds was established.

GWF is a dynamic online forest monitoring and alert system empowering people everywhere to better manage forests. The grant provides financial and technical support for civil society organizations to apply GFW data and technology in their work. Selected organizations will be provided a grant between $10,000 and $40,000 USD for a short-term project that transforms Global Forest Watch information into action.

Civil society organizations, as well as past applicants to the Small Grants Fund, are encouraged to apply for funding.  The deadline for submission is March 1, 2015.

Click here for Guidelines for Applicants

2015 TechWomen Call for Applications

TechWomen, an initiative of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, is calling for applications from female leaders with expertise in technology to attend the 2015 TechWomen Program in the United States.

The program which starts in October 2015 aims to connect and support the next generation of women leaders in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East. The program will support them by providing the access and opportunity needed to advance their careers, pursue their dreams, and inspire women and girls in their communities.

TechWomen strengthens participants’ professional capacity, increases mutual understanding between key networks of professionals, and expands girls’ interest in STEM careers by exposing them to female role models.

TechWomen is now calling upon young women who have experience in the STEM fields and desire to further their studies in the field, to put in applications for a fully funded study program in USA. Applicants should be women in professional careers that require significant knowledge of, and skill in technology.

To be eligible for the 2015 TechWomen program, applicants must:

  • Be women with, at minimum, two years full-time professional experience in the STEM fields (science, technology, engineering, and math)
  • Have, at minimum, a bachelor’s degree/four year university degree or equivalent
  • Be proficient in written and spoken English
  • Be citizens and permanent residents of Algeria, Cameroon, Egypt, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Libya,  Morocco, Nigeria, the Palestinian Territories, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Yemen, or Zimbabwe at the time of application, and while participating in the program
  • Be eligible to obtain a U.S. J-1 exchange visitor visa
  • Not have applied for an immigrant visa to the United States, or participated in a visa lottery in the past five years
  • Not hold U.S. Citizenship or be a U.S. legal permanent resident

Preference will be given to applicants who:

  • Have demonstrated themselves as emerging leaders in their chosen professional track
  • Have limited or no prior experience in the United States
  • Have a record of voluntary or public service in their communities
  • Have demonstrated entrepreneurialism and commitment to innovation

TechWomen are selected based on a number of eligibility requirements. Applications are reviewed by independent selection committees composed of industry leaders and regional experts. Semifinalists may be interviewed by United States Embassy personnel in their country of permanent residence.

Some of the costs for the study program are covered by Techwomen program; they include:

  • Roundtrip international airfare from participant home country to the United States
  • Domestic airfare from San Francisco to Washington, D.C.
  • Housing in San Francisco or Mountain View, California during the mentorship
  • Meals and incidentals
  • Hotel stay in Washington, D.C.
  • Ground transportation to the participant’s host company
  • Local transportation to group program events in the San Francisco Bay Area and Washington, D.C.

TechWomen participants will be housed in San Francisco or Mountain View, California, depending on the location of the participant’s host company.

For more information, please visit www.techwomen.org

Intel, She Leads Africa Holds Workshop For Female Tech Entrepreneurs

She Leads Africa (SLA) and Intel Corp will host a series of educational workshops for female technology entrepreneurs in cities across Africa from January 2015. The workshop series which started on January 24, 2015 in Nairobi, Kenya has two more scheduled stops in Johannesburg, South Africa and Lagos, Nigeria.

She-Leads-AfricaThe aim of the workshop is to assist female developers in upgrading their IT knowledge and build a viable and successful business. Each workshop will consist of two sessions. Intel will lead the first session and will show attendees how technology can be used to solve community problems. There will also be working session on building participants MVP (minimum viable product) and getting their product ready for the public. SLA will take over the second session and will teach participants how to get their product/service into the hands of consumers.  Participant will go through real case studies to make sure that the session is practical and not just theoretical.

Participants will also learn about the Lean Start Up model and how to use Intel architecture in your business.

Female tech entrepreneurs are now being called upon to send in their applications to be selected as participants for the workshop. Intending participants should click here to apply.

For More Information: Visit the Official Webpage of the She Leads Africa X Intel Workshop

UNESCO/Guillermo Cano 2015 World Press Freedom Prize Nominations still Open

Nominations are still open for the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s (UNESCO) World Press Freedom Prize, which recognizes journalists who have made remarkable contributions to the promotion of press freedom.

UNESCO marks World Press Freedom Day by conferring the UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize on a deserving individual, organization or institution that has made an outstanding role to the defence of  press freedom anywhere in the world, especially when this has been achieved in the face of danger.The 2015 UNESCO/Guillermo Cano World Press Freedom Prize will hold on May 3, 2015 in Paris, France.

The Prize was established by UNESCO’s Executive Board, in 1997, in honour of Guillermo Cano, a Colombian journalist who died in the exercise of his profession.  The Prize is intended to reward journalists who have shown dedication in the name of freedom of expression and information, and to afford them the international recognition they deserve.

The winner is rewarded with a sum of $25,000 at the awards ceremony. The Prize is funded by the Guillermo Cano Isaza Foundation (Colombia) and the HelsinginSanomat Foundation (Finland).

The deadline for nominations is 15 February 2015.

To nominate candidates for the UNESCO Guillermo World Press Freedom Prize 2015, download nomination forms from – http://www.unesco.org/new/fileadmin/MULTIMEDIA/HQ/CI/CI/pdf/news/wpfp_nomination.odt 

Nominations for Columbia University Free Expression Awards Now Open

Columbia University is now accepting nominations for its global freedom of expression awards taking place on March 11, 2015. The award which is referred to as the “Columbia Freedom of expression prizes” emphasizes the critical need for international norms for free speech and press as society combats various international challenges.

Mr. Lee C. Bollinger, the4 19th President of Columbia University announced the creation of the awards first prizes which is in recognition of global judicial decisions and legal representation that strengthen freedom of expression by promoting international legal norms.

According to Mr. Bollinger, “Judges and lawyers around the world routinely display great courage by standing firm in their commitment to free expression and the open sharing of information, often under harsh attacks against their independence.” He also adds “These individuals are creating a new set of global legal standards essential for safeguarding speech and the press in our modern society. The fact that they do so without fanfare, using the unremarkable tools of legal opinions and briefs, makes their work no less deserving of our admiration and our recognition.”
Criteria on which the prize winners will be selected include:

• All nominees shall have established a reputation for integrity and commitment to human rights, rule of law and legal excellence. Provide a short description of the candidate’s background and qualifications.
• The candidate’s judicial ruling, legal brief, or legal defense shall indicate sound legal reasoning and have advanced legal understanding of the issue. Explain how the ruling, brief or defense meets this qualification.
• The nominee’s judicial ruling, legal brief, or legal defense shall demonstrate a global understanding of FOE/I. Please explain below how this criterion is met, including by listing appropriate laws, standards, policies, or decisions regarding FOE/I that have been referenced in the nominee’s judicial ruling, legal brief, or legal defense; the listed references may be international and/or regional standards and interpretations of FOE/I or decisions from other jurisdictions
• The candidates ruling, brief, or defense shall protect FOE/I, either with regard to international standards or with reference to case jurisdiction. Please explain how the ruling/opinion/brief protects freedom of expression.

The first Columbia Global Freedom of Expression Prizes will be awarded, in two categories:

• Legal Ruling Category:
This prize shall recognize a judge, U.S. or from around the world, for a ruling or decision that has advanced or strengthened the global understanding of and international standards on Freedom of Expression and Information.
• Legal Service Category:
This prize will recognize a legal brief, legal amicus brief or legal defense anywhere
Internationally that has advanced or strengthened global understanding of and international norms of Freedom of Expression and Information. It may be conferred upon individuals, institutions, other entities or non-governmental organization

To submit nominations for the Columbia freedom of expression awards, fill out the nomination forms and email to globalfoeaward@columbia.edu before February 1, 2015. Nomination forms can be downloaded here

Soldiers Brutalise Newspaper Correspondent

On February 4, 2015 at about 10am armed soldiers deployed to provide security in Ado Ekiti, Ekiti State in South-west Nigeria, brutalised Mr. Wole Balogun, the Ekiti State correspondent of Daily Sun for allegedly causing obstruction on the road. He was on his way to cover an event by the Nigeria Communications Commission (NCC) to which he was invited.

Balogun said he was asking a motorist who had blocked his way and caused a gridlock to back up his vehicle when two unidentified soldiers swooped on him and began to beat him with their belts. He added that his attempts to explain the situation to the soldiers were ignored as they whipped him continuously on his head and body till he rushed into his car and drove off to avert further tragedy.

Narrating his ordeal, Balogun said: “Yesterday morning, I was driving to the State University (EKSU) campus for an event of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), which I was invited to cover.

“As I approached the Okeyinmi roundabout opposite a bank in the area, there was traffic.

“I tried to negotiate the bend so I could pass through Okeyinmi Road but a motorist, who was driving down from the same road, blocked my way.

“I hooted several times but he was adamant. I came out of my car to meet him.

“Two young soldiers appeared behind me and started beating me with their belts and boots. They whipped and kicked me several times and ordered me to enter my car and drive to anywhere.

“All my attempts to explain the situation were rebuffed. They appeared infuriated by my explanation as they continuously hit me in the head.

“I ran to my car and drove off. I couldn’t drive far because I was covered in blood and couldn’t see.”

Thereafter, he went to a private hospital for treatment.

Advocates Call for Sensitization of Judges on the FOI Act

Mr. Edetaen Ojo, Executive Director, Media Rights Agenda (left) and Chief Augustine Alegeh (SAN) President, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) at the meeting
Mr. Edetaen Ojo, Executive Director, Media Rights Agenda (left) and Chief Augustine Alegeh (SAN) President, Nigerian Bar Association (NBA) at the meeting

Freedom of Information advocates have called for the sensitization of judges in the country about the Freedom of Information Act in response to the situation where many of them are giving “decisions that are inconsistent with the spirit and letters of the Law.”

In a communique at the end of their three-day Freedom of Information Implementers Strategy Meeting, held in Abuja from January 27 to 29, 2015, they also noted that cases are routinely taking more than one year to resolve in the courts of first instance despite the requirement in the Act that FOI cases should be dealt with summarily.

The meeting noted that if the Act is going to be effective, the Bar and the Bench must play a more positive role in its implementation and that effective strategies should be put in place for addressing the legal and judicial challenges.

It therefore resolved that measures be taken to sensitize judges about the provisions of the Act and that agencies like the National Judicial Institute (NJI) and the Nigerian Institute of Advanced Legal Studies (NIALS) should be involved in such efforts.

The meeting, organized by Media Rights Agenda (MRA), was sponsored by the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Democratic Governance for Development (DGD) II Project and attended by 120 participants from across the country made up of representatives of civil society organizations and legal practitioners litigating FOI cases.

A cross section of participants at the FOI implementers' meeting
A cross section of participants at the FOI implementers’ meeting

The participants were addressed by the President of the Nigerian Bar Association (NBA), Chief Augustine Alegeh (SAN), who served as Keynote Speaker; and Mr. Kelechi Nwosu, President of the Association of Advertising Agencies of Nigeria (AAAN).

The meeting observed that “there have been tremendous improvements in the implementation of the FOI Act in recent times as a result of their collective efforts as there is now more awareness about the Act as well as a significant increase in the level of usage of the Act by different people.”

It however noted that the level of usage remained far too low, given the country’s population and the issues which citizens ought to be engaging.

The meeting also expressed dissatisfaction with the current situation where it is impossible to tell how many people are actually using the Act, what categories of people use it, or what types of information are being requested, saying that there is a need to collaboratively develop a mechanism for tracking all FOI requests across the country so as to provide reliable data and statistics about the usage of the Law.

The meeting commended the efforts of lawyers providing free legal assistance to individuals and organizations to vindicate their rights of access to information whenever they are wrongfully denied information and called on other legal practitioners to join such efforts.

scan0004It also urged the Nigerian Bar Association to come up with an arrangement to provide litigation assistance to citizens around the country who are wrongfully denied access to information.

The meeting noted that “Nigeria’s hope of having a democratic process that is participatory and has the people at its centre depends on systems and mechanisms which enable citizens to engage with those in authority, to ask questions with the assurance that those questions will be answered and to have the belief that they matter,” stressing that the effective working of the FOI Act can help the country to achieve this goal.

The meeting re-structured the Freedom of Information Coalition to reposition it from its original advocacy role to an implementation coordination role and elected a Board of Governors to manage the affairs of the Coalition with a Secretariat to be hosted by Media Rights Agenda until it is able to set up an independent office.

Members of the Board of Governors are: Mr. Yusuf Yakub Arrigasiyyu from the Muslim League for Accountability (MULAC) in Kaduna; Mr. Isah Garba from the Bauchi State Coalition for the Improvement of Public Expenditure Management (BACIPEM) in Bauchi; Mr Terna Yanayka of the Centre for Public Opinion and Media Research (CePOMeR) in Abuja; Mr. Bob Dum Lezina Amegua, a legal practitioner with Karibi-Whyte & Co (Coronation Chambers) in Port Harcourt; Mr. Walter Duru of the Media Initiative Against Injustice Violence and Corruption (MIIVOC) in Owerri; Mrs. Motunrayo Alaka of the Wole Soyinka Centre for Investigative Journalism (WSCIJ) in Lagos; Ms Jennifer Onyejekwe of Media Rights Agenda (MRA) in Lagos.

The oath of office was administered on the new members of the Board by Mr. Adeleke O. Agbola, a legal practitioner and notary public.

Download the communiqué issue at the end of the meeting here  Communique_at_the_End_of_the_FOI_Act_Implementers_Strategy_Meeting_held_in_Abuja