Trendsupdate.com Angela Merkel, Dilma Rousseff, Yingluck Shinawatra, Joyce Banda... Just to name a few of the incumbent female heads of government around the world. Compared to a century ago, women are gaining importance in both international and domestic politics as they are occupying various important positions in national governments and multilateral organizations. While it seems that more and more female politicians are rising in power, let us not be contend with the status-quo: only one-fifth of the seats in the parliaments are occupied by women worldwide, and the figure in Asia, Middle East and Pacific is even lower than the world average. Women, in today’s world, are still underrepresented in the political arena. What are the major obstacles that women face in political participation? According to studies, it is a complex issue as it can be traced back to a number of institutional, historical, socio-economic as well as cultural factors. UN Women found that in Bhutan,

  One month after the 15-year-old Pakistani education activist, Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head by the Taliban, the United Nations called upon the international community to observe November 10 as the International Malala Day. The UN special envoy for Global Education Gordon Brown marked the significance of this event that “country after country is adopting Malala as its symbol for a girl's right to school [as the] Malala Day is being celebrated with events in more than 100 countries”. It has symbolized that the fight of Malala and 32 million girls more for their basic rights of education will go on, and the world is in solidarity with ensuring education for every single child across the globe. Malala’s story has touched millions of people. She started writing a blog for the BBC describing people’s lives in her community under the Taliban’s rule – where girls are prevented from going to school because the regime believes girls' education is an obscenity – and

What makes a good leader? Leadership is about confidence and decision-making. It is about speaking out, but also doing the important work behind the scene.  A great leader will inspire people for generations to come, and bring hope regardless of time in history. In today’s world, more and more female figures are emerging. This blog is the first of a series of entries to feature such inspiring women leaders and sharing their stories...   This week, in the midst of the American elections, Michelle Obama has been the insatiable supporter of Barack Obama behind the scenes. She juggles between being the wife of U.S. president Barack Obama, mother of two, the 44th first lady of the states, lawyer, community activist and social rights advocate. Michelle sees part of her leadership role as being a good example to others across the country and that is how she continues to inspire her fellow American citizens as well the wider world.   What makes Michelle a strong leader? She has always held

Gender equality has been one of the founding principles of the European Union, and the principle has been successfully upheld as believed by many: men and women seem to enjoy equal fundamental rights in their daily lives, and nine out of ten highest ranked countries in terms of gender equality are in Europe, according to the United Nations Development Programme. The European women are apparently better off than their counterparts in other parts of the world, but the recent developing in the EU might have suggested that women still face invisible barriers to their advancement in the workplace. A week ago, the EU decided in the last minute to postpone the vote on a plan to oblige companies to reach a 40 percent female boardroom quota by 2020 as it was deeply unpopular with many of its member countries.

If you have the chance to sit down and plan, what will you be doing next year and how are you going to make the most out of a year’s time? Have you ever thought about breaking free from the ‘9 to 5’ lifestyle, and look for an opportunity to end poverty, discover what having impact means to you, learn and explore yourself to become a better leader? Do you want to have an exciting and self-rewarding experience that might as well allow you to improve the lives of the people in the developing world? No seriously, do you want to change the world?   If your answer is “yes” to the above questions, and if you are a person who have a solid business background and yet you would like to achieve something greater in your career because you have a passion in initiating positive social changes, the Acumen Fund Global Fellows Program may be the best place for you to start your journey. Unlike many international development organizations, Acumen Fund believes that

If we are going to see real development in the world then our best investment is women. - Desmond Tutu, 1984 Nobel Peace Prize This year’s International Day for Disaster Reduction (IDDR) will be observed on 13th October. Since 1990 when it first begun, IDDR has become an important event which highlights the successes and the continuous attempts toward achieving safer and more resilient communities. “We cannot eliminate disasters, but we can mitigate risk”, said Ban Ki-moon, the Secretary-General of the United Nations in his statement for the IDDR. “We can reduce damage and we can save more lives.” The IDDR reminds us of the importance of preparedness at normal times. Natural hazards, such as earthquakes, floods and cyclones, need not to turn into “disasters” with casualties and economic damages – if effective preventive measures are in place. This year, the theme of the IDDR is “"Women and Girls - the [in]Visible Force of Resilience”. The Day reconfirms the importance of women and girls in contributing to various stages of disaster risk management. Women, if given the right opportunity, are

[caption id="attachment_504" align="alignleft" width="270" caption="Image courtesy of Forbes, https://www.forbes.com/power-women/gallery"][/caption] New year, new list, but the names on the World's 100 Most Powerful Women have not changed much. Angela Merkel remains as the most powerful woman in the world according to Forbes, and most of the ladies who have a place on the list are either from the United States or from Europe. Asian women, particularly those from Southeast Asia, are still a minority force in the powerful women community according to the list. Nevertheless, it could be observed that more new faces are coming up and the following three figures are worth much attention. It is not surprising that the Burmese symbol of democracy, Aung San Suu Kyi, is ranked the highest (#19) among her Southeast Asian counterparts. She has been elected to the Burmese parliament and has become the leader of the biggest opposition party in Myanmar this year, after being

Ly Chhay, from Kampong Cham in Cambodia, is Wedu’s first scholar student to go study in Chittagong, Bangladesh, at the Asian Women University (AUW). Thanks to the extensive rural network of our local partner organization and our local talent spotter, Ruby,  we were able to meet Ly Chhay during her last year of school. She clearly demonstrated her leadership potential together with securing admission to AUW. Ly Chhay was offered a place at the university with a full scholarship covering her first year of study.

It is not to say that the road was not bumpy for Ly Chhay. There were many challenges for the first time: her application from rural Cambodia was delayed due to postal systems (we feared it got lost on the way!); getting a passport; obtaining the visa; saying farewell to her best friend and her family, and there was the first flight of her life! Ly Chhay, however, demonstrated strength and determination during this process of transition and moving abroad. She is now slowly beginning to settle into her university life and

  Education plays a critical role in the reconstruction and national development plan of the post-Taliban Afghanistan, as it is possibly one of the most effective way to solve the many prevalent problems within the country. Before the fall of the Taliban, the formal education system in Afghanistan had been in complete disarray as there were no national authorities that monitor the distribution of educational funds and program implementation. The non-formal sector of education, as operated by organizations such as UNICEF, used to be a good supplement to the underperforming formal sector and once accounted for more than three quarters of schools in Afghanistan. However, the situation changed drastically after the Taliban issued its 1995 edict prohibiting the education of females in the areas under its control, and most humanitarian relief agencies had to suspend their assistance to the education programs throughout Afghanistan. As a result, even though theoretically compulsory education is provided to children aged from 7 to 13, only a mere 22 percent of the country's school-aged children were enrolled in schools by the end of the twentieth century. Girls, among all young persons, were the most affected due to