On Sunday, Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair wrote an opinion piece for British newspaper The Observer. In it, he asserts that the wars of the 21st century are "less likely to be the product of extreme political ideology - like those of the 20th century - but they could easily be fought around the questions of cultural or religious difference".
If you spotted Camilla Carr and Alla Little in a café drinking lattés, chatting, giggling and sharing photos on their smartphones, you might think they were friends out shopping and catching up on old times. You wouldn't think they were discussing their imminent talk to corporate bigwigs about How To Cope - when kidnapped, threatened with execution, mentally tortured, raped and treated like an animal.
Violence against girls and women is a global pandemic. One in three women is beaten or sexually abused in her lifetime, a statistic that shames us all. It is the most widespread form of systemic abuse and there is no evidence that levels are decreasing. It is an issue that the Huffington Post has been committed to highlighting and has been the subject of many recent Parliamentary debates. MP Bill Cash is currently taking an excellent Bill through the parliamentary process that if it becomes law will legally require DFID to makes sure that gender equality is considered before providing aid.
Female Genital Mutilation (FGM), surely, is one area where it is clear that politicians at whatever level must send out a strong message that this appalling practise cannot continue. So I was understandably outraged to learn that in a vote before Christmas, four Conservatives MEPs - Marta Andreasen, Nirj Deva, Sajjad Karim and Timothy Kirkhope - voted against a European Parliament resolution condemning FGM. Several Conservative and UKIP MEPs also failed to back the resolution by abstaining. This, in my view, shows politics at its worst, letting political point-scoring on the EU ruin a chance to be a strong voice for vulnerable girls fearing barbaric mutilation.
Twenty five years ago the world made a promise to children - a promise enshrined in the Convention on the Rights of the Child. We promised every child the right to survive and be healthy, the right to an education and the right never to be subjected to violence. Through the use of data, we can tell where and how far those promises are, and are not, being kept and identify what more needs to be done to fulfil them.
Turkey's economic issues have long been of concern to investors. Before the protests in Taksim Square provided us the media images to go with the political strife, tensions were already rising. The demonstrations merely made comparisons to the 'Arab Spring' possible for the broadcasters, which of course is exactly what that they wanted.
It is estimated that child labourers now exceed 12million in Pakistan. Even worse, these children are often exposed to physical violence, long working hours and dangerous working conditions. Just a few days ago a ten-year-old boy allegedly had his hand crushed by his brick factory owner boss for refusing to work.
Another jam-packed Davos has come to an end, and with it, numerous business deals secured - it is understood that AT&T CEO, Randall Stephenson, has discussed potential European acquisitions with the region's top telecommunications official, Neelie Kroes - as well as policy ideas between governments thrashed out behind closed doors...
Last week, I attended my sixth Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) at Davos, Switzerland. I attended many of the sessions in and out of the forum and there was no shortage of women's faces. But appearances can be deceptive. Many women attending did so, not as delegates but as staffers or spouses of the delegates. Sadly this year among the 2,500 delegates, only 16% were female, down from 17% in 2013 - its highest ever. Yet, despite this, there was a real feeling that it was time to get serious about ensuring that 50% of the world's population get their fair share of the world's resources.
I've seen various articles on the so-called 'Denmark dolphin slaughter' posted all day on social media... I know the pictures look shocking but there's surely more to it? The more I read the less convinced I am that all the outrage is actually well-placed (as well-meaning as I'm sure it is). Firstly a few obvious corrections should be made. Number one: it's not really Denmark we're talking about here. This happens on the Faroe islands - an autonomous, self-governing region lying isolated in the Norwegian Sea midway between the UK, Iceland and Norway.
It is a tactic beloved of despots: while the world's attention is on one bloody conflict, you can slaughter with impunity elsewhere... Since mid-December the media has watched as the world's newest nation, South Sudan, has torn itself apart. Meanwhile, its old oppressor next door in Sudan is enthusiastically grasping the chance to "end" its own troublesome "rebellion".
While the world focused on the Geneva II Conference on Syria, worried about the apparent intractability of that conflict, a very different sort of development has taken place in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. On Saturday the Government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front concluded sixteen years of negotiations seeking to putting an end to an armed conflict, which originated in 1968.
The stories from The Guardian reveal globalisation's ugly face. It is reported migrants from Nepal are being subjected to overcrowded living spaces, dangerous conditions and in some cases, are not being paid. It has also been revealed that workers wishing to leave Qatar are not being granted the ability to do so. The 2022 World Cup is being built on the back of exploitation.
If you have any doubt as to why we think the UK's Department for International Development should prioritise disability, look no further than the situation of Esther Cheelo. Blind, elderly and with difficulty walking, Esther has for years relied upon a child to walk her into the scrubland near her home in Zambia to find a place to relieve herself, a humiliating and sometimes dangerous experience...
Monday is Holocaust Memorial Day. I am sometimes asked if we still need to remember those who died in the Holocaust - after all, it was such a long time ago. Isn't it time we all moved on? And surely more recent events should take up more of our attention? My answer is an emphatic 'No!'. In fact, the occurrence of genocides since the Holocaust demonstrates how very important it is to commemorate the attempted annihilation of Europe's Jewish population, and all victims of Nazi Persecution. There have been genocides in Cambodia, Rwanda, Bosnia and Darfur - showing all too clearly that lessons have not been learnt from the past. There is an even greater need to remember, inform and raise awareness of the Holocaust and subsequent genocides.
I want to say a massive thank you to all of you who supported our epetition and helped us reach over 100,000 signatures. The great British public stood with survivors and recognized the importance of this campaign. You have spoken out to say that FGM is child abuse and one of the worst forms of violence against women and you have asked the Government to put an end to it.
When the moment finally arrived, Leyla Hussein was asleep. Since July last year, along with her anti-FGM colleagues, she's been tirelessly campaigning to secure the 100,000 signatures necessary to qualify her petition for a Parliamentary debate on Female Genital Mutilation. Then at about 4am on Friday morning, the campaign finally crossed that particular finishing line.