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Shaping Culture: Nawal Sari on the intersection of modest fashion and sneakers – Fashion Journal

Posted: April 2, 2020 at 7:44 am

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Meet the changemakers.

This Air Max season, Nike Sportswear champions inclusivity in the ever-evolving sneaker culture. Nike has tapped singer-songwriter KLPfor an interview series amplifying the voices of female changemakers who are shaping the future of sneaker culture. The following interview and words are written by KLP.

Sometimes you meet someone who shines such a bright light of positivity, it genuinely inspires you. That was me the moment I met Nawal Sari. She has such a passion for spreading self-empowerment, creativity and cultural awareness. And she does so with such grace, through sharing her own honest experiences with her followers. Having the opportunity to sit down with her and chat so openly about her upbringing, her inspirations and motivations was a moment that Ill carry through life with me.

KLP: Its so nice to meet you, Nawal. How do you describe yourself and what you stand for when you first meet people?

Nawal Sari: It feels like, for me, Im just doing my own thing in my own little bubble. But to put it into words, Im redefining modest fashion by using my platform to show other women Muslim women and every girl that modest fashion is there, and its personal and creative.

Im working on my platforms to basically push that message and inspire other girls, because I never had that growing up as this young Aussie girl. I didnt have a Muslim girl on social media, or in the media, that I could look to and be like, I want to be like her or theres a space for me. Im just on my own little mission to work to change things in my own way.

KLP: I wasnt aware of what modest fashion was. I didnt even know that it was a term to describe a type of fashion. How do you describe modest fashion?

NS: First of all, its very personal. To me, modest fashion is wearing the hijab, having longer pieces that are not as tight. To some other girls its wearing more of a turban-style hijab and doing their own type of thing. So its very, very personal. What Im trying to do is show that modest fashion is present. Its there, its in the world, people need to recognise it and take it for what it is; but its also very empowering for women.

KLP: Its your choice to dress like that and I guess youre trying to say that its up to you and the individual how they want to dress.

NS: Yeah, just as any woman should have the option to dress how she wants, the same applies. I choose to cover, you may choose to do something else. Its totally up to you, its personal, and women should have the right to dress how they want to dress and not feel like they have to conform to something because it makes someone else uncomfortable.

KLP: When you were growing up, did you have anyone that you could see that was visible that you could look up to, be it in fashion or TV?

NS: I wore the hijab when I was 15 or 16, it was in year 10. And at the time, I wasnt looking up to hijabi women. It wasnt until I got onto social media and I saw in the UK and the US that they have hijabi bloggers. I didnt think that was a thing, because I just saw the typical Aussie look for so long. And that appeals to some women, but to a lot of us it doesnt. So I kind of thought there wasnt a space for me in fashion, being a Muslim woman who also wears the hijab.

KLP: This Air Max season, Nike is championing inclusivity in sneaker culture through the likes of Air Max Verona, the new silhouette created by women, for women. Youve spoken about that at length, and youre an inspiration for so many people, how does it feel being a muse in fashion to your followers?

NS: Its crazy. I feel like I just fell into it, I never strived to be like, Im going to inspire women. I would get feedback from women who were like, because of you, I decided to wear the hijab or because of you, I dress more creatively or more personally. Thats amazing, thats what Im here to do.

Before anything I would tell myself, if Im going to put myself on a platform where I have a voice and I have that power, its going to be for something. Im not just going to be there to benefit myself, its going to help other people.

Im still studying, Im still doing my own thing, but I do see it as a career now.

KLP: You have such a strong message and its so genuine. And I guess through social media, you can connect with people all over the world which is amazing. Has there ever been an experience where someone has hit you up directly and said your sense of style has changed the way they think about modest fashion?

NS: Ive had a lot more recently, when Ive been exposed to more mainstream media, where Ive had non-Muslim women come to me and say, because of you, Ive changed my perspective of it all. Im way more open to [modest dressing] now, I see that its empowering.

My mission is to help my own first, of course I want Muslim women to feel the power. But to think that any woman can be more inclusive towards my community, and that when they see a Muslim woman walk down the road, that woman wont be alienated or treated differently because I helped a person unpack [their perceptions], its just another amazing thing that could happen from the whole thing.

KLP: So, do you believe that youve created a catalyst for change among your followers?

NS: I feel like Ive created a space where, if you follow me and you decide to be a part of the community then for sure, its changing things. To think that a Muslim woman can feel like the hijab isnt going to change her whole life and be a thing of I have to chuck out all my fun clothes and do all these things because I think a lot of Muslim women, we thought that. Like, We have to change who we are to be a woman who wears the hijab.

I feel like Im trying to show girls that its a big step, its powerful, its personal. But it can also be creative and fun, and you dont have to totally flip things upside down so you can wear the hijab.

But sneaker culture for me was how I developed my own personal style, because streetwear and sneakers, its a lot more modest than other style spaces. When I finished high school, I was actually working at a sneaker store when I discovered street culture. Its modest and its also really sick, so I can do both and still respect what Im doing. So thats kind of how I developed into my own personal style.

And I think for a lot of Muslim women, street culture and sneakers and everything around sportswear is kind of its like their safe space. Because no ones going to judge you if you walk around in a modest outfit, but its a full-on Nike kit, because its sick. But youre also comfortable and youre wearing whatever you want. So its also how Ive pushed into my own style.

KLP: Okay so last question, why is sportswear and sneaker culture important to you?

NS: Its how I developed my own style. Its how I connected my personality plus modest fashion into what I wear. When I was in high school, I remember feeling like I had to dress a certain way, which is how other hijabis dressed. Which is fine for some, but for me I didnt feel like it was personal enough. So being able to step into the sportswear world, it was not totally foreign because youre wearing longer pieces, looser pieces. I think for a lot of women, thats been really empowering. And now we have the Nike Hijab which has totally changed the game.

KLP: How did you feel when you saw that?NS: I was so happy! I wear it as more of a fashion piece, like I wear it with a hoodie on top or with just like a really cute outfit. And you can do that, theres versatility to it.

Shop the Air Max Verona here and read others in our Shaping Culture series here.

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Shaping Culture: Nawal Sari on the intersection of modest fashion and sneakers - Fashion Journal

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April 2nd, 2020 at 7:44 am

Avon Increases Support to Feed the Children Due To COVID-19 Crisis – Beauty Packaging Magazine

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Avon has partnered with Feed the Children on its philanthropy efforts for 16 years, and is increasing its support now due to the COVID-19 crisis.The company has donated more than $2 million in personal care products this month.

Feed the Children works closely with community partners like schools, civic organizations and food banks to serve the most vulnerable populations and others who may be experiencing difficulty due to a job loss in this uncertain environment, Avon states. The organization has alerted Avon to the most pressing needs of the most affected communities, so it can send vital resources to help keep these families afloat.

Paul Yi, CEO, Avon, says, "Because of our longstanding relationship, it made sense to work with Feed the Children for their COVID-19 relief efforts. They work diligently to get our products to the people who need them most."

In the last six months, Avon donations totaled over $40 million worth of necessities, bringing relief to nearly a million families including 3.5 million women and girls in 48 states and the District of Columbia, many of whom have shared their stories of improved self-confidence and empowerment as a result of their Feed the Children x Avon deliveries.

Avon Increases Support to Feed the Children Due To COVID-19 Crisis - Beauty Packaging Magazine

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April 2nd, 2020 at 7:44 am

My Gymnastics Coach Used to Fat-Shame Girls, and It Shaped the Way I View My Body – POPSUGAR

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Personal Essay on Gymnastics and Fat-Shaming

"Fat girls don't flip fast," the gymnastics coach I had throughout elementary and early middle school told us as she explained how to get enough height in our tumbling passes. It's called "setting" before you connect a back handspring, front handspring, whip back, etc. into a flip, you have to reach your arms up by your ears so the flip goes high up in the air. If your arms are far apart, or as my coach warned, "fat," you won't get as much height. I never quite seemed to think about "fat girls" or my body the same after that.

I'll always remember the slight, sometimes overt, comments my coach, a former gymnast herself, made about our bodies at a time when puberty was top of mind. We were learning about it in the classroom, and some of us were already facing its wrath. At one practice, she jokingly (but not so jokingly) compared the size of all of our calf and glute muscles. Then, she told a few of the girls that if they weren't careful, they'd grow up to have big butts.

There were other instances where my coach specifically targeted one girl on our team whom she constantly pointed out as too "jiggly." She'd pinch the girl's stomach and make snide remarks about needing to speak with the girl's mother to find out what food was available at home. My coach would scold the girl for her "thick" thighs and demand she run extra rounds of stairs at the end of practice. The most distressing part? She'd always say these things through a smile, sometimes mitigating the severity of her words with a laugh.

Body-shaming by coaches and other authority figures and the resulting unhealthy relationship with body image is a common theme when you talk to gymnasts on the elite level, too. Five-time Olympic medalist Simone Biles, UCLA superstar Katelyn Ohashi, and former elite gymnast Mattie Larson have all spoken about body-shaming they endured in the sport. Biles mentions in her book, Courage to Soar, that she remembers falling during her floor routine at the 2013 US Secret Classic and overhearing another coach say, "You know why she crashed? Because she's too fat." Ohashi was shamed for her curves prior to her collegiate career and was called a "bird that couldn't fly." And Larson, who developed an eating disorder in her teens, explained to Vice News in a 2018 documentary that at the now-closed-down Karolyi Ranch in Texas, former national team coordinator Martha Karolyi would go around during training-camp meals and praise gymnasts for having small amounts of food on their plates.

The things you're told as a young gymnast, good or bad, stay with you. (One study published in the Journal of Applied Sport Psychology in 2006 concluded, based on surveys, that retired gymnasts "reported more eating disorders and negative views of their experiences than did the current gymnasts.") Even after switching gyms a number of times and no longer working with my original coach, I still felt her comments stick.

After over a decade in the sport, my life without gymnastics began freshman year of college. When I was a senior, I wrote a personal essay recalling how, when I first went away to school, I used to stare down warily at my hips and cup them in my hands as if to hold them in when they started to blossom. I also became near-obsessed with working out. I'd go to the campus gym for two hours per night, six days a week. Why? Well, the thought of losing the abs you could see through my leotard this "perfect" gymnast's body was terrifying. My roommate even shared her concerns when I'd come back to the dorms at 11 p.m. fresh off a long sweat session.

Though I never developed an eating disorder while competing in gymnastics or thereafter, I did show signs of disordered eating. There was a period of time when I punished myself for indulging in sweets by doing extra crunches on my bedroom floor. I was hyperaware of what my body looked like. These were all things I had to work through once I quit gymnastics. It took a few years, but I learned that rest days are important and so is enjoying the food you eat, exercise is not a punishment, and my body can still be beautiful and athletic without meeting standards set by a sport fixated on attaining perfection.

I heard similar sentiments when I spoke with Betsy McNally, a former gymnastics coach who also competed in the sport for over a decade through level 10 (level 10, for reference, is right below the elite level). Now she's a personal trainer and nutritionist who teaches gymnastics boot camps, called Betsy Bootcamps, across the country to instruct families, coaches, and gymnasts about the importance of proper nutrition for athletes and how to foster positive body image and a safe environment. She doesn't want things to escalate for them like it did for her.

At 14, McNally was told that she was "too heavy" to be good at gymnastics and that her weight was holding her back. She describes in her memoir, Binges & Balance Beams, that her coaches started displaying her and her teammates' weights on a chart at practice. She fell into a downward spiral of "not eating" and sprinkling fiber powders on her meals, so she'd stay fuller for longer. No one ever taught her which foods would give her energy and what would help her recover from workouts, she said. No one was there to talk about how to eat to promote a healthy lifestyle; instead, it was all about restriction. And the worst part, as it is for many gymnasts, were the lingering effects.

After gymnastics, McNally turned to bodybuilding competitions and modeling, becoming "obsessed" with her physique and looking fit. She struggled with the "vicious cycle" of restriction and binging in the bodybuilding world, and those comments from her gymnastics coach remained. Though McNally can't diagnose eating disorders or refer athletes at her boot camps to eating-disorder specialists that's out of her scope of practice she can educate them on the importance of nutrition that she's learned not only through her professional work but through her own experiences, too.

It's in the nature of gymnastics (and in the rules, for that matter) to strive for perfection, but I realize now that, as much as I love and appreciate those years as a gymnast, this fight for the elusive "perfect" led me to grip onto what I deemed to be my own imperfections. I can't sit here and pretend that the sport didn't shape me as a person in positive ways. I owe a lot to it my courage, my attention to detail, my splits but the body-shaming is not just exclusive to the elite level of gymnastics; it's on all levels, and it has longterm effects.

And it's not just in gymnastics. Take former professional runner Mary Cain's November 2019 op-ed video published on the New York Times website. In it, she details the ruthless and unhealthy atmosphere on the now-shut-down Nike Oregon Project team cultivated by her coaches and spearheaded by Alberto Salazar (note: Salazar was banned from the sport for four years due to a doping scandal). Cain was conditioned to shed pounds at a dangerous rate because it would make her "faster," and she, too, was weighed in front of her peers.

Cain is an advocate for more women coaches, and I agree that we need them. But my experience shows that women are not immune to falling prey to, and perpetuating, these negative cultural messages. We all need to work together to change the fundamental ways in which we educate and support young women in sports.

As McNally told me, "I really like to think that I'm part of a movement where we're changing, shifting completely, the whole result of the sport and focusing more on being positive and educating girls." But the real people struggling, she noted, are "people like me and you." We, as McNally explained, experience the residual effects later in life where it "manifests in eating disorders and people not loving themselves just because of a stupid comment."

McNally and I spent some time talking about how the focus on appearance and weight and lack of education on healthy habits and nutrition caused us to have missed opportunities in our gymnastics careers. "I really would have been good at the sport, but nobody ever taught me balance," she said. Still, she was able to use the struggles she faced for a purpose greater than her own. "I took a bad thing and I made it a good thing," she said, "and that's what makes us stronger and better people."

Hearing McNally say this made me feel seen. Self-love can be hard to come by. Gymnastics did teach me to be proud of my strength and to believe in that strength. My former coach's body-shaming can't take away that feeling of empowerment, but it wasn't until after those transitional years in college that I could abandon the microscopic lens I used to view my body through; that I could detach from this idea of what a "perfect" body should be.

For gymnasts or former gymnasts going through similar experiences, I have a message: It's OK to love the sport and, at the same time, acknowledge that there are deep-seated issues in how girls' bodies are judged. It's OK to thank the sport for what it's given you and recognize what it took from you. It's OK to grow into the person you now are and will become knowing that perfect isn't who you are. And that's exactly how it's supposed to be.

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My Gymnastics Coach Used to Fat-Shame Girls, and It Shaped the Way I View My Body - POPSUGAR

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April 2nd, 2020 at 7:44 am

Joint Letter: Re: Restrictions on Communication, Fencing, and COVID-19 in Cox’s Bazar District Rohingya Refugee Camps – Bangladesh – ReliefWeb

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Sheikh Hasina Prime Minister Old Sangsad Bhaban Tejagaon, Dhaka-1215 Bangladesh

Dear Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina,

As authorities around the world struggle to cope with the spread of COVID-19, it is crucial that States act to protect the most vulnerable, including refugee populations.

We, the 50 undersigned organizations, have welcomed the Bangladesh governments efforts to host the Rohingya refugees who were forced to flee atrocities perpetrated by the Myanmar Army. We also commend the Bangladesh Government for working closely with the humanitarian community on COVID-19 preparedness and response in Coxs Bazar District, including efforts to establish isolation and treatment facilities.

Now we write to urge you to lift ongoing mobile internet restrictions and halt the construction of barbed wire fencing around the Rohingya refugee camps in Coxs Bazar District. These measures threaten the safety and well-being of the refugees as well as Bangladesh host communities and aid workers, in light of the growing COVID-19 pandemic.

As the COVID-19 pandemic spreads to Bangladesh, unrestricted access to information via mobile and internet communications is crucial for slowing the transmission of the disease and saving the lives of refugees, humanitarian workers, and the general population of Bangladesh. Lifting restrictions will not only enable community health workers to quickly share and receive the most reliable and up-to-date guidance during this evolving pandemic, but will also help in coordination with community leaders. We urge you to ensure refugees, local communities, and aid workers alike can freely access mobile and internet communications, in the interest of protecting human rights and public health.

Since September 2019, Bangladesh authorities have prevented Rohingya refugees from obtaining SIM Cards and directed telecommunications operators to restrict internet coverage in Rohingya refugee camps in Coxs Bazar District. According to Bangladeshs Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Mahbub Alam Talukder in Coxs Bazar, authorities have confiscated more than 12,000 SIM Cards from refugees since September and refugees report that in some instances authorities have prohibited the use of mobile phones altogether.

These restrictions should be lifted in light of the governments recommendation to those experiencing COVID-19 symptoms to contact the Institute of Epidemiology, Disease Control and Research, hotline. Without a phone or SIM Card, abiding by this instruction is impossible. Furthermore, without access to mobile and internet communications, aid workers and others will be forced to deliver critical health information in person, heightening their risk of exposure to COVID-19 and slowing the effectiveness of the response.

Access to information is an essential component of an effective public health response to a pandemic. On March 19, experts from the United Nations, the Organization of American States, and the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe called on all governments to ensure immediate access to the fastest and broadest possible internet service in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, noting that, [e]specially at a time of emergency, when access to information is of critical importance, broad restrictions on access to the internet cannot be justified on public order or national security grounds.

In addition to providing access to information, there is a critical need for the government to take extra precautions to ensure the safety and well-being of the refugees. On March 24, Commissioner Mahbub Alam Talukder told media that in response to the spread of COVID-19, All activities will be suspended in every camp. . . . However, emergency services with respect to food, health, and medicine will continue as usual. The Bangladesh government should ensure that protective measures, including provision of sufficient personal protective equipment, are available for the aid workers and volunteers providing these essential services in accordance with the Inter-Agency Standing Committees Interim Guidance on COVID-19 response operations in humanitarian settings.

During this time, the Government of Bangladesh should work in close collaboration with international humanitarian organizations and Rohingya-led groups to disseminate accurate and timely information on COVID-19 and mitigate the risk of the virus spreading into the camps and in adjacent host communities.

The government should further balance travel restrictions to ensure that additional humanitarian health workers can safely enter the country and camps without facing undue bureaucratic impediments.

We also write to share our concern regarding the construction of barbed-wire fencing around refugee camps. On September 26, 2019, Home Minister Asaduzzaman Khan Kamal announced plans to construct barbed-wire fencing and guard towers around Rohingya refugee camps in Coxs Bazar District. Various statements by government officials have made it clear that the purpose of the fencing is not to protect the Rohingya, but rather to confine them. The Bangladesh Home Minister told journalists the reason for building the fencing was to ensure that the Rohingya do not leave the camp and join our community. Construction on the fencing began in November 2019.

This construction is motivated by concerns arising prior to the global outbreak of COVID-19, but now risks not only harming refugees but impeding the response to the pandemic. The Bangladesh governments construction of fencing to enclose the Rohingya refugee camps has created heightened distress, fear, and mistrust among Rohingya refugees, posing greater risks to public health and needless obstructions to humanitarian access as it will become harder for refugees to enter and exit the camp for services.

In constructing barbed-wire fencing to confine Rohingya refugees, Bangladesh risks mirroring the behavior of Myanmar authorities, who presently confine more than 125,000 Rohingya to more than 20 internment camps in five townships of Rakhine State. Instead, Bangladesh should ensure proper access to health care with ease of mobility. This is particularly crucial for those most vulnerable in the refugee camps, including those living with disabilities, older people, and children.

Rohingya refugees remain vulnerable as they depend on humanitarian assistance. It is critical to maintain humanitarian access to the camps at this time. It is equally important to prepare the Rohingya communitymen, women, and youthto be capacitated to support their community at this time. Rohingya community volunteers will be the first responders in this crisis and must be equipped with personal protective equipment and trained accordingly on health and hygiene promotion.

We urge you and your government to uphold the rights of Rohingya refugees to health, freedom of expression and access to information, and freedom of movement. We also call on the Bangladesh Government to ensure non-discrimination between refugees and citizens in accessing timely COVID-19 testing and treatment.

We strongly believe these protections will also benefit overall public health in Bangladesh.

We thank you for your attention to these issues, and we offer our assistance and support to protect the lives and well-being of all those within the territory of Bangladesh, including Rohingya refugees.


Minister of Disaster Management and Relief Enamur Rahman

Refugee Relief and Repatriation Commissioner Mahbub Alam Talukder



2. ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights

3. Action Corps

4. Alternative ASEAN Network on Burma (ALTSEAN-Burma)

5. Amnesty International

6. Arakan Rohingya National Organisation

7. Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network

8. Association Rohingya Thailand

9. Beyond Borders Malaysia

10. British Rohingya Community UK

11. Burma Campaign UK

12. Burma Human Rights Network

13. Burma Task Force

14. Burmese Rohingya Association in Japan

15. Burmese Rohingya Community in Denmark

16. Burmese Rohingya Organisation UK

17. Canadian Burmese Rohingya Organization

18. Canadian Rohingya Development Initiative

19. Emgage Action

20. European Rohingya Council

21. FIDH International Federation for Human Rights

22. Fortify Rights

23. Global Centre for the Responsibility to Protect

24. Global Justice Center

25. Human Rights Watch

26. Institute for Genocide and Mass Atrocity Prevention, Binghamton University

27. International Campaign for the Rohingya

28. International Human Rights Clinic, Harvard Law School

29. Justice For All

30. Justice4Rohingya UK

31. Kaladan Press Network

32. Karen Womens Organization

33. Myanmar Alliance for Transparency and Accountability

34. People Empowerment Foundation

35. Pusat KOMAS, Malaysia

36. Queensland Rohingya Community

37. Refugees International

38. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights

39. Rohingya Action Ireland

40. Rohingya Association of Canada

41. Rohingya Global Youth Movement

42. Rohingya Human Rights Network

43. Rohingya Peace Network Thailand

44. Rohingya Refugee Network

45. Rohingya Today

46. Save Rohingya Worldwide

47. Society for Threatened Peoples Germany

48. U.S. Campaign for Burma

49. Unitarian Universalist Service Committee


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Joint Letter: Re: Restrictions on Communication, Fencing, and COVID-19 in Cox's Bazar District Rohingya Refugee Camps - Bangladesh - ReliefWeb

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April 2nd, 2020 at 7:44 am

50 nations promised cash to fight Covid. Few, like India and Bangladesh, are doing it right – ThePrint

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As the world grapples with COVID-19, governments face a daunting challenge: limiting the adverse impact of a pandemic that has ground economic activity to a halt, affecting people at a scale rarely seen before. More than 50 countries, including the United States, have announced some form of cash transfer or social assistance to help tide over the immediate challenges faced by their citizens. While many of these efforts are one-off measures to mitigate the immediate impact, some may turn out to be more long-term depending on how widespread the economic and human cost of the pandemic turns out to be.

Delivering on these promises will require an enormous increase in the capacity of states to make payments to their citizens, or government-to-people (G2P) transfers, as they are widely known. Every government transfers money to people in some formpublic sector salaries, pensions, scholarships, grants and vouchers to the poor, and so onso there is existing capacity, including delivery mechanisms, to draw upon. But in most countries existing systems will not be adequate, either in volume or coverage, to help those affected make it through the economic disruption. The immediate challenge is how to make G2P transfers efficiently, equitably, and at scaleand how best to use technology to do so. And once the crisis is passed, the development challenge remains: How can digital technologies help accelerate global efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and eliminate poverty?

Even before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have attempted to answer some of these questions in a three-year project at Center for Global Development (CGD), culminating in our newly launched Citizens and States report. It has taken us on a journey through three continentsAsia, Africa, and Latin Americato understand how digital technologies are shaping the future of governance.

Also read: Modi govt needs to open the JAM for public contributions. PM Care alone cant deliver

The potential of ID, mobiles, and payments to improve the capacity of governments to deliver more effective, inclusive, and accountable programmes is huge. This trinity has been termed JAM in India.

People in Indian villages receive food subsidies and pensions using the countrys biometric ID, Aadhaar. Community health workers in Bangladesh deliver maternal health services using their mobile phones. Agents in rural Kenya are at the frontlines of the mobile money revolution that is now a global phenomenon.

Governments are creating the infrastructure to harness the power of data to monitor the delivery of services and subsidies in real time, improving accountability of providers and voice of the citizens.

Developing countries are transforming their ability to deliver public services, subsidies, and transfers. Leveraging the almost-universal coverage of Aadhaar, bank accounts, and mobile phones, India now electronically transfers nearly $350 billion to over 800 million people every year. The just-passed US plan to give $1,200 to every citizenincluding in some cases by checkwill be far more logistically challenging for the US government than transferring the payment digitally, as India has been doing for government payments for the last seven years, and far more subject to errors and fraud. Many developing countries will similarly struggle to distribute payments, but others have built up robust systems that they can now leverage in a crisis.

Digital technologies are changing the lives of people in the developing world. With the spread of digital identification, access to financial accounts, and mobile phones, citizens increasingly demand the same convenience and responsiveness in dealing with their governments that they experience in their personal lives. In turn, governments around the world are moving rapidly to harness the power of technology to improve their ability to serve peoplein other words, increasing state capacity in an increasingly interconnected, digital world.

Also read: Govt funds start-up to produce device that reduces presence of coronavirus in closed space

Is a capable state a good state? The record suggests not necessarily. In developmental terms, state capacity can only be assessed relative to some specified objectives. For these, we can turn to the global development consensus, as embodied in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They represent an ambitious elevation of aspirations relative to the Millennium Development Goals, placing new emphasis on the nexus between the state and the individual.

In the current dynamic and evolving context, how can digital technologies play a positive role to achieve the ambitious objectives and targets embodied in the SDGs? What can we learn from the experiences of digital reform in developing countries? What can we say about the future trajectory of digital governancethe guiding principles, the harmonisation of policy design and technology, and the challenges going forward? Finally, how can technology both empower citizens and improve state capacity?

The SDGs recognise the importance of JAM; ID, mobile communications, and financial inclusion are intrinsic goals in themselves, in addition to being possible instruments to help achieve other goals and targets.

The objectives of SDGs should motivate governments to use digital technologiesespecially ID and paymentsto improve delivery of public services, subsidies, and transfers. Without an effective ID system, beneficiary lists are often replete with nonexistent individuals or ghosts, resulting in misuse of scarce public resources. Without increased access to financial accounts, it is difficult to pay beneficiaries electronically instead of in physical cash. Finally, without the capacity to gather feedback on the quality and timeliness of public services and payments, it is difficult to identify bottlenecks and improve the efficiency and accountability of service provision. Digital technologies, appropriately designed and implemented, can address these issues, improving the capacity of states to improve the efficiency and equity of delivery mechanisms over a broad range of public goods and services in developing countries.

Also read: After demonetisation and GST, slow response on corona is latest disaster of centralisation

Digital technology, including ID and payments and supported by mobiles (JAM), can enhance state capability to deliver a wide range of policies and programmes relating to multiple SDGs in the areas of sustainability, social protection, and governance. Improvements can include better accountability, service and user empowerment, greater equity, and sometimes fiscal savings. The latter can come mainly from three sources: lower transaction costs, eliminating ghost and duplicate beneficiaries (both within and across programmes), and reducing leakages in subsidies delivered through G2P and P2G payments as well as goods delivered through digitally controlled supply chains. Shifting from physical cash payments to financial transfers, for example, can ease the burden of managing cash on frontline service providers, such as teachers in the case of education supplements in Bangladesh.

Gains are not automatic, however. Technology is only a tool. Even as it opens up new opportunities, its impact will be shaped by institutional and economic conditions as well as the aim of the reforms.

Technology amplifies the power of data, and its impact on development depends on how this power is used. States can use data to improve service delivery, but they may not be benign users of data. The rapidly evolving tools available to governments also have the potential to leave marginalised groups behind, or to further isolate them. New checks and balances will be needed to ensure that digital technology serves the needs of all citizens.

JAM is a flexible platform, and it is being applied in different ways. The principles that follow are based on cases to date, but there is still a great deal to learn about the introduction of digitised service programmes.

Also read: 10 steps Modi govt should take to manage economic fall-out of coronavirus: SC Garg


Universal access to well-functioning ID, connectivity, and financial inclusion has to be a first principle when considering moving citizengovernment interactions in this direction.


The primary aim of reform should be to improve quality and inclusion, with fiscal savings a secondary objective, to be obtained from efficiency gains.

Digital approaches can open the door to new ways to approach targeting. Because they enable benefits to be provided accountably to well-identified recipients, governments can invoke soft targeting through moral suasion and other indicative approaches.

Incentives throughout the delivery chain are a critical counterpart to accountability and need to be factored into rollouts and reforms. If digital reforms eliminate avenues for diversion and corruption, margins for service providers will probably need to be increased to compensate for reduced opportunities to exercise their discretion.

It is essential to have effective policies and procedures in place to monitor technology failures and grievances and to resolve them, especially as reforms move important elements of delivery out of the hands of local officials and towards more remote systems and data.

Even programmes seen as good by the majority of beneficiaries and customers can increase the marginalisation of vulnerable groups. For this reason, there needs to be a special focus on such groups when assessing the impact of changes. This can include technological challengesfor example, to provide alternative options for authentication through an ID system.

Reforms can also involve transitional frictions such as reconciling data errors and inconsistencies as previously manual or scattered systems are integrated. These problems will be more serious for groups with less capacitythe poor, elderly, or womenwho are frequently the most dependent beneficiaries of public programmes.

Choice and Voice

Digital technology should empower citizens by increasing agency, expanding choice, and strengthening voice through better and more effective use of feedback systems.

Digitised delivery systems generate enormous quantities of data, much of it in real time, which can provide critical feedback to programmes and transition towards a system of real-time governance.

Because benefits are personalised and attached to the beneficiary, they can be made portable, subject to logistical constraints. The exercise of choice by users provides a second important real-time feedback signal to program administrators.

User responses can provide a third feedback loop, operating in almost real time. This can include star ratings of distributors and beneficiary surveys through robocalls as well as phone-based systems for filing complaints.

Although elements of the approach could be included in many programmes, not all jurisdictions will have the motivation and capability needed to operate a full real-time governance feedback system.

Ensuring the long-term political sustainability of real-time feedback systems is difficult, but transparency can help build citizen demand and buy-in. The results generated by feedback systems will need to be readily available and easily accessible to the public to establish it as a citizen expectation and a useful tool for civil society.

Cross-cutting goals: Gender equity and financial inclusion:

Even as digitising programmes can contribute to more effective service delivery, it can support womens empowerment and provide a stimulus to financial inclusion. These are useful steps towards the goal of changing gender norms, although this is a much longer-run proposition.

A growing body of evidence shows that women and other marginalised groups such as ethnic and linguistic minorities, as well as differently abled persons, face extra structural barriers to adopting the JAM components.

Surveys paint a broadly favourable picture in most cases but point to the need for attention to the constraints on women that limit their agency. This can dilute the gains from digitising programmes or even cause more difficulties.

The road from digital transfers to full use of financial accounts is long, but specific measures can help. By and large, very few of the women receiving transfers into bank or mobile money accounts are doing more than cashing them out. They are financially included, but more in a formal sense than in a real sense.

Also read: Pay safe, stay safe: Modi govt encourages digital payment amid coronavirus scare

There is a large unfinished agenda to extend JAM access and use. JAM cannot be used as a delivery platform for services unless it is widely accessible. While there has been spectacular growth in coverage, the cross-country picture is uneven, including in reaching the poor and vulnerable groups who are often the highest priority for service. Similarly, the wide gap between leading use cases and others indicates how much further there is to go in using JAM to reform citizenstate engagement. Addressing this challenge will require strategic approaches that build on natural synergies, especially since ID systems, mobile communications, and payment systems are multi-use platforms that can be applied to many programmes and services.

Governance will need to evolve as citizens increasingly adjust toas well as demanddigital first interactions with the state. There are still many questions around the longer-run implications of digitisation. While digitisation of government payments has been motivated largely by the objective of governments to improve the efficiency of public expenditure, we have yet to see its impact on revenue mobilisation, especially in developing countries. To what extent ubiquitous citizenstate digital payments (both G2P and P2G) would lead individuals to change their preferences for cash versus financial transactions is also an open question. The impact of digitisation is complexfor example, the trade-offs between greater transparency and accountability of transactions enabled by digital ID and payments on the one hand and the incentive to deliver better services by those who benefited from the previous system on the other. digitisation would entail significant realignment of incentives between the government, its intermediaries, and citizens.

More monitoring and research are needed as the use of JAM extends to more countries and programmes. While this report has sought to build on available evidence, this is still sparse. Few system reforms are adequately monitored, so provision for thisincluding client surveysshould be built into their design at the start. There is also a need to better understand how the shift towards digital mechanisms influences social and gender norms over the longer run.

Alan Gelb is a senior fellow at the Center for Global Development (CGD);Anit Mukherjee is a policy fellow at the CGD; and Kyle Navis ispolicy analyst at CGD.

This article is an edited excerpt from the authors report Citizens and States: How Can Digital ID and Payments Improve State Capacity and Effectiveness?, released by the Center for Global Development. Read the full report here.

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50 nations promised cash to fight Covid. Few, like India and Bangladesh, are doing it right - ThePrint

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April 2nd, 2020 at 7:44 am

Religion news Feb. 22 – The Republic

Posted: February 24, 2020 at 1:42 am

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Services and studies

Dayspring Church Apostolic Worship begins at 11:15 a.m. at the church, 2127 Doctors Park Drive, Columbus. On Sunday, the church will be inspired by, Redemption of The Lost. This is taken from Luke 15:4 where, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? is the action taken by the jailer. Every visitor will receive a free gift.

The Sunday Education Session starts at 10 a.m. and covers Forgiveness, Faith, and Service as shared in Luke 17:1-10.

Bible Study is Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. and is a group session sponsored by Heart Changers International, LLC on Depression, Perfection and Grief with hand out questions. These help build our Personal Empowerment and walk.

Our Prayer of Power starts at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday and is preceded with requests and instructions on prayer. The Celebrate Recovery Group session starts at 6:30 p.m. for about an hour.

Ignite is the Youth Growth Session that happens every third Friday.

For more information please call (812) 372- 9336, or email

East Columbus United Methodist Sunday events begin at 9 a.m. at East Columbus United Methodist Church at 2439 Indiana Ave. in Columbus, with fellowship time in the foyer with beverages and snacks. Worship begins at 9:30 a.m.

Sunday School begins at 10:40 a.m. for all ages and Bible interests.

Faith Lutheran Pastor Todd Riordan will be preaching on Sunday at the 9 a.m. service, with Sunday school at 10:30 a.m.

Mens Bible study on Romans at Lincoln Square restaurant on State Road 46 West, 11 a.m. to noon Wednesday. Womens Bible study on Romans at Faith Lutheran from 1 to 2 p.m. Wednesday.

Game night is Sunday, Feb. 23 from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at Faith.

Choir meets on Wednesdays at 6:30 p.m.

Preschool enrollment is open now and after school care is also offered, call 812-342-3587.

The church is located at 6000 W. State Road 46, Columbus.

First Presbyterian The final Sunday before the beginning of Lent is Transfiguration Sunday, when we reflect on that mysterious moment on the mountain top (Mark 8:27 9:8). The sermon will be titled Turning Point.

Worship begins at 9:30 a.m., 512 Seventh St. in Columbus. Infant and toddler care is available 9:15 a.m. to noon. The mens and womens support groups meet on Fridays at 7 a.m., and a second mens support group (working age men) meets every Monday at 6:15 a.m.

People in the community in need of a meal are invited to our hot meals offered Friday at 5 p.m. (please enter through the glass doors on Franklin). We are an LGBTQ-friendly church. Open and affirming to all.


First United Methodist On Sunday, Feb. 23, at the 9 a.m. Traditional Service and 11 a.m. The Table, the Rev. Sarah Campbell will deliver the message, Mountaintop Views: Transfiguration Sunday at the church, 618 Eighth St. The scripture will be Exodus 24:12-18 and Matthew 17:1-9.

Sunday School for all ages begins at 10:10 a.m. Child care is available during the service.

On Wednesday, Feb. 26, the church will have an Ash Wednesday Worship Service at 7 p.m. This service marks a season of repentance and reflection leading to the joy of Easter morning.

Every Wednesday at noon from Feb. 26 to Apr. 8 there will be a Lenten organ recital at various churches throughout Columbus. Feb. 26 will feature Erik Matson at First United Methodist Church.

Information: 812-372-2851 or

Flintwood Wesleyan The church is located at 5300 E. 25th St.

Sunday services are Amplify (non-traditional) at 9 a.m. and The Well (traditional) at 11 a.m. Both Amplify and The Well are in the main sanctuary and led by the Rev. Wes Jones, senior pastor. Sunday School classes meet in their regular rooms at 10 a.m.

The Prayer Team meets at 8 a.m. Adult Choir Practice is 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Sunday evenings Celebrate Recovery begins with a meal at 5:25 p.m. in The Friendship Center and the meeting starts at 6 p.m. upstairs in Curry Hall.

Connections, a ladies study group, is led by Pastor Teri Jones. The group meets the second and fourth Monday of each month at 10 a.m. in The Friendship Center.

In the Beginning, a small group Bible study, meets Tuesday evenings at 6 p.m. They are now meeting in the basement of the church in the young adult classroom. They are studying the book of Genesis. You can start at any point so new members are welcome to join.

Wednesday activities begin with a meal at 5:30 p.m. The program, iKids (Ignite Kids) On Fire For Jesus! starts at 6:15 p.m. This program is for kids in Pre-K through the sixth grade. The Prayer Team meets at 6:15 p.m. in the Prayer Room and youth meets at 6:30 p.m. downstairs in the church. Bible study is at 7 p.m. in the sanctuary.

On Thursday, Cub Scout Pack #588 will meet at 7 p.m.

Small group Cover to Cover is a Christian book club that meets the second Saturday of each month at 10 a.m. to select a new book and discuss the book they just read. Group meets in The Friendship Center. If interested contact Kim Rutan at 812-343-2217 (call or text) or via email at

March 8 is Baptism Sunday. If you wish to be baptized, please get in touch with Pastor Wes.

For further information, call 812-379-4287 or email Church office hours are Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Our website is

Garden City Church of Christ On Sunday, at the 10 a.m. service, Garden City Church of Christ will continue the four-week sermon series called Mission: Possible (His Mission. Your World.).

This sermon series will offer clear Bible teaching designed to empower you to share your faith with people right in your own neighborhood. Discover Gods mission for your life, how to connect with people, how serving others can open hearts to the gospel, and how paying attention to your own spiritual growth can strengthen your witness.

Garden City Church of Christ is located at 3245 Jonesville Road, Columbus.

For more information, visit or call 812-372-1766.

Grace Lutheran The Rev. John Armstrong will preach on Sunday. Worship is at 8 a.m. and 10:30 a.m., with Sunday School for all ages at 9:30 a.m.

Alpha, an introduction to the Bible continues Tuesday, Feb. 25, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. with the topic Where is God when it hurts?

Searching Scripture continues Tuesday, Feb. 25, 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. with the topic The Apostles Creed.

The church is located at 3201 Central Ave., Columbus.

Old Union United Church of Christ Scriptures for the 10 a.m. Sunday service will include Exodus 24:12-18, 2 Peter 1:16-21, and Matthew 17:1-9. The message will be Lessons from the Mountaintop.

Sunday school will be at 9 a.m. with fellowship at 9:40 a.m.

The church is located at 12703 N. County Road 50W, Edinburgh.

Petersville United Methodist Church Guest speaker, Jonathan Ooms, Clay Township Fire Department fire chief, will bring the message at the 9 a.m. worship service on Sunday morning at the church, 2781 N. County Road 500E, Columbus.

The congregation will celebrate and commit to their 2020 Faith Promise program of extra mile giving for missions. Lector Bill Pershing will lead the congregation in scripture and Teresa Covert will present the childrens message.

Monday at 6:30 p.m., the Bakers Dozen Bible Study group meets at the Larry & Connie Nolting home and Journey Bible Study meets at the home of Chris Kimerling. Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. is choir led by Kathy Bush. Bible Study and Prayer group meets Thursday at 10 a.m. with Barb Hedrick leader. United Methodist Mens next meeting is Sunday, March 1 at 7:15 a.m. New members are always welcome.

Information: 812-447-9357 or 574-780-2379

St. Paul Lutheran Transfiguration Sunday will be celebrated at St. Paul Lutheran Church, 6045 E. State St., with Pastor Doug Baumans sermon entitled A Lamp Shining in a Dark Place based on II Peter 1:16-21 at the 8 and 10:45 a.m. services.

Children will process with Alleluia Banners that mark the beginning of the Lenten season with Ash Wednesday.

The Spanish Worship Service begins at 10:45 a.m. in the Fellowship Room led by Vicar Fickenscher.

The theme for the 6:45 p.m. Ash Wednesday Communion service will be based on Chief of Sinners Though I Be with Pastor Baumans sermon entitled Sin is Missing the Mark. Imposition of Ashes will begin at 6:30 p.m. in the church. Dinner will be served in the Fellowship Room from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. for a freewill offering.

Open enrollment for the 2020-2021 preschool and kindergarten registration continues. Classes are for children who are 3-, 4- or 5-years old by Aug. 1. Information: 812-376-6504 or

Financial Peace University classes continue at 6 p.m. at the church. Classes teach how to beat debt and make a plan for the future together. Information:

Information: 812-376-6504.

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbus On Sunday at 10 a.m., Will You Harbor Me? will be presented by the Rev. Nic Cable and Lori Swanson. As a caring community, we are faced with the continued question of how we remain present to one another within our community and to those beyond our walls. What would it look like for UUCCI to be a harbor for any and all people looking for a place to feel loved and supported?

The church is at 7850 W. Goeller Blvd., Columbus.

Information: 812-342-6230.

Westside Community Pastor Dennis Aud will lead the service this Sunday at 10 a.m. at the church at the corner of State Road 46 West and Tipton Lakes Blvd. This Sundays sermon will be the second in a series titled, The Malicious 7: Anger.

The childrens program for birth through sixth grade meets at the same time as the 10 a.m. worship service.

For more information on studies or small groups that meet throughout the week, contact the church office at 812-342-8464.


North Christian Church The church is looking for singers to join their Chancel Choir. Rehearsals are Wednesdays at 6 p.m. at the church, 850 Tipton Lane, Columbus.

For more information, contact the Music Director, Travis Whaley, at


Community Church of Columbus An eight-week parenting course entitled Parenting with Love and Logic is designed for parents of children ages 6 and under. The course will be offered at Community Church of Columbus, 3850 N. Marr Road, as part of the Tuesday Connection series. Dinner is also available each week at 5:30 p.m. along with child care at no cost.

Eckankar of Southern Indiana The meetings focus on an aspect of Eckankar and will feature readings from the books of Eckankar with group discussions of the spiritual principles at work in our lives. Please join others to bring more spiritual insight and divine love into our daily lives.

The Spiritual Discussion group meets the third Sunday of each month at 1:30 p.m. Fellowship and light refreshments will follow. The meeting is at 7850 W. Goeller Blvd. Columbus located in the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Columbus building.

For more information about Eckankar please see

Information about this meeting: 812-418-8392.

Flintwood Wesleyan Our Heart of Ministries auction and dinner will be March 6 stating at 5:30 p.m. Lots of great items up for auction plus the best desserts in town. The dinner is free and all proceeds goes to fund local, regional, and global ministries.

First United Methodist Tuesday evenings through Feb. 25, the church will host a grief support group. Meetings will begin at 5:30 p.m. The group will explore grief using Julie Yarbroughs book Beyond the Broken Heart: A Journey Through Grief. It will take place in the Blue Room (Room 216) at the church, and is open to anyone. To register, or for more information, call the church office at 812-372-2851.

On Feb. 23 at 6 p.m., FUMC will have its second Life Planning Seminar. This session will focus on Help On Legal Decisions for Healthcare, with Heather Means from Hospice leading the discussion. The session is free and open to anyone in the community. Call Rob Heathcote at 812-344-8437 with any questions.

Jonesville Christian Church The church will host the South Central Indiana Christian Mens Fellowship (SCICMF) on Tuesday, Feb. 25.

A meal of fried chicken with all the trimmings, desserts, and drinks will be from 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. The program lead by Steve Gommel, retired from Driftwood Christian Church, will follow at 7:15 p.m.

The church is at 609 Commerce St., Jonesville.

North Christian Church The Centering Prayer Group that meets in the North Christian Prayer Chapel, Lower Level #6, on Friday mornings from 10:30 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. This is a drop-in prayer group, meaning that you can come as your schedule allows. Familiarity with Centering Prayer and its spiritual practices is not necessary. For more information, consult the Centering Prayer page at

The church is hosting the senior project of a Columbus North High School student who is collecting items for children who are in the Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) program. The CASA program helps children who have been the victims of abuse and neglect. Items being collected include things to help comfort the kids like stuffed animals, blankets, etc., and hygiene items like toothbrushes, shampoo, lotions, etc. Donations should be brought to North Christian Church 8 a.m. to noon Monday through Friday or 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and Thursday.

Petersville United Methodist Church Coming up Feb. 25 will be a Fat Tuesday meal at the church to raise funds for the Clay Township Fire Department. Serving will be from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

St. Paul Lutheran An eight-week grief support Bible study entitled, Hope When Your Heart Breaks continues on Monday, Feb. 24 at 2 p.m. in the churchs Conference Room. Those learning to live without a loved one are welcome.

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Religion news Feb. 22 - The Republic

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February 24th, 2020 at 1:42 am

TransUnion Appoints Akshay Kumar to Oversee Global Technology Architecture and Strategy – Yahoo Finance

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CHICAGO, Feb. 18, 2020 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- TransUnion (TRU) announced today that Akshay Kumar joined the company as Executive Vice President, Global Technology Architecture & Strategy. In this role, Kumar is responsible for ongoing technology transformation efforts, including cloud enablement. He also oversees ongoing emerging technology evaluation globally. Kumar reports directly to Abhi Dhar, TransUnions Chief Information and Technology Officer.

Rapid developments in technology and consumer adoption are creating an industry inflection point. Organizations able to respond to that technology speed and complexity, and who are adept at executing in this environment, are the ones who will have competitive advantage, said Dhar. TransUnion, as a technology innovator, will benefit from having a skilled leader like Kumar join us. His track record of delivering tactical, strategic and security transformations creates benefit for consumers and customers alike.

Kumar joins TransUnion from Discover Financial Services, where he was Chief Data Officer and led the migration of Discovers data and analytics ecosystem to cloud. Prior to this role, he served as Chief Data Officer at Aetna, where he established a datascience practice alongwith the development of a 20+ Petabytesprivate cloud-based analytics platform. Kumar previously held roles with UBS Investment Bank, MBNA and American Express, and brings more than 20 years ofexperience as a business leader, innovator and technologist to the company.

Kumarholds an MBA and MS in Decision Information Systems from Arizona State University, a post-graduate diploma in Supply Chain Management from Stanford University and a BS in Chemistry from University of Delhi, India.

About TransUnion(TRU) TransUnion is a global information and insights company that makes trust possible in the modern economy. We do this by providing a comprehensive picture of each person so they can be reliably and safely represented in the marketplace. As a result, businesses and consumers can transact with confidence and achieve great things. We call this Information for Good.

A leading presence in more than 30 countries across five continents, TransUnion provides solutions that help create economic opportunity, great experiences and personal empowerment for hundreds of millions of people.

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TransUnion Appoints Akshay Kumar to Oversee Global Technology Architecture and Strategy - Yahoo Finance

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February 24th, 2020 at 1:42 am

TO YOUR HEALTH: ‘Messy stress-y’ just part of life’s work – Herald-Banner

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My lifes work has been serving those in need creating ways to better our communities by helping organizations and individuals to achieve wellness in their lives.

I think as a wellness professional, we sometimes put unrealistic expectations on ourselves. I think we need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, but I believe its important for people to know what we have gone through and what we continue to struggle with too.

I have taught yoga and personal trained clients for years I love the hands-on part of my job yet I have struggled with weight and stress management at various times in my life. I love yoga, but my personal practice has waxed and waned. Sometimes it has fallen flat completely.

I trained in guided imagery and it is one of my favorite aspects to teaching classes, yet I struggle with sleep and with shutting my brain off to focus on the positive.

I am as much a work-in-progress as the people that I am working to help. As wellness coaches and teachers, our job is to educate people and help them create a plan to reach their goals.

Yet, we all have dueling behaviors in our lives. Any good teacher, or writer for that matter, may probably tell you that we are constantly learning, addressing our own hypocrisies and finding out new things to teach sharing through our own experience.

Carl Jungs theory of the Wounded Healer refers to the story of Chiron, the Greek mythological figure (Centaur educator and healer), as the symbol of, [our] own hurt that gives a measure of [our] power to heal.

Harold Kushner, rabbi and author of Living a Life that Matters, states,

Good people will do good things, lots of them, because they are good people. They will do bad things because they are human. Harold Kushner

I lead womens self-esteem and empowerment workshops yet have at times felt less than or not worthy of certain things. Usually its when my life has been at its best, that I have a sudden fear of loss.

I used to teach a class to young men who were in jail and often said to them that those of us who have the best leadership skills have often had to overcome the most. We dont have to have had a perfect life, or even to be an all-perfect guru, in order to be a role model to others.

However, I also tell them, at some point we have to rise above it and learn from it, not keep repeating the same situation in our lives.

There are times in my life I felt that I was living a sham and that people would look at me as if all the training and knowledge I had didnt mean a thing anymore.

There are projects that pile up, the laundry that never seems to get put away, moments of unhealthy stressed-out behavior that pops up on occasion and days I (gasp!) skip the gym. I wont even go into the guitars and the stack of unopened Learn How to Play Guitar DVDs collecting dust in the corner.

Dont get me wrong, I get a lot done, yet Ive never felt caught up, in my life. There are times that I struggle to get through a library book to get it returned on time because I have so many projects going on.

Many days I feel torn between loving my beautiful life and the work that I get to do versus feeling as if I should be better, do better.

I look for wisdom from other sources.

Then I realize we dont necessarily need more information. Someone else doesnt always know better than we do. Its OK to be on a continuum. Its OK to be the bad yogi, with flaws and scars and funk.

Otherwise, what would we have to teach others from what we experience?

Namaste: I bow to the Divine in you, but I also bow to the messy, stress-y human in you too.

Jones is the owner of Liz Jones Wellness LLC, offering yoga, personal training and corporate wellness programs in Hunt and Rockwall counties. She can be reached at or through

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TO YOUR HEALTH: 'Messy stress-y' just part of life's work - Herald-Banner

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February 24th, 2020 at 1:42 am

Tradwives have been labelled ‘subservient’, but these women reject suggestions they’re oppressed – ABC News

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Updated February 24, 2020 16:54:20

Danielle is a modern woman with a penchant for "old world charms".

The self-described traditional wife, or tradwife for short, is part of an increasingly visible sect of women embracing and in some ways, reclaiming the title of homemaker.

Though some may see it as a homage to the 1950s "happy housewife", for many of the women involved in the tradwife movement, the premise is simple: choosing to be a wife, mother and homemaker should not be seen as a sacrifice, nor should taking pride in "keeping the house in order" be misconstrued as subservience.

"Traditional housewifery in the 21st century is not an example of oppression, but rather an example of liberation," says the mother of two from the midwest United States.

"The modern traditional housewife is the ultimate example of female autonomy. She's not being forced to stay home with the kids; but at the same time she's also not forced to work outside the home. She makes the choice."

Though it is hardly a new dynamic, its increasing visibility born largely out of its social media following in the United States and United Kingdom has catapulted it into the public consciousness.

And it is a concept fraught with contention.

From headlines like "Meet the women radicalised into complete subservience to men", to "Why I submit to my husband like it's 1959", it's easy to understand why the movement has proven so divisive and it is not a conflict created in a vacuum.

Certain elements of the movement openly espouse submissiveness which is seen to honour "the natural dynamics between man and wife" and regard the concept of feminism as an attempt to "repeal and restructure" the natural order.

Others have likened it to an extension of white nationalism, propagating the belief that women should focus on their "natural" duties of childbearing and housekeeping.

But many of those who champion traditional housewifery fear they have been mischaracterised both by those within the movement seeking to further their own personal brand, and the media itself.

While acknowledging that parts of the movement may be seen as a pushback to what they view as the "more damaging elements" of third wave feminism, they argue tradwives are not a homogenous hive mind, and baulk at those who "pervert traditional values by lowering themselves to servant status in their marriage".

"Instead of viewing their relationship with their spouse as a partnership, they view the husband as a king and live only to attend to his every beck and call," says Danielle.

"This is a caricature of traditionalism, and it does start to look like something resembling brainwashing."

For mother-of-three and self-described tradwife Nadine, who is currently pregnant with her fourth child, being a homemaker was a "clear condition" of what she wanted in a marriage a dynamic that she says has brought "a lot of calm" into her family's daily life.

But she concedes there may be others within the movement who do not view their own relationships as an equal playing field.

"I told my husband that if we ever got married and had children, I would want to be at home with them and that I would want him to be the money maker," she says.

"Black sheep happen in every aspect in our society. I'm sure there are traditional wives that didn't have a choice and that are 'prisoners' in their marriage or that even don't know there are other options."

Though they refer to themselves as traditional wives, some within the movement note there is no single archetype of a tradwife.

Bec, who lives in Adelaide with her husband and runs a Facebook group for women who share traditional values, says the unifying factor is their beliefs.

"There are divorced ones, single ones who aspire to being one, many have children, a number do not," she says.

"Some go for the self-sufficient family farm, others live in towns. The unifying factor is beliefs that society and the individual are best served from the preservation of the family unit, the careful raising of the next generation to hold these values and the reintroduction of home and faith as the centre focus of life."

Bec concedes she's somewhat of an anomaly.

While the UK and US traditional wife movements have amassed a significant online following, it's a concept that has largely flown under the radar in Australia.

"Three years ago, I was the only Australian that I knew of in social media, but one by one more have been popping out of the woodwork," she says.

"I don't know if it's a case of the Australian following growing, or just more women becoming equipped with the language to be able to identify with the movement.

"I personally know traditional wives who just call themselves stay-at-home mothers or Christian wives but have all the hallmarks of the traditional movement."

There is, of course, the invariable argument around the social, cultural, economic and political conditions through which such movements are created.

While many women and men would relish the opportunity to have more flexibility around their personal and professional lives, it isn't always feasible.

The rising cost of child care, among other expenses, also means staying at home isn't always a choice as much as it is a necessity.

"There's lots of different pathways that women can pursue now, and it's interesting how they want to narrativise that," says Mary Lou Rasmussen, a professor of sociology at the Australian National University.

"It seems to be a very privileged position to make Because really, in many situations, there is no option but for both people in the relationship to be working."

Danielle openly acknowledges the traditional lifestyle is "very much a luxury in the 21st century", and that not everyone can afford to stay at home.

But, in light of her family's financial position, she made the decision to do so not only in order to be more available to her children, but to ensure her husband could be too.

"He doesn't have to come home from work and make dinner for the kids, or give them a bath, because all four of us were gone all day," she says.

"Instead, he gets to come home and be a dad. He comes in the door, throws his jacket on the hook and wrestles with the kids, reads them stories, and makes blanket forts."

Steeped in the ideals of the traditional housewife, however, is a darker undertone.

The preservation of traditional family values has been used by some as a dog-whistle for whiteness, and as Annie Kelly noted in The Housewives of White Supremacy, "running alongside what could be mistaken for a peculiar style of mommy-vlogging is a virulent strain of white nationalism".

The phenomenon rose to notoriety in 2017, when Ayla Stewart a self-described tradwife and blogger issued a "white baby challenge" to her viewers, asking them to "have as many white babies as I have contributed".

"The highest goal for a white supremacist woman is to stay home, keep her husband happy, and produce as many white warrior babies as she can," says Jessica Reaves, an expert in Anti-Defamation League's Centre on Extremism and the author of its recent report on the links between misogyny and white supremacy.

"This all ties into white supremacists' obsession with replacement theory."

While some within the movement are conscious of its perceived association with the alt-right, they say it is remiss to suggest that it is in any way a shared value or commonality within the tradwife community.

Nikki, a self-described tradwife who runs a Facebook group geared towards traditional women, says the premise is "laughable".

"The traditional wife [and] homemaker community is made up of women from various religions, ethnicities, ages, and upbringings," she says.

"So assuming we are Nazis or white supremacists is laughable to me."

It is a sentiment echoed by Crystal, who runs a club for traditional housewives.

"Women of different races in my group, all coming together to share recipes, cleaning tips, jokes, talking about life," she remarks.

"I don't see how any of that makes us brainwashed or Nazis. Anyone who characterises it that just blows my mind, I don't understand it at all."

A number of women who identify as tradwives lament these connotations have become associated with the modern movement, and worry they will be typecast for their decision.

But through social media, they have found a network of like-minded women, where they can celebrate and commiserate the challenges of day-to-day life together.

"I would say it is empowering for many, especially since many of these homemakers or those who desire this lifestyle do not get the support from family or friends in their real life," says Nikki.

"To come online and find that support, to feel validated in their decision, is all these women want, that what they desire to do with their life and for their families is normal."

Danielle does not mince words she is not out to "try and win hearts and minds" about her lifestyle.

But she says meeting others who share her values helped her realise that she was not a "disgrace" for choosing a different path to other women.

"I think the tradwife community serves as a response by rational women who are digging their heals in and saying, 'No! I want to get married, I want to raise a family, I want to make a home for myself and my loved ones'," she says.

"I think the empowerment comes from the realisation that there are other women who want what you want, and you're not a disgrace to your gender if you don't want to live alone in an empty apartment for the rest of your life."

Topics: community-and-society, family-and-children, marriage, social-systems, gender-roles, australia, united-states, canada

First posted February 24, 2020 06:06:33

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Tradwives have been labelled 'subservient', but these women reject suggestions they're oppressed - ABC News

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February 24th, 2020 at 1:42 am

Like a boss: Cherie Blair on helping women start their own business – City A.M.

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We tend to associate entrepreneurship with opportunistic founders operating out of bustling Silicon Valley hubs or perhaps more specifically the five American tech giants whose combined market value, it was reported recently, has increased by $1.3 trillion in the past year.

In fact, entrepreneurship exists wherever you are. The sharing economy is producing millions of micro-entrepreneurs who are putting dormant assets to good use. Necessity entrepreneurs in the developing world are supplementing incomes, boosting economic growth, and extending products or services to those who need them.

And some like Cherie Blair will find other ways to be their own boss.

Mrs Blair is one of few First Ladies to convincingly step out of her husbands shadow. Perhaps thats because she was never in it: in the same year they met, she became a barrister, and was the only wife of a Prime Minister to work full-time while her husband was in office. She was a founding member of Matrix Chambers, and more recently set up Omnia Strategy.

Though the list of accolades is exhaustive, one senses that she is most proud of the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women, which was set up in 2008 to unleash the potential of female entrepreneurs in developing nations.

If the Blair family felt melancholic on 27 June 2007, as removal men emptied their belongings from Downing Street in front of a huddle of cameramen and reporters, it did not show. Tony Blair himself had that day received an unprecedented standing ovation in the Commons. Opportunity awaited.

For Mrs Blair, the decision to set up a foundation focused on womens economic empowerment had personal experience at its core.

I was brought up by a mother who was a single parent with help from my paternal grandmother, she recalls. I witnessed how difficult it was for her when my father abandoned us. From a very early age I understood that a woman needs to be in control of her own money. I did it through the law as a self-employed barrister Ive essentially always been an entrepreneur.

Mrs Blair was a beneficiary of her time: the first of her family to go to university, where she thrived, taking first-class honours. During Tonys tenure as PM, she toured the globe visiting womens projects, and quickly realised the challenges that many faced.

All those personal reasons made me aware of this gap in the womens entrepreneurial space. If you can give women the ability to earn and spend their own money, then we see a transformative effect, she says emphatically. Help a woman and you tend to help a family. More than that a community.

The foundation has supported over 160,000 businesswomen across more than 100 countries since 2008. It creates teaching videos, internet forums and apps to help women who would otherwise not have access to training.

As Mrs Blair is acutely aware, the quantity and quality of entrepreneurship still rests on the rules in place that support or hinder it. This is especially true for female entrepreneurs.

In the UK, women are behind roughly one in three businesses, and the rate of entrepreneurialism has grown faster in the past decade among women than men. While this is encouraging after all, entrepreneurship offers an accelerated route to economic empowerment and gender equality we know that women-led firms tend not to reach the same scale as those led by men.

The barriers to growth, according to Mrs Blair, are the same regardless of geography. Just as we hear horror stories of venture capitalists asking female founders what their husbands think of the business here in the UK, two thirds of the women in the countries where the foundation operates have experienced stereotyping and discriminatory remarks.

The foundations chief executive, Helen McEachern, formerly of Action Aid, points to the enormous structural issues in many of these nations. The odds are stacked against women, and when it comes to economic power, we are moving backwards.

In fact, based on the current rate of progress, it will take well over 200 years to close the economic gender gap completely. To Mrs Blair, this is simply not good enough.

Automation has affected men, but also jobs traditionally held by women. New roles are more STEM orientated (science, technology, engineering and mathematics), where women are underrepresented. There is the perennial issue of childcare, against a backdrop of systemic views on what women and men should do.

The foundation is less concerned by the problem than its potential solutions. We are seeing more women enter what has historically been a male preserve. But while many developing nations have equal or higher rates of entrepreneurial activity among women than men, these are often vulnerable, informal micro-businesses.

Which is where the foundation comes in, to provide training, organise mentoring, and share knowledge, inspired by women across the world and supported by partners, donors and collaborators.

The opportunity here is huge, according to Mrs Blair. Women entrepreneurs could open new frontiers in every field of business, bringing us closer to solutions for the worlds most pressing problems, and transforming the way we live our lives.

Mrs Blairs understated offices, nestled in a quiet street in W1, are worlds apart from the nations where the foundation works. Sitting in her yoga gear, the trailblazing barrister, campaigner and author reels off statistics and anecdotes passionately.

She is inspired near-daily by the women she has encountered, but one touched her more profoundly than most. Dhanashree, an Indian micro-entrepreneur, lost her hand operating a noodle-making machine in her grocery store several years ago. The foundations workshops equipped her with the skills and confidence she needed to take her aspirations forward. She now runs a number of small-scale enterprises including dress-making and milk-selling.

The success of the foundation hinges on a willingness from mentors to give up precious time to support these women. But they are passionate to the point of gushing, McEachern says. Mentoring has long been viewed as one of the best vehicles for encouraging and supporting entrepreneurship, and has acted as a boon to female founders across the globe.

Nor is it a one-way street. With technology rapidly advancing, for instance, its not uncommon for mentors to be mentored by their mentee in areas such as coding, the hottest new apps, and social media.

Mrs Blair adds: Bank of America Merrill Lynch gives us over 100 mentors every year. They see it as talent development. And if youre a company doing business across the world, it gives employees insight into what life is really like in a given country.

Earlier this year, it was announced that the foundation would launch a new phase: a 10m mentoring campaign to help 100,000 female entrepreneurs in just three years. The 100,000 Women campaign was unveiled at Davos and has the backing of Hillary Clinton. Mentors will be paired with an aspiring entrepreneur in another country, provided with training, and asked to give two hours a month.

Their goal is ambitious, but as Clinton has said of the foundations work, it is the right thing to do.

Main image credit: Getty

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Like a boss: Cherie Blair on helping women start their own business - City A.M.

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February 24th, 2020 at 1:42 am

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