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"As of 2019, women’s representation in Parliament remains at an abysmal 13.7% and women constitute only 18.55% of all ministerial appointments. For the first time since its creation, the Gender Ministry no longer has cabinet status. Sexual and gender-based violence remains a big problem, notwithstanding the existence of the Domestic Violence Act, and budgetary allocations for effective implementation of the law is low." This is one of the conclusions about gender disparities in Ghana, as diagnosed by NETRIGHT, a network of about 100 civil society organizations and over 300 individuals. Netright believes that "the conditions of marginalized or disadvantaged groups, including women, can never be improved solely through their own efforts, no matter how dynamic they might be, since systemic barriers and structures of male privilege and dominance maintain the status quo."

The Philippine Congress, particularly the Senate, has a handful of days left to pass important legislation. One of the urgent bills that the Senate should pass is the increase in the tobacco tax rate.

The Executive has strongly endorsed the bill of Senator Manny Pacquiao and has even certified its urgency. Pacquiao’s bill proposes a tax rate of P60 (against the current rate of P35). Subsequently, the rate increases by 9% annually to keep cigarettes less affordable in light of rising income and inflation. Senators Sherwin Gatchalian and JV Ejercito have bills that introduce higher rates — P70 and P90, respectively.

Ghana has the best endowment for and is the biggest producer of solar salt in West Africa. The bulk of the production and export comes from artisanal and small scale (ASM) producers. Third World Network Africa (TWN-Af) presents a research report "Towards Optimal Expoitation of Salt from the Keta Lagoon Basin in Ghana" based on struggles between a large scale salt company and some communities around the Keta Lagoon in Ghana. At the centre of the conflict is the disruption of the livelihoods of the communities by the award of a concession to a foreign investor for large scale salt production, an act which has expropriated what the communities see as the commons around the lagoon where for generations they have carried out livelihood activities which combine fishing, farming and salt production.

Roberto Bissio, coordinator of Social Watch, Barbara Adams and Jens Martens from Global Policy Forum participated in the session “Civil Society Shadow Reporting: Meaningful Participation in the Voluntary National Review Process”. The Session was co-organized by Social Watch, Global Policy Forum, GCAP and Action for Sustainable Development and it was held in the framework of the Global Festival of Action on 2nd May 2019 in Bonn, Germany.

Spain submitted its first Voluntary National Review in 2018 and the alternative report by La Mundial regrets the lack of dialogue on the SDGs between the government and stakeholders like academia and civil society. Spain is seen as starting late to take note of the 2030 Agenda and the High Level Group (GAN in its Spanish acronym) was perceived by civil society as not having the required political standing or participation of key ministries. Further, civil society feared that the policies required to achieve the SDGs would be undermined by the continuity of policies of fiscal austerity and shrinking rights that were pushing Spain away from the agreed goals and targets.

Austerity is a major concern for civil society in Jordan. According to the alternative report by Ahmad M. Awad, from the Phenix Center, Measures of ‘fiscal consolidation’ started in 2016 as a condition to unlocking access to IMF aid. Austerity measures were thus implemented, leading to rises in fuel prices, as well as in both the sales taxes and customs.”

Nearly half of the Jordanian labour force works in the informal economy, which together with “the continued implementation of business-friendly labour policies, resulted in rising unemployment. Many began to see their ability to afford basic commodities threatened – a predicament termed 'transient poverty.' Among unskilled workers, waves of migrant workers and refugees (many desperate) have saturated the market – one hardly bound by any minimum-wage constraints – triggering a race to the bottom.” At the same time, “numerous political and legislative institutions had been severely weakened.

The Palestinian Non Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO) calls upon the international community to immediately pressure the Israeli occupying forces to stop attacks on the Gaza Strip. PNGO condemns the Israeli occupying forces continuous barbaric attack on Palestinian civilians especially children, women, civilian homes, cultural institutions and media outlets.

Urgent Call for Action PNGO calls upon the international community to immediately pressure the Israeli occupying forces to stop attacks on the Gaza Strip Palestinian Non Governmental Organizations Network (PNGO) condemns the Israeli occupying Forces continuous barbaric attack on Palestinian civilians especially children, women, civilian homes, Cultural institutions and media outlets.

The 2030 Agenda represents a paradigm shift in terms of universality and interlinked goals, including across borders and affirms the need for a rights-based approach to peace and security, one focused on prevention. At the same time, most governments are still producing, trading and spending more on arms, thereby fueling a militarized approach to peace and security. Dominant power talks on how to achieve peace continue to silence those impacted most by conflicts and wars, including women and children. Profits made under war economies and through the arms trade continue to deepen inequalities and violate the rights of those with enormous humanitarian and development needs.

From Puerto Rico, the women's organization Cohitre also describes a “colonial condition that imposes agendas foreign to our people”. In September 2017 hurricanes Irma and Maria hit the island, destroying 70,000 homes and collapsing its electric network (still not completely restored), its transport system, hospitals and fuel and food supplies.

The catastrophic effects are sharpened by the absence of political powers -the island is a US 'unincorporated territory' since 1898- and the control of its finances by a US-imposed Fiscal Control Board, due to its indebtedness. “The diversion of funds to pay off public debt, adjustment plans, austerity measures, the reduction of the public sector and privatization has compromised the government's capacity to respond to the crisis” while “the response of the US government is slow, erratic and centralized” and “the US Congress has shown no rush to provide aid to Puerto Rico, given the debate over corruption and how to manage the funds”.

The Government of India presented its first Voluntary National Review (VNR) report on Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to United Nations in 2017. Despite VNR guidelines urging countries to inform on “progress and status of all SDGs”, India reported on only seven goals. This is surprising as India’s VNR claimed its national development goals are “mirrored in the SDGs” and as Government had asserted 11 of 17 SDGs were already being worked on even before the SDGs were adopted. Given the consensus that SDGs’ success largely depends on India’s achieving them, an appraisal of its performance in critical social sectors, including those associated with the SDGs left out of VNR, becomes necessary.

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