Points of Progress: New app helps abuse victims, and more

Why We Wrote This

This is more than feel-good news – it's where the world is making concrete progress. A roundup of positive stories to inspire you.

Florion Goga/Reuters
Dea Rrozhani and Jonada Shukarasi present “GjejZa,” an app that helps victims of domestic violence, in Tirana, Albania, Sept. 27, 2019.

Albania

Three teen girls developed an app, “GjejZa,” to help victims of domestic abuse. A 2018 survey indicates 1 in 2 women suffer from violence – and 97% of victims don’t report the abuse to the police. The app’s name translates to “Find Your Voice.” Arla Hoxha, Dea Rrozhani, and Jonada Shukarasi created a space for users to read accounts from women who have escaped abuse, and support groups are available via the app’s instant messaging forum. There are resources for how to secure restraining orders or find shelters, and users are encouraged to report abuse to the authorities. (Reuters)

Iran

An amendment grants nationality to children of Iranian women. Previously, only children of Iranian men were automatically granted citizenship; children of Iranian women married to foreign men had to live in Iran until they were 19 before they could apply. Research shows a lack of citizenship can inhibit access to education, housing, and employment. Although the reform is considered a victory by advocates, the citizenship process is still unequal: Iranian men’s children are granted citizenship automatically, but Iranian women must still apply for their children’s citizenship. (Human Rights Watch)

Rwanda

Rwanda struck more than 1,000 colonial-era laws from its legal code, removing a remnant of colonization that remained almost 60 years after the country’s independence. Discussion of legal reform began in June, when a bill to remove the laws was first introduced. The largely symbolic move will mean that all laws passed before 1962 – during periods of German and Belgian rule – will now be void. Government ministers told The New Times, a local paper, that the change means Rwanda will finally govern itself with laws made only by Rwandans. (The New Times)

Alastair Grant/AP/File
Rwandan Minister of Justice Johnston Busingye (center) pushed for the repeal of 1,000 colonial-era laws.

Scotland

An energy plant in Stirling, Scotland, uses energy generated from sewage to heat a number of the city’s public buildings, including a soccer stadium. The city government estimates the plant – a $7.67 million project – will save 381 tons of carbon a year. It’s part of a larger effort to reduce emissions in the city, which aims to be Scotland’s first to go carbon-neutral. (Stirling Council)

New Zealand

The country is cleaning up its lakes and rivers. The government aims to see noticeable differences within five years, and complete restoration within a generation. Cow effluent and fertilizer runoff have significantly polluted rivers; two-thirds of them aren’t safe for swimming, and three-quarters of native freshwater fish are under threat of extinction. Interim regulations are already being put into place to prevent runoff from dairy farms and irrigation systems until all areas have freshwater protection plans in place by 2025. (The Guardian)

Henning Gloystein/Reuters/File
Lake Wakatipu contains bacterial contamination from runoff, which is hazardous for recreational swimmers. New Zealand aims to completely change water quality levels within a generation.

United States

American unemployment is at a 50-year low, according to Labor Department data released for September. At 3.5%, the jobless rate hasn’t been so low since December 1969. A more rigorous unemployment measure, which accounts for discouraged workers and the underemployed, is just a tenth of a percentage point away from an all-time low. Unemployment for Latino and African Americans, in particular, is at an unprecedented low. While job and wage growth have recently slowed, analysts say employment numbers indicate a still-healthy economy. (CNBC)

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