Points of Progress: Australian women’s soccer team gets pay equity, and more

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

Australia’s Sam Kerr celebrates after scoring a goal against Chile in Sydney Nov. 9, 2019. A record crowd of 20,029 attended the international soccer match in Australia.


The governing body for the country’s soccer will close the pay gap between the men’s and women’s national teams. The Football Federation Australia reached an agreement Nov. 5 to assure equal resources for the two teams. However, FIFA World Cup payouts are still vastly unequal. The prize money for the 2019 Women’s World Cup was $30 million, while the men’s payout for the year before was $400 million. The Australian women’s team is ranked eighth in the world by FIFA. The men’s team is ranked 44th. The announcement comes as the U.S. women’s national team, which won the Women’s World Cup in France this year, is involved in litigation seeking parity in pay and resources with the U.S. men’s national team. The case is scheduled to go to trial in May. (The New York Times

South Africa

A worker piles up leaves of rooibos tea for drying in the remote mountains of the Cedarberg region, about 186 miles north of Cape Town.

The rooibos tea industry will pay indigenous people 1.5% of the value that farmers get when they sell the tea to processors. This could amount to more than half a million dollars a year. The transactions recognize that the indigenous Khoisan people were the first to cultivate the product. South Africa’s oldest inhabitants, the Khoisan are made up of several communities: the Cape Khoi, the Nama, the Koranna, the Griqua, and the San – who also refer to themselves as bushmen. Rooibos only grows in the Suid Bokkeveld region of the country, where the Khoisan have used the tea for centuries. (BBC)

Uganda and Congo

The two countries reached an agreement to work on key road networks, which will connect the nations and foster trade. Announced at a meeting between the nations in early November, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and Congolese President Felix Tshisekedi agreed to build a road network that will cover more than 730 miles. One road will go from Goli, Uganda, to Mahagi and Bunia in Congo. Violent militias, one of which has been linked to the Islamic State, have troubled the region. The infrastructure project, according to Mr. Museveni, should improve the region’s security. (MedAfricaTimes, The Defense Post)

Lewiston, Maine

Safiya Khalid

Safiya Khalid was elected to the Lewiston City Council in Maine in November. Ms. Khalid, who lived in a Somali refugee camp as a child before coming to the United States, won the seat with 70% of the vote. The Monitor’s Oct. 28 cover story, “How refugees transformed a town,” detailed the story of Lewiston, which became home to 6,000 African refugees and asylum-seekers. Ms. Khalid, who persisted with her campaign despite harassment, has secured a spot at the table to represent her community, said Lewiston Mayor Kristen Cloutier. In January, Ms. Khalid will become the council’s youngest member. She wants to champion public schools. “When I came here, I didn’t know how to write my name or speak any word of English,” said Ms. Khalid. “I am who I am because of public education.” (The Associated Press)


About 192,000 Rohingya children are being educated by UNICEF and its partners in 2,167 learning centers spread across the country. When more than 700,000 Rohingya refugees fled to Bangladesh from persecution in Myanmar in 2017, thousands of Rohingya children were cut off from schooling. While 25,000 children are still not attending any educational program, UNICEF estimates 89% of Rohingya children under age 14 now have access to learning from the centers. But 640 learning centers are still needed, UNICEF says. Rohingya educators are hoping to have more of their history integrated into the curriculum. (The New Humanitarian, UNICEF)

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