Points of Progress: Women are entering the Latin American workforce, 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.

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Workers sit among floral arrangements at the Mercado de las Flores in Bogotá, Colombia, Feb. 16, 2016.

Latin America

More women are entering the workforce across Latin America. New data from the United Nations shows an 11% increase of women working in the region over the past 30 years. Despite this rise, however, the report highlights women’s earnings remain on average 17% below those of men with the same education and economic status. In both Peru and Bolivia, more than 60% of women age 15 and older hold jobs. One of the factors underpinning the growth is access to higher education, according to the study. (U.N. News)


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Farmers walk next to solar panels at a farmland near Sanaa, Yemen, on Oct. 28, 2019.

Solar panels have increased energy and water production in and around the capital, Sanaa. After Houthi insurgents captured Sanaa in 2014, a series of attacks on its power lines left the country without reliable electricity. But now solar panels are providing an alternative power source for some residents. South of the capital in Dhamar, solar-powered pumps have helped to restore water production, which has plummeted since the civil war began. “People used to get water every 10 to 12 days,” said Muhammad Ali al-Habshi of Dhamar’s water authority. “Now it is every three days.” (Reuters, Al Jazeera)


Italy will become the first country in the world to make sustainable development and climate change studies compulsory in its education system. Education Minister Lorenzo Fioramonti said beginning in September 2020 all state schools will dedicate an hour per week to climate change issues. The pilot program plans to incorporate the United Nations climate agenda into the entire curriculum. Younger students will be taught stories from different cultures that emphasize a connection to the environment. More technical information will be introduced in the middle school curriculum, and the U.N.’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development will be taught at the high school level. “The 21st century citizen must be a sustainable citizen,” said Mr. Fioramonti. (The New York Times, Reuters)


A new school has opened in Dakar that teaches people how to use artificial intelligence to find agricultural solutions. In September, the Dakar Institute of Technology partnered with French AI school Vividata to begin educating farmers on how to use AI to increase crop yields. With temperature, soil pH, and moisture level data processed by AI, farmers can learn more specifically where and when to add fertilizer and water, a scarce resource in the region. The school plans to launch a bachelor’s degree in big data and a master’s degree in AI in 2020. (Reuters)


Eduardo Munoz/Reuters/File
Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta approved a new data protection law to regulate how personal information is handled and shared by companies and the government. The law complies with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation law passed in 2018. The GDPR includes the right to access one’s data, to request one’s data be removed, and to be notified about a data breach. Amazon Web Services, part of the Amazon group, said it is encouraged by the new law and will be setting up part of its cloud infrastructure in Kenya. There is no single federal data protection law in the United States, but California’s new data protection law takes effect Jan. 1, 2020. (Qz Africa, Reuters)


India has banned the use of electronic cigarettes, according to court documents. The government told a federal court that a recent ban on the import, manufacture, sale, advertisement, storage, and distribution of e-cigarettes implies their use is also prohibited. Enforcement of the new ban, in a country with 106 million adult smokers, will be difficult, observers say. India’s population of smokers is second only to China in e-cigarette use, where seven top companies recently agreed to stop online e-cigarette sales. The nationwide action came after nearly a dozen Indian states banned sales of the product. The country’s finance minister said the devices pose a health risk, especially to young people. (CNN, Reuters)

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