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The story of Elma, the tenacious 14 year old Bosnian who dreams of becoming a doctor

Culture / -

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Save The Children

She is a beautiful 14 year old Roma girl who lives with her parents in Mostar, southern Bosnia and Herzegovina. At school she was small and was the victim of bullying. Today, thanks to Save the Children, she studies with a dedication that ensures her a future. She plans to go to university and become a pediatrician.

“I live in Karašebeš settlement, with my mom and dad. We live in our own house. I now have my own room in the house, which I did not before. The room is poorly furnished, but I like the fact that I have my own space to relax and my own bed to sleep in, if nothing else,“ starts Elma, a 14-year old student of the first grade of Medical High school, her story. Elma is a Roma girl from Mostar, a city in southern part of Bosnia and Herzegovina. This 3-member family used to live only on income from collection of secondary raw materials, until Elma's mother Sanela got the opportunity to work in the Drop-in Centre for Street Involved Children, funded and supported by Save the Children and ran by the local NGO Altruist. She has been employed as a cleaning lady and ever since she provides the family with a very valuable income. This is the only real job Elma's mother has ever had, thanks to which the family was able to rehabilitate their home, enabling Elma to have her own room and a bathroom inside the house.
 
Elma started coming to the Drop-in centre back in 2011
Elma has chronic bronchitis, and a couple of years back the family had to sell the old car that they had to be able to buy firewood to warm up the house and get medical assistance for Elma. Now her father Safet uses an old bike to collect iron and secure additional income for the family.
Elma started coming to the Drop-in centre back in 2011. At first, she was withdrawn and quiet. Since the very beginning of the Centre's work, Elma has been provided help with school work, especially for some of the subjects that she had most difficulty with. In addition, she had counselling with the Centre's staff, which was focused on building her self-confidence. The Drop-in Centre for Street Involved Children in Mostar is one of 6 such centres that Save the Children established, in cooperation with local NGOs and institutions in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Drop-in Centres are safe havens for street involved and at risk children. These are places where a child can find safety, have a warm meal, take a bath and get his/her clothes cleaned up or even get new clothes when needed; places where they get to play and learn, get psycho-social support, help with accessing health care, help with school work or to enrol to school. When a child enters the Drop-in Centre, his or her needs are adequately assessed and an individual plan is developed to ensure that he or she gets all the needed support. A series of Minimum Standards are developed and adopted by all Drop-in Centres, which ensure that any child coming to any of the Drop-in Centres in the country is provided with the same set of quality services. „I still come to the Drop-in Centre. I like to talk to all of the people working there; I find it interesting and useful. At present, they mostly help me with English, because I have troubles with that subject. At the Drop-in Centre I have access to Internet, which I need for school. Teachers keep assigning us to search for stuff at home because they think that we all have computers, but I do not. It is hard for me to come out and say that, since everyone else has a computer at home. That is why I kept quiet about it. But I search for stuff here. And I would like to get one of my own one day - my dad promised,“ says Elma, with laughter.
 
Elma's progress is monitored daily and the mother gets support "Here at the Centre we work with children, but we also put lots of efforts in the work with the parents, with the family as a whole. In the case of Elma, the results were noted both at an individual and at the family levels. She became more motivated for school and her self-esteem rose. The family broadened its own horizons, as the mother started working at the Drop-in centre.
 
Elma became more motivated and managed to enrol in the High school she wanted
Based on the fact that she managed to improve her grades in school, Elma became more motivated and managed to enrol in the High school she wanted. We feel that that is a great success“ says NGO Altruist's Antonia Čuljak, the coordinator at the Drop in Centre in Mostar Elma's mother is proud of her daughter and she notices how the Centre has helped her change: "My Elma is a good girl, she works hard and studies. Since she started coming to the Drop-in Centre her studying is better, she improved her grades and managed to enrol into a good school. It means a lot to her that she is able to come to the Drop-in Centre, to me as well” says Sanela and continues “Thank you for working with her, for helping us.“

“My girl-friend with whom I sit together and I are the best students in the class. The teacher has promised a reward for us – a day off from school whenever we choose!” says Elma. When asked what she would like to be different in her life, she tells us “I do not know what I would change. I would like to have things that other kids have. I would like to have a computer which I need to use a lot. I would like for my dad to find a job, and for all of us to be happy. We are happy even now, but we would be even happier then.“ As for the future, Elma sees herself as a Paediatrician. When we asked whether she wanted to continue studying after high school, Elma said: “I wish I could go to the University to study to become a Paediatrician, but that is the most expensive study. It is a 6-year long studies, while to become a nurse, it takes 4 years.” Her father Safet is sceptic about the possibility to fund her studies. “I wish I could send my child to school as much as she wants, but the situation now is so difficult, it is not easy to secure the money necessary to fund schooling. And now, she wants to go to the University, but I am not sure if that is going to be possible,” says Safet.

Save the Children has recently opened two new Drop-in Centres in Bosnia and Herzegovina, with the support of Save the Children Italy. The new Centres in Bijeljina and Brcko District, add to the network of 4 Centres that the organization established earlier in Sarajevo, Tuzla, Mostar and Banja Luka. In 2014, the Centres serviced 842 street involved and at risk children and worked with 599 parents.
 

Cristina Scocchia. Through meritocracy women can flourish and attain top roles in the world of employment

Economy / -

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Cristina Scocchia, CEO L’Oréal Italy, took part in the Women’s Weeks.

Cristina Scocchia, CEO L’Oréal Italy, took part in the Women’s Weeks. “Women find themselves having to face gender prejudices as well as managing a more complex daily life. We must promote the introduction of organizational solutions that allow for a better trade-off between work and other commitments. Smartwork is one of these”.

Ms. Scocchia, you have certainly broken the glass ceiling – not to mention in a country where it is quite difficult. In your opinion, why are there still so few women at the top, even in advanced countries like Italy, and how can we radically change this? In other words, what will be the game changer?
Having a career is, objectively speaking, still harder for women. Women find themselves having to face gender prejudices as well as managing a more complex daily life. If we look at Italy, for instance, we have the highest percentage in Europe (after Malta) of women who do not access the job market or who give it up. Of course this is because of cultural reasons. But it is also true that the level of services offered is lower in Italy than in other countries. Nursery school places are available only to 6.5% of 0-3 year-olds, against a 33% required by the EU, and even this percentage varies greatly across the nation with decidedly lower percentages in the south of Italy. Moreover, only 33% of children have access to full-time state primary school. Additionally our country is aging and this demographic change will mean facing the challenge of care for the elderly which, given the limited number of available structures, is traditionally left to women. In this context we must act on two levels. Firstly at a cultural level we must ensure that gender prejudices are eliminated by promoting a more equal distribution of responsibilities within the family. Secondly we must contribute to increasing welfare services. Businesses have a fundamental role in this too. On the one hand we must support the concept of merit, because talent is equally distributed between men and women and hence through meritocracy women can flourish and attain top roles in the world of employement. On the other hand we must promote the introduction of organisational solutions that allow for better trade-off between work and other commitments. Smartwork is one of these. In L’Oréal Italia we introduced smartwork in September 2014. Most of our employees can work from home (or from wherever they prefer) for over a month a year. It is a way of facilitating work and family requirements for everyone, women in particular.
 
ActionAid has estimated that the cost of inequality in women’s work is $9 trillion – in developing countries alone. It is an impressive number due to unequal wages and less access than men to paid jobs. It’s interesting to imagine how individual lives would change if there were no gender gap – especially concerning poverty and hunger. What are your thoughts on this?
The problem of underuse of female talent implies, even before being an ethical problem, an economic problem. We cannot afford to not use half of the world’s available talent. This is something that affects industrialised nations but that is even more important in developing nations. Because of this, L’Oréal has launched projects worldwide to promote access to the job market to women from vulnerable social and personal backgrounds. It’s a project called “Beauty for a better life”. From India to Lebanon, Indonesia to Nigeria, from Maghreb countries to Brazil. Across the globe thousands of women are being given the opportunity to help their communities by accessing the job market in the beauty industry.

You have been invited to speak at The Aspen Forum at Expo on “Women, Science and Sustainable Development”. Could you share your core message with us?
Science and innovation have never been so important for improving the quality of life, but also for promoting economic growth and the progress of humanity. I’m convinced that in the scientific field, just as in others, it is talent that makes the difference and it is therefore inconceivable that we should deprive ourselves of the talent of half of humanity: now, more than ever, science needs women. Particularly in consideration of the fact that we are going through a genuine crisis in the scientific field: by 2020 we will need a further 300,000 researchers at all levels, even in countries with greater scientific resources. And 300,000 is precisely the number of women that could undertake a PHD in scientific research if we were to reach gender equality. The ultimate aim of our actions must therefore be that of motivating, supporting and rewarding women who undertake a scientific career. A socially responsible undertaking such as ours has the duty of being committed to this cause for the benefit of all. In 17 years the “L’Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science” programme has supported over 200 young female scientists in 115 countries who have contributed in someway to all aspects of scientific research.

WE has created a Women’s Alliance on the theme of empowering women in agriculture and reducing food waste and losses to fight hunger and malnutrition. It is made up of female leaders from various sectors from around the world. Do you think this can bring added value to the fight against hunger?
Unfortunately there are still millions of women worldwide who face a daily fight to feed their children. In rural areas women produce between 60% and 80% of food, but earn only 10% of revenue and own 1% of the land. If women had the same access as men do to resources, world poverty would drop to 17% and we could save 150 million lives (OXFAM data). I am convinced that to win such complex battles it is vital that everyone contributes, women in particular. Our determination, pragmatism and perhaps greater sensitivity towards these issues will undoubtedly help build a better future for the next generations.

You may have heard that the leaders of WE would like make Women for Expo a permanent fixture of all universal expositions. What would you like to see as the legacy of the project?
The WE legacy is important. Indeed this experience serves to pinpoint the guidelines of an overall commitment that can be picked up on in next Universal Expositions. Because the theme of women’s empowerment is itself a universal theme and gender equality is an issue on which much of the future development of our planet depends on. Women’s access to employment, their social safeguarding, equal pay and career opportunities are undoubtedly the basis for sustainable development.

An extraordinary experience to be shared and captured...in a smile

Lifestyle / -

 
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© Amedeo Novelli / Canon / Expo 2015
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© Amedeo Novelli / Canon / Expo 2015
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© Amedeo Novelli / Canon / Expo 2015
#expopeople
© Amedeo Novelli / Canon / Expo 2015
#expopeople
© Amedeo Novelli / Canon / Expo 2015
#expopeople
© Amedeo Novelli / Canon / Expo 2015
#expopeople
© Amedeo Novelli / Canon / Expo 2015
#expopeople
© Amedeo Novelli / Canon / Expo 2015
#expopeople
© Amedeo Novelli / Canon / Expo 2015
#expopeople
© Amedeo Novelli / Canon / Expo 2015
#expopeople
© Amedeo Novelli / Canon / Expo 2015
#expopeople
© Amedeo Novelli / Canon / Expo 2015
#expopeople
© Amedeo Novelli / Canon / Expo 2015

Expo Milano 2015 is not a fair. Everyone has strived to give this major event a fresh new concept, one that places the visitor experience at its very center. For the visitors, it is above all an opportunity to experience something quite extraordinary. The best proof of this is found in the expressions on their faces, especially upon leaving the attractions. Moments of surprise, excitement, and curiosity, all captured in a photo that tells, better than any words can, a story to be shared.

Over a million people are already #FoodConscious. What about you?

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