Author Archives: Morgan Frost

Using Technology to Strengthen Policy Advocacy across South Asia

CIPE training session in Kathmandu, Nepal

Throughout South Asia, women in business have faced several barriers to achieving full civic and economic participation. To tackle these challenges, the South Asia Regional Women’s Economic Network has helped amplify women’s empowerment in the region. Supported by CIPE, the network has been able to effectively advocate for policy reforms that create more opportunities for women-owned businesses. This network is comprised of women business associations from Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Afghanistan, India, and Sri Lanka.

The achievements of the network continue to show that now, more than ever, focusing on women’s economic growth is key to strengthening democracy. For example, Multan, in South Punjab, and Peshawar—both cities in turbulent regions—are home to large artisan communities consisting mainly of women working on hand embroidery and handcrafted textiles. Despite challenges for women to participate economically and politically, both the Southern Punjab and Peshawar Women’s Chamber pushed the government to change a policy that was impeding the earning potential of women artisans. Eventually, the State Bank issued policy instructions that led to lengthening the amount of time that artisans have to pay back their loans. Extending credit will help them in fulfilling orders, and allows them to plan purchases and sales further in advance, with less pressure for rapid repayment.

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The Continued Decline of Internet Freedom

Image via Freedom House

Image via Freedom House

For the sixth consecutive year, internet freedom throughout the world has continued to decline. Although efforts to close the digital divide by bringing more people online has continued, 67%, or two-thirds of all internet users, fear the unprecedented penalties from living in countries with high levels of censorship. According to Freedom House’s latest report, Freedom on the Net Report 2016, Estonia, Iceland, and Canada are the most open countries when it comes to internet freedom, while China, Syria, and Iran are the most restrictive.

The 2016 report gathered information from 65 countries, measuring each individual country’s level of internet and digital freedom by using a variety of indicators. Since 2015, Turkey and Brazil have continued to move away from internet freedom, and just 14 countries registered overall improvements from the previous year.

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