UN International Day of Rural Women October 15, 2017

The invaluable contribution of rural women to development

The crucial role that women and girls play in ensuring the sustainability of rural households and communities, improving rural livelihoods and overall wellbeing, has been increasingly recognized. Women account for a substantial proportion of the agricultural labour force, including informal work, and perform the bulk of unpaid care and domestic work within families and households in rural areas. They make significant contributions to agricultural production, food security and nutrition, land and natural resource management, and building climate resilience.

Even so, women and girls in rural areas suffer disproportionately from multi-dimensional poverty. While extreme poverty has declined globally, the world’s 1 billion people who continue to live in unacceptable conditions of poverty are heavily concentrated in rural areas. Poverty rates in rural areas across most regions are higher than those in urban areas. Yet smallholder agriculture produces nearly 80 per cent of food in Asia and sub-Saharan Africa and supports the livelihoods of some 2.5 billion people. Women farmers may be as productive and enterprising as their male counterparts, but are less able to access land, credit, agricultural inputs, markets and high-value agrifood chains and obtain lower prices for their crops.

Structural barriers and discriminatory social norms continue to constrain women’s decision-making power and political participation in rural households and communities. Women and girls in rural areas lack equal access to productive resources and assets, public services, such as education and health care, and infrastructure, including water and sanitation, while much of their labour remains invisible and unpaid, even as their workloads become increasingly heavy due to the out-migration of men. Globally, with few exceptions, every gender and development indicator for which data are available reveals that rural women fare worse than rural men and urban women, and that they disproportionately experience poverty, exclusion and the effects of climate change.

The impacts of climate change, including on access to productive and natural resources, amplify existing gender inequalities in rural areas. Climate change affects women’s and men’s assets and well-being differently in terms of agricultural production, food security, health, water and energy resources, climate-induced migration and conflict, and climate-related natural disasters.
2017 Theme: “Challenges and opportunities in climate-resilient agriculture for gender equality and the empowerment of rural women and girls”

In agriculture, climate change exacerbates the existing barriers to gender equality faced by women farmers. Globally, women comprise 43 per cent6 of the agricultural workforce and play a critical role in supporting household and community food security. However, due to discriminatory policy frameworks or inequitable social norms, women farmers have less access than men to secure land tenure, agricultural inputs, financing, water and energy, appropriate infrastructure, technologies, and extension services.

According to some estimates, closing the gender gap in access to land and other productive assets could increase agricultural outputs by up to 20 per cent in Africa.7 It would also enable women farmers to adopt climate-resilient agricultural approaches at the same rate as men, as key initiatives that address these gender gaps such as secured land tenure, greater financial inclusion and access to information are also essential to accelerate the adoption of climate-resilient agricultural practices. In essence, providing equal access to women and men farmers to land and other productive resources can provide a “triple dividend” of gender equality, food security and climate management, thereby offering a cost-effective and transformative approach to the pursuit of the Sustainable Development Goals.

A changing climate means that there is a shrinking window of opportunity to close gender gaps in agriculture. Climate change aggravates existing barriers, limiting women farmers’ access to long-term affordable finance and agricultural extension services, and increasing their unpaid care work burden as water and fuel become scarce. Women farmers are at risk of being trapped in a downward spiral in the absence of concerted efforts to close these gender gaps.

Therefore, it is a priority to foster women’s empowerment through climate-resilient agriculture approaches such as:

engendering climate-resilient agricultural policies;
increasing women’s land tenure security;< facilitating women farmers’ access to finance to invest in climate-resilient and time-saving assets; enhancing women farmers’ access to climate-resilient information; and expanding opportunities for women farmers to participate in and move up the climate-resilient agricultural value chain. Women are powerful change agents to address climate change at scale. They are key actors in building community resilience and responding to climate-related disasters. Women tend to make decisions about resource use and investments in the interest and welfare of their children, families, and communities.8 Women as economic and political actors can influence policies and institutions towards greater provision of public goods, such as energy, water and sanitation, and social infrastructure, which tend to matter more to women and support climate resilience and disaster preparedness. Systematically addressing gender gaps in responding to climate change is one of the most effective mechanisms to build the climate resilience of households, communities and nations. The growing recognition of the disproportionate impact of climate change on women and girls has been matched in recent years by the rising awareness of their roles as change agents and the tremendous value of gender equality and women’s empowerment for producing social, economic, and climate resilience benefits.

Impact of GST on Social Sectors and NGOs

From: www.feelancer.com
The implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will no doubt have a great impact on the Indian economy, as it will effectively result in an increase in taxes across the board.
Nevertheless, while the economic impact has been extensively discussed, few have observed the social consequences of the GST, particularly with regards to its impact on charities and the non-profit organisations.
Charities will be subject to GST
Charities are a social cause that is often undertaken by unselfish volunteers who are doing the work that the government should be doing but is not. Such work and activities should be fully encouraged and supported by the authorities. Rather, the intended implementation of GST will create many obstacles and complexities for charities.
Cash donations
Under the GST system, only cash donations “without any benefits and advantages” to the donor is not considered as a taxable and hence not covered under the GST regime. However, cash donations are liable to GST if there is any advantage or benefits to the donor, with benefits and advantages are defined as:
1. Promoting and Advertising or the donor’s or sponsor’s name or its products;
2. Naming any event after the donor or sponsor;
3. Displaying the sponsor’s or donor’s name on shirts worn by a team.
This raises many issues as such practices are common in India, particularly where corporate sponsors are concerned.
Donations in kind
For the time being, a donation in kind is subject to additional limitations. For sponsorship in kind “without any advantages and benefits” to the donor, only goods that do not exceed a specified limit over a year are considered a “business gift” and consequently exempt from GST. However, if the sponsored goods total exceeds the specified limit in a financial year, it would be liable to GST.
For donation in kind that is reciprocated with “benefits and advantages” to the donor, such as coffee mugs, T-shirts, Bags bearing the donor’s corporate logo, then GST must be accounted based on the fair market value for providing advertising space.
Fundraising events
Charities looking to organise fundraising activities would be exempt from the scope of GST on their supplies. However, the organiser not only to furnish a list of supplies utilised in the fundraising event to the CBDT for prior approval but also maintains full records or accounts of the supplies used. This simply means extra operational costs for organising such events.

Proceeds from other activities
It is often the case that charitable institutions and non-profit organisations are engaged in other activities to supplement their income for operational expenses. However, all such will be subject to GST, even if the proceeds are used for wholly for charitable purposes.

Impact of GST on NGOs and Charitable Trusts

From: www.cleartax.in
Implementation of GST has seen as a great tax reform that will unify the entire nation, as far as taxation is concerned. This has been beneficial for various sectors, at the same time, implementation of GST will have social consequences on charities and the non-profit organizations. Let us take a look at the impact that GST’s implementation had on NGOs and charitable trusts.
Under GST, charities will come be subject to pay Goods and Services Tax. This means that GST will be applicable on some of the services and goods supplied by a charitable trust or an NGO. Let us explain this in detail.
What are the criteria for a charitable trust to be exempted from GST?
There are certain criteria for a charitable trust or an NGO to be exempted from the Goods and Services Tax. The charitable trust or NGO must be registered under Section 12AA of the Income Tax Act, and the services provided by the charitable trust or the NGO must be for a charitable cause.
What is a charitable activity under GST?
The Goods and Services Act also specifies the criteria to be called a charitable activity. They are:

• Public health services, such as:
1. Counseling of terminally ill persons or counseling for physically disabled
2. Counseling for people affected with HIV or AIDS
3. Counseling for alcohol-dependent persons

• Promoting of religion, spirituality, or yoga
• Spreading public awareness on health, family planning
• Promoting educational programs or skill development relating to:

1. Physically or mentally abused persons
2. Prisoners
3. Orphaned, homeless, or abandoned children
4. Rural area residents over the age of 65
• Charitable services to preserve the environment (watershed areas, forests, and wildlife)
If any charitable trust or an NGO does not meet at least two of the criteria, then GST will be applicable and the entity must register under GST.

What about goods sold by a charitable trust?
Goods that are sold by a charitable trust is taxable. The charitable trust must pay the GST rate applicable while purchasing the supply.
Is GST applicable on training programs, camps, and events conducted by a charitable trust?
If a charitable trust is conducting training programs, yoga camps, or other programs that are not free for participants, it will be considered as a commercial activity and hence will be liable for GST. Even the donation received for such an activity will be liable for taxation under GST.
Services provided by way of training or coaching in recreational activities relating to arts and culture, or sports by a charitable entity will be exempt from GST.
Are the events organized by charitable trusts exempt from GST?
If trusts are running schools, colleges or any other educational institutions specifically for abandoned, orphans, homeless children, physically or mentally abused persons, prisoners or persons over age of 65 years or above residing in a rural area, such activities will be considered as charitable activities and income from such supplies will be wholly exempt from GST.
What happens when a charitable trust rents out a religious place? Is there any GST on that?
GST law has chalked out GST exemptions, when a charitable trust rents out religious meant for general public (owned and managed by a registered charitable trust under 12AA of the Income Tax Act, 1961). GST will be exempted when:
• Rent out rooms are charged lesser than Rs.1,000 a day
• Kalyanamandapam or an open area is charged lesser than Rs.10,000 a day
• Rent out shops and other spaces for business are charged less than Rs.10,000 a month

The Maneka Gandhi column: To protect your heart, watch out for the dairy danger

By Maneka Sanjay Gandhi
There are some words that we have grown up with. We accept them without even asking what they mean. Do you know what “pasteurized” and “homogenized” mean when it comes to milk? You need to know the processes that take place before food reaches your mouth, especially milk of which you will consume thousands of litres during your lifetime.
One of the first things you should do is ask for labeling on milk. That way you can make a choice of what you are drinking. We know the brand names of the milk – Amul, Parag etc. but without understanding what goes into them.
Pasteurization is intended to make milk safer and government agencies claim it doesn’t reduce nutritional value. Homogenization isn’t meant for safety, but for consistency and taste.
Pasteurization is the process of heating milk up and then quickly cooling it down to eliminate certain bacteria. Milk is heated to at least 161.6 degrees Fahrenheit for 15 seconds, which is known as High Temperature Short Time pasteurization or flash pasteurization. This method will keep milk fresh for 2-3 weeks. Then there’s Ultra-Heat Treatment (UHT), whereby milk is heated to 280 degrees Fahrenheit for a minimum of two seconds. This processing results in a shelf life that can extend up to nine months. Milk treated with pasteurization or HTST is labelled as “pasteurized,” while milk treated with UHT is labelled as “ultra-pasteurized.”

Representational image. Reuters
Pasteurization does not kill all micro-organisms in milk, but is intended to kill some bacteria and make some enzymes inactive. In the process, the Lee Foundation for Nutritional Research has shown that pasteurisation destroys vitamin A, around 38 percent of vitamin B complex, and about 50 percent of vitamin C in milk.
Homogenization is a process that gives milk its rich, white colour and smooth texture. Milk that has not been homogenized contains a layer of cream that rises to the top of a glass. Invented in 1932, homogenization is a mechanical process in which milk is passed through pipes and fine filters at a pressure of 2500 psi and a speed of 600 feet per second. The fat portion of the milk is broken up into very small globules. Like mist in a fog, small fat particles remain suspended evenly throughout the milk and do not rise to the top of the milk. Without homogenization, fat molecules in milk will rise to the top and form a layer of cream.
It’s advantageous for large-scale dairy farms to homogenize milk because the process allows them to mix milk from different herds. By preventing cream from rising to the top, homogenization also leads to a longer shelf life of milk allowing large companies to ship greater distances. The basic aim of homogenization is to make the milk last longer – upto 11 days- on shop shelves. While this benefits companies, does it help the consumer?
Heart disease is the single largest killer in the world, followed by diabetes and cancer. Is homogenized milk a contributor?
Dr Kurt Oster, who died in 1988, was the chairman of the Department of Medicine and Chief, Section of Cardiology at Park City Hospital, Bridgeport, Connecticut for 39 years. He was a Fellow of the American College of Cardiology, American College of Physicians, American College of Nutrition, and of the American College of Clinical Pharmacology, among others. The author of more than 40 articles in reputable scientific journals, he is credited for the discovery of the role of the enzyme bovine milk xanthine oxidase in inflammation, and its effect on creating lesions in arteries, nerves and heart muscle. Dr. Oster is also credited for first making the link between cardiovascular disease and other chronic degenerative diseases, such as multiple sclerosis, gout and psoriasis, suggesting that the disease pathway is the same, only in different locations. He demonstrated that folic acid therapy allows the healing of non-healing ulcers.
After suffering a heart attack at the age of 46 Dr Oster researched for over 20 years into clogged arteries.
According to Oster and his associates, Dr Donald Ross of Fairfield University and Dr John Zikakis of the University of Delaware, the principal culprit appears to be the homogenization of milk. Their work suggests that xanthine oxidase, or XO, ingested with homogenized milk and milk products, penetrates and damages arterial walls, triggering the classic symptoms leading to heart disease.
Xanthine oxidase is an enzyme naturally found in our livers where it is involved in the breakdown of compounds into uric acid, a waste product. The fat in milk also contains Xanthine Oxidase. When milk is not homogenised, both the fat and the xanthine oxidase are digested into smaller molecules, which are either used or excreted from the body.
However, when milk is homogenised some of the foreign xanthine oxidase passes intact through the wall of the intestine and into the blood circulation. There it creates havoc by attacking the plasmologen tissue, a vital component of the cells of the heart and artery wall tissue and parts of the heart muscle. This causes lesions in the artery walls. The body, in its efforts to protect and repair them, responds by “patching” the damage with calcified plaque. The result is scar tissue with a build-up of cholesterol and other fatty deposits. Arteries lose their elasticity as additional calcium is deposited. We call these arteriosclerosis and atherosclerosis. High blood pressure is one symptom of the loss in arterial elasticity. Angina results from diminished blood flow through branches of the coronary artery, and the combination of adrenalin released during stress, caffeine and nicotine may constrict a diseased coronary artery depriving the heart of oxygen triggering a heart attack.
Some of Dr Oster’s evidence is summarised as follows:
The heart disease death rate skyrocketed after homogenised milk became commonplace in the United States.
Active Xanthine Oxidase has been found in the plaques and lesions lining artery walls.
The presence of human antibodies to cow’s milk xanthine oxidase have been identified in the human circulation.
Female sex hormones inhibit xanthine oxidase. Therefore, atherosclerosis is rare in women prior to menopause.
Male sex hormones chemically enhance xanthine oxidase activity. Atherosclerosis and heart attacks are more common in men.
The heart disease death rates are proportional to the volume of homogenised milk consumed in each country.
Remember it is not just milk, but everything else made from homogenised milk like yogurt, ice cream and cheeses.
To give one statistic : Finns consume about 272 kg of milk per year; 90 percent is homogenised, meaning 245 kg of homogenised milk per Finn per year.
Swedes drink as much milk, but only 2 percent of it is homogenised (only 4.9 kg per year). The death rate from heart attack in Finland is more than three times the Swedish level (about 245/100,000 compared with only 75/100,000).
Homogenisation is only one of many processes food is now subjected to, entirely for commercial purposes. Consumers have to contend with foods being irradiated, genetically engineered, homogenised and processed using any method that will benefit the company producing it. If you still opt to drink packaged milk, find out whether it is homogenized.

Contract marriage racket busted

In a major crackdown on contract marriages racket involving old Arab sheikhs “marrying” local teenage Muslim girls, Hyderabad Police raided several guesthouses and lodges and arrested five Oman and three Qatar nationals, who were camping in the city to “marry” teenage girls.
Two of them are in their 80s and walk with the help of sticks and walkers. “They were in the process of “interviewing” more than 20 minor girls when the raids were conducted at various guesthouses,” Police Commissioner M Mahender Reddy said. Cops also arrested the chief qazi of Mumbai Farid Ahmed Khan who was issuing marriage certificates for contract marriages performed in Hyderabad for Rs 50,000 each.
Two other local qazis who performed fake marriages recently have also been arrested. Cops sealed several residence-cum-guesthouses in Falaknuma and Chandrayangutta area. In an elaborate operation that was started after the arrest of an Oman national on August 17 for marrying a minor, cops kept a watch at the Hyderabad Airport for sheikhs arriving from the Middle East in recent days. They followed these eight men to the various lodges and guesthouses where they checked in. As cops watched, several brokers including some women visited them and brought the girls for “interviews”. After gathering enough evidence, cops started raids last night.
South Zone Police raided one private guesthouse in Chandrayangutta area just in the nick of time and rescued a 15-year-old girl who was about to be married to a 70-year-old Omani Al Mayahi Ali Issa. The raids, which started last night, were still going on.
Cops arrested Al Mayah Ali Issa, Al Salehi Talib Humeid Ali, Al Ubaidani Juma Shinoon Sulaiman, Al Salehi Nasser Khalif Hamed, Al Qasimi Hassan Mazaaul Mohammed (all from Oman), and Omer Mohammed Seraj Abdal Rahman, Hamad Jabir o Al-Kuwari,and Safeldin Mohammed Salih (all from Qatar).
“They were in the process of selecting young girls to enter into fake marriage agreements. Brokers were bringing the girls to the guesthouses where the eight men were staying and displaying them. They have been arrested along with three brokers and three qazis who were paid to perform the marriages. The brokers have promised the girls’ parents if the sheikhs select their daughter for marriage they would pay Rs 1 lakh. The brokers take Rs 2 to 3 lakhs,” said Assistant Commissioner of Police of Falaknuma Division Mohammed Tajuddin Ahmed.
“The raids are based on our investigations into the August 18 incident when another Oman national was arrested for marrying a 17-year-old,” he said.
Besides the eight men who have been arrested, cops took into custody several sheikhs found living in lodges. At the FK Lodge, cops found Al Sheyadi Sulaiman Khamis Salim who is also from Oman. He told police that he came to Hyderabad to marry a young girl. He came with his son and a friend.
In another lodge, cops found 80-year-old blind sheikh M Abdullah who admitted that he came for a contract marriage; he would have left the bride after three weeks and returned to Muscat.
South Zone Deputy Commissioner of Police V Satyanarayana said they have identified at least 15 Hyderabadi brokers who live in Oman and Qatar and make contact with sheikhs there who are in search of teen brides. “These brokers help the sheikhs get in touch with families of girls here and deals are struck after which the sheikhs come to Hyderabad. There are several women whose main job is to identify poor families who are interested in giving away their daughters in the name of marriage for money without bothering about the age and intention of the groom. In cases where the sheikhs arranged visas and took the newly-married girls with them, the girls end up getting exploited by several others. A few victims we have interviewed have themselves told women police about it,” he said.
Among the 35 Hyderabadi brokers cops have identified so far, 25 are women. Police said brokers not only identify and keep the young girls ready for marriage but also offer various packages. In brokers’ parlance ‘Shaikh’ is a rich Arab who is willing to pay a lot of money for a teenage bride and would like to stay at a decent hotel and hire luxury cars. “Ambassador carwala” is not willing to spend too much, will hire a normal car and stay in a lodge or guesthouse. “Autowalla” is one who prefers to stay in cheap rented rooms and travel in autorickshaws.
The packages — from arranging meetings with girls to accommodation to marriage — range from Rs 3 to 10 lakhs.
Cops arrested five brokers who were bringing the girls to the rooms of the sheikhs. Mohammed Asif Mohammed, who had converted his house at Kalapather into a plush guesthouse and was inviting sheikhs to visit and meet young girls for marriage, was also arrested.
Two Qatari sheikhs were arrested from this guesthouse. Raids were conducted on residential apartments, which have been converted into guesthouses including FK Plaza, Ghalib Residency, MJ Anas Guesthouse, and Wincity Developers in Chandrayangutta.