Humanists for Social Justice and Environmental Action supports Human Rights, Social and Economic Justice, Environmental Activism and Planetary Ethics in North America & Globally, with particular reference to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other Human Rights UN treaties and conventions listed above.


Federal study says oil sands toxins are leaching into groundwater, Athabasca River - The Globe and Mail

Federal study says oil sands toxins are leaching into groundwater, Athabasca River - The Globe and Mail

New federal research has strongly backed suspicions that toxic
chemicals from Alberta’s vast oil sands tailings ponds are leaching into
groundwater and seeping into the Athabasca River.

Leakage from
oil sands tailings ponds, which now cover 176 square kilometres, has
long been an issue. Industry has acknowledged that seepage can occur,
and previous studies using models have estimated it at 6.5-million
litres a day from a single pond.

The soil around the developments contains many chemicals from
naturally occurring bitumen deposits, and scientists have never able to
separate them from contaminants released by industry.

The current
Environment Canada study, accepted for publication in the journal
Environmental Science and Technology, used new technology to discover
that the mix of chemicals is slightly different between the two sources.
That discovery, made using a $1.6-million piece of equipment purchased
in 2010 to help answer such questions, allows scientists to actually
fingerprint chemicals and trace them back to where they came from


Why 2014 is a key year for women's rights and gender equality

Why 2014 is a key year for women's rights and gender equality | Liz Ford | Global development |

Over the past few decades, the often tireless work of the
women's movement around the world has brought positive change. There has
been a growing recognition that countries cannot thrive if half the
population is left out of education and work, or not included in
decision-making. Laws have been introduced to recognise women's right to
safety in and outside the home, equal pay in the workplace and equality
under the law, and there have been attitudinal changes towards women.

The past 20 years have seen two landmark international agreements on women's rights. In September 1994, the International Conference on Population and Development,
which met in Cairo, for the first time shifted the emphasis on
population control from government efforts to reduce numbers through
family planning, to look more broadly at women's empowerment and how
their lives can be improved. It examined issues including access to
decent reproductive health services, sexual health advice and support
and through the elimination harmful practices, such as female genital mutilation (FGM) and forced marriage. About 179 countries signed up to the programme of action, which contained more than 200 recommendations.

The following year, in Beijing, the Fourth World Conference on Women committed to achieving gender
equality by removing the obstacles that limit women's involvement in
public and private life and prevented them from an equal share in

But with success comes the backlash, and that
backlash has been increasingly evident over the past 15 years. As the UN
looks to mark the 20th anniversary of the Cairo agreement this year,
women's rights organisations are, more and more, having to concern
themselves with fighting reactionary policies that seek to chip away at
hard-won rights.

Globally, about one in three women will be beaten or raped during their lifetime, and more than 140 million women and girls are estimated to be living with the consequences of FGM.
And despite numerous UN resolutions that state the importance of
women's involvement in peace and reconciliation, women are still not
invited to peace talks.

Women's rights groups are underfunded. Research by the Association for Women's Rights in Development (Awid) found that the average annual income of 740 organisations it surveyed in 2010 was about $20,000 (£12,000).

Tuesday, the Guardian launched a women's rights and gender equality
section to provide a specific focus on the pressing issues affecting
women, girls and transgender people around the world, and the critical
work being carried out by women's rights movements.

This year is
gearing up to be a key time for women's rights and gender equality. The
UN Commission on the Status of Women, being held in New York in March,
will discuss progress against the millennium development goals and
crucially look at how women feature in what comes next.

loud calls for a standalone goal for gender equality to be included in
any new set of targets after 2015, it is far from certain that this will
be achieved. Sexual violence against women, particularly during
conflict, is expected to receive global attention once again this year,
with a summit hosted by the UK, and the anniversary of Cairo will be a
chance for cool assessment on whether women have achieved the right to
determine when, and if, they have children.