Club 31 Welcomes New Members

Thomas Longino
Founder
Longino Public Finance, LLC

Date Joined: 7/21/2020
Rotary Sponsor: Melly Kinnard
Thomas Longino is the founder of Longino Public Finance, LLC, a law firm focused on representing investors and trustees in connection with high-yield or distressed financing, whether taxable or tax-exempt.  Prior to forming Longino Public Finance, Thomas practiced law in the area of municipal finance at a large southeastern law firm, mostly as bond counsel and underwriter’s counsel, where he gained valuable workout and municipal bankruptcy experience as a member of the team representing Jefferson County, Alabama.  Thomas earned his bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University, his law degree from the University of Mississippi School of Law and a master of laws in federal taxation from New York University School of Law.  A very recent transplant to Denver, Thomas enjoys the Denver restaurant scene, exercise and discovering all that Colorado has to offer.
Debbie Wilkins
Broker Associate
Date Joined: 7/21/2020
Rotary Sponsor: Melly Kinnard & Colleen Cozad
Debbie Wilkins serves as a Compass associate broker.  Debbie is keenly focused on customer relationship development and success defined through achieving set goals.  This customer and goals-driven approach consistently creates positive results for her clients in a rapid real estate market.  Prior to pursuing her career in real estate, Debbie successfully started up and owned her own business from 2005-2019.  The business was private-labeled product sales and distribution, servicing large business maintenance of facilities.  Additionally, her work experience includes multiple sales manager positions in the medical field, including manufacturers such as Johnson & Johnson.  Debbie has a strong affection for four-legged friends, including her own two Havanese, Biewer Terrier, and a Bernese Mountain Dog.  This affection also resulted in training her own as therapy dogs.  Other interests include home remodeling, DYI home projects, travel, and restaurants.  Prior to calling Denver her forever home, Debbie lived in St. Louis, Atlanta, and Dallas.  She holds a BA in journalism from the University of Georgia.
For additional information about new members, please log into our membership database at www.dacdb.com.

Club 31 Welcomes New Member

Kris Hemenway
President & Founder
Statera Media

Date Joined: 6/16/2020
Rotary Sponsor: Jim Johnston

Kristopher (Kris) Hemenway is the President and Founder of Statera Media, a Denver based strategy, marketing and media planning firm that focuses on small and mid-sized companies in many different business verticals.  Kris uses a data-driven approach to help his clients find new customers through digital (Social, SEM, E-Mail, Display) and traditional (TV, Radio, Print) media.  Prior to forming Statera Media in 2014, Kris worked for some of Colorado’s biggest and best companies in marketing and media such as:  Vail Resorts, Coors Brewing Company, The Integer Group and Gart Companies.  Kris has lived in Colorado for 23 years and is a proud alumnus of the University of Colorado at Boulder where he graduated with honors with a B.S. in Journalism.  He has been married to his wife Keri for 14 years and is the proud father of two young boys, Harrison (9) and Patrick (5).

For additional information about new members, please log into our membership database at www.dacdb.com.

Donna Hultin Excellence Award Endowment

The Donna Hultin Excellence Award was created by the Rotary Club of Denver in 2008 to honor Donna’s 28 years of dedicated service to Denver Kids, Inc. and her service to Rotary. The annual $500 cash award recognizes one high achieving graduating high school senior who is part of the Denver Kids mentoring program and is college bound. Qualifications include demonstrated academic achievement, excellence in attendance, community service, leadership ability and a positive attitude. For the past 12 years the award was funded annually by the Rotary Club of Denver and for the last two years, this award was matched by a Denver Rotarian and the Hultin Family for a total scholarship of $1,000.

Donna’s husband, Wally Hultin, recently approached the Denver Rotary Club Foundation to create an Endowment to ensure that funding for the award continues in Donna’s name.  Wally offered an initial donation to begin funding the Endowment plus a formula to match contributions from donors. Rotarian Mary Penny then organized a fund raising effort to gather the donations in order to make the Endowment a reality.  Today the Endowment funding is $30,350. Thanks to the vision of Wally Hultin, his generous donation and the generosity of the donors, The Donna Hultin Excellence Award Endowment will now last in perpetuity to fund the annual cash award and recognize future generations of Denver Kids graduates for this prestigious honor.

Denver Rotary Receives Award for the Most Outstanding World Community Service Project in District 5450

Denver Rotary Cub 31 was honored by Denver Mile Hi Rotary for having the most outstanding world community service project in District 5450 in 2019-2020.  Denver Mile Hi donated $100 to Polio Plus in Club 31’s name.  The award was for a six-year $93 thousand project promoting basic education and literacy for girls in Bosnia and to prevent them from becoming victims of human traffickers.  The entire project involved a small direct cash grant and two global grants matched by Rotary International and District 5450.  The project was prompted by the aftermath of the 1990’s Balkan wars (of ethnic cleansing) with the failure to address the problems of girl’s education and human trafficking because of continued ethnic divisions and government corruption.  Bosnia (formally Bosnia and Herzegovina, BiH) is now the poorest country in Europe.  Poor rural families favor education of boys, with girls often dropping out of school after the 4th grade.  Roma (gypsy) girls are illiterate, as are their mothers and most of their fathers.  Bosnia is now the largest center for transit and source of human trafficking in Europe as those under-educated or struggling financially seek opportunities outside of the country.

The project brought parent teacher education meetings to 40 villages reaching 2,000 parents, promoting the importance of girls’ education and warning of trafficking, established a mentoring program for 160 families with fourth grade girls at risk for dropping out of school by using university student volunteers, conducted media campaigns to promote girls staying in school and warning of human trafficking, and conducted literacy classes for Roma girls. The mentoring and public education initiatives are continuing after the grant funding ended with the partner NGO staff.  The Roma literacy program has been funded post grant by another non-profit.

Denver Rotary World Community Service committee members formulated, wrote the grant application, raised the cash match, shepherded the application through the Rotary International process, and monitored the implementation of the grants. F elicia Muftic chaired the project, initially with Denver Rotarian Dr. Mike Muftic, who passed away in August 2015.  The Mostar Rotary Club was the local in-country supervisor which partnered with a local non-profit family and children counseling agency, Novi Put, to execute the grant.  Over $8 thousand of the cash came from the Denver Rotary Foundation.  In addition to Denver Rotary and Mostar Rotary, eight other 5450 Rotary clubs, Ojai California Rotary and their district, and the Rotary club of Grand Cayman all contributed the cash funds, matched by $20,500 from District 5450 and $37,725 from the Rotary International Foundation.  The last of the two global grants was featured in the April 2019 Rotarian.  For a video made during the first global grant, and to meet the participants, click the image link below.  For more about the entire project, visit Bosniaglobalgrant.com.

Congratulations to our hard working World Community Service committee and to Chair Felicia Muftic who has spent countless hours on this project over the years!

Honorary Rotarian for Life: Darlene Mast

After supporting her husband Rotarian Steve Mast during his Club 31 Presidency in 2003-2004, Darlene put “Service Above Self” by filling the vacancy of her predecessor on a temporary basis as the Rotary Club of Denver and Denver Rotary Club Foundation Executive Director in 2004.  Little did she know at the time, this would become a 16-year long commitment!  Darlene fell in love with the mission of Rotary and the Rotarians she served.  Darlene always remained cool under pressure with a smile on her face and served a new Club and Foundation President every year (for a total of 33 Presidents in 16 years).  She became a wealth of historical knowledge to those she served, always informing her President’s what the Club has done in the past and stepping aside to let them make a decision for how to move forward.  There wasn’t a single President who didn’t call Darlene before accepting this honored position, to ensure she would still be with the Club to support them and help guide them from behind the scenes.  Darlene would say to every President, both Club and Foundation, that her main job was “to help make you look good”, and she sure did!

After many nights working late and many after-work happy hours, Darlene is retiring from the Rotary Club of Denver.  However, even in retirement Darlene can’t seem to step away from her passion for Rotary.  She will continue on a very limited basis as the Club and Foundation’s part-time accountant.  In honor of Darlene’s service to Rotary, Club 31 is awarding her an
“Honorary Rotarian for Life” membership status.  Darlene, you have made a bigger impact than anyone could have imagined during these past 16 years and for that, Club 31 will forever be in your debt.  THANK YOU, Darlene and Congratulations!

Here are just a few examples of Darlene’s Achievements and Service Above Self…

Perfect attendance for 16 years:

  • 688 all-Club lunch meetings
  • 160 club board meetings
  • 96 DRCF board meetings
  • The same number of executive committee meetings for each
  • 16 years of Membership committee and Programs committee meetings

Highlighted Contributions:

  • 1st big project: The Player sculpture installation and dedication at Coors Field
  • Served on the Branch Rickey award committee through 2014
  • Visited RI Headquarters in Chicago with Grant Wilkins, the DG and Club President
  • Relocation of the Polio Plus statue to CU Anschutz
  • Peach Sale originated during her first year as ED, and Darlene was always a top Rotarian seller of peach boxes
  • Moved the Rotary office twice
  • Instrumental in the Club Centennial project, book and celebration

Prior Recognition:

  • 2010 DKI Rotarian of the Year
  • 2013 Edwin A. Bemis Award for Best Club Communications
  • 2013-14 District Governor Discretionary Award
  • 2015 DRCF Legacy Society Charter Member
  • DRCF Silver Fellow
  • Paul Harris Fellow +1

Service Above Self:

  • Darlene attended every Rotarian’s funeral, plus retirement parties and other celebrations
  • The holiday bread baker for her Club boards and leadership
  • Darlene stepped up and became an accountant while remaining ED to help the Club save money
  • Last year for the first time in 16 years, used her full vacation time
  • And her final achievement, after hiring and managing three prior assistants, she found a true replacement and trained her before stepping down as our Executive Director

2019-2020 Rotarians of the Year!

At our Thursday Rotary Club meeting via Zoom on June 25, 2020, Club Rotarians came together for our annual Continuation of Leadership celebration with President Jim Johnston and to ring in the new year with incoming President Debbie Beasley!  As has been our tradition, we honored our Rotarians of the Year.  Congratulations and Thank YOU Denver Rotarians for your many accomplishments and hard work this past Rotary year!

 

Virgil Scott ~ ROTARIAN OF THE YEAR 2019-2020

Virgil Scott is this year’s very deserving recipient of the Club 31’s Rotarian of the Year Award!  Here is just a sampling of his strong and impressive contributions to  Denver Rotary.  His participation covers all aspects of Rotary’s five avenues of service…

  • Joined Denver Rotary March 15, 2011, with 14 years prior Rotary experience
  • Served on the Denver Rotary Club Foundation (DRCF) Board of Trustees 2013-2019
  • DRCF President 2016-17
  • DRCF Silver Fellow
  • DRCF Legacy Society Charter Member 2015
  • Chair of the DRCF Legacy Society
  • Co-Chair of DRCF 50th Anniversary Campaign
  • Paul Harris Fellow of The Rotary Foundation (TRF)
  • Served on TRF Support Committee & Peach Sale Committee

AND, Virgil has accomplished all of this since joining our Club only nine years ago!

 According to several of his nominators,

“I have had the distinct pleasure of serving with Virgil since he joined our Club nine years ago. During this time, I have gotten to know him well, have very much enjoyed working together and consider him to be a trusted friend and valued mentor.”

“As a DRCF President, Virgil’s message to our Club and its Foundation was Unity…both working together to have a positive impact on our community and our world.”

“About a year and half after joining our Club, he was asked to serve a six-year term on the DRCF Board of Trustees, bringing 30 years of CEO-level nonprofit foundation leadership experience, as well as an extensive history of volunteer board experience.”

“Was immediately asked to lead the Foundation’s Legacy Gift Committee, attempting what many have tried to do for years but didn’t get it done. This Rotarian did. Forming the DRCF Legacy Society in 2013, he almost single-handedly brought in 29 charter members.”

“Our Foundation has a good story to tell and Virgil did it so well, along with sharing their own inspiring personal life journey and that of our members. He leads by example with his continued generous financial support.”

“While most good Rotarians naturally put service above self, Virgil outdid himself this past year. The sheer amount of pro-bono time he spent connecting with, and clarifying the wishes of our Denver Rotary Club Foundation Legacy Society members would have cost the club tens of thousands of dollars had we not had him doing it for us. And with his usual low-key, quiet and behind-the-scenes demeanor he has bolstered the financial future of DRCF, not solely with the stroke of a check but with endless patience and dedication of time.”

“In various leadership roles, Virgil built an awareness of the Legacy Society. He was responsible for increasing the number of Legacy Society members over 60% during the past four years. He was also an essential part of the DRCF 50th Year Celebration campaign by tirelessly consulting with each Legacy Society member whereby they devoted $330,000 in Legacy Gifts to the Wilkins Family Fund Endowment and increased overall Legacy Gifts to $883,000.  His efforts have help to ensure DRCF is sustainable for the next 50 years.  Under Virgil’s leadership and his unwavering support of our Foundation continues, his impact far-reaching.”

“Trust and relationships have always been a part of his life. Personal and professional mix and mesh. With unsurpassed dedication and commitment, he brought his years of fundraising expertise, thoughtful leadership skills and vast experience to this important volunteer role.”

“Virgil is a kind, generous, good man, always making the time to send personal hand-written notes to our many members for a variety of reasons…and even Starbucks gift cards to us lucky ones!”

Rotary’s mission is to do good in the world…a group of ordinary people doing extraordinary things. Our Club is filled with some pretty special people…we are all honored and privileged to know such a Rotarian.  Congratulations Virgil!  You make us proud and we are blessed to have you as a member of Denver Rotary!

 

TROY SZYMANSKI ~ NEW ROTARIAN OF THE YEAR 2019-20

This year Club 31 is pleased to honor Troy Szymanski as our New Rotarian of the Year for 2019-20!

 According to several of his nominators,

 “Troy is a great guy and quickly became engaged as evidenced by his great attendance.”

“He became very active in the evening happy hour meetings.”

“Very energetic with a can-do attitude!’

“Brought some needed young blood into the Club.”

“His first Club visit was exactly a year ago today at our Continuation of Leadership on the DAC rooftop…blended right in with an enthusiastic interest in learning more about our Club.”

“Rotary runs in his family!”

In just the past year, Troy…

  • Became a Paul Harris Fellow of The Rotary Foundation
  • Served as an Inspirational moment presenter
  • Participated in the Cherry Creek Clean Up before becoming a member
  • Joined the Membership Committee
  • Co-leading the Evening Group Happy Hour events
  • And get this….will be our new Club Secretary in 2020-21!

After joining Rotary in October of 2019, Troy has already shown a major commitment to our Club and to Rotary’s mission.  We are so fortunate to have such a committed and dedicated new Rotarian as a member of Club 31!  Congratulations Troy!  Thank you for making Club 31 your new Rotary home!  We look forward to serving alongside you for many years to come!

THE ROAD TO HOPE VIRTUAL HAITI SUMMER CAMP

HELLO IS YOUR PASSPORT (BONJOU SE PASPO OU)!

Join the Road to Hope in a 4 week summer camp for kids in 2-8th grades to learn all about the beautiful country of Haiti! Develop a project to take action in creating a better world.

Hello All!

My name is Rachel Harris. I am excited to announce that with the help of the Road to Hope, I will be teaching a virtual summer camp all about Haiti called Bonjou se Paspo Ou or Hello is Your Passport!

The camp is scheduled for two sessions, the first from June 22nd to July 17th and the second from July 20th to August 10th. It will be held in two age groups, ultimately for ages 6-14, or grades 2nd through 8th.

I am very excited at the chance to teach a group of young people about a place I care so deeply about in an immersive, online experience.   We will cover topics such as Haiti’s history, present state, it’s culture, it’s community, and much more. The camp will even include guest speakers from The Road to Hope and from Haiti. We will spend time every day on common Creole phrases and conversations so that by the end of the 4 week session, each participant will be able to send a letter to a penpal in Haiti.

I love Haiti because of the uniqueness of its culture, community and spirit. I hope to share some of my love for the country as well as a foundational set of knowledge about the country.

We will engage in conversations on what a Developing country is, and how the lack of financial resources in countries like Haiti affects the people there on a day to day basis.  We will read poems, chapters from books, listen to music, watch clips of videos, draw Tap Taps, learn to prepare Haitian food! But that is just the start. It is the perfect time to immerse yourself in a new culture, right from your couch!

FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE SUMMER CAMP VISIT:
https://www.theroadtohope.org/get-involved/experience-haiti/summer-camp/
https://www.theroadtohope.org/documents/CONCEPT-PAPER-NEW.1).pdf

TO REGISTER VISIT:
https://theroadtohope.kindful.com/register/the-road-to-hope-virtual-summer-camp-2020

If you have any questions about the curriculum, the scheduling, the pricing, or any other confusion feel free to reach out to me:

Rachel Harris
rachelh4@icloud.com
303-478-5812

Mesi Anpil! Thank you very much!

Poliomyelitis by Gladys (Carlson) Spong

Family History with Polio
by Denver Rotarian Rich Spong (Gladys son)

The following article was prepared by my mother about her experiences in surviving polio at the age of 10 in 1923.  She lived on a farm near the very small town of Buffalo in Southeast Kansas, and going to Kansas City to a large hospital for five weeks was a very unusual experience for her in addition to dealing with the consequences and survival from polio.  She lived a full life until she was 80.  She did have a limp with one leg shorter than the other, but she made the adjustment to live with that impairment.  She was a stay-at-home mom to raise my sister and me.  She died of chronic lymphatic leukemia after a short illness.

Poliomyelitis
by Gladys (Carlson) Spong

The International Society of Polio Victims met November 13, 1985, to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the discovery of the Salk Vaccine.  The word polio is a clipped form of Poliomyelitis; only the latter term and “infantile Paralysis” were used for the very rare cases in the early 20’s.  I had never heard of the disease when I became a victim; children today hear of polio as a vaccine.

In the fall of 1923, I began to have a stiffness in my back as I sat at my school desk.  I could not bend to either side to select a book in the desk, so I would slide forward in my seat until I could see inside my desk.  I had no idea what caused the problem.  It was only by retrospect in adulthood that I realized my back stiffness must have been an early poliomyelitis symptom.

Daddy came to get us at school with a team and lumber wagon on a cold and rainy October day.  I was extremely chilled during the wagon ride.  A fever developed.  Dr. Riley was called to our country home.  He could not diagnose a reason for my ailment.  My illness continued through the week; sometimes I couldn’t get up from a sitting position or a knee would give out when I walked.

One evening while my parents were milking the cows, the aroma of freshly baked bread tempted me to venture to the kitchen for a sample.  I got to the cabinet by bracing myself on furniture and walls.  My hand slipped under the dish towel cover and broke off some crust of the second loaf.  As I grasped the crust in my hand, my knees buckled under me and down I went to the floor.  All attempts to pull myself up failed, so I returned to the bed by crawling, hoping Mother would not scold me for breaking off a tasty morsel of warm bread.  The next morning, Mother called the doctor about my condition.  I did not have a fever, so Dr. Riley told mother, “Send Gladys back to school.”

Mother replied, “But Doctor, she isn’t able to go to school; she is having problems with her knees.”

After some thought, Dr. Riley requested, “Bring her to my office right away so I can check her condition again.”

My left knee repeatedly gave out.  Mother and Daddy supported me as I walked to the car and into the doctor’s office. I was lifted to the patient’s table, my legs dangling.  With the side of his hand, Dr. Riley tapped my legs just below the knee.  There was no reflex there or at my ankles.  The doctor looked up at my parents and said, “Get Gladys on the next train to Kansas City and the Bell Memorial Hospital (now University of Kansas Medical Center).  I will meet you there in the morning to see that her case is in the hands of the top doctor.  Get some formaldehyde candles to fumigate your house before the other children return to it.”

Arrangements were made for Grandpa Anderson to come stay with mother.  Our minister and evangelist were to be at our home for a noon meal, so my mother put a note on the screen door telling them of the situation and requesting their support through prayer.  Daddy and I were soon on the train en-route to Kansas City.  A first train ride should be exciting, but I had mixed emotions, wondering just what was to happen in the days ahead.

The Union Depot in Kansas City was overwhelming to me-spacious with so many people.  Men cleaning high windows looked like tiny flies because they were so far away.

A taxi ride to the hospital was another new experience which led to many happenings in the hospital.  After checking in at the hospital, a nurse took me from Daddy to a children’s ward.  She began to undress me.  Off came my wraps, then dress, petticoat, bloomers, and panty-waist.  I protested, “ I don’t take these off when I go to bed.”  Mother had us children sleep in some underthings so we wouldn’t get chilled if we kicked off the covers at night.

I was really shocked when the nurse pulled off my long stockings and next my long underwear.  I felt as if I were walking in a tent as I was led to a crib-type bed wearing only a big, starchy gown.

The outcome of that protest was that after sleeping in only a gown while in the hospital for five weeks, I refused to ever sleep  in underthings again.  It took some time to convince my sisters that wearing only a gown was a much more comfortable way of sleeping.

Dr. Riley arrived early the next morning and brought Dr. Major to my bedside.  I was transferred to a private room in quarantine for three weeks.  Daddy had to wear a white tie-around gown when he came into my room and disinfect his hands after visits.

The paralysis continued to progress until my whole side was paralyzed on the third day at the hospital.  Dr. Major would put his hand under my head, lift upward, and my body would raise from my heels as if I were a post.

Dr. Major and an intern wheeled a stretcher to my bedside, moved my stiffened body onto it, then wheeled me up the elevator to a lecture room.  A gallery of medical students were waiting for their class session.  Dr. Major appeared beside me with an open Bible and began to read.  I was filled with fear.  “What is happening here?  Here I am prone on a stretcher covered with a white sheet to my chin, my body paralyzed on one side and a Bible being read to an audience.”  I soon realized that my doctor was teaching a lesson on poliomyelitis to the interns, beginning with a possible polio case from the Bible.  I would have preferred that he continue to read instead of raising my body to illustrate his lecture.

My spine was tapped three times and the nurses gave me massages daily.  My paralysis gradually left, but I was unable to walk.  Two nurses would take me up and down the hall to help me learn to walk again.  On the first tries my legs just dangled without control.  Little by little, I regained some use of them; I could limp along with the aid of one nurse.  What a thrill to learn to walk again!

The last two weeks of my hospital stay were in a women’s ward.  With my regaining walking skill, I roamed about the ward to visit with the other 13 patients.  I learned their names and something about their ailments.  Observation of some of the nursing details prompted me to say, “I will never be a nurse.”  That statement didn’t hold as in middle age I took a nurse’s aid course and found the floor-training duty very satisfying.

One day Dr. Major and a bone specialist from Wichita came to my bedside.  Dr. Major said, “Gladys, how would you like to go home for Thanksgiving?”  Because I had been in the hospital five weeks, it was exciting news to me.

The next day, I dressed in a new, red wool serge dress that Mother had made for me.  I felt like a  new person to be in a dress, shoes, and stockings and able to walk again.  I was tired of hospital gowns, robes, and house shoes.  Proud of my red dress with the pleated skirt, I walked around the ward to tell each of my patient friends goodbye.

Mother had come to be with me the last two weeks.  We were to leave by taxi for the Union Station after lunch.  As we waited, full of excitement about going home, a nurse came with a wheel chair and asked me to sit in it.  I had been walking unaided for several days.  “Why should I be put in a wheel chair?”  I thought.

Without a word to Mother, I was wheeled away, up the elevator, and into a surgery room.  They lifted me onto an operating table and began to wrap gauze on my left leg, then spread it with plaster of Paris, more gauze, and plaster until my leg was encased in a heavy cast.  The purpose was to hold my heel tendon in place so it wouldn’t tighten during my first weeks of walking again.  I was told that it should be on my leg for three weeks, when I could return to the hospital to have it removed.

A nurse returned me to Mother in the wheel chairs, my leg encumbered with the awkward cast.  I had anticipated waling in the train station, into our home for Thanksgiving and back to school.  I was wheeled to the taxi and through the Union Station to our train.  I hobbled about with the cast during three weeks of school.  Finally, there was another train trip to Kansas City to get the cast removed before Christmas.

Mother continued to massage my legs daily for many months.  Dr. Major’s instructions for other therapy were for me to do much swimming and skating.

My whole left side is smaller than the right side and the left tendon restricts the action of my left foot.  Restricted ankle action had caused many falls for me throughout the years.  I’m grateful for a good recovery.  Much credit is due Mother for her faithful massaging and Dr.. Riley for promptly sending me to the hospital and getting the top doctor for my case.  Dr. Major did not accept credit for my recovery.  His comment was: “Higher powers than ours have had a hand in your recovery.”

Thanks to the Salk vaccine, polio cases are rare today in the United States.

Twenty-five years after declaring “women’s rights are human rights,” there’s still much to do

Professor Ved Nanda, Rotary Club of Denver

The unprecedented global attention necessary to combat the relentless coronavirus pandemic has for now pushed aside the ambitious plans by women’s rights advocates to focus on “a truly transformative agenda on gender equality and girls’ and women’s rights” in 2020, a “milestone year,” to accelerate action for its realization.

One hundred years after the first International Women’s Day was held, this year marks the 25th anniversary of the landmark declaration that “women’s rights are human rights,” at the World Conference on Women in Beijing, which raised the clarion call for gender equality. The representatives of 189 countries attending the conference committed to implement the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action — a visionary blueprint calling for the empowerment of women and presenting a comprehensive plan for action.

A major international development to further the realization of women’s rights was the adoption in October 2015 of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which included among its goals the achievement of gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls. Targets to measure the goal’s progress include discrimination, violence against women and girls, harmful practices, unpaid care work, lack of participation in decision-making, and inadequate sexual and reproductive health and reproductive rights.

Notwithstanding the repeated reaffirmation of the Beijing commitments by governments unilaterally as well as at the United Nations and regional forums, a reality check demonstrates that the Beijing Agenda remains unfulfilled. The progress is uneven, ad hoc, slow, and, on certain issues, superficial. Fundamental protections are often lacking and not even a single country in the world has realized the goal of gender equality.

What is the current status? Despite the great strides in the fight for gender equality, including gains in girls’ education, legal reforms to address domestic violence, removing discriminatory laws, and impressive gains for individual women in many countries, gaps remain. U.N. Secretary-General António Guterres reported last year, based on data from more than 100 countries, that 18% of women and girls had experienced physical and/or sexual partner violence in the previous 12 months. Reporting on progress toward gender equality, he said: “Gender equality continues to hold women back and deprives them of basic rights and opportunities. Empowering women requires addressing structural issues such as unfair social norms and attitudes, and progressive legal frameworks that put men and women at the same level.”

Data from 90 countries shows that women spend roughly three times more hours per day doing unpaid care and domestic work than men. Millions of girls and women have been subjected to the practice of female genital mutilation, and 32 million girls are still not in school. The role of women in peace and security negotiations is almost non-existent. To illustrate, women’s participation is not clear in the proposed peace talks between the Afghan government and the Taliban.

In addition to discrimination in law and practice, gender-based violence, and harmful gender norms and inequality, institutional barriers remain to equal participation in society. Laws, regulations, and workplace policies force women out when they become pregnant or keep them from returning to work after childbirth, resulting in persistent disparities in women’s income and economic security. Deep-rooted power imbalances due to social, political, and cultural barriers remain a grim reality. Poor sexual and reproductive health information and services lead to high rates of disease and death worldwide for women and girls. A recent U.N. report found 91% of men and 86% of women show some gender bias against women. And a World Bank report says that women have only three-quarters of the employment rights enjoyed by men, while men still control three-quarters of parliamentary seats worldwide.

In the U.S., as of March 2020, women still make 81 cents overall for every dollar earned by men, according to PayScale, a company that collects data on wages.

The World Economic Forum, which annually surveyed the global gender gap for 14 year, reports that it will be a century before women the world over enjoy equal rights with men.

Measures to fight the coronavirus pandemic, such as school closures, quarantine measures, stay-at home, and lockdowns, are further likely to disproportionately impact women, as they generally assume responsibility for care. Domestic violence rates may increase. Migrant domestic helpers are being adversely affected, with little opportunity for assistance. And another wild card likely to impact women disproportionately is climate change, as families will be displaced.

Last month the U.N. Human Rights chief, Michelle Bachelet, warned of a risk of setbacks to women’s rights as they are being threatened and attacked. Similar concern was recently expressed by the secretary-general.

Common sense and also evidence-based actions to advance girls’ and women’s rights and close the equality gap include the following: countries should adopt policies and enact laws to proactively advance gender equality and equal representation and participation of women in all spheres; countries should repeal discriminatory family laws — marriage, divorce, inheritance, custody, and guardianship; governments should outlaw and eliminate domestic violence and harmful practices such as child marriage; countries should directly invest in women and girls and in support of organizations that are working to change legal, social, and political systems to expedite progress; and governments should protect women’s human rights defenders.

The current situation should not be allowed to derail the focus on achieving gender equality.

Ved Nanda is Distinguished University Professor and director of the Ved Nanda Center for International Law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. His column appears the last Sunday of each month and he welcomes comments at vnanda@law.du.edu.

 

World needs a more inclusive, just society. But will that be result of coronavirus pandemic?

Professor Ved Nanda, Rotary Club of Denver

Leaders are aptly occupied today with the critical questions, when and how to lift which restrictions to reopen the economy? And how should they strike the balance between two equally important priorities: ensuring health and safety and restoring the economy?

Beyond considering these essential concerns, futurists, thinkers, and some politicians are losing sleep over the long-term ripple effects of this deadly pandemic. “What will the clichéd ‘new normal’ look like within nations and globally?” they ask. Focusing on the global scenario, will the US-led global order that we have known since post-World War II – based on democracy, free markets, human rights, and the rule of law – survive?

How will the currently interconnected and interdependent world fare? Pointing to globalization’s fueling of financial crises, spurring  deregulation, deemphasizing national sovereignty, and furthering the divide between the rich and the poor, critics ask, “Is this the end of globalization?”

One commentator has explained the options: Will the results follow the outcome of World War I or of World War II? Weak institutions were formed after 1918, leading to protectionism, nationalism, and economic depression. But after 1945, cooperation and internationalism gave birth to the Marshall Plan, Bretton Woods, the United Nations, the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, the IMF, and the World Bank. Optimists will argue that globalization, multilateralism, and international cooperation will certainly prevail to address global challenges: witness the current collective medical and scientific efforts to combat COVID-19.

And countries will still be involved in international trade – goods, services, and capital will cross borders and people will travel abroad. Pessimists contend that nationalism certainly has been on the rise. All BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, and China) are fiercely nationalistic.Current trends show that feeling the sting of unreliable and vulnerable supply chains and driven by the need for self-reliance and self-sufficiency to effectively combat a future pandemic, the outcome could be reinforced nationalism, isolationism, and authoritarianism.

International institutions have played little role in meeting the current crisis. The World Health Organization, underfunded for decades, is being criticized for its allegedly inadequate response to the coronavirus (WHO’s director was hesitant to declare an international emergency).

The International Monetary Fund is also seen as ineffective. The only United Nations body that under its charter can take action in response to global dangers is the Security Council, which has been eerily silent. Regional institutions in Asia and Africa are now filling the needs of those areas. Obviously, the future is uncertain, and both positive and negative scenarios are getting lots of airtime. What’s most likely to happen on the economic front is that this pandemic could push half a billion people into poverty. Coronavirus will be used as an excuse by rich countries to further decrease their development aid to poor countries most urgently in need.

The major deficiencies in our current system of overreliance on markets and profits is leading the states to expand their authorities and become stronger, taking control over healthcare and labor issues. For example, the Spanish government has nationalized hospitals, France is even considering nationalizing large businesses, Denmark is providing income to people for not going to work, and several states are making housing freely available.

Most observers have lamented the lack of American leadership in these difficult times. Former Swedish Prime Minister Carl Bildt is not alone in noting that “the White House has trumpeted ‘America First’ and ‘Everyone Alone’ for years,” and the U.S. has walked away from its globalleadership. In fact, it has revoked international treaties, rejected international obligations and cooperation, built walls, and imposed anti-immigration policies. China is filling the vacuum, but also acted irresponsibly.

In the end, the need is to create a more inclusive and just society and a system based on international cooperation to solve global problems. The U.S. leadership, now absent, is key to making it happen.

Ved Nanda is Distinguished University Professor and director of the Ved Nanda Center for International Law at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law. His column appears the last Sunday of each month and he welcomes comments at vnanda@law.du.edu.