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US COVID: child care closures disproportionally affect women | News

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Most days, Zora Pannell works from her dining room table in the United States city of Cleveland, Ohio, sitting in front of her computer, turning off the video on Zoom calls to nurse her one-year-old daughter, Savannah.

Pannell has balanced working from home and caring for her daughter and son Timothy, aged two, since March when she started a new job as a manager for a language services company the same week that Ohio issued a “stay at home” order to stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Working from home is an exhausting daily juggle but she is more worried about being told it is time to return to the office. Her husband cannot watch the children during the day because he has a job at a local steel mill and the couple has been unable to find a daycare centre they deem safe and affordable close to their Shaker Heights apartment on the eastern fringe of Cleveland.

“I’ve already felt penalised for being a working mother,” said Pannell, 30, who is worried she would have to quit if she is not allowed to keep working from home. “Now it’s like I’m in purgatory.”

The pandemic upended child care plans for many parents in the US, forcing them – particularly mothers – to grapple with tough choices that are only becoming more difficult as states push return-to-work policies to try to revive the battered economy.

A survey by Northeastern University found that 13 percent of working parents had to resign or reduce their work hours because of a lack of child care during the health crisis, with women impacted significantly more than men [File: Caitlin Ochs/Reuters] 

Do they hunt for expensive and hard-to-find child care that could expose their families to COVID-19, which is still raging across much of the country? Or do they scale back on work, or even quit, threatening their financial stability?

The barriers risk stalling or reversing the economic gains made by working women in recent years, who are more likely to take a career hit than men when they are unable to find child care, studies show.

A survey by Northeastern University found that 13 percent of working parents had to resign or reduce their work hours because of a lack of child care during the health crisis, with women affected significantly more than men. In all, of those who said they had lost a job due to child care problems, 60 percent were women, the survey found.

“If women don’t have child care, they can’t go back to work,” said Karen Schulman, Child Care and Early Learning Research Director for the National Women’s Law Center. If that does not happen, “you end up creating a system that is going to result in vast gender inequities”.

Prior to the pandemic, the labour force participation rate for women aged 25-54 touched 77 percent in February, rising from 73 percent in September 2015 and close to the peak reached in 2000, when the share of women in the labour force began to plateau, in part because of challenges accessing affordable child care, experts say.

Limited options

Pressure looks certain to mount on families in the coming weeks, as various aid programmes and protections that offered relief to jobless parents expire, including enhanced unemployment benefits, eviction moratoriums and a freeze on student loan payments.

“There’s this fragile, invisible thread holding the lives of our moms, holding the lives of our economy together,” said Chastity Lord, president and chief executive of the Jeremiah Program, a Minneapolis-based nonprofit organization that supports single mothers and their children.

Finding a way to broaden access to child care will be pivotal to helping the US labour market heal from the economic devastation caused by the pandemic, with latest data showing the economy contracting an annualised 32.9 percent in the second quarter of 2020 and approximately one out of five workers claiming unemployment insurance in the week ending July 11.

Desks are spaced to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in a classroom in Virginia

Many care centres in the US accept only limited numbers of children to prevent the virus from spreading [Kevin Lamarque/Reuters]

Child care was already scarce before the coronavirus led to the shuttering of thousands of centres. More than half of all Americans lived in a child care “desert” as of 2018, defined by the Center for American Progress, a liberal nonprofit group in Washington, as an area with no licensed child care providers or less than one slot for every three children under five.

Now, in many states, care centres accept only limited numbers of children to prevent the virus from spreading. Additionally, families that relied on grandparents or other older relatives or neighbours must weigh up the risks of asking for their help again and perhaps exposing them to a disease that has proved especially deadly for the elderly.

Chantel Springer, 24, worked at Starbucks in Manhattan during the early months of the pandemic but has been on furlough since June, when the store cut back on staff to adjust to lower demand and social distancing requirements. Now that her unemployment benefits could shrink as low as $325 a week, Springer is making arrangements to get back to her job as a shift manager.

“I feel like I have to work,” said Springer, explaining that the reduced benefits would not be enough to cover the rent, food, diapers and other costs.

This month, Springer transferred to a store in Brooklyn so she could be closer to her apartment and her two-year-old. But finding someone to babysit her son is a challenge. Springer can no longer leave the toddler with her mother, who recently moved to take care of a disabled sister whose husband died from COVID-19. For now, she is looking to coordinate schedules with her son’s father, who has also returned to work at a retail store.

Home alone

Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security, or CARES Act, passed by the US Congress in late March, parents who lost access to child care because of the pandemic became eligible for unemployment benefits. But the process of qualifying for the programme, which varies from state to state, became less clear cut as the school year ended and some daycare centres began to reopen with limited capacity.

The Labor Department sought to clarify with guidance that parents should resort to their typical summer child care plans.

Many states, including New York, Missouri and Louisiana, allow parents to self-certify each week, under penalty of perjury, that their child care centre was closed and that they met the requirements to continue receiving benefits. Other states, like California and Texas, make such decisions on a “case-by-case” basis.

While child care places are hard to find for toddlers, they are even scarcer for school-age children and many summer programmes for this age-group went online, leaving parents facing a quandary.

Daycare

Under the CARES Act, parents who lost access to child care because of the pandemic became eligible for unemployment benefits. But the process of qualifying for the programme became less clear cut as the school year ended and some daycare centres began to reopen with limited capacity [Lindsey Wasson/Reuters] 



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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Charles Mbire gains $1.2 million as stake in MTN Uganda rises above $51 million

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Ugandan businessman and MTN Uganda Chairman Charles Mbire has seen the market value of his stake in MTN Uganda surge above $51 million in just two days, as the share price in the leading teleco company increased by a single digit.

The single-digit bump in the share price caused the market value of Mbire’s stake to gain UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million) in less than two days.

The million-dollar increase in the value of his stake came after Uganda’s largest telecom company delivered the country’s largest-ever IPO through the listing of 22.4 billion ordinary shares on the Uganda Securities Exchange (USE).

Upon completing the largest IPO in Uganda’s history, MTN Uganda raised a record UGX535 billion ($150.4 million) from the applications that it received for a total of 2.9 billion shares, including incentive shares.

As of press time, Dec. 7, shares in the company were trading at UGX204.95 ($0.0574), down six basis points from their opening price this morning.

Data gathered by Billionaires.Africa revealed that since the telecom company registered its shares on the Ugandan bourse on Mon., Dec. 6, its share price has increased by 2.5 percent from UGX200 ($0.056) to UGX204.95 ($0.0574) as of the time of writing, as retail investors sustained buying interest long after the public offering.

The increase in the company’s share price caused the market value of Mbire’s 3.98-percent stake to rise from UGX178.45 billion ($49.96 million) to UGX182.86 billion ($51.2 million).

In less than two days, his stake gained more than UGX4.42 billion ($1.24 million).

In a statement after the successful listing of MTN Uganda’s shares, Mbire said the IPO shows the confidence that Ugandans and other investors have in the company, its brand and strategic intent.

“We commend all the regulators for their support in our work to become a USE-listed company and to comply in a timely manner with the listing provisions of the national telecommunications operators’ license,” he said.

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350 million (debt free).

Steady but sure-MBIRE who is the biggest investor on Ugandas Stock exchange with stocks valued at more than $55 million is laughing all the way to the bank after MTN declared the latest dividend payout.He has steadily grown his business empire which is believed to be more that $350. ( debt free).

He is into communications-revenue assurance-cement-distribution-oil services-real estate-oil exploration and logistics.

Source: Billionaires Africa

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2-year-old dies at Arua hospital as nurse demands Shs 210,000 bribe

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A two-year-old child died at Arua Regional Referral hospital after a nurse, Paul Wamala demanded a bribe amounting to Shs 210,000 before carrying out an operation. 

The incident happened on Saturday, after Aron Nabil, a two-year-old child was referred to the hospital for an operation after he was diagnosed with intestinal obstruction, a medical emergency caused by a blockage that keeps food or liquid from passing through the small intestine or large intestine.

According to the relatives of the child, Wamala allegedly asked them to initially give him Shs 30,000 to buy medicines to commence the procedure. He however returned shortly asking for an additional Shs 180,000 from the relatives.

Emily Adiru, a resident of Osu cell, in Bazar Ward, Central Division, and a relative of the child says although they paid money to Wamala, he abandoned the child without carrying out the operation. According to Adiru, Wamala later refunded Shs 200,000 through mobile money, after she threatened to report him to the police.

“They told us this boy needs an operation which was supposed to be done in the morning on Sunday at around 7 am. They took him inside there, some doctor came from the theatre, he called one of us and said, we should pay Shs 70,000 for buying medicine to start the operation. We paid the Shs 30,000 [but] after paying the Shs 30,000, after some minutes, the same man came and opened the door and called us again, and told us we should pay another Shs 100,000. We also paid the Shs 100,000 and we thought it is finished. We were outside there waiting for our patient to come out [but] then this man came back again and said we should pay another Shs 80,000,” said Adiru.

Although the operation was later carried out after a 7-hour delay, the child didn’t make it, and relatives attribute the death to negligence. Miria Ahmed, a concerned resident wonders why such incidents have persisted at the facility which is supposed to service the citizens.

“Is the problem the hospital, is it the management or it is the human resource that is the problem in the hospital? A small child like this you demand Shs 210,000 for the operation? Well, if the money was taken and the operation is done, I would say anything bad but this money was taken and the small boy was abandoned in the theatre,” she said. 

When contacted Wamala refused to comment on the allegations. Dr Gilbert Aniku, the acting hospital director says that the hospital will issue an official statement later since consultations about the matter are ongoing.

Arua City resident district commissioner, Alice Akello has condemned the actions of the nurse saying she has ordered his arrest so as to set an example to the rest. The case has been reported to Arua regional referral hospital police post under SD reference No:05/30/05/2022.



Source – observer.ug

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Mexican president’s Mayan Train dealt new legal setback | Tourism News

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Activists say the planned tourist train will harm the wildlife and natural features of the Yucatan Peninsula.

Mexican President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador has been dealt the latest setback to an ambitious plan to create a tourist train to connect the country’s southern Yucatan Peninsula.

On Monday, a judge indefinitely suspended construction on a portion of the project, known as the Mayan Train, saying the plans currently do not comply “with the proceedings of the environmental impact evaluation”.

The ruling follows a legal challenge by activists who said they were concerned the 60km (37 mile) portion of the train that would connect the resorts of Playa del Carmen and Tulum would adversely affect the area’s wildlife, as well as its caves and water-filled sinkholes known as cenotes.

The original plan for the disputed section was for an overpass over a highway, but the route was modified early this year to go through jungle at ground level.

The federal judge cited the “imminent danger” of causing “irreversible damage” to ecosystems, according to one of the plaintiffs, the non-governmental group Defending the Right to a Healthy Environment. In a statement, the group said that authorities had failed to carry out the necessary environmental impact studies before starting construction of the section.

Lopez Obrador had announced the ambitious project in 2018, with construction beginning in 2020. The roughly 1,500km (930 mile) cargo and passenger rail loop was presented as a cornerstone of a wider plan to develop the poorer states and remote towns throughout the about 181,000sq km (70,000sq mile) Yucatan Peninsula.

The railway is set to connect Caribbean beach resorts with Mayan archaeological ruins, with authorities aiming to complete the project by the end of 2023. The plan is estimated to cost about $16bn.

The project has split communities across the region, with some welcoming the economic development and connectivity it would bring. Others, including some local Indigenous communities, have challenged the project, saying it could not only disrupt the migratory routes of endangered species, including jaguars, tapirs and ocelots, but could also potentially damage centuries-old Mayan archaeological sites.

The National Fund for the Promotion of Tourism, the government agency overseeing the project, has said that it expects to “overcome” the latest challenge and that work should continue after an environmental impact statement is finalised. It said the Environment Ministry was currently reviewing its environmental application for the project.

For his part, Lopez Obrador has insisted the railway will not have a significant environmental effect and has accused activists of being infiltrated by “impostors”.



Source – www.aljazeera.com

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