Campaigns round up: Autumn 2014

Tom Lawson

All the latest from the world of campaigning, including doctors divesting from fossil fuels, gender equality on the national curriculum and how you can help take over a national newspaper

TAKE ACTION: Stopping statelessness
A global campaign to eradicate statelessness by 2024 was launched on 15 September by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR). An estimated 10-12 million people worldwide are stateless and unrecognised as citizens of any country, leaving them with little or no access to services such as education and housing, and impeding their ability to move between countries. UNHCR is pushing governments to sign up to two UN conventions on statelessness: one providing rights until nationality can be obtained, and another seeking to prevent statelessness from occurring.
Get involved: Sign a petition to protect stateless people in Europe. 

SUCCESS: Doctors divest
The British Medical Association (BMA) has become the first medical organisation in the world to stop investing in fossil fuels following pressure from the Fossil Free Health campaign [www.medact.org/campaign/fossil-free-health]. Members of the BMA, the representative body for UK doctors, voted to divest at their annual meeting, where they also approved a proposal to consider investing in green energy instead. The motion was put forward on the basis that climate change presents “the biggest global health threat of the 21st century.”
Get involved: Sign an existing divestment petition or start your own.

TAKE ACTION: Own the news
What would the news be like if newspapers were publicly owned? That’s what the Let’s Own the News campaign aims to find out by crowdfunding a bid for the Times and the Sunday Times. With 80% of national newspapers controlled by just five families, organisers say we have an undemocratic press. To change that, they’re calling on people to make non-binding pledges to reach a bidding target of £100m. If the bid is successful, ownership will be capped at 1% per person, and members will hold annual elections to appoint a board of directors.
Get involved: Pledge your support for the bid. 

SUCCESS: Transgender law in Denmark
Until this September, Danish citizens wanting to legally change their gender on documents such as driving licences and ID cards could only do so after being diagnosed with a mental health disorder and undergoing surgical sterilisation. Those obstacles left many living with documents that didn’t match their gender identity, making explanations a constant feature of daily life. Now, following pressure from trans rights groups and a Change.org petition [www.change.org/p/tell-the-ministry-of-health-in-denmark-to-stop-forced-castration-of-transgender-people], Denmark has introduced one of the world’s most progressive transgender rights laws, allowing individuals to self-determine their legal gender simply by signing a form. Most countries still have no legal process for changing gender, and those that do almost all require surgery or a medical diagnosis.
Get involved: Support the Access All Areas campaign to raise awareness of transgender discrimination. 

TAKE ACTION: Gender equality on the national curriculum
Female writers are under-represented in the UK’s national curriculum – and the problem is getting worse, according to online magazine For Books’ Sake. Recent proposals to overhaul the GCSE curriculum represented an opportunity to introduce more works by female writers, but an analysis by the magazine, which promotes and celebrates women writers, found that the new set texts would actually increase the existing gender imbalance. The proportion of set texts written by women is set to decline from 37% at present, to just 31% by 2017 if the new specifications gain accreditation and are introduced to classrooms next September.
Get involved: Sign a petition calling on exam boards in England and Wales to commit to gender equality and other forms of diversity in their GCSE specifications.

SUCCESS: Protection for US tuna stocks
To protect key bluefin tuna spawning grounds in the Gulf of Mexico, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has implemented a new policy limiting certain types of longline fishing. Longline fishermen aiming to catch other species must now use lower-impact methods during spawning season in order to avoid inadvertently killing bluefin tuna. Conservation groups welcomed the move, which it’s hoped will lead to an increase in tuna population levels.
Get involved: Make more sustainable choices by reading our guide to buying responsibly sourced seafood. 

Photo title: A formerly stateless man in the Dominican Republic with his new identity documents. UNHCR has recently launched a global campaign to try and tackle statelessness

Photo credit: © UNHCR

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