Hundreds of thousands of pupils in schools across India are getting lessons in the art of cricket.

But for a country which counts the sport as a national passion, these classes are not about finding another cricket superstar such as Virat Kohli.

Instead the aim is to challenge gender stereotypes and promote equality between the sexes.

Sumita Kumari, a teacher at Jawahar Navodya Vidyalaya school in Dakshin Dinajpur, West Bengal says around 80% of India’s population is from rural areas, where many children are likely to face “certain notions about gender roles”.

Rejecting ‘ridicule’

“In a rural environment, a big division can be seen in the development of the two genders.

“Firstly, there is restriction on the freedom of girls. Secondly, there is a clear division of work between boys and girls,” she says.

Boys might be expected to work outdoors while girls are “kept busy in household chores”.

“If a girl wants to participate in sports like swimming, playing soccer or cricket, they become victims of gender inequality.

“Likewise, if a boy is interested in cooking or wants to dance then society frowns on him. They face ridicule and non-cooperation from society.”

Bowled over

The Changing Moves Changing Minds project, run by the British Council, hopes to tackle some of these attitudes through cricket and dance.

“Sport is such a universal language,” says Alan Gemmell, director of the British Council in India.

“It is about teamwork, it is about coming together, and cricket is such a powerful connecter across India.”

Children taking part in the scheme will get a series of lessons in dance and cricket skills – such as choreography and movement and batting and bowling.

“Some of the lessons are about choreography and playing games,” Mr Gemmell explains.

“It’s about challenging stereotypes and saying there aren’t just things that boys do and things that girls do – and that’s part of what the dance element does.”

Catching ideas

The classes will be followed by activities that “give teachers confidence to continue to promote positive gender roles for boys and girls”.

“We hope that that’s a very small thing to do that might shift behaviour or make people think differently about paths that they might take, choices that they might make as they grow up,” he says.

Ms Kumari was among a group of teachers who took part in a pilot of the scheme, which was delivered by the British Council in partnership with the Marylebone Cricket Club and the Royal Academy of Dance.

During the project, she taught children a new dance that combined cricketing actions with Indian dance steps.

‘We don’t know how to hold the bat’

There was resistance at first.

She says the children felt “very uncomfortable”, with one boy saying: “How do we dance with girls?” Another argued that “Playing cricket with girls is absolutely impossible”.

Meanwhile, the girls told her “We do not even know how to hold the bat and we will not be able to play cricket.”

But attitudes began to change.

“I did considerable counselling and motivated the children and I also talked to their parents,” Ms Kumari says.

“After that, girls felt encouraged to play cricket and boys started to dance.”

“The children started opening up to me and started sharing their problems,” she adds.

Good innings

The scheme is now being rolled out to schools across India, with 300,000 youngsters expected to take part in lessons given by teachers who have been given specialist training over the next three years.

Mr Gemmell says: “What we’re trying to do with the programme is harness this incredible power of sport to promote positive role models and to have boys and girls take part in activities together in schools across India.”

He says the aim is to use “sport and arts, cricket and dance and movement to get boys and girls to play together” and then use that as a platform for teachers to begin conversations about gender roles.

Ms Kumari’s school provides free education, with children from rural areas given priority.

She believes the British Council scheme has helped to promote equality.

“Boys and girls who come from poor rural families in our school, some of whom are first generation learners were given the opportunity to be introduced to a project that helped them challenge their thinking around gender inequality and they learned and presented a new dance style in a very beautiful way without any hesitation,” she says.

Source: BBC News

A charity in Leeds is training its staff to help people with disabilities spot the signs of hate crimes.

It comes after police figures show disability hate crimes and incidents have risen by 72% across West Yorkshire from 256 in 2014/15 to 915 in 2017/18.

United Response is now working with police to help people recognise hate crimes and know how to report them.

Kevin Brighton, of West Yorkshire Police, said it was “a hidden and under-reported crime”.

Mr Brighton, the force’s hate crime co-ordinator, said: “Victims can sometimes lack the confidence in coming forward and reporting this to the authorities. Sometimes they don’t realise they have even experienced a hate crime.

“That’s why this resource pack we’ve helped put together and the training United Response’s staff have undertaken is so crucial.”

United Response is working with people with physical and learning disabilities, Down’s Syndrome and autism.

Jo Silkstone, the charity’s learning development manager for Yorkshire, said: “These shocking figures reveal that there are people out there who wish to do harm to some of society’s most vulnerable people.

“We must do everything we can to empower those who suffer this type of appalling abuse and discrimination to speak out.”

‘My son started ripping his clothes with stress and anxiety’

Amanda’s son who has Down’s Syndrome was a victim of disability hate crime in York.

She said: “Once, I put my recycle bins at the front of the house which one of my neighbours clearly didn’t like.

“She started telling my son Alex to move them. She was quite nasty about it to both of us. It quickly spiralled into her entire family giving us both abuse and whenever he was home alone they were intimidating him, openly talking badly about me to upset him.

“Alex started ripping his clothes with the stress and anxiety, something he has done since he was little. I found enough ripped clothes to fill a black sack which was hidden behind his bed. He was losing his independence as he wanted me to be at home all the time for fear of them upsetting him.

“We had to call the police several times and she eventually received a police caution.

“Even after that, I had to contact the police again. This stopped her from doing anything further but her mother and her children continued the harassment. After nearly two years, we decided to move to get away from them.”

All names have been changed.

Source: BBC News

The BBC’s director general has spoken of the “importance” of a report into the Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic (BAME) culture at the corporation.

Tony Hall addressed staff on Wednesday saying he was “determined” to implement findings from the two-year long review.

The recommendations address ways in which the BBC can boost diversity and further the careers of BAME staff.

Among the suggestions was to appoint two BAME members to the BBC’s executive committee by 2020.

The report’s aim states that by the same year at least 15 per cent of the corporation’s leadership should be from a BAME background.

The findings found that although BAME leadership numbers are at their highest level in the corporation’s history, they fell well below the 2020 target at just 10.4 per cent.

In certain areas BAME employees in leadership are below four per cent and there are currently no BAME members of the executive committee.

The findings showed that during the lifetime of the report, the BBC’s BAME workforce has increased from 13.1 per cent in 2015 to 14.8 per cent in 2018.

This is the highest percentage of BAME employees at the BBC ever, the report says, with the largest proportion of BAME employees found in the Professional Service and World Service Group areas.

Figures in the BBC’s Nations and Regions, however, are said to be “very low”, even though many office locations are in cities and towns with high BAME populations.

Numbers of BAME employees in the creative areas are also low.

Here are a number of recommendations the report made:

  • Introduce a policy that ensures shortlists for all jobs at Band E (editor/manager level) and above include at least one BAME person by the end of summer 2018.
  • Dramatically increase BAME representation across interview panels.
  • All development and leadership programmes to have significant BAME representation.
  • Diversity and inclusion targets and BAME career progression should be incorporated into senior leadership team objectives and progression reviews.
  • Cultural awareness training should be compulsory for all team managers.

A number of high profile mistakes across BBC News in the last 12 months were also highlighted in the report – including getting the Mayor of London’s nationality wrong and the use of footage of the wrong Bollywood star in a TV news obituary.

The report said: “A more ethnically diverse newsroom is more likely to have picked these issues up before broadcast.” It also added: “More should be done to understand other cultures and any disinterest to learn challenged.”

Lord Hall said he was going to personally “champion” the recommendations made in the report.

He told staff: “In some areas we simply haven’t moved fast enough. I’m determined that we are going to change. It’s 2018, and it’s time for a new chapter for the BBC.”

Tunde Ogungbesan, who led the review, said the report was “more than just about numbers and tokenism – it is about culture and also recognising that what got the BBC to where it is today, will not get it where it needs to be tomorrow without a substantial culture change.”

He went on: “I am proud that the BBC as an organisation has come together to address these issues and I fully endorse the recommendations that we as a group have come up with.”

Source: BBC News

The BBC has pledged that at least two of its senior management team will be from a black, Asian or other minority ethnic (BAME) background by 2020, as part of a drive to tackle the lack of diversity at the top of the corporation.

Currently, just one of the 15 members of director general Tony Hall’s executive committee responsible for running the BBC is from a BAME background – the director of strategy, Gautam Rangarajan.

The new policy also extends to the senior leadership teams responsible for running the corporation’s divisions, such as radio and education, news and current and affairs, content (TV), and design and engineering.

In addition, shortlists for all senior roles at the BBC will have to include at least one BAME member, a similar system to the Rooney rule introduced in American football.

The BBC has adopted the policies following recommendations from an internal report on career progression and culture for BAME staff at the corporation, which was published on Wednesday.

“They are a range of proposals which we believe will transform the BBC,” said Hall. “This is now a real chance to accelerate change in an unparalleled way. Today’s report is a huge step forward.”

The issue of the BBC’s lack of diversity first made headlines in 2001 when Greg Dyke, then the director general, famously described the corporation as “hideously white”.

Last year, Sharon White, the chief executive of the BBC’s new regulator,Ofcom, criticised the corporation for failing to lead the way in having a diverse workforce.

A report last year by Ofcom found that women, minority ethnic groups and disabled people are all under-represented by broadcasters in the UK. The BBC failed to lead in any of the areas covered by the regulator’s diversity statistics.

The BBC has said that by 2020 it wants half of its workforce to be women, 8% disabled people, 8% lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender people, and 15% to be from a BAME background.

The corporation will also tackle further issues highlighted by the report, including its divisions with less than 10% BAME representation, and “below par” employee survey results including in radio, newsrooms, newsgathering, English regions and the BBC World Service.

“This is an excellent report based on an unprecedented level of engagement from staff,” said Hall. “By better reflecting the broader population we will make better programmes that reflect the lives, interests and concerns of everyone. The proposals build on our existing initiatives, which have been making a difference. This is a great opportunity. We will grasp it.”

Sir Lenny Henry, the actor and comedian, has led calls for Ofcom to force the BBC to increase the diversity of its workforce by setting quotas for on-screen and off-screen staff.

The BBC’s initiatives to tackle on-air issues include a £2.1m diversity development fund to support and accelerate on-air projects with diverse content or talent.

Source – The Guardian

The maximum amount disabled people can claim to help them access employment is set to increase to £57,000 a year.

This is a £15,000 – or 38% – rise from the current cap on Access to Work funding, which was introduced in 2015.

The work and pensions secretary said the move was part of the government’s commitment to have one million more disabled people in work by 2027.

But campaigners have launched a legal challenge saying the cap could affect deaf people and those with high needs.

Access to Work provides money to cover the extra costs disabled people face when working – such as hiring support workers, buying specialised equipment and travel expenses.

Announcing the change in a written statement from the government, Esther McVey said it believed disabled people “should have the opportunity to thrive”.

  • Disabled people ‘losing out on jobs’ due to cap
  • Disability plan ‘will help a million work’

The cap was set in 2015 at 1.5 times the average salary, but it is now double that average.

‘Entirely arbitrary’

The new cap level will apply to new claimants from April.

However, campaigners argue the existence of a cap will still disproportionally affect deaf people and those with high-level needs.

Campaign group Inclusion London called the cap “inappropriate and discriminatory.”

They said: “It is still a fixed limit set in an entirely arbitrary way, whereas costs for highly specialised equipment and good quality professional interpreters, tailored to an individual’s needs, can exceed this amount or vary from year to year.”

But the UK Council on Deafness welcomed the increase and said it would help deaf people to access “vital” communication support, “enabling them to thrive and succeed in the workplace”.

Source: BBC News


Men, ethnic minority candidates and older staff could be the answer to fulfilling a pledge to double free childcare hours.

An estimated 11,000 workers are needed to meet the Scottish government’s flagship policy.

Funded nursery places for eligible two-year-olds as well as all three and four-year-olds will rise from 600 hours a year to 1,140 hours a year by 2020.

The government said a broader approach to recruitment was a priority.

A new skills investment plan said the recruitment of workers “remains a challenge” for the industry and the demand for additional workers for early learning and childcare (ELC) “will only be met by widening the scope of recruitment and utilising non-traditional pathways”.

The plan was drawn up by Skills Development Scotland (SDS) and others, including the Scottish government, the Care Inspectorate, the Care and Learning Alliance and Early Years Scotland.

It said: “A persistent challenge is recruiting and retaining people to work in ELC and to diversify the workforce in terms of age, ethnicity, gender and disability.

“Continuing to attract people into the sector is a priority.

“Attracting people from a black and minority ethnic background, career changers, parents and returners to the sector also offer potential solutions to the recruitment challenge.”

Figures showed almost 39,000 people working in the sector in 2016 – a rise of 5% on 2010. A previous increase in free hours is thought to be the reason.

‘Dispel myths’

The report said bringing men into the sector was a challenge as the workforce “remains overwhelmingly female”, with women making up 97% of staff.

Meanwhile, more remote and rural areas have their own challenges attracting staff as the pool of potential workers is smaller.

SDS said childcare is “often perceived by potential recruits as an unattractive employment destination offering low status, gendered assumptions about the nature of the work and employment terms and conditions”.

The report said: “A targeted and focused approach is needed to dispel myths, and tackle negative perceptions and stereotypes associated with the sector.

“More men and people from diverse backgrounds must be encouraged to enter and remain in the sector.”

SDS chief executive Damien Yeates said: “The skills investment plan recognises that the early learning and childcare sector has the ability to meet growing demand for a skilled workforce.

“There are challenges to meet to ensure growth at such an ambitious level in the sector.

“The plan identifies areas that need to be addressed, such as the lack of flexible learning opportunities; a need to attract more candidates and to ensure the demand is met with the creation of a high-quality skilled workforce.”


Source: BBC News

The first minister has warned businesses to step up the pace of gender equality or the progress already made could stall.

Nicola Sturgeon said companies must “inject new momentum” into improving women’s representation.

She was speaking following publication of the Hampton- Alexander Review which calls for FTSE companies to increase the number of female board members.

She said: “Public tolerance of gender inequality has never been lower.”

The independent review was commissioned by the UK government to look at ways to increase the number of women in senior positions.

It found the proportion of women on FTSE-100 boards had doubled, from one in eight in 2011 to more than one in four in 2017.

But it said progress had been much slower last year and said a “step change is needed in pace”.

Sturgeon gives speech on Female role Models.

Addressing business leaders in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon said: “The Hampton-Alexander Review highlights some clear improvements made in boardroom gender equality in recent years.

“While welcome, these changes are not nearly enough. Indeed, there are signs progress slowed or even stalled in 2017.

“This year, which marks the centenary of woman’s suffrage in the UK, is an opportunity to inject new momentum into improving female representation – not simply at board level, but across the economy as a whole.”

Reputational damage

One of Ms Sturgeon’s first moves as first minister was to appoint a gender-balanced cabinet.

She has also previously said that equality for Women was ”at the heart of the Scottish Government.

The first minister told the Hampton-Alexander Review event in Edinburgh: “As a result of the wide-ranging debate on inappropriate behaviour and sexual harassment against women, there is rightly more scrutiny on equality in the workplace than ever before. There is also increased transparency about board appointments and pay.

“Public tolerance of gender inequality has never been lower. And the reputational damage to organisations that are too slow to make change – be they businesses, political parties or others – has never been higher.

“Many companies now realise that more equal representation in the boardroom, and in senior positions, improves businesses and benefits the bottom line.

“Crucially, it is an important step in achieving gender equality across society, as we work together to create a fairer and more prosperous Scotland.”


Source: BBC News

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