Primark to train 160,000 cotton farmers in sustainability drive

Retailer’s target is part of aim to use 100% sustainable cotton in all product categoriesPrimark has announced plans to improve its sustainability credentials by training 160,000 cotton farmers in India, Pakistan and China in environmentally friendly f…

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Britain’s ethnic pay gap: workers of Bangladeshi heritage paid least

Campaigner says ‘race still dictates how much you get paid in this country’ Workers of Pakistani or Bangladeshi heritage have the lowest median hourly pay of any ethnic group, in the latter case earning 20.1% less than white British workers, the first …

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Abuse in Pakistan: ‘I’m more scared of harassment online than offline’

The country’s first cyber harassment helpline is providing legal and psychological support to women facing threats on social media platforms

In January 2016, Suman was on her way to take her university exams when she was approached by a motorbike. The man grabbed her, took her to an isolated location and poured acid on her face. Despite her shrieks for help, the area was deserted and no one came to her aid. Suman’s face burned, stinging and swelling to the point where her lips and eyes were no longer visible.

The assailant – Suman’s brother-in-law – had a long history of harassing her. In the years before the attack, he had initiated unwanted sexual advances and implored her to marry him. In 2014, her brother-in-law had even pinned her down, taking compromising photos that he stored on a USB drive.

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For too long, Pakistani schools have been a means to provide jobs, rather than education

Pakistan is trying to spend its way out of its education crisis. It can’t. But the government can learn about accountability and efficiency from private schools

With more than 20 million children out of school, Pakistan has, at last, begun talking about its education crises. Our media and civil society routinely grill politicians on a lack of funding for public schools. Opinion sections of national newspapers usually publish a few articles a week on how the lack of quality education is becoming an existential threat to Pakistan’s social cohesion. Foreign aid funded projects take primetime television ads to tell parents about the importance of educating their children.

It has had some impact; education has become a key talking point in political debates. The government regularly boasts about the growing education budget with promises to provide an “excellent environment” to students. But what is lacking in this increasingly noisy debate on Pakistan’s education crisis is the experience of parents and students on the ground.

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Empty reservoirs, dry rivers, thirsty cities – and our water reserves are running out | Yasmin Siddiqi

Aquifers, the world’s reserve water tank, are running dry. It’s not easy, but we can work out how much groundwater is left, and how it’s being used

We live on a parched planet. Farmers till arid pastureland and policymakers fret over empty reservoirs, dry rivers and thirsty cities. And that only scratches the surface – literally – of the world’s water problem. Subterranean aquifers, the world’s reserve water tank, are also running dry. The consequences could be dire, especially for water-stressed and fast-growing Asia.

These repositories of water located deep underground in permeable rock, soil or sand contain about 100 times the amount of water found on the Earth’s surface in streams, lakes, rivers and wetlands. If you’re in central Africa, South America or some parts of Europe, chances are you’re standing a few hundred feet above one.

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‘It is us who will change the world’: girl guides make their voices heard

What does it mean to be a girl today? These letters shed light on the challenges facing young women across the globe, and the power of collective action

In a bid to ensure young women’s voices are heard, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts has launched a letter-writing campaign, encouraging its 10 million members to share their hope and ambitions for a better world with girls across the globe so that together they can form a stronger collective voice about issues that affect them, such as gender equality and discrimination.

Here are excerpts from letters written by guides across the globe, who reveal the issues affecting them.

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There are reasons to be cheerful… LGBTI rights gains in unlikely countries

Iraq, Tunisia and Lebanon are three countries that have made progressive steps forward in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex human rights this year

In the last 12 months, Martin Luther King’s “arc of the moral universe” has bent towards lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) human rights.

Related: Live chat with Peter Tatchell: what can we do to support LGBTI rights around the world? Mon 20 Feb, 2-3.30pm

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