March 16, 2023
Kate Nicholl: No quick fix for childcare situation in NI but bravery needed for overhaul
MLA Kate Nicholl with daughter Étaín Group 28 Get the latest nostalgia features and photo stories from Belfast Nostalgia straight to your inbox Invalid email Something went wrong, please try again later. Sign Up No thanks, close We use your sign-up to provide content in the ways you've consented to and improve our understanding of you. This means that we may include adverts from us and third parties based on our knowledge of you. We also may change the frequency you receive our emails from us in order to keep you up to date and give you the best relevant information possible. As always you can unsubscribe at any time. More info Group 28 Thank you for subscribing! We have more newsletters Show Me No thanks, close See our Privacy Notice As I sat listening to the Spring Budget, I felt genuine happiness for all the parents and campaigners who fought so hard to put childcare top of the Westminster political agenda. I also felt deflated - particularly as the hopeful messages started to ping through from constituents and Friends to see if this announcement was good for them. No, I responded, with the exception of improvements to Universal Credit, parents in Northern Ireland cannot access free childcare like the rest of the UK. It felt cruel to add: and in the absence of an Assembly, we are unlikely to see any significant change soon. READ MORE: Consumer expert Alice Beer shares her top money saving tips for savvy shoppers One of the reasons I ran for the Assembly was to try and help fix our broken childcare system. As Lord Mayor of Belfast I would visit women’s groups and hear how the lack of flexible childcare was a barrier to Women gaining skills and employment opportunities. I met exhausted grandparents who were doing what they could to ease the burden of their children’s extortionate childcare bills. I spoke to friends with kids whose “mum guilt” was exacerbated by the fact that they weren’t earning enough to justify childcare - but resented the prospect of stalling their careers. I saw that childcare was not just a gender issue or a class issue but that it was glaringly an economic issue. And I saw that if politicians really want to make a difference then we have to be brave, but we also have to be honest about the reality of the situation. So here’s the honesty: there is no quick fix. The 30 free hours model in England does not deliver for everyone. If providers can afford to keep their doors open, and many can’t, then they often have to offset costs elsewhere. Skilled staff are not being paid enough and so leave the profession for better paid jobs elsewhere. There’s no point in being given 30 free hours of childcare if it doesn’t reduce the cost or if you can’t use them anywhere. So as tempting as it is to reach for a soundbite policy which you can sell on the doors or fit in a tidy tweet – the truth is the 30 hours model is not working there, while our current system is certainly not working here – so what we need is bravery. Bravery and an overhaul. Prioritising childcare reform shouldn’t be controversial. When you start viewing childcare as key economic infrastructure, you see how it only makes sense to invest in it properly. We know parents – mainly women – are being forced out of the Labour market, this reduces tax take, impacts productivity and increases welfare spend. The Women’s Budget Group estimate there are 1.7million women who are prevented from taking on more paid work because of childcare, they believe providing universal childcare could boost the economy by £28 billion. It is hard to see any benefits to our system, but there is one: we have the opportunity to design a system that will work. We urgently need the Assembly up and running so we can deliver a fully costed childcare strategy and start to put in place measures which will give people what they deserve: affordable, flexible, and high-quality childcare. These are conditions which should be attached to subsidising providers directly, including paying staff decent salaries. We do not talk about how some of the most important, precious work is done by staff who are on poverty wages. During a recent conversation with a charity which campaigns for childcare, they discussed how they would like to see childcare professionals referred to as Early Years professionals and for them to receive the same pay as Primary School teachers. I want to have these discussions. I want to debate the models of other countries. I want to scrutinise fully costed models. I want us to innovate and reform our childcare system. For all of this we need an Assembly, and we need to work together to reduce the burden of impossible choices parents face, value the childcare sector and most importantly ensure all children are given the best start to life. They deserve nothing less. READ NEXT: Full breakdown of areas of NI getting Cost of Living payments in spring How food prices compare at four supermarkets in Northern Ireland PSNI warning as energy payment scam text circulating in NI When Cost of Living payments will be paid this year for people on benefits For all the latest news, visit the Belfast Live homepage here and sign up to our daily newsletter here. Story Saved You can find this story in My Bookmarks. Or by navigating to the user icon in the top right. Follow BelfastLive Facebook Twitter Comment More On In The News
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Star Wars Director Says It's About Time A Woman Makes A Star Wars Movie
Jan 02, 2024
Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Sharmeed Obaid-Chinoy is directing an upcoming Star Wars movie that brings back Daisy Ridley in the role of Rey. Obaid-Chinoy will become the first woman to direct a Star Wars film, dating back to the franchise's origins in the 1970s. Speaking about this, Obaid-Chinoy told CNN that she is "very thrilled" to make the movie and create something that is "very special.""We're in 2024 now, and I think it's about time we had a woman come forward to shape the story in a galaxy far, far away," she said.Obaid-Chinoy won Best Documentary, Short Subjects Academy Awards for Saving Face (2012) and A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness (2015).In 2020, Lucasfilm boss Kathleen Kennedy told the BBC that a woman would eventually direct a Star Wars movie, saying that would "absolutely" happen, "without question." Victoria Mahoney was a second unit director on The Rise of Skywalker, but a woman has never claimed a top directing credit on a Star Wars movie.On the TV side of things, The Mandalorian has featured a number of female directors, including Deborah Chow and Bryce Dallas Howard. Chow went on to direct the Obi-Wan TV series, too.Another high-profile franchise that has never had a female director is James Bond. Producer Barbara Broccoli and Skyfall director Sam Mendes have both said they want to see a woman direct a future 007 film.As for Obaid-Chinoy's Star Wars movie, little is known about it apart from the fact that Ridley will come back to play Rey. It is expected that this film will be the first of the three new Star Wars films to come to theaters, possibly releasing in December 2025.According to a report, Peaky Blinders creator Steven Knight is writing the Rey movie, taking over for Damon Lindelof and Justin Britt-Gibson.
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NBA Names Clare Akamanzi CEO Of NBA Africa
Jan 02, 2024 15:29
The NBA named Clare Akamanzi – an accomplished business executive and international trade and investment lawyer – as CEO of NBA Africa. Akamanzi will start her position on Jan. 23, 2024, and report to NBA Deputy Commissioner and Chief Operating Officer Mark Tatum. In this role, Akamanzi will oversee the NBA’s business and basketball development efforts in Africa and will be responsible for continuing to grow the popularity of basketball, the NBA and the Basketball Africa League (BAL) across the continent, including through grassroots basketball development, media distribution, corporate partnerships, and social responsibility initiatives that improve the livelihoods of African youth and families. For the last six and a half years, Akamanzi was CEO of Rwanda Development Board (RDB), where she spearheaded Rwanda’s economic development by enabling private sector growth. Under Akamanzi’s leadership, RDB implemented several business policy reforms and initiatives that led to significant investment and development for the country, including through partnerships with the BAL, Arsenal FC, Paris Saint-Germain FC, FC Bayern Munich and TIME Magazine, among others. “Clare’s business acumen, international experience and familiarity with basketball and the NBA make her the ideal executive to lead our business in Africa,” says Tatum. “NBA Africa and the Basketball Africa League are well-positioned for continued growth, and under Clare’s leadership we believe these initiatives will transform economies, communities and lives across the continent.” “I’ve seen firsthand how sports can positively impact businesses, families and communities in Africa, and the NBA and the BAL are a perfect example of that,” says Akamanzi. “The NBA has done an incredible job growing basketball and the economy around it across the continent, and I’m excited about the enormous opportunities ahead to build on that momentum.” Previously, Akamanzi was Chief Operating Officer of RDB and Head of Strategy and Policy Unit, Office of the President of the Republic of Rwanda. She has extensive international trade, business and diplomatic experience, having previously worked for the Rwandan Government at the World Trade Organization in Geneva, Switzerland and at the Rwandan Embassy in London, England. Akamanzi has worked or studied in seven different countries and holds an honorary LLD from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada, in recognition of her work in Rwanda. She earned a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where she was the recipient of three prestigious awards for academic excellence and distinguished contribution to the community: the Lucius N. Littauer Fellows Award, the Raymond & Josephine Vernon Award and the Robert Kennedy Public Service Award. In addition, Akamanzi holds a Master of Laws degree in international trade and investments from the University of Pretoria in South Africa, and a Bachelor of Laws degree from Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda. Akamanzi has served on several company boards, including the World Health Organization (WHO) Foundation, ECOBANK and Aviation, Travel and Logistics (ATL) company. She was recognized by Forbes as one of Africa’s Top 50 Powerful Women in 2020.
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