Nestled in a valley between the Great Himalayas and the Pir Panjal mountain range, Kashmir is an idyllic and culturally rich region, a cradle of Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist religious relics and architectural sites.
A group of young people walk down the streets of Chicago, broad grins on their faces. They have good reason to be happy: the ovations received by their repertoire of Latin American music when they played in the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra of Venezuela still echo in their ears.
Venezuela’s youth symphony orchestras that have enamoured audiences on several continents are a social programme aimed at fighting poverty and marginalisation, more than an artistic endeavour, says the founder of the initiative, José Antonio Abreu.
Venezuela’s youth orchestras have gotten used to wild applause and standing ovations in Europe.
But this time the warm reception was not for the Simón Bolívar Symphony Orchestra, the most visible face of the National System of Youth and Children’s Orchestras of Venezuela
(FESNOJIV), a network of youth and children’s orchestras that has put instruments and music scores in the hands of 400,000 children and young people.
Fatou (40), Awa (32) and Aissatou Gaye (24) sit in a meditative mood on the tiled floor outside their matrimonial home in Keur Massar, a township in the Senegalese capital Dakar.
On discussion panels, by email and in the blogosphere, Cuban intellectuals are speaking out to bring a critical perspective and propose roads forward to national development. And they increasingly seem to be including the transformation of public space as one of their goals.
Four figures bend intently over their work in one corner of the large vegetable garden near the western Niger village of Dioga. Months after the village's main harvest has been brought in – and eaten up – the irrigated green of the garden is welcome relief in a part of the country where hunger never seems far away.
For centuries, indigenous peoples and their rights, resources and lands have been exploited. Yet long overdue acknowledgment of past exploitation and dedicated efforts by indigenous peoples have done little to end or prevent violations of the present, stated indigenous leaders in the Manaus Declaration of 2011.
Lingering violence, intolerance and oppression in Tunisia, following the ousting of former dictator Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali in January 2011, tells the revolutionaries who sparked the Arab Spring that their work is just beginning.
The fate of a gender equality bill pending in Indonesia’s parliament and aligned with the United Nations convention on the elimination of all forms discrimination against women (CEDAW) has become uncertain after falling afoul of powerful Islamist groups.
"Out of love for the river, we reforest, recycle, and make this place beautiful," says a sign welcoming visitors to the Floragaita school, where a balsa (Ochroma pyramidale) tree with enormous white flowers guards the entrance to the lush green grounds on a hill in the heart of Colombia’s Andes mountains.
Social activists say that attempts to rehabilitate sex workers in this former monarchy call for special efforts to uplift the Badi, a Hindu caste that has for centuries been associated with entertainment and prostitution.
While Aung San Suu Kyi enjoys iconic status in Myanmar (also known as Burma), women remain invisible in this country steeped in Buddhist tradition and emerging from decades of military rule.
María dos Prazeres de Souza has lost count of the number of births "without a single death" she has attended as a midwife, an occupation that there is renewed interest in strengthening in traditional communities in Brazil where state services are not available or are not entirely acceptable for cultural reasons.
Even though she was kidnapped, pressured into marrying a man from a nearby village, and then abandoned without means to sustain herself and the couple's two young children, Totugul can't rely on Kyrgyzstan's courts for help.