Information and news on advocacy.

Presidential Candidates' Views on Poverty
The globe pays attention to the U.S. presidential elections. As one of the largest national powers in the world, many take an interest in who will potentially be leading the country and are eager to hear the presidential candidates’ stance on various issues. From the health care system to budget spending, each candidate, regardless of party affiliations, has their own perspective on what those issues actually are and what the best way to approach them is. This article will focus on how important the presidential candidates’ views on poverty are to them and the American people.

2020 Presidential Candidates’ Views on Poverty

For a long time, global poverty was a backseat issue. Rarely did it ever take the spotlight at debates, campaigns or rallies, and never has it been the question of the hour. In the 2016 U.S. presidential election, polls showed issues that voters cared about the most, with the top five comprising of the economy, terrorism, foreign policy, health care and gun control. Neither domestic or global poverty even made it into the top 15.

Despite an overwhelming amount of evidence showing that poverty can heavily affect all of the top five most important issues mentioned, giving attention to the presidential candidates’ views on poverty has never been a topic of debate. Campaigns often overlook this point.

The fault is not all in the candidates, however. Polls between the years of 2007 and 2015 found that only a little over half of the Americans surveyed thought that looking at issues regarding the poor and those in need was important. When candidates are relying on the people to propel their campaigns, it is no surprise that they should cater to the more glamorous topics and points of interest.

The Beginning of Change

At a recent forum held in Washington, D.C., eight of the nine notable candidates in attendance, including former Vice President Joe Biden, Senator Kamala Harris and Senator Bernie Sanders, confirmed that they would be open to speaking about their intended policies in regard to global poverty. This would happen in a televised debate during their run for the 2020 presidential elections.

The Poor People’s Campaign, an institution dedicated to eradicating poverty, racism and war economy, sponsored the recent forum. Co-chairs of the organization, Dr. William Barber II and Dr. Liz Theoharis, spoke about why a dedicated discussion specifically focusing on the presidential candidates’ views on poverty is so necessary, saying, “We are here because, in 2016, we went through the most expensive presidential campaign in U.S. history without a serious discussion or debate about systemic racism or poverty.”

Looking Forward

As the 2020 presidential election approaches and the debates begin, there is no doubt that the usual topics of interest will be at the forefront of every discussion. With the signs of change occurring, however, there is hope that poverty and its accompanying solutions will take the stage as well. Giving a voice to poverty and the people who suffer from it is the first step, and ultimately will lead to the overall improvement and acceleration of people everywhere.

– Olivia Bendle
Photo: Pixabay

financial inclusion through technologyIn 2018, 1.7 billion adults worldwide, nearly 1 adult out of 3, still live without basic financial transaction accounts.

For the 1.2 billion people who did open financial accounts between 2011 and 2018, the problem is that many do not actively use their account. For example, in India’s initiative of financial inclusion in the early 2010s, nearly 90percent of the 100 million accounts opened are dormant, unused, or closed.

These are some of the daunting statistics that pose key challenges for universal financial inclusion by 2020 set by the World Bank. The goal is clear: getting people to open and maintain financial accounts.

Why Financial Inclusion?

Before discussing the mechanics of reaching universal financial inclusion, particularly for impoverished people in developing countries, why the push for financial inclusion at all?

The World Bank has released several studies that closely link poverty reduction, economic growth, and access to digital or physical financial services. In particular, for developing countries, empowering small farmers, merchants, and villages through financial stability and services can significantly improve their livelihood and economic security.

Additionally, financial inclusion, particularly through less formal means such as through microfinance or rotating savings and credit associations, has a key role in reducing social inequality for rural, poorer populations and women in developing countries.

What Are The Solutions?

Particularly in Southeast Asian countries, such as Indonesia and the Philippines, digital solutions to financial inclusion prove most successful. For example, a financial company in the Philippines, PayMaya, has opened doors to people across the country to allow new, emerging payment methods using QR codes. WeChat pay have partnered with a variety of businesses and mom-and-pop styled stores.

This strategy has worked, in part, due to the prevalence of smartphones in Philippines. The number of mobile phone users in the Philippines reached 74.2 million (out of a population 108.2 million), around 70 percent of the country’s population. PayMaya has also utilized the network of local vendors and merchants in the Philippines, which makes their service convenient and credible to impoverished populations who trust local merchants they have been going to for years.

Success in Indonesia

Indonesia is another success story of digital financial inclusion. For example, by making their G2P programs digital, welfare recipients receive payments directly to their digital accounts, which demonstrates the power that technology can have in reducing transaction costs and increasing convenience for those in need. Indonesia also has the regulatory framework to house a thriving banking industry and network of mobile operators. Indonesia has identified that 119 million adults are still excluded from financial services, but that, 100 million out of the 119 are smartphone users. So, the continued path forward for financial inclusion in Indonesia will be increased digitization of financial services.

What Is The Future of Financial Inclusion?

The examples of Indonesia and the Philippines shed light on broader discussions about financial inclusion from governmental organizations like the World Bank and companies like the International Finance Corporation. The success of Indonesia’s and the Philippines’ financial inclusion depends on lowering regulatory barriers, making financial options attractive and convenient, especially to poorer populations, and establishing strong social networks throughout the country.

Significant Barriers

These are exactly the barriers to reaching the last 1.7 billion excluded people, who are predominantly in developing countries. These populations often do not have enough money to open a bank account, lack the financial literacy to maintain a bank account, or simply do not trust brick and mortar institutions that do not have particular incentives to penetrate rural markets. Less formal means, such as microfinance or rotating savings and credit associations (ROSCAs), are more attractive because these systems pool money between trusted individuals, often friends or family, and allow people to save and borrow smaller amounts of funds that would not be enough to open a bank account.

World Bank Efforts

The World Bank has targeted several categories to develop over the coming years, such as creating a regulatory environment to enable access to transaction accounts, drive government-based solutions and programs for transaction accounts, focus on the disadvantaged, such as rural families and women, and digitize payments. The World Bank has identified 25 priority countries where nearly 70 percent of all financially excluded people live worldwide and are on track to reach 1 billion opened accounts by 2020.

From a corporate standpoint, PayMaya shows that financial inclusion offers a new, emerging market for financial and fintech companies, who have an economic incentive and profit motive for tapping into developing countries and helping to improve access to financial services. Digital finance has the potential to reach over 1.6 billion new retail customers in developing countries, with potential profits from the aggregate market estimated to be an astounding $4.2 trillion.

With both political will and economic incentive, the way forward seems clear: invest in digital solutions that partner with local networks and that work to tailor to the preferences of poorer populations, who may have low financial literacy and may mistrust large, corporate institutions.

– Luke Kwong
Photo: Flickr

First Ladies for Global IssuesU.S. presidents are often put in the spotlight, but what many people overlook is the work of America’s First Ladies. This list offers insight into the most influential First Ladies for global issues and their efforts to address these issues.

Top 8 Most Influential First Ladies for Global Issues

  1. Eleanor Roosevelt- Weeks after Franklin Roosevelt assumed his role as president, Adolf Hitler became the chancellor of Germany. Hitler’s reign spurred a European refugee crisis. Eleanor Roosevelt used her platform as First Lady to garner U.S. support for refugees. To that end, she came out as a supporter of the Wagner-Rogers bill. This bill would allow the entry of 20,000 German children into the U.S. The Wagner-Roger bill ended up dying in committee, but the First Lady didn’t stop there. Eleanor Roosevelt proceeded to establish the U.S. Committee for the Care of European Children. USCOM was able to bring refugee children from France safely into the U.S.
  2. Patricia Nixon- This First Lady was known for her avid support of volunteerism and charitable causes. During her time in the White House, she made numerous journeys abroad. The first solo trip Patricia Nixon took was to Peru to provide relief supplies to earthquake victims. She later traveled as her husband’s Personal Representative to Africa and South America.
  3. Rosalynn Carter- Rosalynn Carter embarked on perhaps one of the most ambitious international missions taken by a First Lady. In 1977, she visited Venezuela, Colombia, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Costa Rica and Jamaica and assumed the position of the President’s representative. She took part in meetings to discuss policy issues such as drug trafficking, arms reduction and human rights. She continued her work in 1979 when she learned of the Cambodian refugee crisis. After seeing the conditions of the crisis for herself, she urged the U.N. to get involved in the issue. As a result of her urging, the National Cambodian Crisis Committee was established.
  4. Nancy Reagan- This First Lady is well known for her efforts to address the global drug epidemic. In 1985, Nancy Reagan held a First Ladies Conference on Drug Abuse to discuss solutions to drug abuse with other first ladies from across the globe. The following year, Reagan became the first First Lady to meet with the U.N. General Assembly where she highlighted the importance of attacking the world’s growing drug epidemic.
  5. Hillary Clinton- Hillary Clinton formed an impressive network with female global leaders across the world. She helped establish Vital Voices, an initiative that encouraged the incorporation of women in politics. She spoke out about gender equality at home and abroad. Clinton was one of the only political figures to draw attention to the violent treatment of Afghan women by the Taliban regime.
  6. Laura Bush- As First Lady, Laura Bush allocated much of her time towards improving global education and health. In 2005, she made the journey to Afghanistan to promote teacher-training institutions for women. Towards the end of her husband’s presidency, Bush continued traveling the world to promote the importance of global health. In 2007, she traveled to the Middle East to raise awareness for women’s health and breast cancer.
  7. Michelle Obama- In 2015, Michelle Obama launched the Let Girls Learn program. This program focuses on getting girls worldwide into school and making sure they remain in school. Let Girls Learn works with USAID, the State Department and the Peace Corps to carry out its mission. In 2016, Obama traveled to greet recipients of the benefits of the Let Girls Learn program in Liberia and Morocco.
  8. Melania Trump- Melania Trump has shown that she intends on following in the steps of her predecessors. She has targeted disease, trafficking and hunger as some of her main issues. The First Lady urged the U.N. to do more to aid these causes. She most recently embarked on a trip to Kenya, Egypt and Ghana. The First Lady was touched by the experience, and according to President Trump, there are intentions of helping these regions in the future.

– Gabriella Gonzalez
Photo: Flickr

end female genital mutilationThe international agencies UNICEF and UNFPA are now in their second year of Phase III of their joint campaign to end female genital mutilation (FGM). While this human rights violation receives less coverage than many other plights affecting the world’s poor, the world’s leaders have come together in recent years to agree on the need to end female genital mutilation. Complete elimination of FGM is recognized as part of the Sustainable Development Goals the global community hopes to reach by 2030.

The Issue at a Glance

The UNFPA defines FGM as “any procedure involving partial or total removal of the external female genitalia or other injury to the female genitals for non-medical reasons.” Affecting 200 million women and girls today in 30 countries, FGM can take the form of a clitoridectomy, infibulation—a way of surgically sealing the vaginal opening—excision, or other damage to the genital area.

While FGM is most prevalent in Africa, it is widely practiced in parts of Asia and the Middle East as well. Egypt and Somalia have among the highest rates in the world, where over 90 percent of girls undergo FGM. In Indonesia and some Asian countries, FGM is so standardized that hospitals expect to perform it on all newborn girls.

Why FGM Should Be Stopped

Part of what makes FGM a human rights violation is that this treatment is typically done to girls under 15 who are not old enough to offer informed consent. Many agree to FGM after hearing myths of what will happen if they forgo the treatment, and the youngest never agree at all—their parents decide.

Not only does FGM violate a women’s right to make informed decisions about what happens to her body, which has physical and psychological repercussions, but it has a negative impact medically 100 percent of the time. Even when done by medical professionals with sterile tools and cutting-edge technology, FGM is a dangerous medical procedure that has no health benefits and frequently leads to a multitude of health issues later in life, including urinary problems, painful copulation and complications during childbirth, as affirmed by the World Health Organization. In short, girls are put through a painful procedure that has negative side effects down the road because of a cultural bias that women can’t be trusted to manage their sexual decisions.

How UNICEF-UNFPA’s Program Works to End Female Genital Mutilation

The reason FGM exists in the first place and has been so difficult for aid organizations to combat is that it is ingrained as a cultural norm. Girls grow up knowing that they will undergo this procedure and that their daughters will too—breaking that cycle appears inconceivable. Unfortunately, the reasons girls are guided to FGM are entirely myth-based and built on a sexist desire to limit female’s use of their sexuality. Girls are told that unless they undergo FGM, they will be dirty, impure or ineligible for marriage by either a religious sect or often by their community. This means that the work UNFPA and UNICEF does to fight involves looking for ways to change the social expectations around FGM.

Some of the specific ways UNFPA and UNICEF’s Joint Program is ending FGM include working with social groups and media to spread awareness of the health and human rights concerns associated with FGM and “to change perceptions of girls who remain uncut.” The agencies have also worked with government leaders to design policies that prohibit FGM to discourage the procedure for legal reasons and with religious leaders to “de-link FGM from religion.” As a result of their work, 31 million people have publicly declared abandonment of FGM. The focus has been on collective abandonment, since when only one or two individuals in a community give up the practice, they face being ostracized by their peers.

UNFPA and UNICEF, along with countless other international agencies, have worked to end FGM one girl at a time. Unfortunately, the procedure is still all too prevalent in large regions of the world. Removing taboos that FGM is too religious or too intimate of a topic to discuss will be necessary for the fight against FGM, and so women may be freed from this violation of their bodies.

– Olivia Heale
Photo: Flickr

NGO Innovation AwardEach year the International Council of Voluntary Agencies (ICVA) and the U.N. High Commissioner on Refugees (UNHCR) host more than 500 representatives of nongovernmental organizations around the world in their Annual Consultations in Geneva. These delegates debate refugee issues affecting both international and regional audiences as well as discuss new advocacy issues.

These annual consultations discuss data analytics as a pathway to better welfare systems; the implementation of the 2018 Global Compact on Refugees; the maintenance of moral, legal and safe aid to refugees; and UNHCR’s transition to an increasingly decentralized, local system.

Starting in 2018, the UNHCR has presented annual NGO innovation awards to celebrate NGOs they believe embody innovative practices required to truly integrate refugees into their new societies.

Honoring Partnerships and Connectivity in NGOs

Through the NGO Innovation Award, the UNHCR showcases exceptional NGOs with new kinds of solutions in refugee aid in order to inspire further innovation in the field. Recipient NGOs fall into two categories: inclusive partnerships and connectivity.

UNHCR describes previous winners of the partnership category as having people-centered, community-based, non-traditional and creative partnerships. Focusing on inclusion and diversity, these organizations drive solution-based, positive interventions in their environments.

In the category of connectivity, UNHCR looks for organizations that demonstrate creative and novel solutions to connectivity challenges of displaced people (e.g. literacy or access to finance).

The Winners Are Archetypes of Innovative NGOs

One of the 2018 winners was SINA Loketa (SINAL), a team of six Africans from different countries helping young refugees and marginalized youths become self-sustainable and self-actualized members of their (new) communities. Specifically, this NGO aims to help individuals from these two disadvantaged communities to design and launch social enterprises from their refugee camp and host community in Uganda.

Each year, SINA Loketa leads 90 new scholars through a personal and professional transformation based on project-based learning and hands-on experimentation. After being matched with a mentor, these individuals go through training covering team building, trauma healing, one-on-one life coaching, social innovation and entrepreneurship.

SINA Loketa envisions directly creating thousands of jobs by their startups and reducing Ugandan youth unemployment by three percent by 2028.

The second winner of the 2018 NGO Innovation award was Artemisszio, a charitable foundation based in Budapest, Hungary. It strives to build an open, tolerant society based on interculturality. Artemisszio focuses on young people disadvantaged by rural circumstances, incomplete schooling, Roma ethnicity and migration. This organization helps them integrate into the labor market and into society as a whole.

Artemisszio works with central members of these marginalized individual’s communities to create supportive relationships outside of the NGO. For example, the organization hosts classes for health care workers, educators, police and military personnel, about interculturality and stress management. Artemisszio also spearheads a multitude of other innovative outreach programs, including teaching at local primary and secondary schools.

An Archetype for Future NGO Innovation

The first two winners of the NGO Innovation Award, SINA Loketa and Artemisszio, engage disadvantaged members of society as well as society as a whole to create cohesion between them. Their multifaceted approach bridges what initially seems like a fixed divide between these two groups in both Hungarian and Ugandan communities.

UNHCR is calling for innovative solutions to issues that are constantly evolving. Each year they celebrate solutions that introduce refugees as positive influences in their new communities.

The answer to what is the NGO Innovation Award lies in the annual celebration of organizations that fill a need in their communities that had not been duly addressed previously. These two winners can serve as an inspiration for current and future NGOs to better their communities.

– Daria Locher
Photo: Flickr

HarassMapSexual harassment in the form of street harassment (catcalling, wolf-whistling, etc) is something that most women around the world have experienced. In fact, globally, at least 75 percent of women 18 years and older have experienced some form of sexual harassment; that’s at least 2 billion women of the 2.7 billion women who inhabit the earth. While some have used the #MeToo movement as a way to bring light to this issue, others have used technological advancements to combat this reality that most women face. This was the case for HarassMap, created to combat sexual harassment.

The Story of HarassMap

HarassMap was created by a group of four women in Cairo, Egypt; that were fed up with the amount of sexual harassment they were not only experiencing, but also hearing about or witnessing first-hand. These women were fighting sexual harassment in their own ways; one of them was working at a women’s rights organization where she started an anti-harassment program in 2005. She noticed the amount of harassment she and her coworkers experienced while commuting to and from their place of work. In fact, Egypt has one of the highest reported rates of sexual harassment for women wherein 90-99 percent of women 18 and older experienced some sort of harassment. Street harassment was something women in Egypt were used to and tolerated. No one ever did anything to stop it and women did not stand up for themselves nor did they report their experiences.

As these women worked with different NGOs to raise awareness about sexual harassment and focus on forcing people to confront it and discuss it, some of the NGOs lost interest and started supporting legislation that would deal with the legal side of stopping harassment. This didn’t stop the people at HarassMap though. They continued to fight harassment using social standards and eventually got their app developed within a year. Their goal was to shift the blame from the victims to the harassers, encourage intervention from bystanders, give women a safe place to report their harassment or assault without fear of judgment and start a conversation about confronting this epidemic. They launched the app in December 2010, and it has been active ever since.

What is Harassmap?

HarassMap is specifically for women in Egypt. It allows them to anonymously report harassment to the police or let other women know about areas where harassment is high. To report harassment or intervention, all one needs to do is log on to the app or site, input where the harassment or intervention took place, write out the report and submit it. The app then anonymously adds the report to a map as a ping where people can read what took place.

The app focuses on deterrence of harassment by allowing men and women to tell their stories while also praising those who interfere and help when someone is being harassed. The website contains helpful information for visitors, ranging from a how-to guide on interfering and definitions, all the way to legal and psychological advice for those who have been harassed or assaulted. The app itself serves not only as a safe environment where women can report their harassments but also a place to learn about sexual harassment and how to deal with it.

Since the Launch

The app is still active, and its creators have gained worldwide accreditation and won several awards for their tireless efforts to combat sexual harassment and change the conversation surrounding it. Some of these awards stem from Cairo University, World Summit Youth and My Community Our Earth Partnership. The app has also been partnered with Cairo University and other corporations to increase the prevalence of the app and its message. Its developers have also offered classes to combat sexual harassment for businesses and universities to provide a safer environment for women in Egypt. They have also done work outside of Egypt as well, by working with NGOs and setting up similar technology across Asia, Africa and the Middle East.

Since the debut of the app, different sexual harassment and sexual assault laws have been passed as well. One of the laws, passed in June 2014, makes sexual harassment illegal in Egypt for the first time. Those who are caught harassing can face as few as six months or as many as five years in prison and pay as much as LE 50,000 ($3,000) in fines.

Even though HarassMap is growing and reaching other countries, it is still only available to Egyptians who have access to a smartphone or computer; however, it is encouraging an important conversation. One can hope that women will feel safer on the streets of Egypt and all Egyptians will be able to discuss sexual harassment and assault in a productive and boundary-breaking way.

– Sydney Toy
Photo: Flickr

United States-Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act
On July 15, 2019, the United States House of Representatives unanimously passed the United States-Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act. The bill, announced by New York Representative Eliot L. Engel and Texas Representative Michael McCaul, seeks to provide greater safety and security for the Northern Triangle countries. The highest volume of immigrants from South America come from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala. It is the hope of the United States Congress that increasing aid and promoting a stronger economy and sense of security in these nations will address the root causes of the current migration crisis. This bipartisan legislation outlines several ways the United States may assist the Northern Triangle nations.

Details About The Bill

Firstly, the bill details a five-year program which focuses on economic development, the strengthening of democratic institutions and anti-corruption efforts. Because the insecurity of these countries’ economies is driving so many to seek refuge in foreign nations, enhancing market-based internal solutions for Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala is a priority of this plan. Furthermore, it will implement institutions and programs that will allow these places to remain resilient in the wake of frequent natural disasters.

In order to support the integrity of the democratic institutions of the Northern Triangle, this bill intends to provide support to ensure free, fair elections and the continuation of an independent media. This measure is to prevent the spread of political propaganda and to make the democratic process accessible to all.

This bill includes many measures to support and fund anti-corruption efforts, which is so important when so many migrants from these countries are leaving to escape the prevalent gang violence. It provides support for such efforts as faith-based organizations for at-risk youth. Many young people have no choice but to engage in violent gang activities in order to protect themselves or their families.

Funding From The United States

The United States-Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act is allotting $577 million dollars in monetary aid to these three countries for the 2020 fiscal year but includes strong conditions as to how the countries must use the funding.

The bill also includes measures to protect the safety of not only those native to Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador but also the many American people who have concerns regarding immigration into the United States. The act calls for visa bans and asset freezes for corrupt individuals in an effort to halt some of the corruption in government and drug trafficking which are making these nations unsafe.

This bipartisan legislation will also provide increased support for development efforts in southern Mexico. The hope is that there will be more peaceful relations between Mexico and the Northern Triangle nations to diminish some of the reasons for the mass exodus from these countries.

Lastly, Congress has mandated that the State Department and USAID provide reports regarding the root causes of migration in the Northern Triangle countries after the implementation of the United States’ aid. The bill mentions some of the root causes including drug trafficking, human trafficking, extortion, corruption, gender-based violence, gang activities and the forcible recruitment of children into gang activities. These reports will allow Congress to determine how aid from the United States and the implementation of social services has altered the social and political climate of the Northern Triangle.

A Promising Victory

With so much ever-heightening concern regarding the immigration crisis, the unanimous, bipartisan passing of the United States-Northern Triangle Enhanced Engagement Act, which the Borgen Project supports, is a victory for the current state of poverty amongst immigrants. If this bill officially becomes law, it is the hope of Congress that the United States’ assistance and aid to the Northern Triangle countries will target the many causes of immigration and allow people to remain in their homes with a sense of security.

– Gina Beviglia
Photo: Flickr

10 Interesting Facts About Mahatma Gandhi
Revered as a Mahatma, or “great soul,” by the poet Tagore, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was an activist who changed India forever. Known for dressing in only a loincloth and a shawl, Gandhi became a leading figure in gaining India’s independence from Great Britain. Here are 10 interesting facts about Mahatma Gandhi.

10 Interesting Facts About Mahatma Gandhi

  1. Gandhi’s birthday, Oct. 2, is commemorated as the International Day of Non-Violence. Gandhi believed that the highest degree of consciousness was sacrifice. To purify, Gandhi would fast. Satyagraha, meaning “holding on to truth,” or the “truth force” was what Gandhi developed as a form of passive, civil resistance.
  2. Gandhi’s activism began in South Africa. In 1893, he was in Natal under a one-year contract, where he was subjected to racism by white South Africans. Gandhi specifically recounts being removed from a first-class railway compartment as his earliest experience in South Africa. Despite having a first-class ticket, he was thrown off a train. From that point onward, Gandhi decided to oppose the unjust treatment of Indians.
  3. Gandhi and Russian author, Leo Tolstoy, wrote letters to each other. The author and the activist both came from backgrounds leaning toward aristocracy and they both advocated for social equality. Gandhi’s first letter explained the religious duties and state laws experienced by Indians living in the South African province of Transvaal, and he asked Tolstoy to express his views on morality. Gandhi read Tolstoy’s works during his jail time in 1909. But he was most influenced by Tolstoy’s “The Kingdom of God is Within You,” which urged his search for religious truth in Hinduism. Afterward, Gandhi purchased a farm near Johannesburg and named it Tolstoy Farm. Bringing in about 80 residents, Gandhi experimented with a communal lifestyle he witnessed at a Trappist monastery.
  4. Gandhi was arrested more than once for opposing the mistreatment of Indian people. At 24, Gandhi started the Natal Indian Congress in order to fight discrimination against Indians in South Africa. In 1906, Gandhi and his followers protested the British policemen for profiling. He was jailed for seven years. Between 1921 and 1923, he was imprisoned for promoting civil rebellion. In 1930, he returned to jail in India for one year after illegally producing salt from saltwater and leading the Salt March, which he did to protest the government’s heavy tax on salt in India.
  5. When Gandhi returned to his birthplace in the Gujarat province, he worked against poverty by cleaning the area and building new schools and hospitals. During this time, he earned the nickname “Bapu,” meaning father. Gandhi advocated for better systems of education, and the offering of more consistent employment by the rich instead of small charities. Gandhi worked to feed millions of poor Indians, stating “You and I have no right to anything that we really have until these 3 million are clothed and fed better.”
  6. Gandhi’s method of charkha, or the spinning wheel, represented interdependence, self-sufficiency and a quiet revolution against British control of indigenous industries. Used to make textiles, the wheel is a staple of cotton growers and weavers. It gave employment to millions of Indians. It also makes up the “sun” in Gandhi’s Constructive Programme, a system for carrying out a struggle through community. Gandhi was a master of spinning himself. He encouraged his fellow Indians to make homespun cloth instead of purchasing overtaxed British goods.
  7. Gandhi demanded fair treatment for people in lower castes known as Dalits or the ‘untouchables,’ who he referred to as Harijans, or the children of God. Now, the term Harijan is considered offensive. Until the Indian Constitution of 1949, Dalits made up 15 to 20 percent of India’s population. Since then, many Dalits have gained political power, such as K.R. Narayanan who served as India’s president from 1997 to 2003. Dalits now make up 20 percent of Nepal’s population. Although caste discrimination is outlawed, they are still restricted from many public services. Gandhi tried to inform Indians about the evils of untouchability and the old caste system. Moreover, he conceptualized the ideas of cooperation and sharing between classes.
  8. Gandhi wrote two letters to Adolf Hitler, addressing him as “Dear Friend” and imploring him to stop the war. As tensions mounted in Europe after Germany occupied Czechoslovakia, Gandhi wrote a clear plea to Hitler. However, it never reached Hitler due to an intervention by the British government. One month after, Germany invaded Poland. Gandhi sent a second letter, explaining his own approach to British Imperialism. He asserted that Hitler and himself had both taken very different routes in protest—that of violence and nonviolence respectively.
  9. Gandhi believed in a unified India. In 1947, leaders chose to divide anyway, resulting in a Hindu India and a Muslim Pakistan. On Aug. 15, an outbreak of bloody violence erupted across the land, with many crossing the borders into India or Pakistan. Gandhi responded by fasting until all communities reunited. He became very sick during this time until Hindu and Muslim leaders came and pledged peace. Days later, Jan. 30, 1948, Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu extremist while on a vigil in New Delhi.
  10. Gandhi was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize five times but he never won. As one the strongest symbol of nonviolence in the 20th century, later members of the Nobel Committee publicly regretted this. He was nominated in 1937, 1938, 1939, 1947, and a few days before his assassination in 1948. Up until 1960, the Nobel Peace Prize was awarded almost exclusively to Europeans and Americans.

In 1948, a crowd of nearly 1 million people lined Gandhi’s funeral procession along the Yamuna River. These 10 interesting facts about Mahatma Gandhi show why he became the father of India. Although he never lived to see a united India, Gandhi’s teachings influenced the world with powers of nonviolence and love.

Isadora Savage
Photo: Google Images

As the leader of the United States, each past president has had a massive responsibility to serve the people of the U.S. However, many U.S. presidents have also made foreign policy a key part of their agendas. From John Adams to Barack Obama, presidents throughout American history have shared inspirational thoughts on helping those suffering from poverty across the globe in both speeches and colloquial conversation. Listed below are some of the top quotes on global poverty from U.S. presidents.

Top Quotes on Global Poverty from US Presidents:

  1. “We all do better when we work together. Our differences do matter, but our common humanity matters more.” —Bill Clinton, 42nd President of the United States
  2. “As the wealthiest nation on Earth, I believe the United States has a moral obligation to lead the fight against hunger and malnutrition, and to partner with others.” —Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States
  3. “To be good, and to do good, is all we have to do.” —John Adams, 2nd President of the United States
  4. “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have little.” —Franklin Delano Roosevelt, 32nd President of the United States
  5. “The duty of great states is to serve and not to dominate the world.” —Harry Truman, 33rd President of the United States
  6. “If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.” —John F. Kennedy, 35th President of the United States
  7. “Many in our country do not know the pain of poverty, but we can listen to those who do. And I can pledge our nation to a goal: When we see that wounded traveler on the road to Jericho, we will not pass to the other side. America, at its best, is a place where personal responsibility is valued and expected.” —George W. Bush, 43rd President of the United States
  8. “We know that a peaceful world cannot long exist one-third rich and two-thirds hungry.” —Jimmy Carter, 39th President of the United States
  9. “Progress in the most impoverished parts of our world enriches us all.” —Barack Obama, 44th President of the United States

All in all, these top quotes on global poverty from U.S. presidents highlight the importance of investing in foreign assistance not just from a humanitarian perspective but also as it relates to bolstering the global economy. Whether it’s John Adam’s simplistic message or George W. Bush’s illustrative parable, these wise words will hopefully inspire both U.S. citizens and future presidents to support policy and fund the world’s poor.

Sam Elster
Photo: Pixabay

poverty-fighting poetry
Poetry can offer a vision of a more just and fair world, a world which often runs contrary to conventional and established socioeconomic norms. For centuries, poets have used their pens to dispel myths and misconceptions about the poor with poverty-fighting poetry. Especially in the camp of written works, representations of poverty have caused a rift between poetry and the well-circulated novels and plays of renown authors and playwrights. The cryptic undertones of poetry force us to internalize and think about the hardships associated with poverty, while many novels and plays simply use poverty as a setting, or a stage on which authors and playwrights can effectively deploy their storylines.

Poverty-Fighting Poetry

Today, young people are harnessing the power of poetry to emphasize the burdens of poverty and to champion for a better world. Poetry competitions not only serve as a forum to advocate for change but as a means of giving back to the world’s most vulnerable communities.

Poetry at Menstrual Hygiene Day

In the United Kingdom, the Women and Girls organization launched a poetry competition for Menstrual Hygiene Day (May 28th) in which British youth were encouraged to write poems about period poverty. The goal of the organization and of the poetry competition is to expand access to sanitary protection and menstrual hygiene products for impoverished women in India. In many parts of South Asia, it is considered taboo to openly talk about menstruation and to even search for period products. This lack of understanding of the importance of female hygiene promotes the inability of women to care for themselves while on their periods, a plight commonly known as period poverty.

One of the judges of the competition, Perdita Cargill, thinks that poetry will help break down misunderstandings of menstruation and barriers to menstrual hygiene: “Let’s talk about periods and write poems about them and do whatever we can to help others get the fair access to sanitary protection they need for dignity and health.” Poverty-fighting poetry encompasses a breadth of struggles related to various forms of impoverishment, from period poverty to more common perceptions of poverty, such as economic inequality and hunger.

The Steps to Happiness Event

In Florence, Italy, the Lorenzo de’Medici school recently held The Steps to Happiness event where students wrote poems to inspire other young people to join Malala Yousafzai’s campaign to provide education for all. The winner of the competition, Katelin Pierce, captures the essence of expanding educational opportunities for young girls:

“These little girls may have little voices

but they have large hearts and many hands

and they grab all they can of letters and words and ideas

whispered to them in hushed tones.”

Hunger in the UK

Another poetry competition in the United Kingdom merged the Young Poets Network with End Hunger UK to address the crisis of food poverty in Britain. Statistics cited by the End Hunger organization claim that 1 in 4 parents with children aged 18 and under skip meals because they lack financial means; in fact, the United Kingdom falls only behind Albania as the second most food insecure country in Europe. The Young Poets Network and End Hunger UK teamed up to challenge British writers aged 11-25 to write about their personal experiences with food insecurity and to offer solutions to solve the food crisis. While poverty-fighting poetry enables young people to speak about their struggles with impoverishment, it also builds bridges of understanding and empathy.

These examples are all instances of poverty-fighting poetry that challenge traditional notions of which means can and cannot be used to address issues of global poverty. Innovative humanities-based approaches to poverty can accomplish something that more clinical and statist-based approaches cannot offer: understanding.

Grayson Cox
Photo: Flickr