Information and stories on awareness.

Poverty in Kyrgyzstan
Kyrgyzstan is a shining example for other nations in Central Asia. Despite a poverty rate of 38%, Kyrgyzstan has made tremendous progress over the years in reducing its poverty, and it continues to do so. On top of the progress, the country is trying to make economically, the nation is actively trying to make social improvements to its society. Specifically, Kyrgyzstan wants to make its society better for women. One example of Kyrgyzstan’s efforts to do this is the Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW). Other forces actively pushing for equality in Kyrgyzstan include the Forum of Women’s NGOs of Kyrgyzstan (FWNGO). The work of FWNGO has been persistent, and it has helped many causes that promote women’s equality in Kyrgyzstan.

Goals of FWNGO

One of the goals of FWNGO is to engage women’s organizations on a local level in order to complete certain goals. For example, FWNGO wants local women’s organizations to help increase the number of women in governing bodies, and for these women to hold important decision-making roles. Decreasing violence against women is another important goal of FWNGO. To do this, FWNGO helps local women’s organizations monitor violence against women. The work of FWNGO also focuses on education. This includes educating women’s rights organizations about the field of gender equality and also teaching them important skills to further their goals.

FWNGO’s Programs

FWNGO runs numerous programs to promote women’s equality in Kyrgyzstan. One such program is its Participation of Women in Political Processes. This program started back in 2006, and since then, its purpose is to engage women to participate in all political levels within Kyrgyzstan. FWNGO believes that in order for women to have equality, they must fight for it by using the political processes that Kyrgyzstan affords them. FWNGO does not just want women themselves to participate in political processes in Kyrgyzstan; it wants other women’s rights organizations to help promote women as well. By having more women participate in elections, FWNGO can better guarantee that the interests of women will end up in government programs and decisions.

Another program that FWNGO runs is Combatting Discrimination and Violence against Women. The goal of this program is to reduce all forms of violence and discrimination that Kyrgyzstani women face. FWNGO actively works with other women’s rights organizations to prevent violence against women. To achieve these goals, FWNGO actively pursues aggressors against women and brings them to justice.

How it Helps

The work of FWNGO is important because it helps women living in poverty in Kyrgyzstan. Rural women in Kyrgyzstan are poorer than urban women, and their quality of life is much worse. Rural women are also less likely to actively participate in political processes in Kyrgyzstan. FWNGO seeks to help women living in these circumstances by encouraging them to participate in Kyrgyzstan’s political processes. While the focus of the FWNGO is on all women, rural women are in a tougher situation.

Kyrgyzstan has made great progress over the years. The work of FWNGO and organizations like it will ensure that progress will continue to occur.

– Jacob E. Lee
Photo: Flickr

Standardized English and Poverty
Standardized English and Poverty can be attributed to the fact that English ranks as the most commonly spoken language in the world. English originated in England and then spread worldwide through colonization, the internet, print and the spoken word. Because it has spread through colonization, it has also become a marker of social standing globally. English was not always this unified language.

The Bare Beginnings

English has gone through many changes and evolutions throughout its time. Its letters come from the Roman alphabet with partial pronunciation from Anglo-Saxons. For a long time, many different English-speaking groups lived in England. After the conquests in the middle ages and moving the court seat to London, the new speaking norms came from the English of London instead of ancestral Wessex. Manuscripts underwent revisions to translate them in the dialect of London English. Through printing, this way of speaking spread nationwide. Language is constantly evolving, especially vowels, and many shifts occurred. This period also saw the rise of language purists against the perceived threat of different ethnicities and cultures.

British or American?

English contains two orthographies: British English and American English. Both have the same core rules but hold to some different spelling and terms. A great example of this can be seen in the television series, “The Great British Bake Off.” Aside from a change in accents, bakers use different words for the same thing. For example, a baker may say “sponge” instead of “cake.” Even the show has a name change in the U.S., from “The Great British Bake Off” to “The Great British Baking Show.”

These changes are due to time, distance and America’s colonization. The Englishmen who first came to America were poor and desperate for a new life. Therefore, a new dialect quickly formed in America based primarily on the linguistic styles of rural England. Over time, these dialect differences became bigger and bigger until they diverged officially into British English and American English.

Language and Class

Despite only having two specific orthographies, English sports a ton of different dialects. A dialect is a way of speaking specifically to a region or group. One example of this is AAVE or African-American Vernacular English. This dialect likely formed after the transatlantic trade of enslaved people from Africa, who mingled English with their native languages to form a new dialect. Many groups impacted by colonization, such as India and South America, experienced variations of this phenomenon.

Eventually, English’s various strains and dialects were applied to social class in industry-based societies. These linguistic variants are still closely related to questions of education and race in social stratification. Someone speaking AAVE demonstrates that they have less education and are therefore lower in class. Linguistic discrimination occurs when those who don’t use standardized English are barred from promotion for not appearing as educated or intelligent. At times, linguistic prejudice can even result in unfair legal rulings when particular vernaculars are discredited.

How It Haunts Us

The results of language colonization still exist today. India links English to education and class. Ever since Great Britain’s colonization of India, British culture is still considered high class. Skin-whitening products remain popular in India for this reason. Only 20% of the population speaking any English, and only 4% can boost fluency. Of the fluent speakers, 34% earn more money than those who are not. Fluent English-speakers enjoy more opportunities in jobs and education, which both factors heavily into poverty. Therefore, 96% of the population that doesn’t speak English suffer an immediate disadvantage. Fluency offers greater means to escape poverty. Many other countries and minorities harmed by colonization share this classist structure.

Towards Linguistic Equality

Many organizations, such as colleges, are growing increasingly aware of this linguistic class issue. In 2018, Yale Law School’s Environmental Justice Clinic mounted a legal fight against New Mexico’s Environment Department on the basis of language discrimination against native Spanish-speakers. The conversation increasingly revolves around making college a safe place for all dialects and opening the class barrier. Equalizing education access, especially in areas with sparse funding, offers the first step towards mending the classist language barrier. Additionally, advocates hope to stop discrimination through legal bills as well as encouraging more acceptance among the standardized English-speaking populace.

-Audrey Burran
Photo: Flickr

The ActivistToday’s youth continue to make headlines by showing their passion for global activism. The increase in mass action against global injustices amplifies awareness of some of the world’s most pressing matters. The top five areas of concern for Gen Z youth are mental health, disease and famine, environmental issues, unemployment and education. According to a survey done in 2020, 20% of Gen Z youth often “donate or volunteer time to a cause.” The increased interest in global activism has captured the attention of major television networks, including CBS. The network plans to bring activism to primetime in fall 2021 with its new competition series, “The Activist.”

The Premise

The new show will center around six enthusiastic activists who will be split into three teams. A high-profile public figure will lead each team. The teams will compete to improve one of three critical global issues: education, health or the environment. The teams will receive judgment on how well they successfully campaign for their causes. The objective of each team is to establish influential movements that will publicize their message, spur action and propel the teams to the G20 Summit in Rome, Italy. From there, the activists must gain funding and support from world leaders. During the season finale, the team with the most support will be crowned the winner. Some of the world’s most noteworthy musicians will also perform at the finale. The series is produced by Global Citizen, a “movement of engaged citizens who are using their collective voice to end extreme poverty by 2030.”

Relevance to Global Poverty

One of the issues participants in “The Activist” seek to address is education. In 2016, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) reported that roughly one out of five children do not attend school worldwide. The “upper-secondary out-of-school rate” is highest in low-income countries at almost 60%.

The show will also tackle public health issues. Governments in low-income countries spend an average of $23 per person per year on health. This is extremely low when compared to the staggering rate of $3,860 per person spent by the U.S. government. Furthermore, child mortality rates in low-income nations are more than 10 times higher than in wealthy nations.

Lastly, “The Activist” plans to emphasize environmental issues. The World Health Organization (WHO) predicts that climate change will cause more than 250,000 deaths by 2030 due to heat stress, malaria and malnutrition. Climate change is especially troubling for low-income countries because of their susceptible geographical locations and their weakened ability to survive damage caused by extreme weather and elevating sea levels.

Inspiring Action

“The Activist” will be a platform to educate viewers on these imperative global issues and motivate the global population to support laws and policies beneficial to improving conditions in developing countries. By showcasing the hard work and commitment of Gen Z activists, others will hopefully be inspired to take action themselves. In all global issues, the commitment and activism of the youth will certainly have a marked impact.

Tiara Tyson
Photo: Flickr

soap operas fight povertySoap operas are a staple not only in U.S. television but abroad as well. Soap operas in several countries are going beyond entertainment by focusing on critical social issues in a particular country. The popularity of these television dramas has raised the possibility that soap operas can fight global poverty. Furthermore, “edutainment soaps” have often triggered important behavioral changes in the people who watch them.

Television’s Role

Television has become an integral part of people’s daily lives and an everyday accessory for every household. Televisions provide access to entertainment, but they also keep societies informed about events in other parts of the world. Additionally, technology allows people around the world to support one another and celebrate historical moments. Television programs, such as documentaries, provide information and education. Specific programs aim to promote intellectual growth in children. These shows also teach children moral values and social skills. Through movies and TV shows, people spark new conversations and begin to form new communities. Television creates a safe way to introduce different values into foreign countries. Storytelling is the easiest way to challenge social norms, which makes soap operas valuable tools.

Soap Opera’s Rising Influence

In the United States, soap operas may have lost their place as a popular type of television program. However, soap operas are a viable option in other countries, drawing in most of the community. Soap operas can attract a broad range of people, from those with high to little education. From Riyadh, Saudi Arabia to Casablanca, Morocco, 80 million people regularly watch at least one soap opera episode. The number of people viewing increases during Ramadan, a time of fasting. In the past, after the fast, people would traditionally listen to a “hakawti,” or storyteller, who recounts old tales. Soap operas have now taken the place of these storytellers.

These soap operas follow the same ideas as U.S. soap operas, with intricate plot lines and dramatization. Moreover, people can relate to the main characters because the characters battle adversities people see in their current societies. Topics that are considered too taboo or sensitive are often turned into storylines. The dramas have taken the place of fables by providing entertainment and education. These types of shows can bring about behavioral change within a culture and break stereotypes.

How Dramas Raise Awareness

Several television dramas have affected various issues using characters and plotlines to raise awareness. For example, one drama increased the use of condoms in South Africa after highlighting sexual practices and risks. Viewers of the program were four times more likely to use condoms to protect themselves. Another soap opera expanded involvement in literacy classes in Mexico City by nine times because the storyline involved a relatable character who was learning how to read. Additionally, a soap opera discussed the importance of children’s health insurance for low-income households and how to go about accessing it, which then increased applications for the specific insurance in the U.S. state of Colorado.

Soap operas have an important place in the Middle East. One can tackle a range of issues through television dramas, and in Arab societies, poverty is an important issue. The World Bank reported that more than 25% of children in poverty in Syria, Egypt and Morocco suffer from malnutrition. Unfortunately, the subsidies used to protect impoverished people end up in the hands of those that do not need them. Although the effectiveness of subsidies has shown itself in other countries, people in these areas resist subsidy reform. Introducing poverty reform education into soap operas could help the government educate people about how society can better fight poverty.

By introducing poverty-related reforms within television dramas, soap operas can fight global poverty. Employing these ideas in television dramas can break down the walls between different classes and introduce new ways to improve society.

Solomon Simpson
Photo: Flickr

Since 1976, The Québec Association of International Cooperation Organizations (AQOCI) has aided in bridging different organizations together from 13 regions of Québec for the same mission. This is to promote international solidarity and human development. Today, AQOCI is helping 64 organizations reach their goals. It is doing this by supporting members, building strategic alliances and sharing work with members of government and the general public. In addition, AQOCI is unique in that it not only works within its own organization but also lends a helping hand to its associated organizations. The Québec Association of International Cooperation Organizations promotes solidarity and unity among all nations to create equality.

AQOCI’s Programs

“Global education is a high priority for AQOCI,” explained AQOCI’S political analyst Denis Côté in an interview with The Borgen Project. In terms of global education, AQOCI uses public engagements such as events and activities to highlight issues relating to inequalities and gender rights, poverty, education and environmental sustainability. AQOCI takes pride in its many programs. These programs not only educate Québecers on issues but also creates advocacy at a national and international level.

Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (DFEG)

AQOCI’S Women’s Rights and Gender Equality (DFEG) program promotes concrete change for women. It does this by committing to ensuring greater consideration for women’s rights and equality by constantly creating new initiatives. Such initiatives include its 12 Days of Action Against Violence Against Women. The 12 Days of Action Against Violence Against Women is a campaign that runs from November 25 to December 6. Each year, it has a different topic that events and social media campaigns discuss. The topics have ranged from violence against women and migration to violence against women and climate change. According to Statistics Canada, half of all women in Canada have experienced one form of physical or sexual violence starting from the age of 16. Above all, this is a statistic AQOCI is working towards drastically lowering.

Canadian Coalition on Climate Change and Development (C4D)

Similarly, the Canadian Coalition on Climate Change and Development (C4D) is a coalition that AQOCI is a member of that focuses on climate-related issues. C4D consists of a cluster of international development and environmental organizations. All of the organizations are working towards exchanging knowledge and implementing action plans regarding environmental challenges. In addition, Côté says that AQOCI has “lobbied the government for many years to try to create an ombudsman person position to investigate when Canadian companies especially mining companies, are accused of human rights violations and countries of the global south.” These types of actions help push forward coalitions such as the C4D agenda.

Looking Ahead

AQOCI focuses not only on the symptoms of poverty and inequality but also works on fixing the causes. In the future, AQOCI will continue to give “as much voice as we can to marginalized communities in the south,” says Côté. It will especially focus on women and Indigenous people. The Québec Association of International Cooperation Organizations promotes solidarity in all it does to help fight for those who cannot. When discussing what the public should expect from the future, Côté explained that AQOCI has begun to focus on the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Pandemic-related initiatives from the organization will continue to work towards changing the world through collectivity.

– Jessica Barile
Photo: Flickr

Fashion can Contribute to PovertyFashion can contribute to poverty, but it is also a powerful force that lifts women out of poverty as it has stirred up a feminist movement. Brands that provide a living wage for female garment workers empower them to lead dignified lives. Additionally, these fashion brands give women access to a fair supply chain, proper work and fair wages. As a result, fashion consumers that support ethical fashion brands help advocate for women’s rights through their shopping decisions.

The Feminist Movement

The feminist movement supports women all over the globe. The fashion industry is part of the feminist movement because it is a female-dominated industry. According to Labour Behind the Label, 80% of garment workers worldwide are women. One example of the feminist movement in the fashion industry is the production of t-shirts with feminist quotes. In 2019, the Spice Girls’ #IWannaBeASpiceGirl t-shirts sold for Comic Relief’s “gender justice” campaign were made by Bangladeshi garment workers. However, Oxfam reported that same year that no Bangladeshi garment workers earned a living wage. These workers received 35 pence an hour during 54-hour workweeks, amounting to about £82, which is well below the living wage estimate. This is a clear example of how fashion can contribute to global poverty.

Fast Fashion

Fast fashion prioritizes the fast production of cheap clothing produced by garment workers all over the globe. According to the Clean Clothes Campaign, it is typical for a garment worker to work 96-hour workweeks. This is equal to 10 to 18 hours per day for wages that are two to five times less than what is needed to live sufficiently. In addition, the majority of profits made from fast fashion are paid to top fashion CEOs. In fact, Oxfam states that CEOs earn in four days what a garment worker will make in one lifetime.

Brands that pay garment workers a living wage allow employees to afford essential needs, such as housing, food, transportation, education and savings. In 2017, the Deloitte Access Economics report for Oxfam Australia stated that paying garment workers a living wage would only increase the retail price of clothing by 1%. Researchers from the University of New South Wales and the University of Queensland also found that increasing the cost of clothing by $0.20 would ensure Indian garment workers earn a living wage.

SOKO: Ethical Fashion

SOKO empowers garment workers by addressing the most vital human rights abuse in the fashion industry: the non-payment of a living wage. This women-led, ethical jewelry brand produces collections made by more than 2,300 independent Kenyan artisans. SOKO’s virtual manufacturing platform connects with a global marketplace to receive orders and payments. By leveraging technology, artisans earn five times more with SOKO compared to an average artisan workplace. In addition, this U.N.-endorsed brand guarantees workers freedom and sovereignty by limiting artisans’ work to 50% or less of their total capacity. As a result, SOKO artisans have experienced a 12% increase in average artisan income, and SOKO’s sales have impacted 11,400 beneficiaries.

Empowering Girls and Women

The U.N. reports that investing in girls and women helps improve their livelihoods in the long term. Moreover, studies from the World Bank show that providing basic education to girls until adulthood enables them to better manage their family’s needs, provide care for their family and send their children to school. This helps improve the lives of children and women all over the world. Empowering women also leads to reduced maternal and child mortality levels. When garment workers can afford to send their children to school, economic growth improves and poverty decreases.

The lives of underpaid garment workers are a testament to how fashion can contribute to poverty. Brands that support their garment workers contribute to the feminist movement. Brands support the movement by investing in female education, providing living wages, establishing safe working conditions and empowering workers. Consumers can support the movement by supporting ethical brands that strive to uplift the garment workers making their clothing.

Giselle Magana
Photo: Flickr

Kidnappings in NigeriaThe Nigerian government has struggled for almost a decade to find a solution for the nation’s severe kidnapping problem. With about 380 kidnappings in Nigeria and more than 1,000 deaths between January and June of 2020, the government is calling for military intervention.

Kidnappings Across the Country

Widespread kidnappings began in 2006. These kidnappings were considered to be politically motivated. Many people helped push laws that would benefit Nigerians across the country. Furthermore, people wanted to take a stand against the President. However, kidnappings have gone beyond the initial political nature. Now, kidnappings are a way for people to get rich quick. All kidnappers ask for a ransom regardless of the victim’s socioeconomic status. They are well aware that families will do whatever they can to guarantee the safe return of their loved ones.

Additionally, kidnappers will often raid schools with as many as 20 gunmen and grab children. Furthermore, they often face little to no government interference. In some cases, groups of people have been abducted from their cars that were blocked on the highway. Kidnappers hold victims hostage for days, months or even years. Moreover, victims’ families typically struggle to pay the ransom. These ransoms average around $1,222. The debts incurred to pay the ransom often hang over victims’ heads for years. Thus, kidnappings inflict not only physical damage but material as well.

Concerned citizens have been urging the government to put a stop to the rise of kidnappings in Nigeria for years. As a result, there has been an increase in military involvement to locate kidnapped Nigerian school girls. However, this has not been enough.

Many soldiers who attempt to help often face firefights. For example, soldiers often face armed gunmen who are in the midst of kidnapping several children. This is one of many instances where kidnappers fight against the military. Often, soldiers consider the risk greater than the reward and refuse to help. Furthermore, there are reports that soldiers have helped kidnappers escape in return for some ransom money.

What Changes are Being Made?

The Nigerian government has ordered the Naval forces to put a stop to the widespread kidnappings in January 2021. Nigeria’s Naval forces are large and have more firepower to help address this problem. Nigeria appointed Rear Admiral A.Z. Gambo as the naval chief at the beginning of the year. He plans to have a no-nonsense, iron fist on the kidnapping situation. Gambo plans to crack down on all forms of criminality surrounding kidnappings. Additionally, Gambo noted that he is aware of the corruption within the Navy and that often naval personnel assist with the kidnappings. As a result, he plans to crack down on this corruption as priority number one.

This new no-nonsense plan was implemented just days after pirates boarded a Turkish manned vessel. As a result, pirates killed one crew member and kidnapped 15 people. A preexisting law did not allow foreign naval vessels from countries such as Spain and France to carry weapons on Nigerian national waters, leaving the crew members of these vessels defenseless. Thus, the government repealed the law in 2020. Yet, kidnapping continues to rise.

The efforts to combat kidnappings in Nigeria have not been very successful. As a result, the nation saw its highest number of kidnapping cases in history in 2020. However, the government has not ignored this problem. There is a potential for kidnapping cases to decrease if the government cracks down on corrupt naval officers, politicians and government officials.

– Claire Olmstead
Photo: Flickr

Migrant workers in Lebanon
For decades, the Lebanese economy has relied heavily on migrant workers to supplement the workforce. The economy provided necessary domestic services and filled up low-level positions in retail, salons and hospitality. The kafala system, a program that encourages employers to hire migrant workers in Lebanon, fueled a sense of dependence on migrant workers in various industries. This institution creates great racial and economic inequality. The employers abuse the migrant workers and offer them substandard pay and inhumane working conditions. This immense disparity worsened during the COVID-19 pandemic. The employers placed workers in unsafe situations, forcing them to endure terrible conditions with the imminent threat of job termination.

Refugees and the Kafala System

Currently, refugees and migrant workers make up a quarter of Lebanon’s population. This renders them an extremely valuable sector of society. Tensions between local-born Lebanese citizens and refugees developed during past years. Lebanese individuals and armed forces committed several acts of violence against refugees out of spite and anger. In addition, nearly 90% of Syrian refugees become unemployed and unable to meet housing costs in 2020. Employers fired domestic migrant workers at an alarming rate since the pandemic.

The Anti-Racism Movement found that Lebanese employers terminated their migrant workers, likely due to racial bias. Nevertheless, gaining Lebanese citizenship as a migrant worker is nearly impossible. Due to an antiquated nationality policy set up during the French mandate, only children born to a Lebanese father may obtain full legal status as a Lebanese national. Thus, no feasible pathway exists to permanent residence and legal protection for migrant workers in Lebanon. They end up at the mercy of their employers to keep them in the country.

Medical Inequality Among Migrant Workers

For many migrant workers, medical inequality has become especially prominent during the COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the cruel implements of the kafala system, migrant workers rely on their employers to provide them with legal residency status. Without Lebanese nationality, these workers do not have entitlement to these benefits that other people within Lebanon possess. Lack of health coverage discourages these migrant workers from seeking out medical help and accessing the treatments they need to ensure their personal wellbeing. As unemployment has continued to rise, thousands of migrant workers are left with no healthcare or legal status. They must return to their home countries, despite the potential endangerment that awaits them.

In an international relations briefing by Natasha Hall, the author notes that “ensuring that people are not prioritized for medical treatment by nationality, as medicine disappears from shelves and intensive care units fill up, is another serious concern.” Migrant workers in Lebanon end up not being able to access treatments due to a lack of insurance and inadequate financial means. This is similar to the United States and other countries that experience inequality. Lebanon faces economic complications, such as inflation rates rising and banks refusing to withdraw money for their customers. It has become nearly impossible for people to obtain the medications they need. Lebanon sustains its medication supply due to imported drugs. Due to the trade challenges facing the nation, Lebanese citizens cannot obtain medicine for their health conditions.

Hope for an End to Migrant Worker Inequality

The kafala system is extremely ruthless. It puts migrant workers at a socio-economic position far below the average Lebanese citizen. This caused a public outcry, sparking change and encouraging reform to the system. According to the Human Rights Watch, “Amendments to the system [in 2020] provide guarantees for workers including 48-hour work weeks, a rest day, overtime payment, as well as sick and annual leaves. Workers can now terminate their contracts without their employer’s consent.” Increased regulations have provided an added layer of protection to the rights of migrant workers in Lebanon.

Luna Khalil
Photo: Flickr

Vaccination CampaignDuring World Immunization Week in April 2021, UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and former English soccer player, David Beckham, led a global vaccination campaign. Beckham’s mission was to decrease vaccine hesitancy and “encourage parents around the world to vaccinate their children against deadly diseases.” Beckham has been a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador for many years, and this year, he hopes to raise awareness about the importance of vaccines in global health, especially in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Vaccination Campaign

During his vaccination campaign speech, Beckham discussed how COVID-19 has impacted social interactions and communal gatherings. Beckham urges parents and families to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and to prioritize child immunizations to ensure children are protected from preventable diseases such as diphtheria, measles and polio.

Alongside Beckham, several other celebrity UNICEF Goodwill Ambassadors and supporters, including Orlando Bloom and Sofia Carson, will participate in a series of online vaccination discussions “with healthcare professionals, teachers and vaccine experts from around the world.”

UNICEF and global partners will also play their part to “rally parents, health workers and the public to become online advocates for vaccines.” Additionally, “for each like, share or comment on posts mentioning a UNICEF social media account and using the hashtag #VaccinesWork” until the close of April 2021, the United Nations Foundation’s [email protected] campaign and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation vowed to contribute a dollar to UNICEF.

World Immunization Week

World Immunization Week is held annually in the final week of April to encourage the use of vaccines and reduce vaccine hesitancy. “As one of the world’s most successful health interventions” immunizations save millions of lives. Between 2000 and 2018, measles inoculations prevented more than 23 million child deaths. According to the WHO, as it currently stands, almost 20 million children around the world are missing out on vital vaccines that will protect them against preventable diseases.

Many of these unvaccinated children live in isolated rural areas, war zones and developing countries with limited access to basic health services. Low vaccinations rates have significantly worsened due to supply shortages and worldwide lockdowns during COVID-19. These impacts have dire consequences, potentially increasing the number of preventable child deaths.

Vaccine Awareness

World Immunization Week 2021 encourages greater public participation regarding the topic of immunization. Advocacy, even on an individual level, will raise awareness of the importance of vaccines in improving global health. Beckham’s ability to harness his fame to communicate to a wider platform will increase vaccine awareness. In terms of COVID-19 vaccinations specifically, the sooner the world is fully vaccinated, the sooner the global population will be protected and the sooner normalcy will resume.

– Mary McLean
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

LOVE MYSELF campaignIn 2017, the internationally known K-pop boy band, BTS, started its anti-violence LOVE MYSELF campaign in partnership with UNICEF. The goal was to help promote self-esteem and self-love while ending violence against children and young people around the world. The campaign was widely successful, raising $1.4 million in its first year and $2.98 million to date.

BTS: Background

From the start of its career, BTS broke the proverbial mold for K-pop groups. BTS uses its creative freedom to give voice to its struggles and fears. In doing so, the group was also representing the same struggles and fears of the youth. In September 2017, the group released the first album of a trilogy bearing the title “Love Yourself,” with the final two albums released in 2018. The three-album cycle follows a structure posed by psychologists Erich Fromm and Joseph Magno, presenting a journey to self-love.

UNICEF Partnership

UNICEF began the #ENDviolence campaign in 2013 with a focus on creating a safer world for the youth. When BTS joined four years later with the LOVE MYSELF campaign, the group brought fans and social media presence to the original campaign. BTS helped raise money at pop-up booths at every stop of the group’s global concerts. The group also donated a portion of album sales and 100% of all profits from the LOVE MYSELF campaign merchandise will go toward #ENDviolence. The funds raised through the LOVE MYSELF campaign are used to protect and support children and teens affected by domestic violence, school-related violence and sexual violence. The funds are also used to empower local communities to take a stand and prevent violence.

COVID-19 and a Renewal of Support

The COVID-19 pandemic caused hardships for many. With school closures, young people have been significantly affected. Furthermore, with decreased access to services during the COVID-19 pandemic, a renewed focus has fallen on the mental and psychological well-being of children or young adults enduring any kind of violence, neglect or bullying.

In response, BTS renewed a commitment to the LOVE MYSELF campaign in March 2021, signing on for two more years. This includes expanding the ongoing LOVE MYSELF campaign, supporting UNICEF with $500,000 per year and a separate $1 million donation to UNICEF by 2022. The renewal also raised the campaign to a global partnership, expanding from just UNICEF Korea to UNICEF at large to better help prevent violence against youth across the globe.

As UNICEF supporters, BTS spoke directly to heads of states and other world leaders at a United Nations General Assembly gathering in New York. The group released an exclusive music video to support the campaign and encourage love and kindness online and in real life.

Prioritizing Self-Love and Ending violence

The LOVE MYSELF campaign is close to the hearts of the members of BTS. The core of the campaign’s message is similar to that of the group’s music. BTS wants fans to prioritize self-love and anti-violence. The group’s renewal of support for the LOVE MYSELF campaign with UNICEF shows a continued commitment to protect and empower children and young people around the world.

Courtney Roe
Photo: Flickr