Information and news about discrimination

aboriginal homelessness in canada
In 2017, the Reputation Institution ranked Canada the most reputable country in the world in its Reptrak survey. In fact, in the prior six years that the institution conducted the RepTrak survey, Canada never ranked worse than second. Many know the country for its welcoming disposition, health care and welfare programs. Unfortunately, Aboriginal homelessness in Canada proves that the quality of life is very poor for one particular minority group.

The Problem

Every country, no matter the reputation, faces its own set of problems. For Canada, a key problem is the under-representation of Aboriginal voices in government and the over-representation of Aboriginals living in the streets. Indeed, one of the most reputable countries in the world contains an impoverished indigenous population, a remnant of the atrocious treatment of aboriginals since colonial times.

Caryl Patrick, a York University researcher finds that “Aboriginal homelessness in Canada is a crisis that should be considered an epidemic.” He attributes this to the disproportionate native representation in homeless populations. In major urban zones, Aboriginals account for between 11 percent to almost 100 percent of the homeless population, even though only 4 percent of the Canadian population is native. In Yellowknife, the Northwest Territories, 95 percent of the homeless population is native.

A study by the Social Planning and Research Council of British Columbia found that aboriginal Canadians face a different set of challenges than non-Aboriginals. On the issue of homelessness, these inequalities are very evident.

Aboriginal people in Canada are 10 times more likely than non-Aboriginal people to become homeless. Although homeless people all have similar challenges, Aboriginal homeless people have to deal with the additional issues of racism and discrimination. Exclusionary practices in treatment programs that should address everyone equitably exacerbate the problem.

Reports state that Inuit populations in Montreal avoid using shelters and charitable organizations because they experience discrimination from not only the non-native workers that serve them but from non-native homeless people as well. In addition, Aboriginal homeless people are more likely to be younger and completely homeless rather than in a shelter. It is clear that the Aboriginal homeless in Canada face more difficult challenges than non-native homeless.

Cause of Aboriginal Homelessness

Aboriginal homelessness in Canada is part of the larger issue of homelessness, housing inadequacy and poverty in Canada. Moreover, Aboriginal homelessness intricately connects to their history with the Canadian government. The aforementioned exclusionary practices which only perpetuate the racism and poverty in Canada are a symptom of a failure to provide culturally appropriate services that take into consideration the scars of intergenerational trauma. In any case, when a service does not tailor to its users, it is less effective.

There are general pathways to homelessness, but for the native population, there are many more. Beyond the broader context of increasing income inequality and decreasing availability of affordable housing across Canada, Aboriginal people must cope with unresolved historical and cultural trauma and discriminatory community systems and services.

Solutions

Like any other systemic, structural problem, the Canadian government has made funding commitments toward the housing and well-being of both reserve and urban-dwelling Aboriginal people. In 1999, the federal government allocated $753 million toward resolving homelessness across the country. The government devoted $59 million to addressing urban Aboriginal homelessness, and it continues to replenish the budget as the problem continues. However, money alone cannot solve the problem.

Some Aboriginal-specific healing strategies have proven effective. In order to successfully reverse historical and cultural trauma, people must apply culturally appropriate and responsive methods. An example of this approach on a local level is the Lu’Ma Native Housing Society in Vancouver, BC. The program provides 300 culturally-appropriate and affordable housing units for low-income Aboriginal peoples and offers culturally-relevant programs like ceremonial activities and traditional clothing and jewelry making courses.

Additionally, the Society ensures Aboriginal representation at employee, management and board levels. Culturally responsive programs like these decrease Aboriginal homelessness in urban centers and combat discriminatory practices.

On a national level, the Canadian government has launched Reaching Home, a strategy that aims to prevent and reduce homelessness by doubling support for at-risk communities. Communities involved in Reaching Home are attempting to reduce chronic homelessness by 50 percent. In 2016, the government doubled its investment in reducing indigenous homelessness. Reaching Home played a key role by supporting the delivery of culturally appropriate responses to the needs of Aboriginals in vulnerable conditions, including women, youth and mothers.

Looking Ahead

People often overlook Aboriginal homelessness in Canada, even though the country has a top-tier reputation. It is a complex aspect of poverty that intricately connects the larger issue of homelessness to the nuanced history and culture of Aboriginal peoples. Although only 4 percent of the population is native, the over-representation of indigenous peoples living on the streets is a startling statistic. It illustrates the magnitude of the issue and the need for resolution. Hopefully, through local and nationwide efforts that fund and support communities in need through culturally appropriate approaches, perhaps every person living on the streets can find not just shelter, but a home.

Andrew Yang
Photo: Flickr

 

Poverty Among the Roma Population

Out of the many ethnic minorities that live in Eastern Europe, the Roma population often faces discrimination. While progress has been made to limit this discrimination and better integrate the people, there has still been little success. Here are eight facts about poverty among the Roma population in Romania and what is being done to solve the problem.

8 Facts About Poverty Among the Roma Population in Romania

  1. Romania’s Roma population consists of 2.5 million people out of a total population of 19 million. The Roma are the biggest ethnic minority in Romania and at least 90 percent live on or below the poverty line.
  2. Roma people often have trouble finding housing. The housing problem stems from cities like Bucharest not having enough housing for low income families. With the fall of the Soviet Union, many of the social housing programs that provided housing for the Roma went down with the communist regime, leaving many Roma homeless, especially in Bucharest. Many other Roma families that have lived in large cities have also found themselves being evicted due to unsanitary or unsafe conditions.
  3. Only one in five Roma children attend school. Poor financial situations and a lack of support leave Roma children malnourished, wearing dirty clothing and lacking school supplies, making them unfit to go to school, which contributes to the discrimination.
  4. Most Roma families live in homes without any drinking water or heating. In addition, half of Roma families live off of 3.3 euros per day. However, the Romanian government is taking steps to amend this issue by pushing forward a 100 million euro plan to better integrate the Roma community within the rest of the population and thus reduce poverty as a whole by 2020.
  5. The European Commission is making it their goal to better integrate the Roma community with the rest of the population by continuing a long term project that started in 2010. The program targets all Romanians in Europe works to solve issues with housing segregation, education levels, health improvement and general discrimination.
  6. The E.U. reportedly allocated 10 billion euros on regional development to be spent between 2014 and 2020 with a portion dedicated to assist the the Roma community. Despite this, the situation for the Roma community has yet to have any sufficient changes partially due to insufficient checks by the E.U. on how the Romanian government is using this money.
  7. Of the 10,000 or more street children that live in the Romanian capital Bucharest, about 80 percent of these children are Roma, which further contributes to discrimination. A lot of this is due to the overhaul of the social work and family advocacy systems with the fall of the Soviet Union and communist regime led to a poor or lacking systems that help homeless children and broken families in need of aid.
  8. There are programs at work that seem to be more efficient in leveling the playing field for the Roma community on a level playing field. The Fundația Secretariatul Romilor (FSR), after forming in 2009, has taken steps to help Romania’s Roma community by pushing an awareness campaign to bring outsider attention to the Roma situation, as well as improving the community’s public image through social inclusion programs. Despite doing their best to make headway, the government of Romania has shown resistance to some of their solutions, even with the FSR going as far as to work with NGOs.

These eight facts about poverty among the Roma population in Romania show how poverty seriously affects not just Roma in Romania, but in all of Eastern Europe. While it’s clear that outside influencers are seeking to improve the Roma situation, the main government within Romania seems resistant in solving the problem. With awareness, time and successful government programs, Romania can really help the Roma community.

– Collin Williams
Photo: Flickr

Romani People in BulgariaIn the 1400s, Romani people migrated from Northern India to Eastern Europe. Upon first arriving, Eastern European natives supposed they came from Egypt, thus calling them “Gypsies.” While the term “Gypsy” refers to a single ethnic minority, the Romani people came from numerous tribes. They lived as nomads and traditionally worked as craftsmen.

During this time, Eastern Europeans commonly used “Gypsy” as a derogatory term. They discriminated against Romani people, treating them as less than. Due to this history, the term “Gypsy” is avoided today for its negative connotation.

Romani People in Bulgaria

However, in some Eastern European countries like Bulgaria, citizens still discriminate against the Romani people. This discrimination results in poverty among Romani people in Bulgaria. As a result, they are isolated into ghetto-like neighborhoods that are covered in trash and lack clean drinking water. Additionally, the infrastructures and sewage systems of these neighborhoods are in need of repair. In Bulgaria, 40 percent of Romani people live below the poverty line.

The schools in the Romani neighborhoods of Bulgaria are of low quality, both in the quality of curriculum and resources. Because of this, many Romani parents view school as pointless and instead keep their children home. Other parents keep their children home to work for extra income. Some parents need older children to watch their younger siblings during the day. If possible, some Romani parents send their children overseas to school, in hopes they can achieve a better future.

This lack of high-quality education among Romani people in Bulgaria has led to:

  • 22 percent of Romani people in Bulgaria being illiterate.
  • 91 percent not receiving a secondary education.
  • a direct link between the lack of schooling and teen pregnancy, resulting in 6,000 babies being born to underage Romani mothers in 2016.
  • many being unable to speak Bulgarian.

Forming the Set Free Foundation

After acknowledging discrimination against Romani people in Bulgaria not only causes poverty but also makes it nearly impossible to escape, the Set Free Foundation was created. Established in 2000, this nonprofit works to fight for Romani rights in Bulgaria. Their vision is to create a system integrating Romani people into Bulgarian society. In doing so, Romani people would become functioning members of Bulgarian society and receive the same rights and opportunities as Bulgarians.

In order to accomplish this successfully, the Set Free Foundation has created the Renascence Programme which consists of the following components:

  • a 14- to 30-day program that transitions Romani people who have migrated to other parts of Europe back to Bulgaria,
  • a space for Romani people to rest and reflect,
  • assistance for Romani people seeking permanent housing and a job,
  • teaching Romani people how to budget finances, and
  • training for Romani women to ensure they have the necessary skills to enter the job market.

The Set Free Foundation Helps Romani People in Bulgaria

Beyond implementing the Renascence Programme, the Set Free Foundation has accomplished numerous projects to help end poverty among Romani people in Bulgaria. For example, they have built a house in Bulgaria called the Liberty House. This house temporarily houses Romani families in financial crises in need of housing. It consists of three working toilets, three showers and three water basins. The Liberty House can shelter four to six families at a time. And the Set Free Foundation hopes this house is the first of many.

The Set Free Foundation has also partnered with Valley Church to build a garden outside the Liberty House. The garden provides guests with fresh produce during their stay. In addition, Valley Church has donated numerous suitcases full of feminine hygiene products to the Set Free Foundation for Romani women.

The Set Free Foundation encourages supporters to spread the word about poverty among Romani people in Bulgaria. It also welcomes donations to help continue their work. Donations help Romani people gain access to better education and enter the workforce, ultimately resulting in their ability to leave poverty and lead more fulfilling lives.

– Emily Turner
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

10 facts Ukraine

Ukraine is a beautiful country nestled between Russia to the east and the European Union to the west. This precarious location has led to conflict and hardship for the people of Ukraine, but there are programs in place now to improve the lives of the citizens living in these conflicted regions. In order to evaluate the best course of action to better the lives of the Ukrainian people, it is important to understand these top 10 facts about living conditions in Ukraine.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Ukraine

  1. In 2014, the Euromaidan movement erupted in eastern Ukraine when President Viktor Yanukovych decided not to sign an agreement with the European Union, thus bringing Ukraine a step further away from joining the EU. Yanukovych was removed from the presidency in 2014, followed by political unrest, the annexation of Crimea by Russia in March 2014 and the outbreak of fighting between Ukrainian nationalists and Russian forces in the Donbass region of Ukraine. This conflict has resulted in more than 10,000 deaths.

  2. The conflict in Ukraine has resulted in 1.5 million internally displaced persons, according to the Ukrainian government. Despite this enormous challenge, the UNHCR is working to provide aid, including blankets, cooking supplies, clothing and other supplies to help these people survive the harsh winter. Understanding the top 10 facts about living conditions in Ukraine can help shed light on what more needs to be done to aid these displaced people.

  3. In the immediate aftermath of the conflict in eastern Ukraine, hunger and food shortages became pressing issues. The United Nations Food Programme responded by increasing its presence in Ukraine to provide food to the 190,000 people deemed vulnerable due to conflict or the inability to leave the conflict zone. The World Food Progamme has also provided food supplies to the region in case further violence and displacement ensue.

  4. The Roma minority in Ukraine are continuing to face discrimination without much aid from the government. This discrimination has culminated in violent attacks against Roma communities. For example, in April 2018, a nationalist group called C14 attacked a Roma community by throwing rocks, spraying pepper spray and tearing down tents. None of the members of C14 were arrested despite the fact that the group filmed their attack and posted it to the internet. Instead of punishing the group, the government awarded them with grants to hold “patriotic education” meetings in rent-free auditoriums. Further attacks continued, resulting in the murder of a Roma man and the robbing of 150 Roma families in Slovyansk.

  5. Anti-Semitism has become a devastating problem that is quite prevalent in Ukraine since the conflict with Russia began. After a Passover service in a synagogue in Donetsk, masked members of the Donetsk People’s Republic, a pro-Russian group that “claims to represent ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine,” handed out leaflets to the members of the synagogue that read that all Jewish Ukrainians should register with the government, leave the country or pay a fine. When confronted about the issue, the Donetsk People’s Republic denied they were involved and in turn claimed the Ukrainian government was guilty of anti-Semitism.

  6. Unemployment in Ukraine decreased from 8.30 percent in the second quarter of 2018 to 8 percent by the third quarter; although, the rate did increase again up to 9.3 percent. Although the Ukrainian economy grew by 3 percent last year, which is positive, it should be growing at a rate closer to 5 or 6 percent annually. In fact, the Ukrainian finance minister stated that, at this current rate, it would take Ukraine up to 50 years to reach the economic growth of its neighbor, Poland.

  7. Gender equality has a ways to go in Ukraine in the political, economic and social spheres. The Global Gender Gap Report by the World Economic Forum ranks Ukraine at 64 in terms of women’s income, 22 in terms of women’s education and 119 in terms of political representation. Women make up 55 percent of the unemployed population in Ukraine. Women make up only 9.4 percent of the Ukrainian parliament. However, the Ukrainian government does recognize this issue and is taking steps to promote gender equality. There is a new state program to reduce the wage gap through efforts to increase the hiring of women in better-paying positions and “combating gender stereotypes about female and male professionals.” Equal pay will also be a focus in order to reduce the wage gap.

  8. One major issue around in Ukraine is child marriage. According to UNICEF, 9 percent of Ukrainian girls are married before the age of 18. The issue is more prevalent in poorer, rural areas of the country where 15 percent of women in poorer households were married before the age of 18 compared to 10 percent in the wealthier families in Ukraine. According to the organization Girls Not Brides, “Patriarchal attitudes still maintain that a Ukrainian woman’s main role is to be a wife and mother. Some young girls and families support early marriage as it leads to the ‘right path’ in life.” However, the government has recognized this issue and has signed several U.N. resolutions to eliminate child marriage.

  9. Education attendance rates are high in Ukraine, although there are several institutional issues. According to the World Bank, there is very little gender disparity in primary school attendance. In 2014, 92 percent of boys and 93 percent of girls attended primary school. However, the World Bank also reported that “unofficial payments are common in education. […] schools collect money from parents for classroom remodeling and flowers or gifts for teachers.” The Ukrainian government has taken steps to designate 7 percent of its annual GDP to improving education throughout the country.

  10. Despite the devastation the conflict in Ukraine has caused for citizens, there are NGOs in the region attempting to provide aid to those affected by the violence. Hope for Ukraine is an organization that delivers aid packages to the frontline in the Donbass region. It has volunteers visit wounded soldiers in hospitals and holds after-school English lessons for Ukrainian school children through its Children’s Rescue Center.

The issues in Ukraine will not be easily solved, but hopefully, these top 10 facts about living conditions in Ukraine highlight the successes that several organizations have brought about and what still needs to be done to improve the lives of Ukrainian citizens.

Alina Patrick
Photo: Flickr

Indigenous PopulationThere are 370 million indigenous people in the world today. The majority live in China, where 36 percent of the population is indigenous. This is followed by South Asia at 32 percent, Southeast Asia at 10 percent and Latin America at 8 percent. The United States is 1.5 percent indigenous. Indigenous populations account for about 5 percent of the world’s population but more than 15 percent of the world’s poor. What is the connection between indigenous people and poverty, and how can it be broken?

Who Is Indigenous?

There is such a wide variety of indigenous cultures that it makes creating a common definition challenging. The United Nations refers to them as the descendants of the inhabitants of a country or geographic regions prior to the immigration of a second ethnic group. The second ethnic group then became dominant through conquest and settlement, marginalizing the original inhabitants. Examples include Native Americans, the Saami of Northern Europe, the Maori of New Zealand and the Maasai of Eastern Africa.

Many people prefer to be called by the name of their individual group or tribe, such as “Navaho” or “Inuit.” However, the blanket term, “indigenous,” is gaining popularity since it links together different peoples and provides a legitimate status for special rights in many countries.

What Problems Do They Face?

It is difficult to find data for countries in Asia because most governments deny the existence of indigenous populations. For example, China has officially stated that there are no indigenous people within their borders despite having the highest concentration in the world. In areas like the Philippines and Vietnam, there are indigenous populations as well as “ethnic minorities,” who are indigenous but do not come from the country in which they are currently living. Often these “ethnic minorities” were forced to leave their native lands.

The best data came from Latin America in 2010 where indigenous people made up 8 percent of the population, but 14 percent of the poor and 17 percent of the extreme poor. Part of the reason for the disparity is the fact that indigenous populations are more likely to live in rural or remote areas. In cities, there is better access to electricity, clean water and education. This is also evident if they are living in an urban slum where indigenous people can outnumber nonindigenous two-to-one.

There is also a significant pay gap for indigenous populations. In Mexico, native people earn 12 to 14 percent less than non-native people. In Bolivia, the gap is 9 to 13 percent and in Peru and Guatemala, it is about 6 percent. In Australia, aboriginals have 30 percent less disposable income than their non-aboriginal counterparts, and in Canada, the wage gap can be as high as 25 percent. This is a large part of the connection between indigenous people and poverty.

How Can This Be Solved?

Approximately half the poverty gap can be accounted for by differences in employment type, education level, living in a rural area and family size. The other half is the “unexplained” gap, which is a result of direct discrimination or racism. This creates a unique challenge for bringing indigenous people out of poverty. Reducing the gap in education rates is widely regarded as the first step and has been steadily improving in the past few years.

In Ecuador, Mexico and Nicaragua, indigenous children attend primary school at the same rate as non-indigenous children. However, in many communities, primary education is still strongly associated with assimilation to the majority culture. The best way to fight this belief is to offer bilingual language and a curriculum sensitive to cultural differences, which is slowly gaining popularity in many countries.

Indigenous peoples often have their own ideas of what improvement should look like; therefore it is important to increase their power to advocate for their own needs. The United Nations Declaration of Indigenous People’s Rights in 2007 brought together groups from all over the world. This put them in a better place to negotiate for further rights and land privileges on their terms.  Worldwide, native peoples are asserting their political power to bring long-needed changes to their communities. If governments are willing to listen, indigenous people will have a better chance of breaking the connection between indigenous people and poverty.

Jackie Mead

Photo: Flickr

Mayan Oppression in Guatemala
According to the Irish political party Eirigie, “All imperialism is underpinned by a philosophy that deems the colonized in some way inferior to the colonizer. Racism, discrimination, and exploitation are intrinsically linked to a policy which justifies the right of one people to dominate and exploit another.” 

A Violent History

Centuries ago, Guatemala was the central hub of the ancient Mayan kingdom. The year 1524 then brought Spaniards, conquest and dictatorship. Central America’s longest armed conflict between government and rebels occurred from 1960 to 1996, Guatemala’s thirty-six-year civil war.

This tyrannical outburst, backed by the American government, revealed dangerous issues of political and military strategy between government and leftist rebels and led to hundreds of thousands of deaths, the majority of which were innocent civilians and indigenous Mayans. The gateway to Mayan oppression in Guatemala had been opened.

Spanish occupation severed existing Mayan socioeconomic order and gave life to ethnic turmoil and exclusion. Indigenous Maya viewed the leftist guerrilla warfare as the last hope for restoring the deep-seeded marginalization of indigenous communities. To the government, however, the collaboration and relationship between the Maya and the guerrilla movement insinuated the Maya to be natural allies of the revolution, and thus enemies of the state.

Inequality in Employment

A decades-old historical reality, the Mayan population – 80 percent of the country’s makeup – has endured harsh oppression. It is a rarity within the employment sector for the indigenous person to be paid the equal wage of the mestizos, a person of mixed ancestry. When interviewed, more than half of business owners admitted that despite indigenous workers and mestizo workers performing the same labor, they were not paid equal wages.

An IPS News Agency survey, conducted among hundreds of business owners in greater Guatemala City, found that “on average, only 12 percent of workers in small and micro-enterprises are indigenous people, while the workforce of medium and large businesses is made up of 20 percent native people.” Meager wages alongside oppression allow poverty to burgeon.

Avivara Empowers Guatemalans

Without equality, development halts. An organization named Avivara uses education as a way to provide relief for the oppressed in Guatemala, a country that has endured myriad human rights offenses. Access to quality education allows citizens to learn how to adapt to change and ultimately secure higher-paying jobs.

Better education provides access to resources, services, social protection and social rights. In regards to women and Mayan culture, education is empowering. It helps to expunge systemic poverty, illiteracy and inequality. By providing greater educational opportunities, Avivara is establishing a foundation within communities that will provide essential skills, such as the ability to address conflicts in a rational and non-violent manner.

The Work of CoEd and Other Organizations

Around 70 percent of people in rural Guatemala live in poverty. 95 percent of poor, rural students never graduate from high school. 40 percent of indigenous adults cannot read or write. The Cooperative for Education, or CoEd, provides solutions. CoEd helps break the deep-seeded cycle of poverty through the most powerful resource: education, a pathway out of poverty. Educational opportunities are provided for schoolchildren at every step of the way, empowering them to someday give the same opportunities back to the world. Education is the one-way ticket out of Mayan oppression in Guatemala.

Moreover, the Pan-Mayan Mobilization in Guatemala prompted the internationally-recognized Peace Accords of 1996. In an effort to unite the indigenous population and acquire more political influence, the Accords include both general Human Rights clauses as well as those on the identity and rights of indigenous peoples.

Efforts to heal the horrendous wounds of Mayan oppression in Guatemala are strong but take time. To assist the process, the Office for Indigenous Peoples and Interculturality has been created. The United Nations reports that this review board establishes proposals for both human rights defenses and policy reform, based on the Agreement on the Identity and Rights of the Indigenous Peoples from the 1996 Peace Accords. Emerging from a place of oppression and fear to a place of equality and peace is complex and multifaceted, but change is in the works.

– Mary Grace Miller
Photo: Flickr

Reduce poverty among the disabled
Eliminating global poverty requires both aid organizations and the global community to recognize and ensure the rights of people with disabilities. At least one billion people worldwide experience some type of disability, and many of those people account for the world’s poor. Evidence suggests that people with disabilities represent a large selection of the world’s poor. The World Health Survey data shows that in five out of 15 developing countries, households where at least one family had a disability, had significantly fewer assets and lower levels of income.

Poverty and Disabilities

Economic inequality is exacerbated by discrimination that has manifested as a lack of employment opportunities for disabled people, especially in developing countries. The difficult economic circumstances facing impoverished, disabled persons and the lack of opportunities for upward mobility can have life-threatening consequences.

The World Health Organization’s World Report on Disability found that people with disabilities were found to be 20 percent less likely to be able to afford necessary healthcare. Poverty exacerbates the effects of all of these externalities, which makes it extremely crucial to address these issues in developing nations and begin reducing the poverty of the disabled.

It’s also important to recognize the interconnectedness of all of these issues and that they stem from institutional barriers and an uneven distribution of opportunities. Poverty and inequality are inevitably linked, which means that a focus on reducing the inequality of economic opportunities will reduce poverty as well.

This poverty reduction doesn’t solely apply to disabled people. The International Labor Organization conducted a study of 10 low-income developing countries and found that an estimated 3-7 percent of GDP is lost each year due to the exclusion of disabled people from the labor market.

Everyone benefits from providing employment opportunities for disabled people and uplifting them out of poverty, but it requires tearing down the negative social and political barriers that have pervaded society in regards to the disabled population. This is the only way to effectively reduce poverty. One organization has worked with developing nations across the world to ensure a disabled person’s right to a life without poverty.

The Disability Rights Fund

The Disability Rights Fund (DRF) is an organization that promotes advocacy for people with disabilities by empowering those identifying as disabled to advocate for themselves. The group has expanded its efforts to several developing nations. They’ve worked to increase the participation of disabled people to advocate for the ratification of the Convention on the Rights of Persons. Their leaders provide grants and support systems that promote the economic well-being of disabled people in developing nations.

Albert Mollah of The Access Bangladesh Foundation spoke highly of the positive effect one of these grants had on their operations. A grant from The Disability Rights Fund allowed them to meet with several disabled persons’ organizations to provide feedback to the Bangladeshi government on how to improve the livelihoods of their disabled constituents.

The Access to Bangladesh Foundation recommended that the government include persons with disabilities in all safety net programs, raise awareness among duty bearers about the contributions that those with disabilities can make in society, track data and ensure access and disability inclusion to infrastructure and information.

Grants from The Disability Rights Fund have had similar success with the OHANA group in Indonesia and the Uganda National Association of the Deaf. The DRF pools its vast resources and directs them towards groups that are credibly working to alleviate the impacts of inequality for the poor and disabled.

Disabled people are particularly susceptible to poverty because of cultural misconceptions. Concentrated efforts against the social and political barriers faced by the disabled will help to reduce poverty and spread awareness of the issue. Combating the marginalization of the disabled by these cultural misconceptions will help everyone by opening access to a plethora of highly skilled workers.

– Anand Tayal
Photo: Flickr

stateless groups
According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the internationally recognized legal definition of a stateless person is “a person who is not considered a national by any State under the operation of its law.” A person or a group of people with the status of “stateless” usually means they are not allowed to get an education at school, see a doctor, get a job or have access to other basic human rights within a nation.

Some people are born stateless; other groups become stateless if their government does not establish them as nationals that have representation under state law.

Here is a list of five currently stateless groups in the world:

 

1. The Rohingya

The Rohingya are a group of Muslims of South Asian descent that populate western Myanmar and Bangladesh. Myanmar’s government pushed many Rohingya out of Myanmar, which is how they ended up in Bangladesh and other nearby regions. Myanmar, dominantly Buddhist, doesn’t want to accept this ethnic group into their nation. As a result, many Rohingya suffer from intense discrimination, hatred and unkind deaths. With nowhere and no one to support them, the Rohingya are completely dependent on foreign aid.

 

2. The Roma

While the exact origin of Roma is unknown, it is certain that this group of people arrived in Europe prior to the ninth century. Historically, many Roma were forced into slavery and sentenced to death throughout the medieval era for being “heathens.” They, alongside the Jews, were persecuted and forced into labor camps during World War II. Today, millions of Roma live in isolated slums without running water or electricity. There is a great health disparity among the population, but governments have kept them at the brink of death without offering help.

 

3. The Nubians

The Nubians, originally from Sudan, were brought to Kenya over 150 years ago when the British government asked them to fight in the colonial army; since then, they haven’t been able to return home. Today, Kenya will not grant Nubians basic citizenship rights so this group lives in one of the largest slums on Earth despite trying to receive title rights to land and seeking solutions to their disparity.

 

4. The Bidoon

In the state of Kuwait, the Bidoon is one of the stateless groups attempting to break free from the status of “illegal residents.” The Bidoon are descendants of the Bedouin people, a desert-dwelling Arabian ethnic group. They have tried and failed dozens of times to gain official recognition in Kuwait; instead of citizenship, they are told to seek residency elsewhere.

 

5. The Yao

The Yao is one of many Thailand hill tribes that don’t have a Thai citizenship. This means they can’t vote, buy land or seek legal employment. The Thai government has previously granted temporary citizenship to a select few, but this is after they go through a strenuous process to prove they should be granted a pass.

These five stateless groups — Rohingya, Roma, Nubians, Bidoon and Yao — are just a select few from an extensive list. In total, there are more than 10 million people that are denied a nationality; however, the UNHCR made an announcement that they hope to end statelessness by 2024. On their website, viewers can sign the #IBelong campaign in order to show support. If successful, this will not only grant millions of men, women and children a nationality, but it will also grant increased access to clean food and water, healthcare, jobs, education and so much more.

– Caysi Simpson

Photo: Flickr

Discrimination in ZambiaDiscrimination in Zambia of any group causes economic inequalities, barriers to education, and a disadvantaged access to water and sanitation. These few barriers are regular battles for women and those living in rural areas of Zambia.

Distribution of Wealth

As of 2011, 74.5 percent of Zambians lived below the poverty line, which means they lived off of $1.25 a day. Luckily, Zambia’s labour minister, Fackson Shamenda, instilled a minimum monthly wage in 2012 for all of Zambia’s domestic workers. For the average domestic worker, this increased their pay from $30 a month to $105. The increase also targeted workers such as shop assistants, farmworkers, sweepers and construction worker, who were typically being paid $50 a month. Now these workers receive a monthly payment of $220.

A young woman named Mwemba spoke on the topic, stating that she was forced into domestic work simply because she was obligated to quit school at age 13. She states that her mother could not afford the school fees. Too often, girls are required to follow in their mothers’ footsteps, continuing a trend of poor, uneducated domestic workers unable to do any other job. Except now Mwemba has the opportunity to break this trend and provide education to her children in hopes that her girls will earn higher paying jobs outside of domestic work.

The idea is for this to occur on a large scale, seeing how there are around 50,000 domestic workers in the city of Lusaka alone. In only three years, the implementation of a minimum wage has witnessed a decrease in poverty rate to 54.4 percent. Ideally, this rate will continue to fall and alleviate discrimination in Zambia.

Disparities by Residency

The good news is that the overall enrollment rate in basic education is favorable and even equal between genders. However, there is a separation between the rural and the urban areas within Zambia.
According to data from 2012, the urban primary schools’ net attendance rate lands at a positive 91 percent, while the rural schools’ attendance was only 76.8 percent of children.

Similar to Mwemba’s situation, many families in rural areas simply cannot afford to send their children to school and would rather have them working and aid the family financially. A large number of the women and lowly workers reside in the rural areas of Zambia. There remains a parallel between the data for school attendance by residency and the school attendance by household wealth. Out of the poorest 20 percent of Zambians, only 72 percent attend primary school, and out of the richest 20 percent, 95.6 percent attend school.

It’s not a coincidence that the poor and rural percentages are near equivalency, while the data from the rich and urban are also similar. Aside from education, there is also a disparity in residency through sanitation facilities. In 2010, there was an improvement in Zambia’s water and sanitation. However, 55.8 percent of the development occurred in the urban sectors, while 33.2 percent took place in the rural areas.

While the country witnesses improvement in the overall educational attendance and the betterment of sanitation facilities, the discrimination in Zambia is what hinders its people from prospering.

– Brianna White

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10 Facts About the Polish GenocideGenocide brings to mind horrific images of concentration camps and apartheid rule, however, few picture the planned extermination of Poles in Volhynia by Ukrainian Nationalists in the 1940’s. Despite its impact on Polish history, it is still largely unknown. In hopes of spreading awareness, here are 10 facts about the Polish genocide:

  1. Genocide is defined as an act “committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnical, racial or religious group, as such,” by the 1948 UN Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of the Crime of Genocide.
  2. Prior to the outbreak of WWII, Volhynia had been divided between Russia and Poland. As nationalism crept through Germany and other parts of Europe, Volhynia became a coveted voivodeship (governorship) causing tensions between the Ukrainian population and the Poles (at the time Ukraine was part of a changing political landscape).
  3. Volhynia was an agricultural region in the northeast of pre-war Poland and was referred to in Polish mythology as the Kresy (Borderlands).
  4. The interwar Polish political climate was full of discriminatory practices that gave rise to a drastic anti-Polish sentiment among many Ukrainians. For instance, Ukrainians were barred from government jobs, protests were suppressed and Orthodox churches were destroyed with people forced to convert to Catholicism.
  5. Between 1942 and 1945 the Bandera faction of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN-B) and its military counterpart the Ukrainian Insurgent Army (UPA) carried out an ethnic cleansing of Polish Volhynians as a means of ensuring that Volhynia would not remain under Polish control.
  6. The massacre was staged to look like an unplanned peasant riot as part of an “anti-polish operation.” UPA documents recorded the planned extermination of the Polish population and recounted that “the resistance of the Polish self-defense diminished to an extent that the Ukrainian operations recall German actions against the Jews.”
  7. The UPA units that carried out the massacres used axes instead of firearms and recruited Ukrainian peasants to reinforce the façade of a spontaneous uprising. A survivor recalls the brutality, describing the slaughter of a church mass with body parts strewn around and having to see a young man she lived with dragged behind a carriage and then thrown at the house. Historians estimate 60,000 Polish civilians were killed.
  8. The aggression between Ukrainians and Poles was not limited to the region of Volhynia, it was also present in other parts of the region with mixed populations like Lvov, Tarnopol, Stanisławów and other voivodeships bordering Volhynia.
  9. Poles killed during the Polish-Ukrainian clashes in the city of Lvov were commemorated by the Eaglet Cemetery (Cmentarz Orlat), which was destroyed under Soviet rule.In 2005 the Eaglet cemetery reopened with the attendance of both Polish and Ukrainian presidents, a major moment in Polish-Ukrainian history.
  10. The massacre of Polish citizens in Volhynia was not originally classified as a genocide. In 2013 Polish Parliament voted to refer to the events as an ethnic cleansing with signs of genocide in an effort to improve Polish-Ukrainian relations. In 2016 a resolution adopted by 432 lawmakers of the 460-seat parliament stated, “The victims of the crime committed in the 1940’s by Ukrainian nationalists were not duly commemorated, and the mass murder was not defined as genocide in accordance with the historical truth.”

Even after its classification as genocide, the Volhynian massacres remain unknown to many Ukrainians. Awareness is spreading as Polish leadership seeks to edify the public about this historic tragedy. As politics change and new global leadership arises there is hope that this remembrance of history will encourage a more peaceful future.

Rebekah Korn

Photo: Flickr