Information and news about discrimination

10 facts UkraineUkraine 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 GuatemalaAccording 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 disabledEliminating 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

Photo: Flickr

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

Education in LatviaImprovements in education in Latvia are of the utmost importance, because children are the most impoverished group of Latvians. As of 2012, 23.4 percent of children under the age 17 were living below the poverty line, whereas only 18.8 percent of adults up to 64 years of age and 17.7 percent of Latvians 65 and older were below the poverty threshold.

With so many children living in poverty, receiving an education is the first step towards improving their situation. From 2008 to 2012, there was a decline from 26.3 percent to 23.4 percent of children living in poverty, perhaps due to primary and secondary education being free and mandatory for all native Latvians.

However, there would be a much greater decrease if discrimination was not as prominent within education in Latvia. Children of minorities are denied access to health and education facilities.

Romani and Russian speakers experience language barriers, as Latvian schools do not teach in these languages. Children of these ethnicities are falling into poverty, or remaining in poverty, which greatly affects the country’s overall economy. Russian speakers alone represent a third of Latvia’s population, greatly influencing the country’s poverty rate.

Fortunately, the European Commission Against Racism and Intolerance has addressed the issue and promises that the Latvian educational system will provide equal access to education and jobs. They demanded that schools alter their curriculum to provide instruction in minority languages and cultures.

Even further, there is a presence of a separate but equal society in which Roma children must attend different classes than their peers, which reinforces the belief that they are not capable of sharing language and education with Latvian students. The Council of Europe’s Anti-Racism Commission is also fighting to end this separation and merge all ethnicities into the same class.

Seeing how Latvia’s population has experienced an increase in its poverty rate, from 19 percent in 2010 to 22.5 percent in 2014, it is vital that the country makes improvements. Providing equal access to both basic and higher education is an important step forward, one that European officials acknowledge. Once Latvia ends racism, education will allow all children to climb out of poverty.

Brianna White

Photo: Flickr

How to Help People in Bhutan
Bhutan is a tiny, isolated, primarily Buddhist kingdom in the Himalayas that has only permitted television since 1998. In a country that measures development by Gross National Happiness in lieu in of Gross Domestic Product, does it make sense to ask how to help people in Bhutan? Given the often discriminatory treatment of journalists, non-Buddhists, the disabled, women and especially Nepali-speakers, the answer is yes—this question should still be asked.

Bhutan has had an extremely rapid transition from an absolute monarchy to a constitutional monarchy with the establishment of political parties in 2007 and held its first election in 2008. The Freedom House upgraded the country’s Freedom Status in 2009 from “not free” to “partly free,” citing the below reasons:

  • Journalists surveyed in 2012 expressed grave concerns about freedom and personal safety.
  • Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that work on issues relating to ethnic Nepalese are not allowed to operate in Bhutan.
  • In 2007, Bhutan moved to a rule of law. The civilian police operate within the law and the Judiciary is considered autonomous.
  • The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), in answer to corruption within the government, was given more leeway and power. The most recent Prime Minister, Togbay, does not tolerate corruption, and many prior powerful politicians are now being held accountable.

In the 2017 Trafficking in Persons Report, the State Department Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons determined that the government of Bhutan did not fully meet minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking. The government did demonstrate increasing efforts compared to the previous reporting period. In an example of how to help people in Bhutan, the National Commission for Women and Children (NCWC) partnered with an international organization to conduct training on anti-trafficking toolkits and also to facilitate reports on Bhutan laws and policies on trafficking. Bhutan, over the last five years, has still remained a source and destination country for both forced labor and sex trafficking.

Bhutan has no formal relations with the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and accepts financial assistance from primarily India, leaving Bhutan isolated from much of the world. It has recently shown a willingness to move toward democratic ideals and is also seeking to increase tourism after a long history of shunning foreigners. Learning how to help people in Bhutan means working to ensure adequate funding for the NGOs and other agencies dedicated to assisting the Bhutanese officials. One must work to stay vigilant and continue to support organizations dedicated to combating violations of human rights in Bhutan.

Michael Carmack

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in BelgiumThe country of Belgium in northwestern Europe is not one that is especially burdened by poverty. its working class includes a small number of people who live below the poverty line; in 2007, it was reported that 7 percent of Belgium’s population was classified as “poor.” Moreover, a mere 14.8 percent of Belgium’s population is “at risk of poverty”, and so Belgium’s government has not implemented any sort of massive policy in order to protect its people that are of low socioeconomic status.

However, these rather low statistics should not indicate that the existing poverty rate in Belgium is unimportant or should be ignored. In fact, a wide variety of causes of poverty in Belgium exist, and these causes should be addressed so that the government may implement specific policies and improve the lives of the different groups of people most likely to be living in poverty.

Single-parent families
One of the major causes of poverty in Belgium is that many families that are headed by single parents suffer from an inadequate income. Single parents, especially those who work low-wage jobs, bring home less income than parents who share their total household incomes with their spouses.

Young people
According to a report published by the Belgian Resource Center for the Fight Against Poverty in 2006, young people are particularly susceptible to poverty due to the increased difficulty of finding work compared to older people.

Women
Women are at a higher risk of being burdened by the effects of poverty for many reasons. Among those reasons, consistent with the aforementioned report, is the increased rate of discrimination that women face in the workplace.

Location
Location is a determining factor of one’s likelihood to be affected by poverty, because location ultimately controls one’s access to various resources. For instance, certain areas may not provide workplaces that offer health insurance.

While Belgium may not be burdened by a large poverty rate, there are still many groups of Belgians that fall below the poverty line. These different groups of people may benefit from specific policies implemented by the government in order to address their individual, respective issues.

Emily Santora

Photo: Flickr