Femicides in GermanyThe ongoing femicide crisis in Germany is an issue that needs addressing. In 2018, Germany had the highest rate of femicide in the world. Additionally, the country reported high numbers in 2019. Femicides in Germany are continuously growing. Every day in the country, a man attempts murder on their partner or ex-partner and every third day a victim dies. The worrying state of violence against women has prompted action to find solutions to protect women.

Violence and Discrimination Against Women

Domestic violence numbers have been steadily increasing worldwide, especially during COVID-19 lockdowns. Germany is no exception to this. By the age of 16, about 40% of women have experienced sexual or physical violence. Great oppression of women facilitates a place for domestic violence, indirectly encouraging femicides in Germany. Roughly 100 years ago German women gained the right to vote yet women are not properly protected in other aspects. Gender inequality can also be seen in the workplace as women earn 6.6% less than men in Germany, for the same work.

With the ongoing femicides in Germany, the country is trying to combat the crisis.

Gender Equality in the Workplace

In 2017, Germany turned its focus to implementing equal rights in the workforce, regardless of gender. About 20 countries came together to stop discrimination and reduce pay gaps between males and females. During this time, Germany signed onto the Women Entrepreneurs Finance Initiative. This was done with the country’s full support of the Women’s Empowerment Principles created by U.N. Women and the U.N. Global Compact. These seven principles offer guidance on how to empower women in the workplace and community.

Additionally, Germany committed to ending the oppression of women in the workforce with an attempt at a stronger relationship using the Development Policy Action Plan on Gender Equality 2016-2020. This partnership is imperative to the empowerment of women’s voices in Germany.

Convention to Prevent Violence Against Women

In 2018, Germany signed the Council of Europe’s Istanbul Convention. The convention is a first-of-its-kind document spelling out a new legal binding to prevent femicides in Germany. In 2018, 45 of the 47 member states of the Council of Europe signed and 28 states ratified it. This convention promotes gender equality and the protection of women from violence.

Germany still struggles to care for domestic violence victims. Every year, 30,000 German women look for shelters but only half of them can be accommodated. Germany has shelters that can be accessed online and a hotline for victims of violence. It is clear, however, that efforts are needed to increase resources and services for victims of violence.

The Road Ahead

Femicide in Germany is such a controversial topic that only one in three domestic violence cases gets reported. Because of this taboo, femicides continue. German prosecutor, Julia Schäfer, tells Deutsche Welle, “Domestic violence occurs in all parts of society, it is not a question of religion or nationality or education.” She says further, “It is our obligation not to turn a blind eye.” When human beings are being impacted by violence, it is a clear indication of another pandemic that is taking place amid COVID-19. Simply having more support to find the right resources is lifesaving for female victims of violence in Germany.

Libby Keefe
Photo: Flickr

Mental Health in GermanyGermany is a leading figure in the battle against mental illness in Europe. The country has established ways to determine and treat mental illness in citizens and has prioritized the mental well-being of all Germans since the 1990s. Mental health in Germany provides a blueprint for other countries to follow.

Mental Health in Germany

Germany has similar rates of mental illness to other developed nations, with around 31% of Germans diagnosed with at least one mental illness. Like most other developed nations, depression and anxiety rank the highest among adults but formed at a young age.

Surveys conducted by German health insurance company, DAK, revealed that 24% of 800,000 tested children had some sort of psychological anomaly although less than 2% of those tested between the ages of 10 and 17 were diagnosed with depression.

What Makes Germany Different?

What makes Germany different from the rest of Europe in its fight against mental illness is its level of commitment to finding and treating the mentally ill. Those who suffer from some form of mental illness in Germany have a vast support system provided to them by their government.

Diagnosed German citizens have access to financial support and extensive healthcare services. Germany runs programs to ease the transition from a mental health hospital back to everyday life. It also has programs that provide the mentally ill with jobs. With roughly 270 mental health hospitals and sufficient healthcare workers to assist patients, Germany makes sure that the mentally ill are taken care of.

Perhaps the most effective strategy Germany has employed is its campaign to remove the stigma of mental illness in German society. While one-third of adults suffer from some sort of mental illness during the course of their lives, many do not seek the proper help because of the social stigma attached to mental illness.

Germany has dedicated extensive amounts of resources to create outreach campaigns that promote actively visiting psychologists and testing for mental illness. The country also works to reinforce the idea that seeking assistance for one’s mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of as a large portion of people suffer from them.

Recognizing that mental illness is just as common as physical illness is the first step toward curbing the epidemic. By encouraging citizens to assess their mental health and by providing the necessary support and opportunities for the mentally ill, Germany successfully manages mental health in the country.

A Mental Health Role Model

Germany has taken great strides to ensure that those with mental illnesses are treated as well as any other citizen in the country and has worked hard to create normalcy for testing and treating mental illness.

In order to battle the mental illness epidemic, countries with lacking mental healthcare systems should look to adopt Germany’s stance on battling mental illness, providing not only psychiatric help to those who need it but also giving financial and occupational support to those at risk.

Christopher McLean
Photo: Flickr

Homelessness in Germany
Located in Central Europe, tourists visit Germany to enjoy its world-famous beer, flavorful bread and historic castles. However, despite Germany’s booming economy, the country suffers from a high rate of homelessness. According to the Federal Association for Assistance to Homeless People (BAGW), approximately 650,000 Germans currently do not own a home. Two German restaurants, Hofbraeu Berlin and Istanbul Kebap Pizza, as well as the nonprofit organizations, Rise Foundation e.V. and v. Bodelschwingh Foundation Bethel, strive to tackle homelessness in Germany by offering housing, food, job training, counseling and basic necessities to those living on the streets.

German Restaurants

Many restaurants in Germany have begun donating their food to the homeless population. However, two establishments called Istanbul Kebap Pizza and Hofbraeu Berlin stand out for engaging in charity work.

Located in Koblenz, Germany, Istanbul Kebap Pizza hands out complimentary food to homeless individuals who come in on Thursday evenings. The restaurant produces a surplus of leftover food at the end of the day, which guests gratefully consume. The homeless can enjoy a wide variety of Turkish cuisine, such as “doner, pizza and other meals.”

The Hofbraeu Berlin restaurant in Berlin, Germany used to attract thousands of tourists during peak seasons. However, after COVID-19 cases became rampant in Germany, the restaurant put a stop to dine-in eating. Now, the business offers a place for homeless people to relax and enjoy free gourmet meals and regular food. In addition to offering food, the restaurant’s continuation of public bathroom usage allows individuals to remain clean and sanitary. Non-profit organizations also frequent the restaurant to give professional guidance and warm garments to the guests.

Rise Foundation e.V.

The Rise Foundation e.V. began in 2018 and strives to eradicate homelessness in Germany by encouraging human connection and handing out food and basic necessities. With the help of volunteers, the organization cooks homemade vegetarian meals and heats up tea and coffee to provide the homeless with warm meals. Volunteers attempt to establish a relationship with homeless people to demonstrate compassion and respect. The foundation also hands out first aid kits, hygiene products, clothes and other basic necessities, as well as pamphlets on useful resources, such as where to find places to sleep, free healthcare services, professional guidance and recreational activities.

v. Bodelschwingh Foundation Bethel

v. Bodelschwingh Foundation Bethel was founded in 1867 with a mission to help elderly, unemployed, disabled and mentally ill individuals, as well as children and college students. More specifically, the organization aids the homeless in obtaining housing and finding self-autonomy. It does this by providing a place for the homeless to temporarily stay and assisting them in obtaining permanent housing.

Bethel Foundation volunteers also go to homeless communities and provide medical care, including counseling services for mental health issues and drug and alcohol abuse. Furthermore, the foundation teaches essential skills needed for securing a job and provides guidance on how to search for employment.

Overall, the efforts of German restaurants and nonprofit organizations help many homeless individuals obtain basic necessities and find their independence. As more entities join the fight against homelessness in Germany, the nation will hopefully see a decrease in the number of people living on the streets.

Samantha Rodriguez-Silva
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Human Trafficking in Germany
Human trafficking remains a major element of the world economy, despite the efforts of governments and international organizations to eradicate it. Traffickers traffick humans for a wide range of reasons, from forced manual labor to sexual slavery. In countries like Germany, a major European hub for immigration, human trafficking is particularly problematic. Here are five key facts to know about human trafficking in Germany.

5 Facts About Human Trafficking in Germany

  1. Sex-related Trafficking: The majority of victims of human trafficking in Germany underwent trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation. Furthermore, sex trafficking in Germany disproportionately affects young women, including minors. Victims of sex trafficking in Germany are most likely to originate from Romania, Bulgaria, Nigeria or Germany itself, meaning that traffickers tend to target immigrants. This is likely due to the fact that immigrants in Germany are far more likely to live in poverty than German citizens. Illegal immigrants are even more at risk, as coming forward could result in their own prosecution.
  2. Germany and E.U. Recommendations: In 2013, Germany failed to implement European Union regulations regarding human trafficking into national law. This came after a two-year effort by the E.U. to implore its member states to adopt these regulations, which included tougher sentences and better protection for victims of human trafficking. A spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated that the government chose not to implement the E.U. recommendations because it did not extend existing jurisdiction on human trafficking to cases of sex trafficking.
  3. Germany has Received Criticism for Being too Lax on Trafficking: Non-governmental organizations have criticized Germany for not implementing strict enough laws on human trafficking. UNICEF Germany pointed out that under German law, convicting someone on the basis of forced prostitution is very difficult. Because German law places the burden of proof on the victim, traffickers can intimidate and blackmail victims so that they do not come forward.
  4. Human Trafficking in Germany and U.S. Recommendations: The U.S. government has recommended that Germany take certain steps to improve its response to human trafficking. These steps include revising the law concerning the burden of proof, because of the way it obstructs human trafficking victims from coming forward. It also recommended that Germany improve its apparatus for survivors of sex trafficking. These improvements could include better housing services on humanitarian grounds for victims. The U.S. government classifies Germany as a Tier 2 country, meaning that Germany does not entirely meet the minimum standards that the U.S. government recommends to fight human trafficking, but is making significant efforts to do so.
  5. Immigration and Trafficking in Germany: Germany remains a hub for immigrants from all across Europe, Africa and Asia. As a result, Germany has a relatively strict policy regarding illegal immigrants. However, Germany’s strict laws on immigration have proven to damage the country’s efforts to counteract human trafficking. Underage immigrant sex workers who interact with German authorities often get into legal trouble for immigrating illegally, regardless of their status as a victim of human trafficking.
  6. Germany’s Success in Fighting Human Trafficking: Germany has had some major victories in its fight against human trafficking. In 2017, the German government increased victim protection efforts, as well as placing human trafficking specialists in immigration offices across the country. Additionally, the government helps to fund KOK, a German NGO that fights sex trafficking and protects migrants’ rights. The government increased KOK’s funding each year from 2016 to 2019. KOK lobbies nationally and internationally to make positive progress in its mission.

Looking Ahead

Despite Germany’s status as a standard-bearer for the E.U., it has a checkered record regarding human trafficking. While Germany’s protocols on human trafficking exceed the basic United States standards for the elimination of trafficking, there are areas in which the country could manage human trafficking better. Particularly, Germany’s large immigrant population provides a vulnerable target group for human traffickers.

– Leo Ratté
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Healthcare in Germany
Only months before the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the COVID-19 outbreak a global pandemic, Germany motioned to reconstruct its national healthcare system, starting with the Digital Healthcare Act. Passed in Sep. 2019, tasks that once required an in-person visit to a physician’s office can now occur online. Options available to patients and doctors through telehealth include:

  1. Manage prescriptions through smartphone apps.
  2. Report and monitor conditions remotely, such as blood sugar.
  3. Arrange consultations and appointments online, as well as attend over video calls.
  4. Collect data electronically, increasing accessibility for healthcare professionals and researchers.
  5. Provide medics specialized in emergency telemedicine to reduce mortality rates in areas that lack access to medical resources.

Maintaining a Digital Healthcare System

Through government support, healthcare in Germany has successfully transitioned to a digital format. The government dedicates €200 million per year for the development of medical technology. Additionally, healthcare providers have received encouragement to comply with the national system, the Telematics Infrastructure. Physicians who do not offer virtual options receive a charge of a 2.5% fee. The charge ensures that providers are staying up-to-date with emerging technology and meeting the national standards for healthcare. Despite the complications which accompany telemedicine, to guarantee care is available for everyone, the Digital Healthcare act covers all fees incurred virtually under insurance.

How Telehealth Benefits Impoverished Populations

The benefits of digital healthcare in Germany differ depending on the unique needs of each individual. Groups who benefit the most from digital healthcare include but are not limited to:

  1. Individuals over the age of 60.
  2. Low-income individuals.
  3. Families affected by catastrophic spending.
  4. Individuals lacking health insurance.

Catastrophic spending occurs when families must pay out of pocket for emergency medical services, often leaving them in debt. Low-income individuals as well as those without insurance are most likely to experience negative effects from catastrophic spending. Although it only affects a small percentage of the population, catastrophic spending to cover medical expenditures is very much a marginalized issue, as two out of three households who catastrophic spending effects are already in poverty.

Telehealth benefits impoverished families because virtual healthcare comes with a smaller price tag than many in-person services. Insurance plans place a cap on the number of inpatient services a patient may receive before an increase in pricing. However, there is currently no cap on outpatient visits, such as telehealth calls, which still provide a medical service but do not require a hospital visit.

Healthcare in Germany, specifically telehealth, is also more affordable for lower-income patients due to the Hospital Care Structure Reform Act of 2016. The legislation aims to cut back on unnecessary charges for medical services for patients. For example, a low-income family would be more likely to afford a telehealth appointment than a different service that requires lab testing or an in-person visit to a physician’s office.

Influences on COVID-19

Telehealth serves as a model for countries seeking solutions for healthcare in a time that requires less direct contact. The influence of German telehealth allows countries that did not previously utilize a virtual system to continue to safely provide care throughout the pandemic. Ways in which digital healthcare protects both doctors and patients include:

  1. Virtual appointments decrease the amount of direct contact between healthcare professionals and patients, simultaneously decreasing the chances of transmission.
  2. Treating patients with less severe concerns via telehealth enhances flexibility so medical professionals may attend to patients who require immediate care.
  3. The capability of healthcare specialists to partner remotely offers patients extended hours to receive virtual care.
  4. Online resources, such as self-evaluation tools, advise individuals on how to remain cautious throughout the pandemic.

Evolution of Healthcare

German contributions to telehealth reflect the way in which the U.S., as well as many other countries, are handling the COVID-19 pandemic. The German Digital Healthcare Act paves the way for the future of medical treatment and offers new options for healthcare that are not only efficient but also introduce a new aspect of convenience for patients. Although some individuals may be reluctant to adopt a digital healthcare system due to the unique challenges it poses, Germany has proven that transitioning to virtual medicine is not only possible but beneficial, as well as it continues to deliver flexible options for healthcare during the pandemic.

Calla Howard
Photo: Flickr

Child Poverty in Germany
Germany is located in west-central Europe and has a population of more than 83 million people and rising. Despite being a wealthy country, child poverty in Germany persists and impacts millions of children all across the nation. Here are some facts about the issue and examples of how the German government and nonprofit organizations are trying to fix it.

Single-Parent Households and Immigrants Suffer the Most

A total of 2.8 million children in Germany live in poverty. This means that approximately 21.3% of those under 18 grow up without the resources and living standards their peers enjoy. The families that poverty most impacts are those that only have one parent to provide for the children. In fact, 44% of single-parent households are struggling with poverty. This percentage is even higher for immigrant families and large families.

Poverty in Germany Equals Severe Life Restrictions

While child poverty in Germany does not necessarily mean that all children affected are starving, it often presents noticeable consequences for their lives. Growing up poor often results in children lacking access to basic things such as cars or electronics that are increasingly necessary for education. It further impacts the children’s social lives, since they often cannot afford to participate in clubs and activities or do not live in places big enough to have friends over. Child poverty also links to an increased risk of health problems due to families not being able to afford nutritious foods and having less balanced lifestyles.

The Strong Families Act

The German government introduced and passed the Strong Families Act in 2019. The act intends to help families with financial struggles by reforming the child benefit supplement system. A total of one billion euros ($1.2 billion) that the German government spent between 2019 and 2021 is supporting the reform. The reform includes making it easier for families to access aid that the government provides and to have the maximum supplement increased to 185 euros ($224) a month. The Strong Families Act further encourages parents of low-income families to make more money, as the child benefit supplement no longer instantly reduces due to the extra amount they earn.

Child poverty in Germany has a significant impact on education and future perspectives for those it affects. A study from 2019 showed that 36% of 25-year-olds who had experienced poverty as children were still living in poverty due to a lack of resources. For reference, only 20% of 25-year-olds who did not grow up poor were having the same financial struggles. The German government is attempting to change that by investing 220 million euros ($265 million) yearly through the Strong Families Act. The money will pay for school meals and transport for families in need and further raises the aid for school materials from 100 euros ($121) to 150 euros ($182) each year.

SOS Children’s Villages Help Children in Poverty

Outside of the government, there are several nonprofit organizations that are trying to help children who grow up in poverty. A very well-known organization is SOS Children’s Villages, an Austrian organization with more than 40 locations in Germany. It provides a wide variety of services to families in need, including daycare, counseling and aid to help prepare poor children for their future. SOS Children’s Villages was especially supportive of unattended youth in need who came into the country as a result of the refugee crisis in 2015. The organization offered language courses, integration support and cared for the children’s emotional needs.

– Bianca Adelman
Photo: Flickr

Germany Foreign Aid
In 2019, Germany followed the U.S. as the second-largest donor to official development assistance (ODA). Historically, Germany’s foreign aid has focused on migration, forced displacement, food security and climate concerns. In its foreign aid policy, Germany aims to create lasting change in the nations it reaches. Here are eight facts about Germany’s foreign aid.

8 Facts About Germany’s Foreign Aid

  1. The BMZ Handles Aid: The Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) primarily addresses the regulation of foreign aid. The BMZ is responsible for the development of policies, management of projects and the allocation of funds in times of crisis. Its support centers on several factors important to development, including “good governance, education, rural development, climate control, sustainable development, and a strengthening of the private sector.” Germany expects responsibility from the countries it lends aid to and thus does not grant budget support freely.
  2. The BMZ Does Not Work Alone: The BMZ works in accordance with other ministries, including the Federal Foreign Office and Ministry of Defense. The Federal Foreign Office addresses matters of humanitarian aid and, if a military presence is necessary, the Ministry of Defense offers assistance. KfW, a German-owned development bank, has also played a key role in Germany’s foreign aid contributions.
  3. Making UHC a Reality: The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of 2015 marked Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as a priority. UHC embodies the idea of having “all individuals and communities receive the health services they need without suffering financial hardship.” Germany has committed to this ideal in three stages. Globally, Germany aims to strengthen health systems through technical and financial support. On a multilateral level, Germany endorses the P4HNetwork, which provides health financing, and the L4UHC leadership course, which helps in the development of partnerships. Lastly, Germany is aiding its partner countries directly in the development of necessary changes.
  4. Supporting Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance: Germany has donated to Gavi through the BMZ since 2006 and its support continues to grow. Chancellor Merkel “pledged EUR 600 million for Gavi over the 2016-2020 strategic period” in 2015. Providing immunizations across the globe, Germany’s support of Gavi enables a safer, healthier world.
  5. BMZ Unveils an Effective Reform Strategy: The BMZ’s primary goal remains the same; eliminating poverty and world hunger. However, the BMZ is changing how it aims to achieve this goal through new focuses, new partnerships and new modes of cooperation. BMZ has reduced its number of partner countries from 85 to 60 but has done so to maximize its efforts strategically. German foreign aid is attempting to establish peace and structure with its nexus and peace partners. By “strengthening [German] support for people in crisis and refugee regions, addressing the root causes and supporting them in the process of stabilization,” the BMZ is aiming to build up nations like Syria, Yemen and Iraq.
  6. Germany and Syria: In recent years, Germany has shown great support for the Syrian people. In 2018, more than 500,000 Syrian refugees resided in Germany. German support is not solely based on helping the refugees, however. In June 2020, as part of a conference jointly hosted by the E.U. and U.N., Germany pledged $1.78 billion to humanitarian aid for Syria.
  7. Germany and the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: Adopted in September 2015, the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development replaced the previous Millennium Development Goals. The initiative comprises 17 goals and ties together poverty reduction and sustainability. Within the decade, the United Nations wishes to address the most pressing concerns of poverty, female empowerment and climate concerns. Germany is one of many nations playing a large role in addressing these goals.
  8. An Endorsement that Looks to the Future: Alongside Ghana and Norway, Germany requested the establishment of a global action plan in April 2018. This request took the form of the Global Action Plan for Healthy Lives and Well-being for All. The plan has united 12 agencies dedicated to health, development and humanitarian efforts, allowing each to strengthen each other while addressing the central SDGs.

The nation has proudly taken up the mantle of leadership and will serve as the Presidency of the Council of the European Union from June 2020 until December 2020. Germany promised additional ODA-funds in June 2020, dedicating $3.5 billion for “global health measures, humanitarian assistance, and overall development cooperation.”

Kelli Hughes
Photo: Flickr

German Companies
In an effort to place German companies at the center of Africa’s rising market, Germany has allocated $1.1 billion in the Development Investment Fund. According to the executive chairman of the African Energy Chamber, using German companies’ technology and capital will allow Africa to build a sustainable energy model.

Three Pillars of the Development Investment Fund

The Development Investment Fund comprises of three components. These components are AfricaConnect, AfricaGrow and the African Business Network. Each project aims toward a different aspect of growth for German companies as well as the African market. One aims toward larger businesses, one toward small and medium enterprises (SME) and one towards SMEs as well as foreign investment and development.

The isolation of individual African countries due to COVID-19 has caused them to start building necessary gas and power projects. These projects provide energy to those who are out of reach. More than 600 million Africans lack access to electricity. This prevents them from utilizing all the resources available to pull them out of poverty. The investments come at a time where the continent is already working to reshape its energy infrastructure. The AfricaConnect program has incorporated additional provisions due to COVID-19 in order to boost the African and German economy.

AfricaConnect

The AfricaConnect initiative contains 400 million Euros to go toward German businesses for projects in Africa. Companies receive loans between $845,000 to $4.5 million if the projects are ecologically and socially sustainable. German companies have to benefit African markets by creating jobs, introducing new technology or doing other groundwork.

AfricaGrow

Additionally, AfricaGrow aims at SME businesses in Africa. This fund aims at African businesses rather than German businesses along with African venture and equity funds. With around $188 million in the fund, it is meant to close the existing financial gap. It also allows the African economy to comprise of many SMEs that will create sustainable jobs for the future.

African Business Network

Furthermore, the third prong of the Development Investment Fund is the African Business Network, which aims at trade promotion. By boosting development cooperation, German SMEs are able to participate in the African market, expanding the role of German businesses in these fields. This initiative provides support to German companies through advice by stakeholders. It also acts as a means of holding SMEs in the market. The African Business Network focuses on 12 African countries in particular. These countries are Ethiopia, Egypt, Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Ghana, Guinea, Morocco, Rwanda, Senegal, Togo and Tunisia.

German Companies and Energy Poverty

Due to the lack of a sustainable energy source in many parts of Africa, African businesses in the energy sector have struggled with maintaining power. In South Africa, the electricity company Eskom had to fly out German technical experts to help with building sustainable energy grids due to the fact that around 80% to 90% of their power came from coal power plants, according to The South African. As a result, South Africa turns to solar energy. It launches an Integrated Resource Plan which calls for six gigawatts of solar by 2030.

How Germany is Helping Africa

This lack of sustainable energy is exactly what German companies entering the energy industry look to solve, thereby harnessing the full power of the African consumer market. Senegal was one of the first African countries to begin this, seeing German support for around 800 SMEs. Germany has more than 200 million Euros invested in projects focusing on providing electricity throughout the country. This electricity is provided through renewable energy and better harnessing pre-existing energy sources. Power plants that produce 25 megawatts of energy are placed outside of Dakar. This pushes African energy sources forward.

The funds also gave rise to multiple German companies in the energy sector including Pfisterer Unternehmensgruppe. Pfisterer Unternehmensgruppe has already begun placing offshore wind farms and building a variety of generators to hold the power in smaller spaces. Smaller companies such as AfricanSol aim to build solar panels across the continent with the initial panels built in Eritrea. However, these efforts slowed down as countries shut down due to COVID-19.

Energy poverty is one of the largest obstacles that Germany and a number of African countries will work together to tackle. However, the funds will also give rise to better technology for a growing market that is involved in the larger world. As Africa’s trade deals connect it to the global market, millions of consumers enter and a trillion-dollar economy opens up. For both Germany and Africa, investing now will lead to huge payoffs. With the rich natural resources of the country combined with front-running German technology, poverty in Africa might see huge decreases in the near future.

Nitya Marimuthu
Photo: Pixabay

SDG Goal 16 in Germany
With an index score of 80.8, Germany ranks fifth among all U.N. member states for progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The strategies and efforts for SDG Goal 16 in Germany, particularly help it to stand out as an international spearhead for sustainable development.

What is SDG Goal 16?

SDG Goal 16 calls for countries to “promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all and build effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels.” Global progress is measured via the Sustainable Development Report, which includes the following indicators for SDG Goal 16:

  • Homicide rates
  • Percentage of unsentenced detainees in the prison population
  • Percentage of population who feel safe walking alone at night in the city or area where they live
  • Qualitative assessment of property rights
  • Percentage of children younger than age 5 with birth registrations
  • Corruption Perception Index
  • Percentage of population ages 5 to 14 involved in child labor
  • Exports of major conventional weapons
  • Press Freedom Index
  • Persons held in prison

For all but one of these indicators, Germany is on track to maintain SDG Goal 16 achievement, rendering its progress towards this goal substantial. According to the German Federal Association for Sustainability, the country has adopted several measures to ensure the achievement of SDG Goal 16 in Germany. Moreover, Germany’s progress may allow it to serve as a model for other U.N. member states.

A Closer Look

Germany’s role on the world stage has been critical towards fulfilling the SDGs by 2030. The country’s National Sustainability Strategy of 2016 has been central to its achievements thus far. The strategy covers additional goals for development cooperation and outlines a long-term process of sustainable development. Although originally introduced by the German government in 2002, the country revised its strategy in 2016 to align with the SDGs. Now, Germany regularly revisits its principles and parameters every two years.

Updating the National Sustainability Strategy in 2018 was especially effective for SDG Goal 16 in Germany. The changes introduced objectives that refocused international development and institution-building. Some of the panel’s recommendations included increased accountability and transparency in international financial institutions. Further recommendations also included support for sustainable practices, internationally. Importantly, the peer review also called for the incorporation of sustainable development in curricula throughout all levels of the education systems. This demonstrates Germany’s clear commitment to building sustainable, inclusive institutions for the long-term.

Notably, the indicator trends for SDG Goal 16 in Germany also suggest positive outcomes in sustainable development and institution-building. The country has a Press Freedom Index of 14.60 and a Property Rights value of 5.31. The country also achieved a long-term objective in 2018, i.e., 100% of children born (younger than age 5) had their births registered with the relevant national civil authorities.

Recent Updates

Germany’s federal government intends to further update its National Sustainability Strategy in 2020, taking into account the expert advice from another peer review. As for the SDG Goal 16 indicators, exports of major conventional weapons is an area in need of improvement for Germany — given the country’s index of 2.04 in 2019. German arms exports increased by 65% during that year, whereas the previous three years saw consistent decreases.

Despite this, Germany remains “committed to peace and justice worldwide” when promoting sustainable development practices. From protecting human rights to forwarding inclusive governance, the country remains on track for achieving SDG Goal 16 by the year 2030.

Rachel Moloney
Photo: Flickr

helping refugees find answers
In 2015, social entrepreneur Cornelia Röper saw a need for a platform that would help newly settled refugees with questions about employment opportunities, health, education and asylum. Röper’s experience working with a collaborative workshop for refugees in Germany made it clear to her that more work remained to help them. This was how the concept for Wefugees, an online platform helping refugees find answers to their questions, came into being.

Global Displacement Is High

According to the U.N. Refugee Agency, global displacement is higher than ever before. By December 2018, around 70.8 million people had been displaced from their homes. Violence, human rights violations and wars can all cause people to migrate. Though the number of refugees and migrants arriving in Europe has decreased since 2015, 141,472 people arrived in Europe in 2018 alone. The death rate for those trying to reach Europe on the Mediterranean has increased to more than 1,000 people in 2019. Almost 33% of worldwide refugees come from Syria. Another 33% of the global refugee population hails from Afghanistan, South Sudan, Myanmar and Somalia.

Children Seeking Asylum

Children and young people younger than age 18 make up 50% of the worldwide refugee population. Of these children, some 110,000 are separated from their families. In 2018, 27,600 children sought asylum in countries all over the world. As a result of this trend, 3.7 million children are currently not attending school, due to displacement.

Integrating Refugees into Society

The Wefugees platform addresses these issues by helping refugees in Röper’s native Germany become visible and successful at integrating into their new society. The interactive platform offers a safe place where displaced persons can ask specific questions, and volunteers can provide the answers.

Röper has been working full-time on these issues since February 2016. She was then joined by Wefugees co-founder Henriette Schmidt. Röper and Schmidt feel that refugees will be able to integrate into a new, unfamiliar society more effectively if they can solve their problems independently. By helping refugees find answers, Wefugees works to pass along information so that displaced persons can help themselves (with the aid of volunteers). The goal is for refugees to start their new lives on their own. Consequently, this online platform helping refugees relieves the pressure on conventional aid programs as well.

From Visas to Scholarships

The Wefugees platform addresses questions about problems such as obtaining asylum, traveling between countries, establishing residency in various countries and applying for citizenship. Also, this online platform is helping refugees with concerns about visa issues, relocation and the deportation process. Additionally, Wefugees helps refugees find answers to queries about power of attorney, international drivers’ licenses, housing markets, cultural activities and scholarships for students. The information exchange assists in the goal of helping refugees find answers to persistent problems. For instance — finding work, legal advice, healthcare, education and housing.

Changing the Future for Refugees

Word about Wefugees is growing. In 2018, Röper was included in Forbes’ list of “30 under 30 Europe: Social Entrepreneurs.” She has also received the Gates Foundation Changemaker Award. The online platform that Röper started is the world’s largest for refugee topics, with more than 8,000 users per month. More than 20,000 people have used the site, which continues the important work of helping refugees find the answers to improve their lives.

– Sarah Betuel
Photo: Flickr