Documentaries About PovertyDocumentaries are a form of film or television which take advantage of the entertainment platform to inform audiences of important issues through a more gripping means. They range in topics from technological innovation to the controversial beauty industry. Many documentaries have also focused on another major issue of today: global poverty. Below is a list of the top five documentaries about poverty as of 2019 and where to find them.

Top 5 Documentaries About Poverty and Where to Find Them

  1. The End of Poverty?: Directed by Philippe Diaz, who is well known within the genre, the documentary debuted in 2008 and became notorious for its unique historical perspective on global poverty. It highlighted the ways poverty has amassed through the years, beginning as early as the 16th century and concluding with present day. The film describes how poverty thrives in today’s world through interviews with historians, economists and impoverished families from around the world. This documentary can be viewed on Amazon Prime.
  2. Dilli: This 2011 documentary about the slums of Delhi focuses on the hardships of individuals in the area. Though relatively short, coming in just longer than 30 minutes, the film has a firm impact on the audience. Through interviews with citizens, ranging from old to young, directors Sushmit Ghosh and Rintu Thomas depict these daily trials. The film received critical acclaim, winning 1st place in the Short Documentary category of the Los Angeles Movie Awards. This documentary about poverty can be viewed now on Youtube.
  3. Poor No More: This 2010 documentary focuses on the poverty of Canada’s working-class by following the journey of native citizens. It puts Canada under a lens in comparison with Ireland and Sweden in terms of their respective job markets. The documentary takes a moment to focus on poverty within a different context—within the context of a country which is generally presumed as wealthy and well structured. The documentary can be viewed on Youtube.
  4. Hauling: This documentary, which premiered in 2010, follows the daily life of the Claudine family, a household of 27 children, whose income is dependent on the recycling system of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Every day, they collect the leftover wood, plastic and cardboard of the city in exchange for meager payment from the local recycling plant. The film brings forth the discussion of poverty in Brazil and the ways which their citizens persevere. The film can be viewed on Amazon Prime.
  5. The True Cost: This 2015 documentary focuses on the fashion industry and the way it uses impoverished nations to obtain cheap labor and goods. The film highlights the controversy of the fashion industry and the way it abuses the environment and ignores basic human rights. This documentary about poverty can be found on Netflix.

Art and media can become a platform for the voiceless. In these five documentaries about poverty, the lives of the underprivileged are documented for the rest of the world to face. If people want to help, but they don’t quite know where to start, then they must take the first step to get informed. Any of these documentaries could be a place to start.

– Eleanora Kamerow
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Corruption in Hungary

After several subsequent electoral successes, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz party have been accused of corrupt activity by the European Union and opposition parties in Hungary. Today, Hungary is ranked as 64 out of 180 countries in terms of corruption, ranking it “among the most corrupt Member States” in the EU. In the text below are 10 facts about corruption in Hungary.

10 Facts About Corruption in Hungary

  1. Orbán, along with the Christian Democratic People’s Party, holds a super-majority of 66 percent in Parliament, which allows them to amend the country’s constitution. To date, several amendments have passed that cement the power of Fidesz. Most notably, changes made to the electoral process reduce the chances of opposition parties winning seats. A new amendment modified the process so that 93 of the 199 seats are awarded proportionally based on the percentage of votes a party receives in the national election. The remaining 106 seats are won by receiving a plurality of votes in a local election, meaning that Fidesz can get 40 percent of the vote and still win the seat. Because opposition parties are divided, it is difficult for them to win these local elections.
  2. In March, the European People’s Party discussed suspending the Fidesz party from its bloc in the European Parliament amidst corruption allegations. This is not the first time that Orbán has been threatened with expulsion. However, no actions were taken at that time.
  3. Hungary regularly engages in unannounced “negotiated procedures,” which allow the government to strike a deal without going through an open competition. This has led some to accuse the government of mishandling EU funds. The 2014-2020 EU budget allocates €28 billion to Hungary, but critics worry that much of it will end up in the hands of Orbán’s family, friends and party loyalists. Adding to their concern, the prime minister’s office has sole authority in determining disbursement of funds. Elios Innovatív, owned by Orbán’s son-in-law István Tiborcz, had won a €40 million contract with the government in 2015. Lőrinc Mészáros, a longtime political ally of Orbán’s, has seen his wealth triple since Orbán’s election. He has become the second richest man in Hungary, owning 203 companies and receiving 83 percent of his companies’ profits from EU funds.
  4. From 2013 to 2019, Hungary’s ranking in the World Press Freedom Index dropped from 56 to 87 in the world. The dramatic shift occurred when 476 private media companies simultaneously transferred ownership, without compensation, to the Central European Press and Media Foundation. Allies of the Prime Minister head the company, including István Varga, a former Fidesz member of Parliament, and István Bajkai, Orbán’s personal lawyer.
  5. The Fidesz Party declined to sign an agreement that would allow Central European University (CEU) to remain in Budapest. The university will now be forced to move its campus to Austria. CEU has several anti-corruption research arms, including the Anti-Corruption Research Group and the Center for Integrity in Business and Government. At multiple points, their reports were critical of the Fidesz government and accused it of corrupt activity. For example, one CEU research report wrote that the party engaged in “a constitutional coup d’état against an established democracy.”
  6. Through gerrymandering, Fidesz effectively limits opposition party participation. Gerrymandering ensures victory in what would otherwise be competitive districts. One study found that an opposition party needs to receive around 300,000 more votes than the Fidesz party needs in order to win a majority in the parliament.
  7. A 2016 poll reported that two-thirds of Hungarians regard their government as corrupt with 60 percent believing that corruption in Hungary goes to the top levels of government, including Orbán. This reflects a strong need for change, but the power accumulated through corruption has allowed Fidesz to continue to govern.
  8. Amid growing corruption concerns, an opposition politician named Akos Hadhazy gathered 680,000 signatures demanding that Hungary join the EU’s new anti-corruption arm, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. Hadhazy specifies many of these 10 facts about corruption in Hungary, but he is especially concerned about the use of EU funds. Thus far, Fidesz refuses to join, citing concerns about overreach from Brussels. Hadhazy said, “Now it’s up to EU institutions to increase pressure on the Hungarian government unless they want European taxpayers to finance a regime that openly works against the EU.”
  9. Transparency International Hungary (TIH), an anti-corruption NGO, considers young people to be essential to combating corruption. According to TIH, 90 percent of Hungarians ages 15-29 believe that corruption is present in their politics. However, they also find that only 25 percent of young people believe that reporting government corruption will be taken seriously. TIH hopes to mobilize the youth in their fight against corruption.
  10. The Hungarian Helsinki Committee provides free legal assistance to detainees, victims of police brutality and jailed protestors or activists. The group helped more than 1,400 people in 2018. From 2008 to 2018, it trained more than 4,000 lawyers, judges and states officers. The NGO describes itself as “one of the few remaining voices that publicly oppose attacks on civil society and the further democratic backsliding of Hungary.” Hungarian tax laws allow its citizens to donate 1 percent of their income tax to a nonprofit of their choosing. NGOs, including the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, encourage donations in order to continue their work. Through this, Hungarians may express their support for organizations working to combat corruption in their country.

According to the World Bank, Hungary has a poverty rate of about 15 percent, meaning almost 1.5 million Hungarians live in poverty. These 10 facts about corruption in Hungary threaten academia, the media, NGOs and several democratic institutions. This, in turn, threatens the well-being of Hungarian civil society, which is trying its best to create a more equitable and just Hungary.

– Kyle Linder
Photo: Flickr

Podcasts for Perspective: Three Shows Raising Global Inequality Awareness Since podcasting began to take off, this audio medium has really carved out a significant space for itself in American media with its on-demand, radio-like content. According to Edison Research’s 2018 podcast statistic report, 26 percent of Americans (73 million people) listen to podcasts on a monthly basis. Podcasts are easily available online or through any smart device and target virtually every interest and topic, including global inequality awareness.

Whether someone is new to podcasts or a regular listener, they are a great way to learn new things, expand people’s interests and gain perspectives on different topics. Below, are three suggestions for globally-minded podcasts. Though each of these podcasts has a different focus, they all contribute to raising awareness for global inequality issues relating to poverty.

Hacking Hunger

Produced by World Food Program U.S.A., Hacking Hunger shares stories about hunger from around the globe. Hacking Hunger connects listeners to the voices of aid workers and families involved with the World Food Program. By highlighting direct experiences, this podcast helps listeners imagine the realities of hunger from refugee camps to conflict zones.

Rarely longer than 30 minutes, Hacking Hunger offers concise, yet poignant stories from the frontlines of countries combatting hunger. According to the M.J. Altman, editorial director at World Food Program U.S.A., Hacking Hunger is most successful when it moves and motivates its listeners. By bringing attention to hunger issues worldwide, Hacking Hunger both raises awareness about and generates support for hunger relief funds.

Circle of Blue Podcasts

Circle of Blue is a non-profit, resource advocacy group that focuses on sanitation and water. Circle of Blue’s podcast covers water issues in depth by looking at how water relates to energy production, food, health and environmental topics. Though Circle of Blue has several programs (among them H2O Hotspots and What’s Up with Water), they are combined under “Circle of Blue WaterNews” on various podcast provider platforms.

With news-like quality and tone, Circle of Blue updates listeners on water issues worldwide. This podcast combines case-specific stories with connections to larger trends over time. Circle of Blue is a good podcast for listeners who want to explore how access to water contributes to inequality worldwide. Keep an eye out especially for the H2O Hotspot episodes, which feature in-depth stories on areas in danger of water-related conflicts.

Global Dispatches

From the team of the U.N. Dispatch, Global Dispatches covers foreign policy issues and world affairs. The show highlights policy-makers, aid workers, development experts and global affairs leaders through in-depth interviews. The varying content promotes global inequality awareness in many fields. For example, recent topics have included the link between poverty and vaccines, political conflict in Haiti and “energy poverty” in developing countries.

Despite the diverse content, the editor of the U.N. Dispatch blog, Mark Leon Goldberg, hosts the podcast and gives it a consistent voice between episodes. Global Dispatches contextualizes the central topic of each episode very well, making it easy to understand without prior knowledge. Episodes are generally fewer than 45 minutes long and updated frequently. This podcast is ideal for listeners who want to keep up-to-date with a diverse range of foreign policy issues.

Podcasts are a great way to stay informed when it seems like there are not enough hours in the day because they can be listened to on a walk or in the car. Listening to these podcasts (and others like it) can help people stay updated on different aspects of global issues and poverty as well as increase their global inequality awareness.

Morgan Harden
Photo: Flickr

Radio Naf
At the start of 2017, the refugees of Rohingya fled in the thousands from Myanmar. Today, many of their lives are still in disarray as they search for family, look for new homes and deal with the trauma from the violence that drove them out of their country.

Rohingya refugees often lack the information to take the next steps towards these goals. The use of media within camps has been vital to dealing with the emergency and keeping refugees connected with each other and the outside world, so Rohingya refugee media has been given a new voice: Radio NAF.

Radio NAF: A Voice for the Voiceless

In times of crisis like this one, access to information is almost as vital as food, shelter, and water. Local media can and has been used as a platform to update refugees on the status of their hometowns, educate them on sanitary practices and guide them toward necessary resources. Moreover, media has been used as a platform for refugees to voice their experiences and call the rest of the world to action.

Radio NAF is a community-based radio station in the Cox’s Bazar district of Bangladesh. The station serves the rural and underserved communities in the region, which also happens to be home to the largest Rohingya refugee settlement, Kutupalong. The station interviews refugees and discusses the issues that affect them.

Due to the poor radio reception in these areas, all of the shows are prerecorded and brought to the communities through seven “listener clubs.” While the population in the settlement has declined slightly, listenership and attendance have risen, indicating that this is an invaluable source of information for those that come to and remain at the settlement.

But, another reason for the influx in attendance could also be the station’s ability to provide a voice to the voiceless. The station’s interviews allow individuals and groups in the settlements to make statements and send messages that reach far beyond the Rohingya refugee community. Its programs also tackle important issues like violence against women, and it also provides entertainment of the children in among the refugee, who comprise more than half of the population.

British Broadcast Corporation Media Action

Radio Naf is backed by the British Broadcast Corporation (BBC). BBC’s international development charity, BBC Media Action, has worked in conjunction with local Radio Naf employees—some of whom are refugees themselves—to analyze the issues and needs of the Rohingya refugees as told by the Rohingya refugees themselves.

The charity focuses its efforts on alleviating these specific problems, but it also shares all of its information with the United Nations, NGOs and governments working to mitigate the crisis. Through Rohingya refugee media, the people have the ability to make their voices thoroughly heard and get the message out to these organizations for swift and proper actions.

BBC backed Radio Naf has uncovered sanitary, financial, linguistic and logistic issues that continue to persist in the Rohingya refugee camps while sharing crucial necessities and calls to action to key players in the relief, which has been the focus of Radio Naf and its interviews. But, in order to bring about progress, this hope must be met with an eagerness to hear their voices and act on those issues.

Rohingya refugee media is an essential component to connecting refugees and working to alleviate some of the pain and misfortune that they have lived through. It has developed a platform for the spread of hope. This hope, after even a year into the crisis, echoes from community to community, from settlement to settlement.

– Julius Long
Photo: Flickr

How the Media Misrepresents Argentina
Most of the media coverage surrounding Argentina has dealt with the country’s economic struggles, its crime rate, and, following the recent World Cup, its soccer team. The misrepresentation of Argentina by the media is evident due to the fact that negative coverage far outweighs the positive, giving the public a one-dimensional perception of this South American country.

More than a Soccer Nation

Beyond the financial crisis, much of the recent media coverage regarding Argentina has centered around the country’s World Cup run. Soccer is an immense source of national pride and a beacon of hope for many Argentinian fans, particularly during hard economic times. But soccer, while deeply engrained within the national fabric and heavily covered by the media, represents just one aspect of the diverse nation.

Portraying Economic Crisis in the Country

Argentina’s economy has far from met the expectations associated with market-friendly President Mauricio Macri. The value of the Argentine peso plummeted in April, resulting in a $50 billion loan from the International Monetary Fund. This, coupled with high inflation, has brought persistent economic hardship to the country and poses a serious threat to Macri’s “zero poverty” campaign promise.

Much of the media coverage surrounding Argentina has focused heavily on the economic crisis and the crime associated with it. While the crisis is prevalent and a resolution is much needed, the rampant and disproportionate coverage of the crisis goes to show just how the media misrepresents Argentina. In doing so, the media taint the perception of the country and fails to portray the true image of Argentina, one of an improving economic and social condition.

Economic and Social Progress

In 2017, poverty in Argentina decreased by 4.6 percent and is currently at 25.7 percent, according to official estimates. Prior to the Macri presidency, transparency about Argentina’s poverty was scarce. The publishing of official statistics only began in 2016, after being halted by the former populist government in 2013. Macri has not only strived for zero poverty, but he has established the proper balances to hold his administration accountable, something that was not the case for Argentina’s recent past.

Macri has faced the delicate task of reducing Argentina’s poverty rate while also working to alleviate a large budget deficit incurred by prior administrations. Macri’s administration has focused on reducing this deficit with the help of the International Monetary Fund and the implementation of public-private partnerships. With private companies financing long-term infrastructure contracts, Argentina expects to attract $26.5 billion in investment by 2022, reducing pressure on the budget but also contributing to the fall in poverty through the creation of thousands of steady jobs.

The citizens of Argentina have also exhibited a strong commitment to social progress, pushing landmark legislation to the floor of Congress, the Senate and the offices of President Macri. However, media coverage of these events is brief if existing at all, failing to show a highly positive dimension of Argentina.

Justina’s Law

News that the Chamber of Deputies (lower house of National Congress) passed a grassroots piece of legislation that makes 44 million citizens organ donors was seldom reported. The official increase in donors will depend on how many citizens choose to opt out, but this legislation will undoubtedly ensure the survival of thousands of patients that are in need of organ transplantation. With the approval of this law, also called the Justina’s Law, Argentina would join the ranks of France and Netherlands in this landmark legislation.

While it is typical to hear for the negative aspects of Argentina’s economy and crime, the work being done to solve these issues or the positive impacts that the Argentine people themselves are having on their country is rarely discussed.

Though it may seem that the misrepresentation of Argentina in the media has little effect on the country’s economic and social outlook, this is far from the truth. Macri’s plan for foreign investment depends heavily on the perception of Argentina as a viable place for growth. The current administration’s commitment to accountability and poverty reduction, as well as social progress, show the world that the country is trending in the right direction.

– Julius Long

Photo: Flickr

BelarusThe Republic of Belarus is an Eastern European nation that boasts a free and universal education system, required for ages 6-14. Belarusian youth attend primary school from ages 6-9 and secondary school from 10-14, most remaining an additional 1.4 years until graduation. In Belarus, education is as accessible to girls as it is to boys.

Gender Discrimination in Society

Despite its accessibility, girls’ education in Belarus does not guarantee that girls will have the same opportunities as boys in adulthood. In 2016, the National Statistics Committee of the Republic of Belarus reported that women earned only 76.2 percent of the salary of men. In addition, many of the nation’s most profitable professions, namely in manufacturing, experience horizontal segregation with a majority of leadership positions being held by men regardless of female employees’ qualifications. This encourages high-skilled women to enter into low-wage public service jobs like education and health care, which are occupied almost exclusively by women.

The Anti-Discrimination Centre (ADC) and the Office for European Expertise and Communications (OEEC) attribute gender discrimination in Belarus to traditional, patriarchal notions that are ubiquitous throughout Belarusian society. These notions portray childbirth and motherhood as women’s greatest value and devalue the importance of their professional success.

The media, aspects of the compulsory education system, politicians and other government officials all contribute to the perpetuation of gender stereotypes. In a 2014 analysis, the OEEC describes the media in Belarus as “gender non-sensitive” and lacks an understanding of ideas concerning gender issues that they put out into their society. The ADC echoed these concerns in its 2016 report, pointing out that media outlets often refuse to acknowledge misbehavior when criticized for producing gender-biased content.

Gender Discrimination in Education

Belarusian schools, private and public, are at the will of the state and considered political bodies. The Education Code of the Republic of Belarus requires instruction in “the role and purpose of men and women in contemporary society.” Boys and girls attend separate classes to teach them their respective roles in society, reinforcing stereotypes rather than promoting individual development. Girls are instructed in matters of homemaking and boys are taught activities such as woodworking and carpentry.

In 2009, Deputy Education Minister Tatsiana Kavalyova highlighted the importance of ideology in schools, calling it “the backbone” of Belarusian education. According to Kavalyova, every educational institution in the country has an ideology department. As of 2009, the government has continued banning teachers and democratic activists in opposition to the government.

Government agencies have failed to enforce anti-discrimination legislation despite having signed the United Nations Millennium Declaration, among other U.N. documents that commit the country to working toward gender equality. As of 2012, 68 percent of government officials and politicians in control of these policies are men.

The OEEC found in 2014 that 86.6 percent of the general public viewed women’s lack of representation in politics as either the natural order of things or as a necessary consequence of their primary roles as wives and mothers. Some men in government have publicly expressed the same sentiment, claiming that “gender equality is perverting society,” that women are “apolitical by nature” or that they should “sit at home and make borscht, not roam around squares.” Yet, in the face of these challenges, there is promise that more progress will be made.

Hope for Girls’ Education in Belarus

The data that the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has published paints girls’ education in Belarus in a favorable light. In the organization’s most recent statistics, Belarusian girls have consistently, if only slightly, come to surpass Belarusian boys in academia:

  • In 2015 and 2016, Belarusian girls had higher net enrollment rates in primary and secondary education. Rates for both girls and boys have steadily climbed from the low to high nineties since 2008, and the difference between boys and girls is less than one percentage point.
  • The 2015 transition rate from primary to secondary education was 0.34 percent higher for girls at 98.25 percent.
  • As of 2009, girls 15-24 years old have a 99.85 percent literacy rate, compared to the boys’ rate of 99.8 percent.
  • In 2016, 6,747 girls and 7,654 boys were out of school. Although these numbers fluctuate, there have been more boys out of school each year since 2010.
  • According to ADC’s 2016 report, 56.1 percent of women, compared to 43.9 percent of men, had a higher education.

With girls’ education in Belarus set firmly in place, NGOs have been able to focus on gaining gender equality in other ways. These organizations are able to focus their efforts on both preventing domestic violence and human trafficking and helping victims. Their work has also led to the National Scientific Research Institute of Labor’s development of a concept of gender equality and a gender assessment of current legislation by the National Center of Legislation and Legal Research.

One such NGO is Gender Perspectives, established in 2010. Gender Perspectives offers social, psychological and legal help to victims of domestic violence in Belarus, either directly or by referring them to other organizations and institutions. The organization created a hotline for victims in 2012, which responded to over four thousand calls in 2012 and 2013 and provided 117 with direct assistance.

In 2012, 54 women were selected for the National Assembly in 2012, which consists of 174 total delegates. Although they comprise only 32 percent and their admission was a result of a quota, women’s presence in the government offers hope that the state, with the help of NGOs, will establish gender equality that reaches beyond the sphere of education.

– Ashley Wagner
Photo: Flickr

How the Media Misrepresents MadagascarThe perpetual stereotype that surrounds Madagascar is that its population consists of very few people, an enormous number of animals and an increasing rate of poverty. In fact, the first page of a ‘Google Image’ search of Madagascar provides half a dozen photos of people and dozens of photos of lemurs and other animals. The ways the media misrepresents Madagascar creates a skewed image of this African country as a place populated mostly by animals and an increasing rate of poverty.

Pivot

Several organizations advocate for the population of Madagascar. One such organization, Pivot, has created a district in Madagascar called the Ifanadiana District, which focuses on providing health care benefits for Malagasy people. Its population is now 200,000.

The organization aims to transform Madagascar’s health system through rights-based care delivery, strengthened public systems and a new era of science guided by the needs of the poor. Before this organization was located in the Ifanadiana District, one in seven children died before age five. Patients also had to find and pay for all medicines and supplies before treatment.

However, there was a 19 percent decrease of under-five mortality after Pivot intervened. Pivot has built hospitals and provided vaccines and health care to enlighten the people of this impoverished country. Pivot has made an extraordinary difference to the country of Madagascar and will continue to do so until it’s health system has been completely transformed.

Halt Poverty

Halt Poverty is another organization working to reduce poverty in Madagascar. The group’s current crowdfunding campaign is to support the building of a provision of safe water in vulnerable households surrounding areas of Fianarantsoa, Madagascar. The endeavor will only cost $2,945 to serve 200 people safe water, or $14.98 per person.

Halt Poverty uses adventure tourism to advocate for the support of poverty reduction in Madagascar. By exploring the natural landscapes and villages of this country, people are able to see the nation as it truly is. These tourists will support the local economy, protect the environment, respect the local culture and participate in poverty reduction.

These programs offer a deeper cultural insight than the one offered by tourism. Over the course of the trip, tourists will get a deeper intercultural understanding of Madagascar and gain exposure to volunteer opportunities that reduce poverty.

Reality of Madagascar

The media misrepresents Madagascar by portraying the nation as an impoverished country lacking in aid from poverty-reduction organizations, but this is not the reality. Although Madagascar experiences immense poverty, the poverty rate has actually decreased in the past couple of years.

In fact, the poverty rate decreased from 77.6 percent to 72 percent between 2012 and 2018. The World Bank reported that the Malagasy economy has been gradually improving ever since the return to legal order in 2014. Since 2016, the economic growth rate in the nation exceeded 4 percent. With trends such as these, one can see that Madagascar is improving in terms of its economy and poverty at a fairly quick rate.

On the Horizon

Although Madagascar is misrepresented in the media, there is, in fact, a great deal being done to give Malagasy people a better life. However, the misrepresentation of this country in the media has caused its issues to remain predominantly unknown.

The combined efforts of organizations like Pivot and Halt Poverty suggest improvements in tourism, health systems, poverty reduction and ultimately, a brighter future for Madagascar, are on the horizon.

– Megan Maxwell
Photo: Pixabay

How the Media Misrepresents South Sudan
According to most of the international media coverage, the situation in South Sudan is hopeless. When it became the 54th country to join The African Union on July 11, 2011, there was hope that the decades of violence and poverty that had plagued the southern end of Sudan would become a memory. But, two years into South Sudan’s formation, a civil war broke out between the country’s two most powerful politicians–President Salva Kiir and his former Vice-President turned-rebel-leader Riek Machar. The war has been ongoing.

How the Media Misrepresents South Sudan

Despite the problems that plague South Sudan, there has also been a lot of good news coming out of the country; however, the public rarely hears about it. This is because of how the media misrepresents South Sudan. The international media is more likely to focus on the tragic than on the uplifting.

Most outlets have not covered the all-woman police unit from Rwanda that was just sent to South Sudan as part of The U.N. peacekeeping mission or American actress Ashley Judd’s recent visit to a maternity hospital in a U.N. camp in the country to empower women who have been victims of sexual assault. Instead, the media misrepresents South Sudan by pumping out stories that resort to a familiar narrative: tribal groups fighting and killing one another.

Often, articles are filled with stereotypes and simplistic generalizations. For much of the world, the only representation or knowledge of the Sudanese is of suffering. For example, one recent article in The Guardian is titled: “Born out of Brutality, South Sudan, the World’s Youngest State, Drowns in Murder, Rape and Arson.” The problem with this type of language is that it can make the reader feel helpless, unable to enact change.

Sensational headlines also dehumanize the people behind the images. While the horrors that the South Sudanese are facing must be recognized, it is equally important to acknowledge the moments of hope, the small victories and the people who are trying to rebuild their lives amid the chaos and violence. Here are two recent events in South Sudan that many people haven’t heard about due to how the media misrepresents South Sudan.

Two Important Positive Events That Took Place in South Sudan

On June 28, President Salva Kiir sat down at the capital with his former vice-president and the country’s largest rebel group leader, Riek Machar. It was their first meeting in two years. After five years of civil war, they announced a permanent cease-fire. While the ceasefire agreement has not been altogether effective, (fighting resumed soon after it was implemented), this agreement has other benefits that can help the South Sudanese people.

Most importantly, the agreement allows humanitarian aid to resume, which has slowed in recent years in part due to the fact that South Sudan is one of the most dangerous places in the world to be an aid worker. The U.N. Humanitarian Response is calling for 1.72 billion in aid for South Sudan in 2018. As of July, donor countries have already contributed $706 million.

In May, over 200 children were released by armed groups in Pibor County, Jonglei, bringing the total number of children released up to 806 since the beginning of 2018. Many of these children were child soldiers who are now receiving medical and psychological care. It is expected the in the upcoming months that more than 1,000 children will be released.

Mahimbo Mdoe, UNICEF’s Representative in South Sudan, said that “Every time a child is released and able to return to their family, it’s a source of great hope – hope for their future and for the future of the country.” The challenge now is how to reintegrate these children into civilian life and create opportunities for them to succeed in an unstable country with limited employment and educational opportunities.

Ignoring or glossing over the good news is a good example of how the media misrepresents South Sudan. And in doing so, the media fails to acknowledge hopeful events like the two listed above that may lead to peace. In the coming months, it will become apparent whether or not Kiir and Machar’s agreement holds any weight. Regardless of the result, fair media coverage of these events along with coverage on the way people are making a difference in the country is crucial to the public’s understanding of what is going on in the country.

– Evann Orleck-Jetter
Photo: Flickr

How the Media Misrepresents Angola
How the media misrepresents Angola, a country located in Southern Africa, can be answered in its portrayal of the country as a postwar nation infested with mines, HIV epidemic and yellow fever outbreaks.

Despite the problems, the country is at the beginning of a hopeful transition after the recent 2017 elections and many organizations have partnered up with the government to provide aid.  

Post-War Effects

In 1997, Princess Diana brought the world’s attention to the war-stricken Angola. She visited mine-infested areas in an effort to advocate their removal. Mines from about 22 countries lie under various regions in Angola now.

The civil war that lasted for 27 years took the lives of 1.5 million people. Unfortunately, the town of Cuito Cuanavale still lives with the constant reminder of those horrific days as the villagers nearby are exposed to an 18-mile area covered in active mines. 

HIV Epidemic

UNAIDS reported in 2016 that HIV remains a challenge in Angola as 130,000 adults have died as a result of it, while 90,204 people are receiving treatment for the disease. HIV is the third cause of death in Angola.

Yellow Fever Scare

In 2016 the outbreak of yellow fever, a viral disease transmitted by the mosquito Aedes aegypti, in Angola took the lives of 376 people. Angola had not seen such an outbreak in the last 30 years.

Successful Partnerships

The Halo Trust, UNAIDS and UNICEF are examples of what happens when organizations partner up with the government to create successful outcomes for its citizens. Angola has been able to recover from a history of debilitating conflicts because of these partnerships.

  • The Halo Trust

Angola aims to eliminate all its mines by 2025 and The Halo Trust, a humanitarian organization that was created in 1988, is helping them achieve it.

Thanks to their efforts, Huambo province will soon be a mine-free area. The organization has already eliminated a total of 95,000 landmines in Angola.

It uses drone technology to research areas that cannot be accessed due to active mines and help map out the affected rural regions.

Cutato village is a successful example of its efforts as people now have access to schools and clinics. They are even able to do simple housework such as washing clothes in the river as the area is mine-free.

They also receive help from the US Department of State, that has given about 124 million dollars in aid to clear the postwar areas of Angola since 1993.

  • United Nations HIV Aid

Another fact about how the media misrepresents Angola is the stigma of HIV that Africa carries in the global scenario.

However, UNAIDS, a UN partner organization that leads the HIV battle in African countries is changing that. In Angola, where 260,000 adults live with HIV, education is the only way to decrease the number of HIV cases.

The youth in Angola are sexually active as early as 15 years old, however, only 51 percent of males know that the use of condoms prevents HIV spread.

For this reason, a comprehensive sexuality education program was implemented in schools and communities in Angola to raise awareness of HIV prevention. 3,000 teachers have been trained to reach out to Angolans with UNAIDS funds so far.

UNAIDS also has a 30 million dollar HIV grant for the years 2017 and 2018 to keep working in the fight against AIDS in Angola.

  • UNICEF’s Yellow Fever Action Plan

“While many children cry when they receive the vaccine, Isabel grins from ear to ear,” reported UNICEF from the town of Cacuso when the 10-year-old girl rejoiced at getting her yellow fever vaccine in 2016.

The International Coordinating Group (ICG) on Vaccine Provision for Yellow Fever Control partnered up with UNICEF and provided 20 million vaccines to fight Angola’s yellow fever outbreak in 2016.

The numbers keep getting better as 16 million people out of a population of 25 million people in Angola are now protected against yellow fever. Communication is the key to the success of this type of program as UNICEF trained 3,000 people to educate communities about the viral disease.

 

Despite the long period of wars that hindered the country’s growth for decades, now it is the time for doable action plans to change how the media represents Angola.

Angola has a slow recovery ahead from its devastating civil war but the future is bright if its leaders put in the same amount of effort as these organizations to address its challenges.

– Nijessia Cerqueira
Photo: Google

how the media misrepresents Morocco
Morocco lies in the west of North Africa and is slightly smaller than the U.S. state of California. The country is both scenic and fertile with the Atlantic Ocean to its west and the Mediterranean Sea to its north. It’s in how the media misrepresents Morocco, a country with a great history, that much of its beauty is lost.

As of 2015, Morocco is the fifth richest country in Africa. Since it is one of the most visited countries, it generates two-thirds of its GDP through tourism and telecommunications.

Media Misrepresents Morocco

How the media misrepresents Morocco, however, is through the depiction of its people’s faith, geographic location and traditionalism. An astonishing 98 percent of the country’s population are Muslims. They follow Islam—a religion that has a history of conflict and controversy with the Western world. Since September 11, 2001, the Western media has continuously exposed the wrongdoings of the Muslim faith causing further tension.

Moreover, Morocco is also an African nation, which, given the continent’s history of mass poverty, has only added to the media’s bias.

Finally, about 24 percent of the population is the Arabized Imazighen and about 21 percent are Imazighen—a community of people who are descendants of an Afro-Asiatic family which directly descends from the ancient Egyptians. The Imazighen are strictly traditional and often live in Morocco’s mountainous regions to preserve their language and culture.

An example of how the media misrepresents Morocco is how it has depicted the country as an ‘unjust’ and ‘unfair’ nation. One such report came from Freedom House’s 2015 report on journalism, which ranked Morocco lower than other nations which have a history of violence with reporters although it does not have a history of violence.

It is true, that in essence, the Qur’an is the source of law, however, Morocco does have a French-inspired legal code. After the legal system was met with pressures from Moroccan women for a more balanced system, in 2004 the parliament issued a more liberal and balanced legal code.

Constitutional Monarchy in Morocco

The country is headed by a constitutional monarchy, which shares its power with the parliament. The monarch does have power over religious affairs, the country’s armed forces and the national security policy. The monarch also has the power to choose the prime minister.

The monarch’s political affiliation and power have been a subject of much controversy and debate—particularly in the last 30 years. Nevertheless, the Moroccans have voted in favor of this system, though they did vote to expand the parliament’s power in 2011.

Modernization in Morocco

Another aspect of how the media misrepresents Morocco is that it seems to ignore how the country is rapidly modernizing. It instead capitalizes on how Morocco has kept much of its ancient architecture and customs. The Western media reports the country to be “stuck in its ways” and “archaic” but ignores how it has tried to promote women’s equality, human rights, religious tolerance and social liberalization while upholding its Islamic heritage.

Morocco has seen much migration and urbanization of its communities. Its standard of living is also rapidly increasing. In fact, it is the most visited African nation with 10.3 million tourists in 2016 alone.

Battling Malnutrition in Morocco

While one-third of Morocco experiences malnutrition, the government is actively trying to better the living conditions of those affected. For instance, in 1999 the Moroccan government set up a loan fund to help small businesses grow. In 2017, the government provided its impoverished communities with electricity and piped water.

Morocco, in fact, is one of the few Arab nations which could be self-sufficient in food production. It can produce two-thirds of the grains necessary for domestic consumption in a year. Morocco is trying to capitalize on this by attempting to use its great potential in hydroelectric power.

– Isabella Agostini
Photo: Flickr