North Korea Health Care
Despite North Korea having universal health care, many of its citizens struggle to obtain basic health care. The health care system has been in a state of crisis since the 1990s, so the little health care that is available goes to high-income Koreans. Here are five facts about health in North Korea.

5 Facts About Health in North Korea

  1. North Korea spent the least on health care in the world in 2019. The total amount of money that the country did use for health care equaled less than $1 USD. The lack of funding makes the quality of health care lower which prompts citizens to bypass doctors altogether and buy medicinal products from markets and self-medicate.
  2. Two out of every five North Koreans suffer undernourishment. Mission East, a Danish NGO, is the only U.N. exception sending agricultural machinery into the country – which the country has banned alongside metal objects. Mission East emerged in 1991 and was finally able to establish a country office in Pyongyang in the summer of 2019. It helps the rural population with food security and health in North Korea.
  3. Out of the 131,000 cases of tuberculosis in North Korea, 16,000 citizens died throughout 2017. Multi-drug resistant strains are becoming more and more common in recent years. The Eugene Bell Foundation has been giving health care aid to North Korea since its beginning in 1995. The Foundation returns to North Korea every six months and has initiated a multi-drug resistant tuberculosis program as well as a tuberculosis care program. The program has cured over 70 percent of the patients in North Korea with multi-drug resistant tuberculosis.
  4. Sixty-one percent of North Koreans have access to safe water. UNICEF in North Korea has implemented a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene program (WASH). NGOs such as the Swiss Humanitarian Aid and World Vision International have received approval from the U.N. to send shipments related to the WASH program into the country. UNICEF works to promote good hygiene, provide technical support and support delivery of supplies.
  5. The infant mortality rate is 33 percent in North Korea. People often neglect children with disabilities and do not report their deaths in most cases, so the number could be up to five times higher than reported. Minimal access to health care, good sanitation and healthy foods play a huge role in the deaths of infants and their mothers. The Korea Foundation for International Healthcare, established in 2006, has partnered with The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health to provide medicine, procedures and surgeries to citizens regardless of gender, ethnicity or religion. Recently, a vaccination campaign has immunized millions of North Korean children.

It is not easy to obtain information on North Korea due to the isolated nature of the country. A lot of organizations have to fight to provide aid to the citizens and the ban on equipment and metal shipments into the country makes it hard to provide proper care to people in the country. Since the country prevents citizens from leaving the country without permission, these organizations are the saving grace for many. Health in North Korea is not as successful as it may seem at first glance, but the recent decisions the U.N. has made leaves room for optimism and change.

Taylor Pittman
Photo: Flickr

Equal Food Distribution
One of the leading causes of malnutrition is the lack of equal food distribution. According to the World Economic Forum, Americans spend 6.4 percent of their income on food. Meanwhile, households in impoverished countries can spend up to 80 percent of their income on food. These numbers show a clear uneven trend in distributing food to people in need. Equal food distribution is also at risk from another influencer on poverty: population growth. Even in developed countries, the current rate of food distribution will eventually be unable to keep up with population growth. Distributing food to people in need will soon become an issue for not just underdeveloped countries, but for developed countries as well. 

One way of solving the growing issue of food distribution is through the utilization of new technologies. A combination of developing technologies, new economic models and support from global leaders could lead to curbing the problems behind food distribution for both the developing and underdeveloped world.

Text Message-based Farmer Assistance

In Egypt, Sudan and Ethiopia, farmers have access to a service that functions through text messages. Provided by CGIAR, an organization focused on water, land and ecosystems, farmers can send a message through SMS (short message service) to request updates on the best way to grow their crops. People know this service as ICT, or Information and Communication Technology. According to CGIAR, farmers send one message code when they want to see an update on their crop growth and water-use efficiency compared to other farmers using the service. Based on this data, experts monitoring the farming data can identify irregularities and alert the farmer. One issue that CGIAR sees going forward is funding. Maintaining its database would require more funding than what farmers or smallholders have already offered. However, this service would be able to help farmers, in areas of need, increase the amount their farms produce.

Using ICTs to help feed people in need has shown promising results. An ICT service will help improve irrigation and water drainage in Egypt. This service has seen a 25 percent increase in crop yields during its first phase of implementation. Magrabi Farms has also implemented ICT to allow the proper irrigation of over 8,000 acres of land.

Farming and Machine Learning

Increasing farm production is a common method of tackling the issue of distributing food to people in need. Sciforce says that almost every step of farm production uses machine learning. Machine learning, according to Sciforce, is “the scientific field that gives machines the ability to learn without being strictly programmed.” Farmers can use machine learning to:

  • Find which genes would help a crop survive in adverse weather conditions.

  • Manage the soil and help farmers understand the ecosystem they are growing in.

  • Manage water and allow farmers to be more efficient with their irrigation systems.

  • Improve the prediction of crop yield.

  • Fight disease and weeds by using a calculated distribution of agrochemicals that only target specific plants.

Machine learning accomplishes all of this by analyzing decades of farming records. It uses a combination of algorithms and scientific models to best apply the trends from decades of farming data.

NBC News reported that Carnegie Mellon University roboticist George Kantor claimed that machine learning could increase the variety of grain sorghum from 100 different variants to 1,000. Machine learning could do this by examining the crop’s genetic code.

Weather Forecasts

Another way to ensure that countries are able to distribute food to people in need is by improving distribution itself. The Weather Company’s Agricultural Head, Carrie Gillespie, stated that “A lot of food waste happens during distribution…” Suppliers often use weather forecasts when distributing food to people in need. Due to distribution including the harvesting process, these weather reports can help farmers know when the soil is at its best for harvesting.

3D Printing

While this may seem like an idea from a sci-fi movie, 3D printing is a technology that may soon allow food printing. Jordan French, CEO at a 3D food printing startup called BeeHex, explains that 3D food printing could allow for customization of food products based on the certain wants and needs of the consumer. This could include developing food with certain nutrients that an impoverished community may be lacking, much like the recently FDA-approved golden rice, which emerged to treat a global vitamin A deficiency.

Jordan French also theorizes that 3D printing food could eliminate the need for distribution altogether, as it would create a bridge between the producer and the consumer.

The market for 3D-printed food is rising in profits by 46 percent each year until 2023. Mark Crawford of ASME.org alludes that this is due to how the technology could provide a solution to distributing food to people in need.

These technologies aim to tackle the challenges of distributing food to the impoverished for the sake of equal food distribution. Improving farming quality through databases and machine learning, watching the weather to allow for better distribution and even bypassing the need for food production are just some developing technologies that have the potential to assist the world’s hungry.

Jacob Creswell
Photo: United Nations

Gates Foundation Poverty China
Former Microsoft CEO Bill Gates and his wife, Melinda, have used their private organization, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to aid China in its goal to eradicate poverty by 2020. Meanwhile, China has had several issues that have contributed to its problems with poverty, including its transition to becoming a more urbanized country back in 2012. The urban population has risen to 52 percent, which is more than the rural population at 48 percent. People continue to move into urban sections of the country in search of better-paying jobs. This becomes a problem as poverty increases as people end up taking underpaying jobs while the cost of living also goes up. Another problem was that 170,000 students attended school in 2010 in Shanghai, while more than three times that amount worked on farms in that same city.

The Game Plan

The Gates Foundation Poverty China project launched a campaign called Goalkeepers to help quicken the process towards ending not only poverty but also inequality and injustice. This coincides with helping achieve the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, which include gaining quality education, clean water and sanitation, along with universal health care for all.

Despite the issues that a more urbanized China has, it has produced positive results during the past 70 years by lifting over 850 million people out of poverty over a span of 40 years. Meanwhile, others have developed their own plans to get themselves out of poverty by using business sense. One example is when a local Shibadong farmer named Shi Quanhou worked his way out of poverty by running an agritainment farm. Agritainment is a compound word for farms that include both agriculture and entertainment. These farms might include pumpkin patches, petting zoos and corn mazes, among other attractions for a family-friendly atmosphere. Although one cannot say this about other farmers, Quanhou underwent this plan in a desperate measure to help him provide a more secure and prosperous life for his family. Farmers have also found a 12.1 percent increase in their income by transitioning their farms to agritainment farms.

China’s Success

Furthermore, assigned teams have gone to farms and villages to investigate how those areas are performing, making sure that those with struggling land receive assistance. China has also promoted poverty alleviation, which includes e-commerce and providing employment opportunities for over 2.5 million people. It also originated more than 30,000 poverty reduction workshops and classes in order for attendees to gain employment close to home.

With many people still underprivileged, The Gates Foundation Poverty China project also offered its support during this stretch with three solutions that incorporate working with government agencies, advocating for financial services, health care and childhood nutrition. The organization also added a partnership with the State Council Leading Group Office of Poverty Alleviation and Development to research how to remedy these issues through experience within China and also between China and other countries. Establishing stronger platforms that encourage participation in the relief efforts to end poverty has also been part of its long term plan. The Gates Foundation Poverty China is closing in on completing what could very well be the largest turnaround of this global issue in the world’s history.

Helping Health

The Gates Foundation Poverty China plan includes a $33 million grant to combat tuberculosis to the Chinese Ministry of Health. This partnership intends to better detect tuberculosis cases and find a cure for those suffering from it. With over 1.5 million cases each year, this partnership is providing innovative tests, along with patient monitoring strategies to deliver improved treatment and diagnoses across the country.

Additionally, China has developed a plan to decrease TB by creating The Chinese Infectious and Endemic Disease Control Project (IEDC) back in 1991. The World Bank partly funded $58 million to it and the World Health Organization developed it in 1989. The IEDC was a booming success, curing 85 percent of identified patients within two years of its implementation. TB cases decreased by over 36 percent between 1990 and 2000, about 4.1 percent each year.

Infinite Improvement

People have widely recognized China for its dramatic improvement. U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres pointed out that China has contributed the most to its cause over the last decade. This turnaround means that the livelihoods of many will boost China’s economy and build a more prosperous nation. With that plan in motion, China has almost eradicated rural poverty by refocusing on areas where the poorest live in places with poor infrastructure and have special needs. China went from a staggering 97.5 percent in 1978 to a meager 3.1 percent among the rural population at the end of 2017. With 2020 already underway, President Xi Jinping has informed the Chinese people that anyone in an impoverished state should receive medical benefits, such as insurance, aid and allowances. With the Gates Foundation Poverty China plan and China’s campaigns and multiple partnerships with local governments, China’s ability to avert its national catastrophe will not only gain global attention from other suffering countries or have more fortunate nations lend a hand, but will be able to lend help of its own.

Tom Cintula
Photo: Flickr

Guayaki’s ethical business
Yerba mate is a plant native to South America that has properties similar to caffeinated plants. People can use the leaves in a similar manner to tea leaves which steep in hot water to diffuse the taste and desired properties of the plant. In addition to the physical effects of mate, the plant has cultural significance in South American folklore. People originally discovered it in modern-day Paraguay and Southern Brazil where the natives dubbed it an herb “from the gods.” The natives imbibed it to boost physical and mental stamina, and they used it for medicinal purposes and in religious ceremonies to worship the gods. Today, Argentinians, Paraguayans and Brazilians drink it in a similar fashion to how Americans drink coffee. A couple of people can share a bowl of mate and have a chat or college students can drink it while studying for their exams. Guayaki’s ethical business produces yerba mate while giving back to its community.

Guayaki’s Business Model

Guayaki is one of the few companies that farms and sells yerba mate in the North American market. The company has established itself and its business model with respect to the native traditions people associate with mate, as well as through its efforts to promote sustainable and regenerative agricultural practices, indigenous culture resilience and ethical management and payment of its employees. Guayaki’s ethical business model focuses first and foremost on the well-being of its workers in conjunction with the environment. By 2020, Guayaki plans to restore 200,000 acres of rainforest and create 1,000 living wage jobs.

To start, Guayaki grows its mate plants in their natural state, in the shade of the dense jungle. The workers then come and harvest only the leaves and young stems by hand to make sure the plant continues to grow. They do this because modern agricultural practices may cause the original taste to deteriorate. Moreover, growing the mate in this way also guarantees that the operations put off the least amount of emissions possible.

Clean Living

In addition to simply farming sustainably, Guayaki’s ethical business practices not only meet the standards of Fair for Life and Non-GMO certifications, but they also help promote the biodiversity of the rainforest and create a carbon sink for emissions. People farm the mate through multi strata agroforestry, which is the act of combining crops with the forest canopy and creating a carbon skin that draws carbon from the atmosphere and stores it in the leaves and soil. The company conducts all packaging actions and transportation methods with 100 percent renewable energy and does all packaging with recyclable and/or compostable resources. Through these efforts, Guayaki has created a net-zero carbon emissions business.

A Company for the Community

Guayaki’s ethical business model proves to be a frontrunner with regard to the treatment of employees. The company sources all of its mate from indigenous communities, mainly in Paraguay, Brazil and Argentina. In contrast to the business model of many large corporations that buy the land from local farmers outright, Guayaki pays its farmers two to three times the amount that a large company would pay to buy the land in order to ensure they do not suffer exploitation in the long run while still benefiting in the short term. As of 2017, Guayaki created almost 900 jobs among local indigenous communities that pay a comfortable living wage to the producers.

Guayaki not only treats its workers well, but it also gives back to the communities where it operates. The company donates funds to improve infrastructure and build/upkeep schools. People can make donations through the Guayaki Foundation, which also encourages local communities to plant indigenous hardwood trees. It also teaches the methods of agroecology to school children in order to give them an education that will help them with their careers later in life and make their lives much more enjoyable and livable.

Through all of Guayaki’s ethical business practices, the company is helping protect the environment while also bringing neglected populations out of poverty and into not only a survivable life but a livable and enjoyable one. Through their benefits and teaching methods, Guayaki is making sure that the people will always have the means to support themselves in an ethical, comfortable way for years to come.

Graham Gordon
Photo: Flickr

Plastic Waste Action and Poverty in IndiaWithin the last year, more information has come out about the consumption of plastics and their mismanagement. The information has spread awareness of the dangers of single-use plastics and encouraged using paper or reusable straws along with a number of other initiatives. Few, however, have been as transformative as one undertaken in India by the NGO Sarthak Samudayik Vikas Avan Jan Kalyan Sanstha (SSVAJKS). SSVAJKS has spearheaded a streamlined process of plastic waste collection and sell to recyclers. Though SSVAJKS may be the only organization connecting plastic waste action and poverty in India, others are joining the efforts to mitigate the problem.

Large Scale Support

At least 16.5 million tons of plastics are consumed annually, 43 percent of which are single-use, packaging material. Around 80 percent of these plastics are discarded. Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Clean India Drive promises to address pollution in India. In March 2019, India banned imports of plastic waste. By September, it banned single-use and disposable plastic products. Headlined by Modi’s speech on August 15 calling for the elimination of such items by October 2, the Indian government aims to reduce disposable plastics to zero by 2022.

In alignment with this initiative, Amazon India and Walmart’s Flipkart announced actions to remove single-use plastics from their packaging. They will instead opt for entirely paper cushions and recycled plastic consumption by March 2021. In June 2018, PepsiCo India vowed to replace its plastic Lays and Kurkure bag with “100 percent compostable, plant-based” ones. This was countered by Coca-Cola’s goal to recycle one can or bottle for every one sold by 2030.

Sarthak Samudayik Vikas Avan Jan Kalyan Sanstha

While governments and corporations have addressed the future of plastic consumption, they neglect the areas where SSVAJKS helps the most. SSVAKLS is dealing with the existing plastic that has already been produced. SSVAKLS has the support of the Global Environment Facility’s Small Grants Program under the advisement and jurisdiction of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). These efforts have connected the campaigns against plastic overconsumption and mismanagement with SSVAJKS’ recycling initiative.

The NGO began linking plastic waste action and poverty in India in the city of Bhopal in 2008. It developed a sustainable integrated waste management system for the city’s five wards, a model that expanded to the state level in 2011. Replicated across India in all of its states, this model relies on ‘ragpickers’ to sift through the waste and pick out plastics returned to municipal collection centers. These collectors come from highly vulnerable, socially marginalized castes and are predominantly poor, illiterate women.

Since partaking in this initiative, the incomes of the ‘ragpickers’ have vastly improved, doubling in many cases. The plastic they collect and submit to the collection centers is recycled into roads and co-processing in cement kilns, benefitting upwards of two million people. The overwhelming success of the NGO led to another SGP grant that enlisted “2,000 unorganized waste pickers” across the Bhopal Municipal Corporation’s 70 wards.

The Endgame

SGP hopes to build a sustainable plastic waste management system and ensure the co-processing of plastic waste. It will also increase the standards of living for 2,000 ragpicker families. New initiatives are introducing vermicomposting along with paper bag and cotton making units. The results are phenomenal. Ragpickers have collected 4,200 megatons of plastic, saving plastic from burning and emitting 12,000 megatons of carbon. Additionally, the ragpickers themselves are able to open bank accounts to accumulate their savings, lifting them slowly but surely out of abject poverty. The success of the SSVAJKS in combining efforts to address plastic waste action and poverty in India demonstrates the NGO’s capacity to tackle multiple issues at once and incentivize the solving of one through the other.

Alex Myers
Photo: Flickr

Industrialization in Kenya
With a current growth rate hovering between 5 and 6 percent, Kenya is one of the fastest-growing economies in Sub-Saharan Africa. Industrialization in Kenya, as part of Vision 2030, is a priority that could help transform the agriculture-dependent country into a developed economy. According to Kenya’s Ministry of Industrialization and Enterprise Development, its three main goals include increasing foreign investment, improving the business environment and reducing corruption. Kenya has a massive goal of reaching a GDP of $211 billion. That would be approximately the same GDP as Romania in 2017. Kenya’s GDP increased from $18 billion in 2005 to $78 billion in 2017. The 2017 figure was $17 billion more than expected. China is one foreign investor that sees potential in developing Kenya’s economy.

Why Develop Kenya?

One side effect of developing an economy is a reduced poverty rate. Approximately 60 percent of Kenyans work in the agriculture industry, which is typical for developing economies. A developed economy such as the U.S. involves a mostly service dependent economy.

A drought-affected part of Kenya in 2017 slowed GDP growth, increased inflation to 8 percent and harmed the economy. President Uhuru Kenyatta acknowledged the need for industrialization in Kenya and the country’s dependence on agriculture. Vision 2030 includes increasing manufacturing from 11 percent of Kenya’s GDP to 20 percent of its GDP and focuses on developing its oil, minerals, tourism, infrastructure and geothermal sectors.

Businesses and countries investing in Kenya could add jobs for Kenyans, help diversify into a new market and improve trade between the two entities. Foreign direct investment was $1.6 billion in 2018. The United Kingdom, China, Belgium, the Netherlands and South Africa are the main investors. Banking, tourism, mining, infrastructure and information and communications technology are some of the investment sectors for these countries.

First Steps to Industrialization in Kenya

China is a major investor in Kenyan infrastructure. The Mombasa-Nairobi Standard Gauge Railway (SGR) costs $3.6 billion and connects the capital with the largest city in Kenya. The China Road and Bridge Corporation hired more than 25,000 Kenyans to work on the railway that opened in 2017. It extended the railway to Naivasha in October 2019. More than one million people rode the SGR in 2018.

China Road and Bridge Corporation also invested in the Nairobi Southern Bypass Highway that relieves congestion through the capital city Nairobi by redirecting traffic to and from the port city of Mombasa. Mombasa has a population of over three million and receives visitors from Uganda, Burundi, Rwanda and South Sudan. “There is no doubt the infrastructure projects financed and developed by China are making a huge impact in the country, especially when you look at the ease of travel and employment opportunities,” said Philip Mainga, managing director of Kenya Railway Corporation.

The World Bank also helped rural regions with its Kenya Informal Settlements Improvement Project. The project involved the construction of more than 60 miles of roads. Also, the project built 52 miles of footpaths, 66 miles of drainage canals, 39 miles of sewer pipelines, 68 miles of water pipelines and 134 security lights by its end date of November 2019.

Progress Ongoing in Kenya

Various organizations completed many other projects that have benefitted millions of Kenyans. Vision 2030 includes ambitious goals that will benefit its economy and people through job growth, key sectors growth and poverty reduction. One of Kenya’s key sectors, tourism, already saw a 5.6 percent growth in 2018, which is higher than the global average of 3.9 percent. The Information and Communication Technology sector saw an average growth of 10.8 percent since 2016, giving Kenya its “Silicon Savannah” name. Kenya’s poverty rate continues to decline as the country develops. Its poverty rate lowered from 46 percent in 2005 to 36 percent in 2016, demonstrating that progress is ongoing in poverty reduction and industrialization in Kenya.

Lucas Schmidt
Photo: Flickr

5G in India
With 5G connectivity as the next digital revolution for the global world, it is imperative to think about the positive impacts as 5G arrives in India as early as 2020. The service will introduce higher internet speeds and access for millions of Indian users. Here are five benefits of 5G in India involving its economy, retail, education, health care and agriculture.

5 Benefits of 5G in India

  1. A Boosted Economy: With the second-largest population in the world at 1.3 billion in 2019, India’s digital customer base is just as numerically significant because it constitutes a great amount of the country’s GDP at 8 percent. For example, in 2018, there were 560 million Indian internet subscribers and 1.2 billion mobile subscriptions. Out of the $200 billion revenue from the country’s entire digital economy, digital communication and telecommunication account for $45 billion while mobile handsets account for $10 million. The introduction of 5G in India will allow for increased internet and broadband, and revenue will continue to trend upwards. For example, with the introduction of 5G in India, the country’s GDP could reach $1 trillion by 2035.

  2. Advanced Retail: India’s retail sector accounts for a significant 10 percent of the nation’s GDP or $1.8 billion in 2017 through brick and mortar as well as online retailers. By 2020, the retail sector should rise to $3.6 billion. Thanks to 5G in India, higher internet speeds offer retailers and sellers a better connection due to faster website access. This instantaneous connection presents the potential for better sales. Additionally, store and inventory management software could aid retailers in their organization to offer better customer service. Digital payments such as United Payments Interface, the interbank money transfer service and Paytm can provide better data on revenue and increase the customer base. Digitization with 5G in India will provide better connections, increased sales, data collection and increased productivity causing the GDP to inevitably trend upwards.

  3. Enhanced Education: 5G technologies will benefit students with increased communication, virtual and augmented reality, increased cloud data and smart learning for differently-abled students. For instance, 5G enables increased connection with 100 times faster speeds, thus enabling more opportunities for distance learning for individuals in remote areas. Virtual and augmented reality provide engaging and easily understood content, thus improving the quality of education. With faster connections, cloud data becomes more accessible, allowing students to resume work at their own pace. Personalized education for differently-abled students will vastly increase with cloud-based robots which act as assistants to aid children more in need of teacher assistance. Such progress is tremendous given that estimates determine that each additional year of schooling should result in about 8 percent higher wages.

  4. Better Managed Agriculture: The Indian agricultural sector faces current challenges with a lack of data collection and analysis, fluctuating prices, unavailability of agri-logistics, poor farm returns and lack of information on consumer interest. 5G technology can amend such challenges with increased soil and crop monitoring, precision farming, smart irrigation and climate change alignment, livestock monitoring and agricultural drones. For example, in terms of soil and crop monitoring, 5G implemented sensors can provide information on soil data of moisture, nutrients and spoilage. These sensors are a huge accomplishment for food security because crop diseases are a challenge to Indian farmers serving an ever-growing population.

  5. Increased Health Care: 5G forms a comprehensive digital network in health care with The Massive Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) and Enhanced Mobile Broadband (eMBB). With 5G, IoMT and eMBB will operate at faster speeds to effectively provide more personalized patient care. Technologies such as smart glucose monitoring and automated insulin delivery enhance proactive care with early detection methods resulting in more lives saved. With 5G, rural areas lacking health care facilities will have support from local centers made operable by new technology. These individuals can thus receive faster treatment, which was once only attainable at a distance.

With the second-largest population in the world and second-largest internet consumer base, 5G in India is sure to benefit the nation with better connectivity and higher speeds in urban and remote areas. Aside from its technological benefits, other great benefits exist as well with poverty reduction. In alignment with the forecasted GDP of $1 trillion by 2035 thanks to many aspects including digitization mentioned in this article, by 2027, the country expects to reach upper-middle-income status.

Elizabeth Yusuff
Photo: Flickr

  Clothing Companies That Give Back
It is possible to make a positive impact through one’s purchases when buying for oneself or gift-giving. Below are 10 clothing companies that give back to those in need.

10 Clothing Companies That Give Back

  1. Anchal: Anchal is an accessory company that sells items like scarves, outerwear and handbags. Sisters Colleen and Maggie Clines founded the company in 2010 after seeing the exploitative world of commercial sex trafficking and the lack of opportunity for women in India. The Cline sisters believe that design and interdisciplinary collaboration can be a catalyst for positive change. The company uses design in order to include working women in every step of production. Through intensive design workshops, artisans learn problem-solving and how to create new designs. By offering economic alternatives, rich in self-expression and rooted in community, the company is helping women rediscover their worth, potential and creativity. Female artisans, that received employment through the company’s holistic programs, craft each product.

  2. Raven and Lily: Another of the clothing companies that give back is Raven and Lily, which is an accessory company that sells luxury handbags and jewelry. The company’s prime focus is to make products that bridge gaps between traditional and modern, near and far and people and planet. Each product is handmade by women with sustainable materials and a careful touch. Raven and Lily work to empower women by working with artisans from all around the world and some of these areas include Ethiopia, Kenya, India, Malaysia, Morocco, Peru and Mexico. Raven and Lily is a certified Fair Trade and Microloan organization; with every purchase, the company gives back to a microloan program that supports female entrepreneurs in East Africa.

  3. Panda Sunglasses: WearPanda is a sustainable accessory company that sells eyewear as well as watches. The company focuses on giving back to the planet and its inhabitants. The bamboo-made products helped to create the idea of “fashion with a purpose;” with every product the company sells, a portion of the profit goes to people in need. This company has helped Optometry Giving Sight screen about four million people, deliver over 20,000 pairs of glasses and support more than 15 optical labs and over 100 optometry students in 39 countries. WearPanda also partners with the nonprofit Kiva and has helped support 12 microloans in 10 countries.

  4. Sudara Punjammies: In 2006, Sudara partnered with a sewing center in India and taught six women how to sew patterns in pajama pants, and they eventually became Punjammies. Shannon Keith founded this company after returning from a trip to India and hearing about women who were at high risk of their families forcing them into sex slavery or sex traffickers picking them up off the streets. Women in India often enter sex slavery because they lack an education or the resources and the skills to make a choice. After returning from her trip, Keith formed a small team of her family and friends. They looked for groups in India with a determination to help women out of the red light districts. The team knew that safe, steady living-wage employment would be a pathway to freedom and offer more choices for women. By making donations and purchasing Sudara goods, customers are helping to keep millions of women and young girls out of the sex trafficking industry in India.

  5. 31 Bits: 31 Bits is an ethical jewelry company that emerged after one of its three founders went on a trip to Uganda. While traveling, she discovered numerous women who grew up in war and had nothing. They were single mothers with no education or jobs; the founders yearned for change due to how young these women were. They discovered that these women did not have a basic education, but they were resourceful and made gorgeous jewelry out of old posters and scraps. The founders found that these women had the skills but just needed a market. From there, the founders created 31 Bits, a company that focuses on making fashionable products that could also help artisans from around the world to acquire dignified jobs and have access to the global market.

  6. Teysha: Teysha is a footwear company that strives to connect people through art, community and culture. The shop merges heritage with contemporary art so that communities and art can flourish. Teysha works directly with artisans in Guatemala and Panama to develop local infrastructure, value chains, designs and production processes, which work together to honor traditional craftsmanship while bringing market access and opportunity. The company has worked to support over 60 families with wages that Teysha provided. The organization also has four shops in Guatemala which women run, and these shops have also provided over 20 educational workshops.

  7. Sseko Sandals: Sseko is an accessory and clothing company that emerged to allow young women in Uganda to receive higher education. In order to help, Sseko hires these women during the nine-month period between secondary school and college. By working with Sseko, these women are not only able to save money for education, but they also gain important skills and work with professional mentors to obtain valuable work experience. At the end of the nine-month period, the company matches each woman’s savings by 300 percent. Every woman who has graduated from Sseko’s program has been able to pursue a college education. As of 2019, Sseko has helped its 131st woman attend university.

  8. Cotopaxi: Cotopaxi is a clothing and outdoor gear company that awards grants to outstanding nonprofit organizations with track records at improving the human condition and ending poverty. A few of the organizations include The International Rescue Committee, Escuela Nueva, the U.N. Foundation, Nothing But Nets, Mercy Corps and a division of Utah’s Department of Workforce Services. The shop is a B Corporation, which means that 1 percent of profits go towards addressing poverty and supporting community development. Cotopaxi also has a grant program to promote organizations that are successfully improving the human condition. As of now, Cotopaxi has awarded 42 grants in six focus countries.

  9. Faircloth & Supply: Phoebe Dahl founded Faircloth & Supply in 2013 with the idea of creating timeless fashion designs that could help to create a path that leads to a more sustainable industry. Linen casual wear, heritage textiles and utilitarian workwear inspire Dahl’s line. Faircloth Supply’s collection donates a percentage of its proceeds towards girls’ education in Nepal. The company also has the option for customers to donate to the charity of their choice upon checkout on its website. Dahl believes that in order to prevent sex trafficking, child marriage and children’s rights violations, children must obtain a basic education. With every purchase, Faircloth & Supply provides access to education for girls in Nepal.

  10. DIFF Charitable Eyewear: DIFF Charitable Eyewear is a company that sells eyewear, as well as eyewear accessories. The company’s mission is to use fashion as a force for good. Since 2015, DIFF has donated over one million eyeglasses to people in need around the world with its buy one give one structure. The company also encompasses worldwide programs in support of empowerment and education through Project DIFF. Through Project DIFF’s Pouch Program, the company provides dependable incomes to female artisans and is helping to develop Little Angels School. One way it is accomplishing this is through the crafting of elaborate sunglass cases in Uganda and its partnership with Tribe Alive in Honduras. Proceeds from the pouches go to Little Angels School in order to support it in accomplishing its goal of creating a safe, positive environment for learning, and providing the necessary tools to make it happen. Through the company’s partnership with Tribe Alive, DIFF works to empower women around the world. Ten female artisans in Tegucigalpa, Honduras handmake each of the sunglass chains and the sale of these helps each one provide a sustainable, living wage to support her family.

These 10 clothing companies that give back are working to end global poverty with every purchase. Where one chooses to spend their money can have a great impact on those who really need it. Try shopping where it counts when looking to purchase articles of clothing, jewelry, accessories or shoes.

Juliette Lopez
Photo: Flickr

Female Leadership in Nepal
When many people think of Nepal, they imagine the Himalayas, the Mt. Everest base camp and some of the most culturally and ethnically diverse people. What these people fail to think of is the highly patriarchal society that is also Nepal. Luckily, there are four women showing female leadership in Nepal to improve life for women and girls.

The Situation

Nepal is notorious for its discrimination against women in almost every aspect of life. The literacy rate for females is significantly lower than it is for males, with only 44.5 percent of females being literate compared to 71.6 percent of males. Superstitious beliefs say that women are the reason for Nepal’s poor status in the global context. The reality, however, is that Nepal remains one of the poorest countries because of gender discrimination. Nepal eliminates half of its labor force participation rate by preventing women from seeking education and job opportunities, and this contributes to its rising poverty crisis as women are the most susceptible to poverty.

At least 75 percent of Nepal’s citizens are in poverty, with over half those citizens being females. Eighty percent of Nepalis report that their quality of life has gone down in the last five years.

Despite the ongoing oppression against females, there are Nepali women who are finding a way to make their mark in the country. The following four women show how Nepali female leadership can assist in the war on poverty in Nepal, breaking the barrier and making footprints for others to follow.

4 Women Showing Female Leadership in Nepal

  1. Renu Sharma: Renu Sharma is the co-founder and current president of The Women’s Foundation Nepal (WFN), as well as an accomplished Nepali woman, leading a non-governmental organization that helps women and children in Nepal. The organization, established in 1988, provides shelter homes, access to education, training and micro-credits for women and children who are victims of violence, abuse or poverty. WFN has helped over 150 women and children find a home and gain access to medical and legal support. It has also aided in over 450 children receiving education until the 10th grade and 3,000 women obtaining training to pursue careers in local businesses or teaching. Additionally, it has given out at least 1,000 scholarships to those pursuing higher education. WFN is looking to expand its projects to cover a larger population and eventually become self-sustainable, but to do so, it needs further support. If the mission of Renu Sharma and her colleagues is inspiring, consider these options. As this article will continue to show, a small action or a quiet voice can have a lasting impact.
  2. Bidhya Devi Bhandari: Bhandari is the country’s first woman president and has been carving the path for her fellow females since the beginning of her political career, when she served as the Minister of Defence. As of today, people credit Bhandhari with increasing female representation in the government and providing females more opportunities. Bhandhari served as the chair of the All Nepal Women’s Association, where she understood the importance of increasing Nepali female leadership in the nation. Throughout her position as President, Bhandari has ensured that a third of all politicians in Nepal are women and that all women in the country have legal rights. Bhandari’s next steps include increasing the opportunities for education for young girls and developing a gender-responsive budget system that will prevent women from falling into poverty due to an unfair wage gap.
  3. Sushila Karki: Appointed the first female Supreme Court Justice at the Supreme Court of Nepal, Sushila Karki made major contributions to fixing poverty and women’s rights in the country. Known for her zero tolerance for corruption, Karki has increased enforcement against corruption and brought many organizations and individuals to justice. Karki also believes in the emancipation of women, and she has worked to ban the practice of chhaupadi, which is when women become separate from society during menstruation. By increasing the punishment for chhaupadi, Karki has reduced the presence of the practice, and she hopes that her followers will continue to maintain a strict policy that will eventually eradicate the practice. Chhaupadi is a major contributor to female poverty, and by reducing its prevalence in society, Karki hopes that fewer females will find themselves homeless or jobless.
  4. Samjhana Pokhrel: Serving as chairperson for the NGO Jagaran Nepal (JN), Pokhrel has helped the organization move mountains in the past 10 years. JN is a leading organization that works to equalize women’s participation in society, whether that be in politics, the classroom or the family. Under Pokhrel’s leadership, the organization has advocated for human rights and social protection for all women, regardless of class. The organization has also implemented programs across the country that focus on women’s economic empowerment, women’s reproductive health, anti-violence movements and young girl’s education; the primary reason girls do not receive adequate education is due to health concerns, such as menstruation and violence, both of which force girls to drop out of school and eventually fall into poverty. Samjhana’s mission with JN is to create a program that hears the voices of women in need and acts on it, reducing their susceptibility to poverty. 

Nepal’s struggles with poverty are far from over, but these women are taking steps to combat it any way they see possible. By setting examples in Nepali female leadership, these women are forging a path that others can follow. As Nepal continues to make an effort to support women and close the gender gap that exists, the country is making progress in reducing its poverty.

Shvetali Thatte
Photo: Flickr

India is Winning the War on Poverty
In 2010, India was home to most of the world’s poor with more than 410 million people living in poverty. So, just how is India winning the war on poverty? People do not just define poverty by low income, but also by poor health, poor quality of work and the threat of violence. Since 2010, India has made incredible progress and is now even a middle-income country. India is the second-most populous country and the seventh-largest country by area. The dense population is a trigger for any of the possible negatives that come with living in India.

India’s Path to Economic Success

From 2006 to 2016, India lifted 271 million people out of poverty, cutting the poverty rate by half. This was because of improvements in assets, sanitation and nutrition. India received recognition for improvements it made in some of its most impoverished areas. In Jharkhand, poverty has decreased from 74.9 percent (2006) to 46.5 percent (2016). The better quality of life is a huge factor in how India is winning the war on poverty, most importantly in regards to nutrition.

Organizations such as The Integrated Child Development Services and The National Health Mission set out to improve the nutrition status in the country. Care is an NGO that has been working for 68 years to fight poverty in India. It formed in 1950 by the signing of the IndoCARE bilateral agreement and focuses on women and children. India is home to 30 percent of the world’s impoverished children, and children are twice as likely to live in poverty than adults. Saying this, poverty rates among children have decreased faster than adults, and the child mortality rate has decreased by 2.4 percent compared to 2005.

A Better Future

Predictions determine that 40 percent of Indians will be urban residents by 2030, but it is still imperative that there is socioeconomic inclusion within the rural states, where a majority of the country’s poor reside. There is a lack of connection to electricity, internet and financial institutions which drastically impacts the poverty rate. The Economic Rural Development Society, a nonprofit established in 1982, works to introduce sustainable development techniques in rural communities. It has built 606 sanitation units to lower the impact of human waste as well as forming health education and rehabilitation programs for the elderly. It equips marginalized people with education, livelihood skills and self-governing capabilities.

In 2018, only 5 percent of the 130 billion living in India was in extreme poverty. According to the World Poverty Clock, if things continue the way they are, fewer than 3 percent of the population will live in extreme poverty by 2021. Having more access to cooking fuels, sanitation faculties and household assets have driven the decrease in poverty.

For India to continue to win the war on poverty it must implement skill development for its workers. Changes in education and a focus on tangible skills are important to ensure Indian workers keep up with the technologically advancing world.

Efforts to make health care more accessible to all citizens is a problem that the country still needs to tackle. Making sure that people properly sanitize health care facilities is also a way to ensure that the tightly-packed population does not get sick. India eradicated the Polio scare, but there is still 63 percent of the population dying from non-communicable diseases, which can emerge from unhealthy food and lifestyle choices.

India has a long way to go, but it has moved from the poorest country to a middle-income country. Many of its citizens have emerged from poverty, and the future looks bright for India as long as the way of life continues to rise.

Taylor Pittman
Photo: Flickr