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10 Facts About Human Trafficking in Vietnam
Vietnam, one of the four remaining communist countries in the world, is making remarkable progress in reducing hunger and poverty. From one of the poorest nations in the world with most of the population living below the poverty line, the nation has developed into a middle-income country. The poverty rate decreased from over 70 percent of the population to below 6 percent in just over 30 years after economic reforms in 1986.

Despite this positive outlook of the economy and the remarkable progress, not everyone is able to enjoy this new-found wealth. It is still a challenge for the government to tackle poverty for the ethnic minorities living in remote mountainous areas or areas prone to natural disasters where poverty most concentrates. It is also this population that has the most vulnerable and desperate individuals that become the victims of human trafficking. These 10 facts about human trafficking in Vietnam illustrate the possible source of the problem, as well as the attempts and efforts to fight against it.

10 Facts About Human Trafficking in Vietnam

  1. A Source Country: Vietnam is a predominant source country of human trafficking and also a destination country, mainly for Cambodian migrants. The Vietnamese government identified about 7,500 victims of human trafficking between 2012 and 2017, with 80 percent of the victims coming from remote ethnic communities. The statistics available are likely an underestimate due to a lack of an accurate system of data collection, as well as the unwillingness to report the exploitation of many returning victims.
  2. Victims: Victims of human trafficking often come from a poor, vulnerable or broken family and lack education or awareness of human trafficking. Traffickers often exploit the fragility of these people and utilize the internet, using gaming sites and social media to approach potential victims. Men might also entice women and young girls into relationships to gain their trust. These men then persuade the victims to move abroad where they subject them to sex trafficking or forced labor.
  3. Industries: Men and women trafficked from Vietnam often work in logging, construction, mining, fishing, agriculture, mining and manufacturing sectors. The employers of these workers situate mainly in Japan, Angola, Laos, South Korea and the United Arab Emirates. There is also an increasing trend of human trafficking to countries further away in the Middle East and Europe. Recently, traffickers have sent an influx of people to the U.K. to work on cannabis farms.
  4. Children: Traffickers coerce children as young as 6 to work in garment factories under exploitative conditions. Within the country, they may force children to beg or hawk on the streets in urban areas. Reports also show an overall rise in the number of children trafficked and sexually exploited due to high demand in Vietnam.
  5. Child Sex Tourism: Vietnam is becoming a popular destination country for child sex tourism, attracting perpetrators from Japan, South Korea, the U.K., Europe and the U.S. This increasing demand has caused a rise in cases of child trafficking. A study has estimated that 5.6 percent of children in Vietnam have had experiences related to child trafficking. The Vietnamese government is putting in increased efforts to prevent sexual exploitation of children (SEC) by promoting and implementing children’s rights by devising new legislation, strengthening national children protection systems, as well as educating and raising awareness of the public on SEC-related issues.
  6. Prostitution and Domestic Servitude: A large percentage of Vietnamese women and children work in forced prostitution or domestic servitude through fraudulent job opportunities or brokered marriage. Traffickers often sell them at the border, and later on, transport them to China, Taiwan, South Korea and Singapore for physical and sexual exploitations.
  7. Corruption: Corruption is pervasive in Vietnam. There is evidence showing officials and police taking bribes and colluding with organized criminals, traffickers included. A survey by Transparency International reported that 30 percent of people paid bribes to public services in Vietnam and that they believed the police to be the most corrupt institution in the country. This has tremendously complicated the efforts of tackling human trafficking.
  8. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs: The Vietnamese government is maintaining efforts in combating trafficking but has come across some issues due to lack of funding and inter-ministerial coordination. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs organized training courses and workshops to improve the capacity of officials to prevent human trafficking and assist the victims. The authority also organizes campaigns and distributes flyers to raise public awareness, targeting high-risk groups in border areas and vulnerable communities. The number of trafficking victims that authorities identified in 2018 was 490, a significant decrease from 670 in 2017 and 1,128 in 2016.
  9. Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation: Blue Dragon Children’s Foundation, or Blue Dragon, is an NGO that addresses the human trafficking problem in Vietnam. It focusses on cases of forced child labor as well as trafficking for sexual exploitation of Vietnamese women and girls. The organization has rescued and assisted around 130 women and children annually from labor exploitation and sex trafficking. It also provides training for police, border guards and officials in child rights and combating trafficking.
  10. The Peace House: The Vietnamese Center for Women and Development manages the Peace House to provide support for victims of domestic abuse or human trafficking. It provides shelters, consultation, education and vocational training for women and children, as well as organizes campaigns to raise public awareness about gender equality and human trafficking. Since its opening, the Peace House has provided shelters for more than 1,200 victims and helped more than 1,100 re-integrate into society.

Many Vietnamese people’s desire for a better quality of life has driven them to the hands of human traffickers, subjecting them to physical and sexual exploitation abroad. These people are often initially the victims of poverty, vulnerable and desperate.

These 10 facts about human trafficking in Vietnam provide an overview of the problem and how Vietnam is handling it. Providing assistance and protection to victims of human trafficking as well as raising public awareness are all essential measures. A sustainable solution to combatting human trafficking is to get to the root of the problem: poverty. When good opportunities are available in local communities, there would be less demand to migrate elsewhere, thus decreasing the chance of falling victim to human trafficking.

– Minh-Ha La
Photo: Flickr

Reasons for Elderly Poverty in the United Kingdom
Having worked for the past 40 to 50 years, most adults feel as though retirement will bring a new lifestyle. This includes feelings of excitement and joy as they think of ways to spend their newfound free time. However, the reality of retirement is far from this expectation in the United Kingdom. The U.K. has the worst poverty rate for the elderly population in Western Europe.

Defined as having an income of 40 percent less than the median average, a significant number of the elderly population in the U.K. faces poverty. A recent study by Professor Bernhard Ebbinghaus at the University of Oxford found that the U.K. is one of five countries that has experienced an increase in the number of people over the age of 65 that are experiencing poverty. The U.K.’s increase is by far the largest compared to other Western European countries. Mainly, there are three reasons for elderly poverty in the United Kingdom.

3 Reasons for Elderly Poverty in the United Kingdom

  1. The State Pension System: The state pension system is extremely strict as to who qualifies for the pension. In order to receive the state pension after reaching the retirement age of 65, one must have 10 qualifying years on their National Insurance record. This means that for 10 years, they must have paid their National Insurance tax while earning over £166 a week from one employer. Meanwhile, those who do not have a National Insurance record must have 35 qualifying years of employment. Because of such intense regulations, many do not qualify for the pension and end up in poverty.
  2. Low Basic Payments: The basic payment that comes with the state pension system is extremely low at £168.60. This only amounts to about 16 percent of average earnings. Because the pension is not enough to sufficiently cover one’s retired life, especially with regard to medical expenses, a portion of those who receive a pension will still find themselves living in poverty.
  3. Means-Tested Supplements: Every sixth pensioner in the United Kingdom received means-tested supplements as a way to bring themselves out of the poverty, expected from the low basic pensions. These supplements include private pensions taken out at most U.K. banks. This also includes workplace final salary pensions, the auto-enrolment scheme for employees and private pensions. Means-tested supplements are effective for some. They often provide an additional source of retirement income; however, they also result in a rise in financial inequality and exacerbate poverty. The government feels less of a need to increase the state pension because of the increase in privatization, meaning those who cannot afford private pensions remain stuck in poverty with no hope of change.

The pension age, set to rise to 66 between the years 2024 and 2026, occurred the last time the pension system changed in 2011. Since 2011, no other changes have taken place. Further, the labor government has refused to undertake any paradigmatic reform actions. This means the current problems of the pension system will likely persist in the future. Unless the government chooses to step in and make a difference, a portion of the elderly population in the U.K. will continue to suffer from poverty.

Living on a low income as an elderly person is extremely difficult. No future sources of income require budgeting every penny. Shopping lists are minimal and they save money for bills, meaning there are no luxuries. Retirement is the time to celebrate the end of work; however, for those living in the U.K., retirement is a burden in itself.

– Shvetali Thatte
Photo: Flickr

Eight Facts About Education in the United Kingdom
When thinking about education in the United Kingdom, it is almost impossible not to consider Oxford and Cambridge. These two-century-old bastions of higher education in England garner recognition throughout the world and lend themselves to an image of British superiority in education. Rightfully so, they sit atop the education system but facilitate the overlooking of the rest of it. When looking further down the hierarchy, imperfections emerge, bordering on a crisis. Despite its image of a wealthy, developed nation, 4.5 million children live below the poverty line, comprising 33 percent of the country’s demographic. With such a substantial proportion of students struggling to feed and clothe themselves, poverty takes a profound toll on British education. Here are eight facts about education in the United Kingdom that illustrate the crisis.

 8 Facts About Education in the United Kingdom

  1. Poverty and Education: As a testament to how staggeringly poverty affects the classroom, 87 percent of teachers and other staff claim that it has a significant impact on learning, according to a survey that the National Education Union and Child Poverty Action Group conducted. Six out of 10 respondents in this survey said that the situation had worsened since 2015. Surveys such as these demonstrate the shift in focus from children’s learning and development to their fundamental well being.
  2. Food Banks: To combat this growing issue, many schools in the U.K. host food banks to feed students and their families. About 8 percent of schools operate a food bank on-site, according to the National Governance Association’s survey. In addition to basic food services, many schools feel the need to provide general welfare as well, including emergency loans for parents.
  3. Teachers Provide Care: Teachers themselves bear much of this burden, often balancing their duty to educate with an instinct to care by providing foods such as cereal to students in the middle of lessons. Additionally, some go to the lengths of washing clothes for their pupils and ensuring they have food during holidays. The most compassionate educators dip into their own bank accounts to buy supplies and clothes for the kids that need it most. The CfBT Education Trust started in 1968 as the Center for British Teachers and became a charity in 1976. It generally researches and supports the education sector, often in service of teachers to alleviate these issues.
  4. Attempt to Garner Funding: With funding strapped already, schools worry about their ability to accommodate disadvantaged pupils. Seventy-eight percent of school governors reported a general failure to meet needs due to inadequate funds and 61 percent said that they could not extend support to disadvantaged students. Compelled to help these children, many lobby for additional funding that they doubt will come.
  5. Sure Start Centers: Record unemployment, stagnant wages and high inflation place low-income parents in a precarious situation, sometimes choosing between sending sick kids to school and losing a day’s pay to stay at home with them. In 2010, 3,500 Sure Start centers operated throughout the U.K. to mitigate some of the daycare and other early childhood necessities for parents who needed them. Since then, however, 1,000 have closed or have severely restricted services.
  6. Challenges for Students: While parents and teachers face hardships due to the poverty crisis, children ultimately suffer the most. Students ashamed of their lack of supplies or new clothes skip school more frequently out of fear of bullying. This exacerbates their already tired, hungry, angry and confused mindset. Their poverty affects their learning at home just as much as at school, where crowded, noisy homes make homework and regular sleep exceedingly difficult. On top of that, their lack of resources shows more dramatically than at school. Computers, textbooks and other supplies become inaccessible in families that do not work or work hard but can barely afford the basics.
  7. Children’s Mental Health: Due to all of this, low-income children often feel that they fall behind wealthy classmates, and may develop mental health issues as a result. In the short term, one in four feels anxious or worried about their family’s financial situation. In the long term, these children have more than two times the chance of developing more permanent mental health conditions. The Sutton Trust encourages social mobility through education by focusing on efforts to combat educational inequality.
  8. Charities: In addition to those aforementioned, numerous charities combat these conditions. The Nuffield Foundation strives to benefit social welfare through funding education, science and social science research projects. Nesta, formerly the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts, originated in 1998 to promote innovation in the U.K. by running practical programs, conducting research and supporting partnerships. The Education Endowment Foundation champions a dedication to the insurance that children from all kinds of backgrounds have access to education, fulfilling their potentials and applying their talents. Lastly, the Wellcome Trust funds biomedical research as well as promoting the public understanding of science.

These eight facts about education in the United Kingdom do not cast a particularly optimistic light, although there are several efforts to improve circumstances. Though the U.K. faces an exceedingly uphill task to address poverty and education in Britain, the charities named in this article do excellent work to assist as many children as they can. While their work is important and provides desperately needed support, ultimately the government’s funding cuts impede systematic progress. The good news is that many candidates across the U.K. recognize the need for more education funding and have promised it ahead of the upcoming December 2019 election.

– Alex Myers
Photo: Flickr

airlines fight poverty
When thinking about airlines, people often only think about things such as comfort, price and convenience. Many forget to consider the different ways their favorite airlines make a difference to people around the world. Below lists how five of the world’s top airlines fight poverty.

How 5 Global Airlines Fight Poverty

  1. Qatar Airways: Travelers voted Qatar Airways the best airline in the world in 2019. The airline fights poverty by supporting and donating to charity projects in over 43 countries around the globe. One of these is Educate A Child. Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser of Qatar founded this initiative to provide children facing extreme poverty with opportunities for education. Since 2013, Qatar Airways’ customers and employees raised $2.3 million for the initiative. The airline matches the funds that customers donate onboard. Educate A Child works in countries around the world, from Uganda to Lebanon and Haiti.
  2. British Airways (BA): This airline fights poverty in partnership with Comic Relief through the Flying Start program. The airline raised more than 23 million pounds since the program’s inception in June 2010. Customers raise funds when they donate via the BA website or onboard the airlines. British Airways staff also gather donations via onboard collections as well as by participating in individual or group challenges such as skydiving, mountain climbing and cycling. Through Flying Start, BA helped more than 620,000 children and youth across the U.K. and other countries such as Ghana, South Africa, Jamaica and India.
  3. JetBlue: Travelers voted JetBlue the best airline in the U.S. The airline worked with the Dominican Republic Education and Mentoring (DREAM) Project since 2008 to provide equal opportunity to high-quality education to children in the Dominican Republic. In partnership with DREAM, JetBlue can reach 6,000 youth each year.Since 2006, JetBlue also partnered with First Book to give brand new books to children who would otherwise not be able to afford books or other learning material. The airline successfully distributed more than 430,000 new books to children in local U.S. communities as well as around the world. In 2016, when JetBlue launched its inaugural flight to Quito, Ecuador, its donation of 500 books to the Working Boys’ Center marked the first time since 2008 that the center received new books.
  4. Etihad Airways: The national airline of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) worked with Magic Bus to support children and youth between the ages of 12 and 18 in India. In December 2016, a group of volunteers from the airline’s staff worked in Mumbai and constructed a sports field, a weatherproof outdoor shelter as well as a vegetable garden. Since its founding 20 years ago, Magic Bus helped more than 1 million children across 22 states in India as well as children in Nepal, Myanmar and Bangladesh to gain skills and knowledge necessary to move out of poverty.
  5. Lufthansa: The German airline won the best European airline award in 2019. Lufthansa Group and Lufthansa employees formed an aid organization called the Help Alliance in 1999. It is through this alliance that the airline fights poverty. Currently, it manages 50 projects worldwide. The donations alone fund these programs. The Help Alliance constructed iThemba Primary School in Cape Town, South Africa where more than 200 students studied since January 2018. When the project finishes, 700 students will have the chance to receive a quality education. This is important as more than 2,000 children in Cape Town do not get the chance to attend school. In Brazil, the Broadening Horizons program enables 30 disadvantaged youth from around Sao Paulo Airport to receive vocational training as bakers or confectioners. The youth undergo six months of training after which most of them find jobs in one of the many catering companies, hospitals and hotels in the region.

Beyond moving people from one place to another, top airlines in the world give back to the communities around them. Customers can choose to travel with airlines that fight poverty and make a small donation to help them in their quest.

Sophia N. Wanyonyi
Photo: Pixabay

Eggs & Bread in London

Based in Walthamstow in East London, Eggs & Bread is a cafe like no other. It boasts “the smallest menu on Wood Street” that includes boiled eggs, jam, porridge, tea and coffee. Eggs & Bread in London is a “pay what you like” cafe, whereby those who overpay for a cup of tea and a boiled egg allow the less well-off to eat for free, or pay a reduced rate for breakfast. A report written by U.N. Special Rapporteur Philip Alston on extreme poverty and human rights stipulated that homelessness is on the rise in London, austerity being the main cause. ​

Austerity is a Mindset

“Austerity is a mindset, which is now fully reflected in how the government operates,” Alston reports. The evidence seen on the report points to the conclusion that the driving force has not been economic but rather a commitment to achieving radical social re-engineering. Because of this, people have been relying more on food banks and charities for their next meal, which makes Eggs & Bread in London even more special.​

Thirty-seven percent of all children, 24 percent of all working-age adults and 19 percent of all pensioners live in poverty. While the poverty rate fell over the last few years, the depth of poverty increased.

London, the Capital of Poverty

London remains the capital of poverty in the United Kingdom. Another factor that adds to this is the high rents paid by half of all households who rent their homes. Those who rent from a private landlord have long faced high rents. More recently, housing association and council tenants have seen their rents go up rapidly. This is also due to wealth inequality, predominant in London.

Wealth inequality, which is higher than income inequality, increased over the years. Wealth for someone just in the top 10 percent is now 295 times higher than someone in the bottom 10 percent. In 2010–12 it was 160 times higher, a significant increase.​

As inequality in the capital rises whilst wages stagnate and many are forced to food banks to feed themselves and their families, social ventures like Eggs & Bread in London become ever more vital. As Eggs & Bread’s website states, “Everyone’s welcome, no matter if you are a city broker or simply broke.”

These sorts of cafes existed before, such as the Brixton Pound and The People’s Fridge, but the sheer amount of attention Eggs & Bread has had bodes well for its success, and will hopefully inspire other like-minded projects. With an estimated 28 percent of Londoners living in poverty, Eggs & Bread aims to balance out the inequality seen so often in big cities.

If one wants to pay, the donation box is discreetly placed next to where one puts the dirty plates. If one can afford to put something in the box, one can also pay for the breakfast of others who might not be able to pay. As Eggs & Bread in London states, “Everyone deserves a good start to the day.” ​

– Andrea Viera
Photo: Flickr

 

Poverty in the UK

Approximately 14.2 million people live in relative poverty in the United Kingdom, which is about 22 percent of the country’s total population – 65 million. Of those living in poverty, 4.5 million are children, 8.4 million are of working age, and 1.4 million are of pension age. The country’s poverty rate has not changed a great deal from what it was in the early 2000s (about 23 percent). There were some improvements made in 2010 when the United Kingdom was attempting to make an economic comeback after the financial crisis, however this decrease has since disappeared as poverty rates are on the rise once again.

For a country that is considered one of the richest in the world, having a poverty rate of this level seems somewhat unusual. For comparison, the United States has a 12.3 percent poverty rate – considerably lower than the United Kingdom – which begs the question, why the 10-percentage point difference?

Causes of poverty in the United Kingdom

According to a report released by the United Nations earlier this year, poverty in the United Kingdom is due largely to the government’s continuous cuts to public spending and social programs which exist to benefit the poor. Poverty in the United Kingdom has reached such a level that many families must decide between basic needs such as heat and sustenance, since they cannot afford both. Although the government may not have deliberately or willingly chosen to worsen the situation for its poor population, it is the main cause behind the rising poverty levels within the country.

Furthermore, the lack of steady income growth and the quick rise in living costs have furthered the need for the welfare benefits that have been defunded.  The government has attempted to remedy its cuts by replacing six benefits with one monthly payment instead, which has proven rather inefficient. This program, titled Universal Credit, has allowed for an increase in the number of people that seek out foodbanks, listing benefit delays or changes as a major cause for this increase.

Solutions to poverty in the United Kingdom

Many of the policies the government has implemented over the years, which deeply affect the poor, often have easy solutions. For example, policies that include denying benefits to those who miss appointments or limiting the number of children that a claimant can have are rules that can be eliminated almost overnight with hardly any increase in costs.

Additionally, the government is also attempting to create more welfare independent households by focusing on reducing income inequality, increasing incomes overall and providing better long-term economically stable solutions for its citizens.

According to the Joseph Rowntree Foundation, the United Kingdom poverty issue can be addressed by following this five-point plan:

  1. Increasing incomes while reducing costs.
  2. Having a better and more efficient benefit system.
  3. Overall improving the educational system as well as the skills students acquire.
  4. Strengthening families and communities as a whole.
  5. Promoting economic growth for the long-term future that will benefit the whole population.

Positive developments in poverty reduction efforts in the United Kingdom

The Universal Credit benefit implemented recently by the British government is scheduled to increase work allowances. This is estimated to take 200,000 out of poverty. Additionally, changing how poverty is measured can change one’s perspective on the matter and help improve living conditions for citizens.

The report released by the U.N. focused on relative poverty rather than absolute poverty, the former being defined as “any family that has 55 percent or less of what that median family has”, the latter differs in that the households being measured currently are compared to those of the median household in 2010/11.

Although the British government has many obstacles to overcome before it can see a reduction in its poverty rates, the U.N.’s report has shed light on an important issue in the United Kingdom Because of this, the government can now work even harder to eradicate poverty for its citizens.

– Laura Rogers
Photo: Flickr

The Marshall Plan
In 1947, Europe was still feeling World War II’s devastation. Rebuilding was not going as fast as necessary and people of every country were feeling the impacts. Economies had nearly come to a complete halt in most countries and there were up to 11 million refugees that needed to find jobs, homes and food. The United States was the only superpower in the world that could offer any assistance to the people of Europe because the war did not entirely influence its industries. The reason for the implementation of the Marshall Plan was to help people rebuild their homes and industries, as well as provide security and an economic boost to the U.S.

The Marshall Plan’s Origins

The Marshall Plan, formerly called the European Recovery Program, was an initiative proposed by the United States Secretary of State, George C. Marshall, in 1947. The plan aimed to accomplish several things. First, it was to provide aid to kickstart European countries whose economies the war destroyed. The second was to promote free trade that would not only benefit those countries but the United States as well. The third was to contain the spread of communism that was sweeping over Eastern Europe.

The Marshall plan gave aid to 15 countries; the United Kingdom, West Germany, Austria, France, the Netherlands, Iceland, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Denmark, Belgium, Sweden, Ireland, Portugal and Norway. President Harry Truman signed the plan into law on April 3, 1948; it brought aid to Europe in the form of machinery, fuel, food and money.

Aid for the Netherlands

World War II hit the Netherlands hard when the German forces occupied the country from 1940-1945. The war heavily damaged its infrastructure, agriculture and housing and they were in desperate need of repair. To rebuild its infrastructure, The Marshall Plan gave half a million dollars to the cement industry to repair roads, bridges and ports. The port in Rotterdam was particularly important because the country uses it to import goods. The Plan provided more funds to build housing for 9.5 million people living in the Netherlands. Fixing the agriculture of the Netherlands required the country to modernize its practices. It spent funds on new farming equipment and the treatment and repairing of the soil destroyed by years of fighting. In total, the Netherlands received $1.127 billion to rebuild its country.

Aid for Germany

Germany split in two shortly after World War II ended. The Soviet Union controlled East Germany while the United States and its allies controlled West Germany. West Germany received $1.4 billion in Marshall Plan aid although the war heavily impacted it. The whole of Germany had an aggressive bombing campaign to destroy its cities and invading armies from the west and east devastated the country’s communities. Twelve percent of the aid to West Germany went towards housing the nearly eight million refugees that had settled there after the war. These houses were necessary with a population of 67.9 million. Coal was another industry that was in desperate need; 40 percent of funding went towards this so that Germany could fuel its industries and factories. The funds from the Marshall Plan helped the German people find homes, jobs and food.

Aid for the UK

German bombings on British industrial sites had a terrible impact on the production of British goods, particularly on its southern cities. By 1948, the United Kingdom had mostly recovered from the war, but it needed to address more. While the U.K. was able to rebuild, the country was deep in debt and was having a challenging time feeding its people and keeping its industries going. Because of its 1948 population of 50 million people and its contribution to the war effort, the U.K. received the largest sum from the Marshall Plan, $3.2 billion. These funds provided the country with financial stability and allowed it to balance out its economy. While the aid did not go towards helping the U.K.’s economy, it benefited from the food and fuel brought in and the breathing room necessary to stabilize its country.

In total, the United States spent over $13 billion in aid for the 15 countries. These countries were able to provide food, fuel, housing and stability for their people during a devastating time thanks to the Marshall Plan. The average GDP of the nations that received aid increased from their prewar levels by 35 percent, and overall industrial production rose by 40 percent. The U.S. was also a beneficiary of the economic success of the European nations engaging in trade. In the decade following the end of the Marshall Plan in 1951, the GDP of the United States had nearly doubled. The Marshall Plan shows the benefits of providing foreign aid that can help not only those receiving but those giving as well.

– Sam Bostwick
Photo: Flickr

Top Five Facts About U.K. Foreign AidAs one of the most economically developed countries in the world, the U.K. plays a tremendous role in global prosperity. In 2017, the United Kingdom’s gross domestic product per capita was $39,953.60. Here are the top five facts about U.K. foreign aid.

Top 5 Facts About UK Foreign Aid

  1. How much is being spent?
    Since the 1970s, the United Nations has been urging all developing nations to invest 0.7 percent of their gross national income in overseas aid. This is in collaboration with the Millennium Development Goals, which aim to improve international welfare. The U.K. agreed and reached this target in 2013, along with five other countries. Shortly after, the U.K. included this goal in its legislation. By 2015, the U.K. legally required 0.7 percent of its G.N.I. goes toward foreign development. By 2016, the U.K. spent £13.3 billion ($16.9 billion) on international aid. As the U.K. economy continues to grow, the amount the U.K. spends each year does, too.
  2. What are the goals?
    On top of legislation, the U.K. created an aid strategy. The four primary goals of this strategy include promoting global peace, strengthening crises response, aiding in international development and helping the world’s most impoverished people. The government aims to do so by implementing several tactics. For example, 50 percent of all the Department for International Development’s (DFID) spending goes toward aid in developing nations. Moreover, it funds a £1 billion commitment to global health.
  3. How is funding being spent?
    The DFID spends approximately 74 percent of government spending. Smaller departments within the government spend the remaining 26 percent. Most funding (63 percent) goes toward bilateral aid, sent directly to countries in need. Organizations, such as the U.N., distribute the remaining funds. The top recipients of aid include Pakistan, Ethiopia and Nigeria. In 2015, humanitarian projects received the most amount of support. In order to ensure success and public awareness, the DFID site collects data to track foreign aid spending.
  4. What does the government think?
    Conservative parties within the U.K. have argued to reduce foreign aid. Accordingly, these parties believe the money could be better spent domestically. After the 2016 Brexit referendum, concern surrounding foreign aid increased. However, in 2017, Prime Minister Theresa May publically supported the 0.7 percent target goal. Bill Gates has also been a large advocate in support of U.K. foreign aid. In several interviews, Gates has expressed the U.K. should be proud of its contributions toward international poverty reduction.
  5. How does U.K. foreign aid compare?
    Since 2013, the nation has become a global leader in humanitarian aid. It is known as one of the first nations to offer assistance during crises. The U.K. provided relief during Hurrican Irma and the Ebola outbreak in Syria. In 2016, the U.K. ranked fifth in international aid, behind Norway, Luxembourg, Sweden and Denmark. Norway gives more than 1 percent of its GNI to foreign aid, making it a model for other countries.

Overall, the U.K. should be proud of its contributions. These top five facts about U.K. foreign aid demonstrate the nation has contributed billions of pounds to reducing global poverty. For the future of society, may the U.K. continue to grow and prosper, deepening its stance against global poverty.

Anna Melnik
Photo: Google Images

Top 10 Facts About Queen Elizabeth II
Princess Elizabeth of York never had the intention to become Queen, but she is now Queen Elizabeth II, the reigning monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and its neighboring kingdoms and territories. In addition, she is the head of the Commonwealth of Nations. Her reign has lasted more 60 years, giving her the title of the longest-ruling monarch in British history. Just this past April 2019, the Queen celebrated her 93rd birthday and continues to make history till this day. Written below are the top 10 facts about Queen Elizabeth II that show a glimpse into her life.

Top 10 Facts About Queen Elizabeth II

  1. Born Princess Elizabeth of York and third in line to ascend the throne, Queen Elizabeth II never imagined assuming the responsibilities and obligations of sovereignty, up until February 6, 1952, when Elizabeth’s father, King George VI, died of lung cancer. The unexpected turn of events started in December 1936 when the Queen’s father became King after his brother King Edward VIII abdicated his title for love. Consequently, the Queen became heir presumptive. Her father did not declare her heir apparent due to the possibility of a male heir. On June 2, 1953, Queen Elizabeth II had her coronation in Westminster Abbey.
  2. Queen Elizabeth II along with other members of the Royal Family have an extensive background in philanthropy. Presently, more than 3,000 organizations around the globe state a member of the Royal Family as their patron or president, with Queen Elizabeth II serving as patron for 510 of those British charities alone. The charities range from large organizations like the British Red Cross to smaller organizations like Reedham Children’s Trust and the regiments of the Armed Forces. Royal patronages, visits and involvement with charities help bring much-needed awareness and publicity for important social causes. The Queen’s benefaction holds the most significance and is the most sought after.
  3. In 2012, the Queen assisted charities she patrons raise a total of £1,4 billion, according to Charities Aid Foundation’s research Charities Aid Foundations. This fact solidifies her as one of the world’s leading charity supporters. In 2015, after news broke out regarding the devasting earthquake that struck Nepal, Her Majesty donated her personal money to the Disasters Emergency Committee’s request to help and support the victims of this catastrophe. The country of Nepal holds a special place in the Queen’s heart because it houses The Royal Gurkha Rifles, an organization of troops run by Prince Charles, its Colonial in Chief. The Royal Gurkha Rifles fight for the United Kingdom but were not born in the country.
  4. The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust is an organization that Queen Elizabeth II is a patron of and Prince Harry is the president. It is an organization that works with 53 Commonwealth countries to enact positive social change initiated by impactful youth. The organization’s mission statement reflects on its efforts in discovering and funding individuals who attain bright ideas that solve local problems in education, health, the environment and sport. The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust supports those who have started their own nonprofit organizations, along with those who oversee projects that help others. Currently, The Queen’s Commonwealth Trust and CAMA have partnered to help reduce poverty and inequality among young girls in Africa by helping them receive education and giving them leadership positions within their communities.
  5. Another point on the list of top 10 facts about Queen Elizabeth II is that the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust has partnered with Ankit Kawatra’s Feeding India, which is one of the world’s leading youth-run volunteer organizations set to eradicate world hunger. The partnership aims to combat hunger in India with 8,5000 people working together to gather excess food from events, restaurants and hotels in more than 50 cities and deliver it to undernourished people, reaching more than 15,000 individuals every day.
  6. The Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) is one of the world’s most prestigious and oldest international university networks to date and has for the last 33 years been honored with Her Royal Majesty’s patronage. In fact, she was the first patron of the organization. The Queen has helped the ACU offer Commonwealth scholarships to over 35,000 students throughout the years, which help them make the trip to the United Kingdom or other Commonwealth countries. That is, however, until now; when the Queen has graciously passed down her title to her granddaughter-in-law, The Duchess of Sussex, Meghan Markle, along with a few other duties. As the new patron, the Duchess of Sussex has already announced two ACU gender grants that will help fund new learning projects meant to empower female university employees and promote gender equality.
  7. The Queen embraces strides towards modernizing her personal image along with that of the monarchy. For a period of time every summer, Her Majesty welcomes the public to stay in the State Rooms at Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of the sovereigns since 1837 and also today’s administrative headquarters of the monarch, while she is away and is the first monarch to do so. Queen Elizabeth’s II garden parties, hosted multiple times per summer at Buckingham Palace and once at the Palace of Holyroodhouse in Edinburgh, also help in the Queen’s plan to meet a cross-section of British society and thank them for their good deeds. This charitable event, with approximately 8,000 people, allows the Queen to become familiar with Britain’s everyday citizens instead of the usual diplomats at the Palace.
  8. Throughout her Majesty’s reign, digital communication platforms have made many advancements. In 1953, the Queen’s coronation was the first to broadcast live from Westminster Abbey. In 1997, the Royal Family started their own website and later created their own Twitter account (@BritishMonarchy) in 2014. The Queen’s very first tweet was during her visit to the London Science Museum in 2014, and in keeping with tradition, the page shared the Queen’s very first Instagram post (@theroyalfamily) at her most recent visit to the Science Museum in 2019. She posted an archive picture addressed to her great-great-grandfather, Prince Albert, and written by Charles Babbage, the world’s first accredited computer pioneer.
  9. Over the course of her reign, Queen Elizabeth II witnessed 13 prime ministers enter into power. The first prime minister she worked with was Winston Churchill. The Queen has worked with about a quarter of the United States’ presidents throughout history as well.
  10. On February 6, 2017, Queen Elizabeth II celebrated her Sapphire Jubilee or 65th year on the throne. She is the only monarch to ever celebrate a Sapphire Jubilee, surpassing her great-great-grandmother, Queen Victoria, in September of 2015. Queen Victoria was the previous longest-reigning monarch at 63 years. There were royal gun salutes administered at Green Park and the Tower of London, along with eight new commemorative coins issued by The Royal Mint in honor of the Queen’s reign.

These top 10 facts about Queen Elizabeth II only reinforce the fact that Her Majesty is one of the world’s most commemorated public figures in history. There are three generations of heirs lined up for the monarch after her reign including her son, Charles, Prince of Wales; her grandson, William, Duke of Cambridge; and her great-grandson, George, Prince of Cambridge. The legacy of the Royals will continue to create history for years to come due to Queen Elizabeth’s II influential reign over Britain.

– Jillian Rose
Photo: Flickr

Top Ten Facts about Period Poverty in the U.K.
Nearly 800 million women and girls menstruate daily. Period poverty encompasses the shame, guilt and cost barriers around access to sanitary products. One in 10 girls in the United Kingdom is unable to afford sanitary wear, resulting in detriment to their self-esteem, education and overall quality of life. Eliminating period poverty has often been the focus of nonprofits and the U.K.’s government. Below are the top 10 facts about period poverty in the U.K. that are important to know.

Top 10 Facts About Period Poverty in the U.K.

  1. An estimated 49 percent of girls have missed a day of school due to their periods. One in five girls surveyed in a 2019 study reported being a victim of bullying and teasing because of their periods. Girls faced increased feelings of shame and embarrassment when on their periods or discussing their period in an academic setting. This resulted in absences from school and led female students to struggle to keep up with their schoolwork.
  2. Women in the U.K. spend as much as 18,450 euros ($20.744 USD) due to their period across their lifetime. The total accounts for the costs of sanitary items, pain relief for cramps, new underwear and other period-related costs such as sweets or magazines. Of those interviewed, 91 percent purchase pain relief to ease the symptoms of periods on a regular basis. All of the 2,134 women surveyed responded that feminine hygiene products should cost less money, and some added that the government should remove its tax on those products.
  3. Free Periods is a campaign supplying low-income girls with menstrual products. Amika George, a 19-year-old student studying at Cambridge University, founded Free Periods. George called on the U.K. government to assure sanitary products are widely available in educational settings. The campaign also held a protest in London to bring attention to the ongoing issue.
  4. Plan International UK found that 10 percent of girls are unable to afford sanitary products. The cost of sanitary products has led 14 percent of girls to borrow sanitary products from friends, 12 percent to improvise sanitary products and 19 percent to change to less suitable products.
  5. Bloody Good Period, created by Gabby Edlin in 2018, supplies 25 asylum seeker centers in the U.K. with a flow of menstrual products. The growing initiative aspires to supply more food banks and centers in its mission to end period poverty.
  6. Girls throughout the U.K. not only miss school but often improvise sanitary products to use during their period. Girls have shared their stories of wrapping a sock around their underwear to control the bleeding. Others have wrapped rolls of tissues or newspapers in order to prevent leakage through their uniforms.
  7. In 2018, the Scottish government rolled out a plan to provide free sanitary products to women unable to afford them. Projections determine that it will reach approximately 18,800 low-income women and girls in an attempt to combat period poverty.
  8. The Gift Wellness Foundation provides non-toxic sanitary pads to women in crisis throughout the U.K. The Foundation relies on donations and the generosity of local community businesses. Donated sanitary products contain all-natural ingredients to ensure they are free of harmful chemicals.
  9. As of 2017, an estimated 68,000 women lived on the streets in temporary housing or shelters. These women have to make decisions that often leave them without sanitary products due to their financial situation. Each year, shelters get an allowance for condoms but not for sanitary products.
  10. Three individuals who met as interns at a London advertising agency founded #TheHomelessPeriod. Inspired to minimize the hidden side of an inequality, #TheHomelessPeriod aims to have tampons and towels available in homeless shelters through donations, crowdfunding and fundraising.

The top 10 facts about period poverty in the U.K. show the frequent inaccessibility of sanitary products to girls and women throughout the nation. While the Scottish government leads the way in the efforts to end period poverty, other governments have yet to replicate its actions. Individuals within the U.K. have taken it upon themselves to create campaigns to combat the hidden inequality and have seen success in their efforts.

– Gwen Schemm
Photo: Unsplash