Soccer Programs Addressing Global PovertySoccer is one of the most popular sports on the international stage, with more than four billion fans. Additionally, roughly 30 billion people watch the FIFA World Cup. This proves that soccer can bring many people together despite different linguistic or cultural backgrounds. With this in mind, soccer programs across the world are harnessing people’s love for the game to help the impoverished. Three particular soccer programs are addressing global poverty and are making the world a better place.

3 Soccer Programs Addressing Global Poverty

  1. Football for Change: Founded by British national team player Trent Alexander-Arnold, Football for Change is a nonprofit organization working to alleviate youth poverty in the United Kingdom. Alexander-Arnold wanted to use his platform to raise awareness for youth poverty, so he launched Football for Change to fund educational programs in low-income neighborhoods. Other professional soccer players, including Conor Coady and Andrè Gomez, have joined the nonprofit to show young people that success is possible despite economic hardship.
  2. Girls Soccer Worldwide: This nonprofit organization was founded by a husband and wife duo to address female poverty around the world. The organization’s mission includes securing equal opportunities for women on and off the field. These opportunities include equal access to soccer leagues, education and politics. To accomplish this goal, Girls Soccer Worldwide establishes all-female recreational soccer teams across the world, and most notably in Paraguay, to uplift women’s voices. Girls Soccer Worldwide also encourages others to contribute by participating in fundraising events such as walkathons and 5k runs. Its most recent 5k run for a cause occurred on July 11, 2021.
  3. Grassroots Soccer: This organization combats global poverty by supporting athletic and academic programs around the world. To date, Grassroots Soccer has helped implement soccer, health and educational programs in 45 countries in Latin America, South America, Africa, Eastern Europe and Asia. The organization raises awareness of both global poverty and health risks associated with HIV/AIDS and malaria. Currently, it is introducing an HIV treatment delivery service program in Zambia to provide people living with HIV medicine and support. Notable supporters of the Grassroots Soccer organization include the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the U.N. and the CDC. However, anyone can support the Grassroots Soccer Foundation by launching personal fundraising campaigns and playing soccer for a cause. Educational institutions including Brown University, Vassar College, Georgetown University and Yale University have launched campaigns to raise money for the organization in the past.

Former U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon states that sports are “increasingly recognized as an important tool” to help “create a better world.” People’s shared admiration for soccer can provide the basis for a common goal of helping the world’s most impoverished people. Soccer programs addressing global poverty, like Football for Change, Girls Soccer Worldwide and Grassroots Soccer, lead the way in using sports to help combat poverty.

– Chloe Young
Photo: Flickr

Women's Health in Papua New GuineaWomen’s health in Papua New Guinea is wrought with struggles, stemming from both inadequate healthcare centers and the country’s law. The gender inequity of the situation sees men receiving more comprehensive medical care than women. Unfortunately, Papua New Guinea’s adherence to its healthcare policies does not include extending further care to women. Many of those who identify as women on official documents get pushed under the general term of “population,” resulting in a lack of gender-specific reports on women’s overall medical conditions. Women’s health in Papua New Guinea needs prioritizing, especially in the maternity category. With 230 deaths per 100,000 live births, the country has the highest maternal mortality rate in the Pacific.

Women’s Health in Papua New Guinea

Papua New Guinea is a mainly patriarchal society where women are often discriminated against and looked down upon due to gender norms. Many women do not achieve higher education, which then perpetuates a cycle of early marriages and motherhood at a young age. This cycle has made it difficult for women to establish themselves within the workforce. Even within the workforce, it is relatively uncommon for women to receive fair benefits and wages. Discrimination against women presents a significant barrier to women’s health in Papua New Guinea.

The Effect of COVID-19 in Papua New Guinea

Unfortunately, many women in Papua New Guinea cannot afford healthcare even if it were available and accessible. In households, women are responsible for the majority of unpaid care work and domestic duties. With school closures amid COVID-19, the domestic workload of women has only increased. The pandemic has exacerbated the financial struggle for many with job losses and wage cuts.

With vulnerable populations unable to leave their homes during COVID-19, gender-based violence is on the rise. With quarantines and lockdowns underway, many essential service centers had to close their doors, leaving vulnerable populations without help. Furthermore, many organizations that provided funding for women’s health centers had to divert the funding toward addressing the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The insurgence of COVID-19 made already inaccessible services even more difficult to obtain. Though the number of COVID-19 cases reported in official documents is already high, studies and institutions suspect that the number is actually much higher. The pandemic brings high mortality rates and government-instilled quarantines have led to businesses temporarily closing or shutting down completely. The COVID-19 pandemic strains healthcare in Papua New Guinea. As a result, women’s health has not taken priority.

World Vision

To combat the gender inequality in healthcare, groups such as World Vision have projects dedicated to specifically aiding women in Papua New Guinea. World Vision’s project, the Papua New Guinea Health and Nutrition Project, focuses on the health of mothers and children. Since its establishment, the project has helped 28,628 people by providing essential medicines and treatments, including HIV treatment.

Additionally, the program trained 200 people and stationed them as community health workers and birth assistants. One of the project’s biggest objectives was providing access to healthcare centers for pregnant and lactating women. This kind of aid will ensure lower maternal mortality rates as prenatal conditions can be diagnosed and treated more easily if mothers regularly access healthcare services.

UN Women

U.N. Women has made it a goal to bring more awareness to societal gender issues, creating awareness programs that encourage female leadership roles in society and politics. U.N. Women encourages the involvement of women in governmental decisions to address discrimination against women and the resulting impact on women’s health. U.N. Women believes that female-led organizations encourage women to better their communities. The impact and efforts of individuals can be used as stepping stones to work toward more extensive healthcare access outside of the pandemic.

Looking Ahead

Organizations are trying to alleviate the negative impact of COVID-19 on healthcare. Furthermore, organizations are putting women’s health at the center of healthcare priorities. With the establishment of female-targeted health centers, women who either lost or struggled to access healthcare, including vaccinations, will receive the prioritized care necessary for their well-being. These organizations continue to push for changes to both mitigate the impacts of COVID-19 and ensure that women’s health in Papua New Guinea improves for the better.

Seren Dere
Photo: Flickr

USAID Programs in PakistanFor more than 60 years, the U.S. and Pakistan have shared a mutually beneficial relationship. Pakistan is the world’s fifth-most populous nation and one of the fastest-growing economies. Recent U.S. funding through USAID has targeted economic growth as well as peace and health in Pakistan. Two current areas of emphasis, education and gender empowerment, have seen recent success through USAID programs in Pakistan, serving as a powerful example of the potential impact of aid and investment in developing nations.

The Sindh Basic Education Program

USAID has worked closely with the Government of Pakistan to improve the nation’s overall access to schools and quality of education. The Sindh Basic Education Program (SBEP) targets the Sindh region of Pakistan. The region was affected by devastating floods in 2010 and is home to 47.9 million people.

Through USAID, the U.S. has invested $159.2 million in building schools to increase primary, middle and secondary school enrollment. The program will ultimately see the construction of 106 new schools in flood-affected areas as well as the consolidation of up to 280 existing schools. These newly merged schools will help streamline and revolutionize Pakistan’s education system.

The program aims to reduce the number of small, underfunded and understaffed schools in favor of more reliable teaching and an easier flow of resources. SBEP has the potential to increase enrollment while improving the reading skills of more than 400,000 Pakistani children. The program also looks to enhance overall child nutrition.

Reducing the Gender Gap and Increasing Budget

One of SBEP’s objectives is to shrink the gender gap in Pakistan’s education system. The program will designate 18 schools constructed under SBEP specifically for adolescent girls. These spaces will include computer and science lab resources. USAID partnered with Intel to train learners and educators in information and communications technology, specifically in these girls’ education facilities.

Another goal of SBEP is to, “provide technical assistance to the Education and Literacy Department of the Government of Sindh,” a process that has already started to positively influence Pakistan’s government. Sindh Provincial Education Minister Saeed Ghani announced a 13.5% budget increase for the Schools Education and Literacy Department for the fiscal year 2021-22. This denotes the nation’s heightened emphasis on providing access to high-quality education.

Prioritizing Gender Empowerment in Pakistan

USAID programs in Pakistan prioritize addressing gender inequality in the country. According to the Global Gender Gap Report 2020, Pakistan ranks third-last in the world in terms of gender equality due to high rates of gender-based violence and a general lack of both economic opportunity and sexual and reproductive health rights for women. The U.S. and Pakistan have identified gender empowerment as a necessary vehicle for national growth and development.

Aside from boosting girls’ access to education, USAID gender empowerment initiatives cover several areas of need, aiming to create a more inclusive and equitable society. Beginning in 2012, “USAID-supported interventions have helped nearly 11 million women and children receive quality maternal, child and reproductive healthcare services.” The organization also trained Pakistani women to administer quality “health services to women in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province through a mobile health unit program.”

Female Economic Empowerment

Programs also promote entrepreneurship and job creation, specifically for Pakistani women. USAID has impacted at least 50,000 female entrepreneurs with business development services, training and grants. By funding training and new technologies in agriculture, USAID helped create job opportunities for women.

USAID also assisted with placing female graduates in the male-dominated yet burgeoning Pakistani energy sector. Furthermore, USAID contributed to training close to “16,000 female political party representatives” to improve female representation in politics. USAID’s efforts focus on the development of women — a key step in diminishing the nation’s gender gap and lifting women out of poverty.

The Power of Partnership

Between reforming education by building and consolidating schools and empowering women through improved healthcare and career opportunities, USAID programs in Pakistan are fundamentally changing the lives of those most in need. The successes of USAID programs highlight the benefits of partnerships as the U.S. and Pakistan collaborate to reduce poverty and inequality.

Sam Dils
Photo: Flickr

women for bees programAngelina Jolie is widely considered one of the film industry’s most successful and famous stars. In 2020, she was the second-highest-paid Hollywood actress, earning more than $35 million for her work in films such as Marvel Studio’s “Eternals.” Additionally, Jolie’s humanitarian work has received a lot of attention, partnering with the U.N. Refugee Agency and launching the Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict Initiative. She built her reputation as an advocate for global human rights and women empowerment. Recently, the actress joined forces with UNESCO and French perfume company Guerlain to jumpstart the Women for Bees program.

Women for Bees Program

Beginning on June 21, 2021, the global “female beekeeping entrepreneurship” program will send 10 women each year “to a 30-day accelerated training course” in beekeeping at the Observatoire Français d’Apidologie’s (OFA) Domaine de la Sainte-Baume in Provence, France. After five years, the 50 total course participants will have gained a solid foundation of beekeeping skills.

Participants will also form a strong global network of fellow female beekeepers. Furthermore, participants will all be able to run their own professional apiaries, bringing in an income to sustain themselves for years to come. Jolie was appointed “godmother” of the Women for Bees program and will track the progress of the beekeepers. The collaboration between UNESCO, Guerlain and Jolie aims to promote biodiversity and support bees’ crucial role as pollinators while simultaneously empowering women in female entrepreneurship. According to UNESCO, the program “aims to enable women’s social emancipation through an expertise-driven sustainable professional activity.”

As the female participants progress through the Women for Bees program, they will be able to gain critical skills for long-term economic enhancement for both themselves and their larger communities. The initiative will involve UNESCO’s biosphere reserves located in areas such as Bulgaria, Cambodia, China, Ethiopia, France, Italy, Russia, Rwanda and Slovenia. About 2,500 hives are set to be built within 25 UNESCO biosphere reserves in the next four years.

World Bee Day

On World Bee Day, Jolie generated buzz for the Women for Bees program by partaking in a National Geographic photoshoot with bees roaming her face. Dan Winters took the portraits as a photographer and amateur beekeeper himself. The photos aim to raise awareness of the importance of bees and the ability of the beekeeping industry to contribute to economic growth. During her interview with National Geographic, Jolie spoke about the connection between saving bees and supporting women’s entrepreneurship. Jolie explains that pollinating insects are “an indispensable pillar of our food supply.” Therefore, bees contribute to global food security. The Women for Bees program protects bees while “empowering women in their livelihoods.”

Jolie’s collaboration with the Women for Bees program is a strong example of a celebrity utilizing their social influence to promote social good. Her efforts with the Women for Bees program are sure to help the environment, global food security and the livelihoods of the many women involved.

– Nina Lehr
Photo: Unsplash

Women's International Work
U.N. Women, an entity of the United Nations, strives to improve gender equality and the empowerment of women around the world. Specifically, U.N. Women’s international work involves collaboration with governments and societies to create real change. The organization creates change by working to reform, implement and secure policies, programs, resources and legislation to ensure the rights of women and girls are upheld globally.

UN Women’s International Work

U.N. Women not only works on gender equality in the world but also inside its organization. For example, U.N. Women employs more than 3,000 people of 150 different nationalities in 90 geographical locations, working together on global challenges and initiatives. About 74% of employees are female and employees are supported by staff resource groups such as the Youth Council and the LGBTQI Network. U.N. Women believes that diversity and inclusion create the best workforce and a safe space. This allows room for respect, professionalism and integrity.

U.N. Women began its work in January 2011. The entity brings together four United Nations offices prioritizing gender equality. This includes The U.N. Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), the Office of the Special Adviser on Gender Issues, the Division for the Advancement of Women (DAW) and the U.N. International Research and Training Institute for the Advancement of Women (UN-INSTRAW). U.N. Women supports the development of gender equality policies and provides technical and monetary support to help countries with their gender equality goals. The entity holds the United Nations as a whole “accountable for its own commitments on gender equality” through ongoing monitoring and assessment.

Issues Impacting Women

U.N. Women’s gender equality work contributed to landmark agreements such as the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) and the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action. The organization emphasizes that gender inequality is a problem in every society due to its deeply rooted history. Globally, women do not always receive equal opportunities to men.

Gender wage gaps still exist and women frequently experience discrimination when attempting to garner employment and while working in the workplace. Women lack access to basic necessities such as essential healthcare and education. Women also severely lack representation in politics and economics even though they are significantly impacted by these decisions. However, U.N. Women works to give women and girls a voice at all levels on issues that affect them. In the greater scheme of global poverty, women are disproportionately affected by poverty.

Carol Cassidy

Carol Cassidy is a human rights journalist who has worked on and off with U.N. Women for seven years. In an interview with The Borgen Project, Cassidy explains that that U.N. Women’s focus is international. Cassidy states, “U.N. Women’s major focus is combating violence against women worldwide. Violence takes many forms, from selective abortion, lack of education for women and girls, lack of opportunities for women outside of housework” and more. Cassidy says further that the organization is interested in initiatives that address poverty and violence.

The organization’s main mission is not to overtake projects or programs women have created, but to provide funding and support to allow the programs to flourish. U.N. Women looks to enhance accountability and involve women in general decision-making and conversations within their communities. U.N. Women has worked with countries all around the world, from South Africa to Ukraine. Cassidy was drawn to the organization because she shares similar goals, morals and ethics.

Empowering Women Globally

Cassidy’s past work with U.N. Women includes supporting women’s economic rights in post-conflict zones such as Gaza, Uganda and Sri Lanka. Cassidy recalls a specific example of supporting women. In Gaza, unemployment rates skyrocketed during the war and women came together to build and run a bakery. Women were able to bake goods to sustain families in the community. U.N. Women supported these women by providing funding.

U.N. Women strives to create a world where women have the same opportunities and protections as men. U.N. Women’s international work has helped bridge gender barriers to close the gender inequality gap around the world.

– Lauren Peacock
Photo: Flickr

solar-powered tricycleZimbabwe is one of the most impoverished countries in the world. After years under the dictatorship of Robert Mugabe, and with the added impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of Zimbabweans living in extreme poverty peaked at 7.9 million in 2020, equating to almost 49% of the population. In the rural Zimbabwean district of Wedza, a solar-powered tricycle scheme is helping women improve their living standards. The scheme was started in 2019 by a Zimbabwean startup called Mobility for Africa to promote community-based transport solutions for rural communities. Mobility for Africa leases solar-powered tricycles to groups of Zimbabwean women.

A Tricycle Scheme for Women

The groups of women consist of up to five members and pay $15 a month as a group to lease a solar-powered tricycle. The solar-powered tricycle called “Hamba” rotates from one group member to another. To change the battery of the tricycle, which functions on solar power, costs up to $1. The tricycle transport solution allows women to sell their farm produce at markets a distance from their homes. It also allows them to offer transport service to locals and carry out domestic duties with more ease. According to one of the coordinators of the solar-powered tricycle scheme, women have even been able to increase their incomes because they are now able to engage in income-producing activities like baking and tailoring.

According to U.N. Women, females engage in “at least two and a half times more unpaid household and care work than men.” As a consequence, women have less time to engage in paid work that would bring in an income and help women rise out of poverty. Mobility for Africa’s solar-powered tricycle scheme recognizes that giving Zimbabwean women access to affordable transport solutions can empower women and help reduce poverty as it gives women an opportunity to increase household income.

Community Model and COVID-19

By using a community model, Mobility for Africa provides a clean energy transport solution to women facing poverty in Africa. The community model of the solar-powered tricycle scheme has enabled women with farms in rural Zimbabwe to increase their income by selling produce in markets that were previously too far to reach. The solar-powered tricycles have also made household chores less time-consuming. For example, women no longer have to walk long distances carrying heavy firewood back home.

The community model pursued by Mobility for Africa has helped people in the Wedza district during the COVID-19 pandemic. A nationwide decrease in household income is one of the most significant economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The solar-powered tricycle scheme has allowed women in the Wedza district to contribute to increasing household income during the pandemic. The scheme has also been important in ensuring rural communities receive essential health services. The tricycles are often used to transport people to health clinics and collect medicines for patients.

Increasing women’s access to paid labor goes hand-in-hand with reducing global poverty. Women, especially in developing countries, are more vulnerable to poverty. Empowering women means recognizing the fact that women play a significant role in reducing global poverty. Mobility for Africa’s Hamba scheme is one example of how private companies can contribute to the fight against global poverty.

Frank Odhiambo
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

GirlsGoIT Promotes Teaching Girls about Tech
GirlsGoIT is an organization based in Moldova that encourages girls and young women to explore IT careers. Particularly reaching out to girls with disabilities or from rural areas, the organization helps introduce girls to tech fields through workshops, summer camps and large community events. Through the work of the organization, GirlsGoIT promotes teaching girls about tech and helping them see that there is a place for them in the tech industry. The tech industry needs girls’ voices, creativity and ideas to continue to thrive and grow. 

How GirlsGoIT Promotes Teaching Girls About Tech: Work and Events

A major event in the Girls GoIT program is the summer camps the organization holds, where the organization invites girls aged 16 to 20 from all over the country to spend time learning the basics of IT work, how to use different computer programs and how to create their own software. The camps also give young women a fuller scope of tech work by inviting professionals to work with the girls. These include web designers, copywriters and social media analysts. Working with the professionals gives the girls a chance to conceptualize different careers and think of the different possible career paths in the world of tech IT.

The hope with the camps is that the girls will continue to research and practice for a career in tech. The girls will build connections with professionals and peers and will pass on their knowledge to other young people in their communities. In fact, many of the girls become GirlsGoIt ambassadors, where they establish and run local computer clubs in their communities. 

Throughout the year, however, GirlsGoIT continues to have programs to help introduce more girls to the world of tech. The organization often has workshops in the spring and summer and has expanded its work to include creating and programming robotics and learning how to 3D print and model. GirlsGoIT also has many live discussions for adults in which it advises parents, educators and other professionals about encouraging more young women to involve themselves with IT. It often holds informative lectures about what people can do to help create a more inclusive tech workforce.

Work During the Pandemic

With COVID-19 preventing many in-person events, many GirlsGoIT annual events had to reform and take on a new shape. But even with these setbacks, GirlsGoIt was still able to hold successful events and create new opportunities for the participants of its program.

Even before the pandemic, the team at GirlsGoIt was looking for ways to combine in-person education with the digital sphere. So, the organization embraced this and moved its typical seasonal workshops online in 2020. In the autumn workshop in October 2020, around 155 participants joined. For the spring workshop, which was from the end of March to early April 2021, more than 922 people applied. This represents the largest number of applicants the workshop has had. 

GirlsGoIT Collaborations and Campaigns 

In 2020, GirlsGoIT partnered with different organizations to host new events and give participants of its programs new opportunities. One of the organizations was Crunchyroll Moldova. Both organizations host a discussion event about STEM education’s importance in our new generation. In addition, Crunchyroll also offers internships to participants of GirlsGoIt. The internship provides experience and helps the girls continue in their careers with a letter of recommendation and a diploma.

In 2021, GirlsGoIT released a new campaign titled “It’s Not Just About the Code!” The campaign intends to show that people with different interests and fields ranging from tech-based to artistic careers can involve themselves in GirlsGoIT. A variety of professions and fields use IT skills. It also emphasizes that learning how to code is just the first step in working in IT. Other skills include being able to communicate efficiently, creating a good product and considering the customer’s needs that are necessary to succeed in the tech field. GirlsGoIT emphasizes that the program is about teaching all the skills young women would need to be successful in the industry.

Impact and Importance

Predictions have determined that soon, 90% of all jobs will require some form of ICT skills. However, as of 2018, women held only 25% of all tech jobs. Upon further examination, only 19% of entry-level or mid-level tech jobs contain women. Women had 16% of senior-level jobs and filled only 10% of executive positions in the tech industry.

The low women-held tech positions directly tie into young women choosing to study IT or STEM-related fields in the teenage as young adult years. Many young women reported avoiding the subjects because they believed they were not good at IT subjects. The women did not think that the subjects were interesting or did not believe they wanted a tech career.

The fewer women in the tech industry, the more it feels to people that women do not belong in this field. GirlsGoIT’s work is important because of how the organization teaches girls to code, create software and build robotics. The organization is also important because it shows young women and their communities that women belong in the world of tech and that the world needs their voices and ideas.

In Conclusion

Many of the young women who participated in GirlsGoIt and became ambassadors for the program did not know they wanted a career in tech before they joined. Some of the women even said they were sure they were not good at STEM subjects before participating. The program also helped win over many parents. Seeing their daughters participate in the programs helped people realize the importance of increasing the number of women in the tech industry. The women started to encourage other parents that they knew to support their children in STEM and IT subjects. GirlsGoIt promotes teaching girls about tech and is taking an important step to help make the tech industry a more equal and fair workspace.

– Mikayla Burton
Photo: Flickr

The Sports Bra Project In many countries, sports bras are often overlooked as a basic necessity and are deemed a luxury. Sports bras are either hard to come by or oftentimes put at the end of the list when it comes to expenses. Due to the inaccessibility and high expense of sports bras, Sarah Dwyer-Shick created the Sports Bra Project. The Sports Bra Project recognizes that a lack of sports bras presents a barrier to female participation in sports, limiting opportunities for inclusion. With more women engaged in sports, more women are empowered and open to possible athletic careers that present a pathway out of poverty.

What is the Sports Bra Project?

Dwyer-Shick founded the Sports Bra Project in 2018 when she discovered the need for sports bras in Namibia, Africa. Originally, she brought a few sports bras to local women participating in youth soccer. She then discovered that even players on the Namibian National Women’s Soccer Team did not have access to sports bras. Dwyer-Shick realized the greater need for sports bras all around Africa, not just Namibia. From this revelation, the nonprofit was born.

The Sports Bra Project provides sports bras to people in 26 different countries. The organization collects sports bras and distributes them to partner organizations, many of which are located in Africa. Through these efforts, the project helps female athletes overcome one of the main barriers to participation in sports — proper attire. Without the needed clothing, many people are hesitant to join in sports. For those who do join, improper athletic clothing hinders their performance and can even lead to pain or injuries.

The Sports Bra Project has already collected more than 4,500 sports bras for athletes in need. Even ordinary individuals can contribute to the cause by donating sports bras and setting up collection campaigns. More than 50 soccer teams in the United States have held sports bra drives to collect sports bras for those in need all over the world. The nonprofit also allows handwritten notes to be attached to the bras to make donations more personal.

How Sports Bras Help Poverty

The Sports Bra Project was set up because something as simple as an article of clothing can provide countless opportunities to young girls and women around the world. Although sports bras seem like an added expense, sports bras can decrease poverty.

Sports bras address the gap between males and females in sports, which has a catalyst effect. Sports activities keep children off the streets, provide a possible career path and provide a healing outlet for those who have experienced trauma. Regardless of the reasoning behind participation, sports foster important traits that ensure a brighter future for participants. “Teamwork, leadership and confidence” are among these traits.

Sports bras decrease poverty by reducing the gender gap in sports while uplifting and empowering females with valuable skills that go beyond the sports arena. Proper clothing encourages women to participate in sports and empowers women to step into arenas typically dominated by males. By reducing the gender gap and supporting females to develop careers in sports, women are empowered to rise out of poverty.

– Maddie Rhodes
Photo: Flickr

sustainable brands fighting povertyThere are many sustainable fashion brands fighting poverty. In many countries, jewelry making is not only a tradition but also a way to make a living. Many poverty-stricken countries rely on fashion production to keep their economy going. Because of this, brands that provide their garment workers a fair living wage and safe working conditions help alleviate poverty in low-income areas. Sustainability lifts workers out of cycles of poverty by making long-lasting products from sustainable materials. The following brands produce fair trade products and are finding alternative ways to continue fighting global poverty.

ARMEDANGELS

ARMEDANGELS is a fair fashion brand that prioritizes producing contemporary and modern collections with fairly produced, eco-friendly and high-quality products. The company ensures high standards and fair working conditions by working with PETA, the Fair Wear Foundation and the Fairtrade Organization. Since 2011, the brand has been Global Organic Textile Certified (GOTS) and only works with regenerative and sustainable materials, which include organic linen, organic wool, recycled cotton, organic cotton and more.

In April 2018, the company founded ARMEDANGELS Organic Farmers Association to help small farmers transition from conventional cotton to organic cotton. The brand also strives in pushing for social change by engaging in political and environmental activism. Within its Greener Deal, donations were provided to organizations actively involved in climate protection in Europe and Germany. ARMEDANGELS also achieved climate neutrality and its CO2 emissions are two-thirds lower in intensity than classic fashion companies.

SOKO

SOKO is a certified women-led B-corp ethical jewelry brand that employs Kenyan artisans who produce collections for conscious consumers. This company believes that economic sovereignty and financial inclusion provide lasting impacts and actively works to reduce poverty and inequality. The brand works toward this goal with its virtual manufacturing platform. The platform connects 2,300 independent artisans with a global marketplace through mobile technology. The SOKO platform allows artists to receive orders and payments to hand-make products from upcycled and ethically sourced materials. Because of this network, workers can improve and preserve their cultural techniques at scale. They can also earn five times more than those employed in an average artisan workplace.

SOKO employees only work 50% or less of their total capacity. This helps them to avoid sole reliance on this particular sustainable fashion brand, to guarantee their freedom and to encourage sustainable, long-term economic sovereignty. Because of policies like this, the United Nations, USAID and the World Bank have endorsed SOKO for its social impact.

Nudie Jeans

Nudie Jeans is a Swedish denim brand founded in 2001 that produces 100% organic cotton denim collections for more than 50 countries. The company prioritizes environmental and social sustainability through its free repair services, resale of secondhand trade-in jeans and by paying its garment workers a living wage. Since 2016, Nudie Jeans’ stakeholders have verified that 3,400 workers have been provided additional payments to ensure a living wage. These payments expanded in 2019 to include workers employed in the spinning mills, knitting and processing units. This has the effect of creating a fair trade system throughout its supply chain.

Akola

Akola is a jewelry brand that uplifts Ugandan women by providing empowering job opportunities in Jinja, Uganda. Akola employs nearly 200 Ugandan women. By handcrafting each piece, female workers break free from poverty through fair-paying jobs that help them achieve economic independence. Because of this policy, positive economic impacts reverberate through families and communities.

The women are also provided with a holistic curriculum of programs. The brand offers training programs on leadership, financial literacy and skills to become self-reliant. This brand uses cultural techniques and local and sustainable materials such as upcycled palm leaves, cow horns and agave plants. The impact of Akola is shown by the fact that 66% of Akola-employed women own land or a home, almost 80% of Akola children are enrolled in school and almost 30% of Akola women are in community leadership positions.

These sustainable fashion brands fighting poverty help create solutions in the fashion industry. Supporting fair fashion can help garment workers escape the cycle of poverty.

Giselle Magana
Photo: Flickr

Kosovo women in politics
Kosovo women hold more power in politics than ever before, including the highest office. Vjosa Osmani became the acting president of Kosovo after the arrest of the previous leader for war crimes in November 2020. For Kosovo women in politics, suppression from the 1990s Serbian rule still affects their representation in democratic offices since Serbia refuses to recognize Kosovo’s 2008 declaration of independence. However, 44 of 120 new Parliament members the country elected in February 2021 were women, marking the highest number of women that the body has ever elected.

5 Ways That Kosovo Women are Gaining Representation in Politics

  1. Parliament Quota – After the Kosovo War with Serbia ended in 1999, Kosovo’s police force expanded to include the recruitment of female officers. One of these officers, Atifete Jahjaga, became Kosovo’s first female president in 2011. In 2004, Kosovo’s Law on Gender Equality declared equal opportunity for male and female participation in politics. In 2008, the Law on General Elections introduced a gender quota requiring a representation of at least 30% of either gender in elections. During the 2021 February election, women won more seats in Parliament than any previous year. About 40% of seats in Parliament are now for Kosovo women.
  2. National Democratic Institute’s Week of Women – In Kosovo, there is an annual workshop called The Week of Women. This campaign brings about 100 Kosovo women together to discuss various topics in politics. In 2018, Kosovo held its first six-month intensive program called Women’s Leadership Academy (WLA). The academy focuses on building skills for Kosovo women in politics and one can still access it online. The National Democratic Institute coaches women with various political representations, organizations and research findings. On September 15, 2018, participants shared their results with the Women’s Caucus in the Kosovo Assembly to celebrate the International Day of Democracy.
  3. Kosovo Women’s Network – The Kosovo Women’s Network (KWN) strives to improve women’s participation in politics. Six programs partner with 158 membered organizations. The programs include strengthening measures, decision-making, health care, gender, empowerment and education.
  4. “Marching, not Celebrating” Protest – In March 2020, Acting President Vjosa Osmani and Prime Minister-designate Albin Kurti attended protests for women. The rally had the title of “Marching, not Celebrating” and protested rampant domestic violence and a patriarchal society. Osmani is the second female president since the Serbian war, a substantial example of increasing opportunity for Kosovo women in politics.
  5. Girls Lead Act – The Girls Lead Act is a U.S. bill that received introduction in 2019. It directs the Department of State and the U.S. Agency for International Development to report to Congress the best solutions to help girls in democratic governance. If passed, this act will prioritize foreign aid in these areas as well, and can significantly aid Kosovo women. Currently, the bill receives support online.

An Optimistic Future

Kosovo women in politics are steadily increasing their solidification of power within the democracy. Kosovo’s independence is growing, though Russia and China’s support of Serbia only recognize Kosovo as a partially independent country. But, the United States and reputable European countries wholeheartedly recognize Kosovo’s independence, providing hope to not just women but also Kosovo’s people in general.

– Libby Keefe
Photo: Flickr