What is Advocacy
What is advocacy? Merriam-Webster defines an advocate as someone who “argues for or supports a cause or policy.” Other definitions paint advocates as defenders, either of a cause or of a person. Lastly, an advocate can also be defined as a promoter of another’s interests.


What is Advocacy in Terms of Global Poverty?


With almost 10 percent of the world’s population living on less that $2 a day, ignoring the global poor is like ignoring someone who is injured and cannot get to their feet.

In the case of the global poor, an advocate is one who supports, defends and promotes the human rights of those suffering in extreme poverty. A person is an advocate when they support policies that aid struggling populations stricken with hunger, disease and a lack of access to education or sanitation.

Eradicating global poverty can seem like a daunting task. Who is equipped to change the world in such a way? Notice that the definition does not say an advocate is an implicit solution to the problem. On the contrary, an advocate is someone who works to find a solution and appeals to the powers that can make a difference.

Today, being an advocate for the global poor does not require immense effort. In fact, it is as easy as sending a few emails and making a few phone calls. By contacting our representatives in Congress and showing our support for foreign aid, we can act as intermediaries for the millions who do not have the means to do so themselves.

Advocacy is more powerful in groups. By spreading awareness of the global poor and demonstrating how easy it is to support their cause, we can multiply our impact. With enough people promoting the same interests, leaders will take notice. If we do not have the power to eradicate poverty on our own, the governments of the world certainly do.

The actions of advocates have had a profound effect. Since 2011, a projected 200 million people are no longer in extreme poverty. Nevertheless, there are still millions more that are crying for help with the hope that someone will take notice and champion their cause.

Emiliano Perez

Photo: Flickr

Half the sky

Reading a book like Half the Sky illuminates how unfair our world is. Though women make up about half of the world’s population, they are consistently discriminated against, overlooked and are in some cases, treated as second class citizens.

It is not surprising that the authors of Half the Sky, Nicholas D. Kristof and Sheryl WuDonn, are award winning writers for their work in raising awareness about the reality most women face in their countries in relation to discrimination.

Written as a series of essays, this book has two parts. The first part of the essay highlights the oppression and discrimination against women especially in developing countries and how this problem is often overlooked due to corruption, lack of strong justice systems and the patriarchal state of these nations.

The second part focuses on practical ways to create this “movement and effect the change needed” to address these situations.

From the beginning to the end of this enlightening book, it is obvious that the writers are very knowledgeable on their topic of discussion and their work shows extensive research in different areas of discrimination within different locations in developing countries.

From discussing issues such as women being promised work and ending up in sexual slavery and imprisonment, to illuminating health issues within developing countries such as women and girls ending up with fistulas after birth, women dying from HIV and AIDS, women and girls going through female genital mutilation as well as being overlooked in terms of getting an education, this book paints a sad reality of women’s lives in the developing world.

The most fascinating point that arises in the book is the fact that culture is the main catalyst for the way women are treated in their societies. In our dynamic world, culture in the developing countries seems unchangeable, especially in relation to its negative aspects. Another surprising fact in the book is the idea that older women in some of these societies are perpetrators of discrimination towards other younger women in the society.

Here, this is quite a deviation from what the “West” has portrayed in development; the idea that men are the main perpetrators of women’s oppression.

Half the Sky not only raises awareness about the injustices women faces but it also advocates for women to fight for their rights by speaking up and resisting the discrimination they face. Though the book points out a few strong and relentless women like Usha Narayane, Sunitha and Krishna who do exactly this and fight for justice, it highlights that most women in the developing world are vulnerable and are unable to get access to their rights.

Half the Sky is the voice of the vulnerable, uneducated and oppressed women in the developing world.

Vanessa Awanyo

Photo: Google Images

Global Food Security Act

In February 2016, there were five new co-sponsors of the Global Food Security Act of 2016. Currently, this legislation has 120 cosponsors in the House of Representatives made up of 80 Democrats and 40 Republicans. In the Senate, there are 10 cosponsors, five Republicans and five Democrats.

The new cosponsors of the Global Food Security Act of 2016 are Representatives Curtis “Curt” Clawson, Norma Torres, Frank LoBiondo, Charles “Charlie” Rangel and John Kline.

Rep. Curtis “Curt” Clawson, (R-F.L.) and Rep. Norma Torres (D-C.A.), cosponsored this legislation on Feb. 1, 2016.

Rep. Frank LoBiondo, (R-N.J.) and Rep. Charles “Charlie” Rangel (D-N.Y.), co-sponsored the Global Food Security Act of 2015 on Feb. 23, 2016. Rep. Rangel was mentioned as one of the original cosponsors of an earlier version of this bill, Global Food and Security Act of 2013 (H.R. 2822), in a press release from Rep. Betty McCollum (D-M.N). The earlier version of this legislation died in a previous Congress.

Rep. John Kline (R-M.N.), who signed on as a cosponsor at the end of the month, wrote an op-ed for the Kenyon Leader stating he will continue to work with colleagues on both sides of the aisle until his retirement at the end of the year.

The Global Food Security Act of 2015 (H.R. 1567 / S. 1252) is a bipartisan bill designed to help developing countries reduce global poverty and hunger, especially for women and children. According to the legislation’s text, it’s purpose is to achieve sustainable agricultural-led economic growth and to build resilience among vulnerable populations.

These goals would be accomplished by requiring the President to create a global food security strategy to fight global hunger, improve coordination with all relevant federal departments and agencies and establish meaningful monitoring and evaluation systems to track performance.

In addition, the bill also aims to improve coordination with outside organizations, such as U.S. universities, faith-based organizations, the private sector and host countries.

This legislation builds on the success of the Feed the Future initiative by continuing crucial investments in poor, rural farmers. Since its inception in 2009, Feed the Future has worked to increase agricultural productivity and generate opportunities for economic growth in developing countries.

The initiative also helps to boost harvests and incomes of small rural farmers, improve agricultural research and development and increase resilience to prevent recurrent crises so that communities can rebound as quickly as possible.

Summer Jackson

Sources: Bread for the World, CongressFeed the Future, GovtrackGovtrack, Congresswoman McCollumThe Kenyon Leader, Representative Torres
Photo: Wikipedia

Hillary Clinton Global PovertySince her time as First Lady of the United States, Hillary Clinton has been an advocate for American involvement in fighting global poverty. Particularly, her efforts have focused on the rights of marginalized groups and on building lasting development through targeted aid programs and community-led initiatives.

Clinton strongly believes in a “smart power” approach to development and diplomacy, supporting government and non-profit involvement. Lasting and sustainable development, she holds, has the power to transform lives and, by extension, improve stability and prosperity in the U.S.

In a 2010 op-ed for Foreign Affairs Magazine, she wrote, “[Positive development] can strengthen fragile or failing states, support the rise of capable partners that can help solve regional and global problems, and advance democracy and human rights.”

In 2014, Clinton announced her support for a USAID campaign that aims to harness science and technology to end extreme global poverty by 2030. The U.S. Global Development Lab involves 32 partners from private industry, universities, philanthropies and non-governmental organizations. They are working together to develop innovative solutions to a variety of global poverty issues including health, food security and nutrition, education and climate change. The Development Lab, which started in 2011 during Clinton’s term as Secretary of State, aims to reach at least 200 million people by 2019.

In July 2009, Secretary Clinton launched the first Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review (QDDR), a general review of the State Department and USAID to “recommend how to better equip, fund, train, and organize ourselves to meet current diplomatic and development priorities.”

During her term as Secretary of State, the United States invested in strengthening global structures such as the G-20 and regional institutions such as the Organization of American States and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations to increase cooperation at the government level.

Her goal in supporting the U.S. Global Health Initiative was “to put an end to isolated and sporadic care by tying individual health programs together to create an integrated, targeted system of care.” An added bonus of this coordination approach was that it shifted leadership to the affected countries themselves, encouraging self-sufficiency and grassroots idea development.

Clinton’s global development advocacy has also focused on promoting human rights, particularly focusing on women and members of the LGBTQ community, whose marginalized statuses have led to continued economic and social disenfranchisement.

In her 1995 speech at the U.N.’s Fourth World Conference on Women, Clinton focused on women’s economic and political mobility as the key to creating flourishing communities and nations abroad. In her speech, she argued, “Every woman, every man, every child, every family and every nation on this planet has a stake in what is being discussed here today.”

As Secretary of State, Hillary made women’s rights a cornerstone of U.S. foreign policy. She created the position of Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues and helped create the first U.S. strategy on women, peace and security.

Additionally, Clinton has urged foreign governments to support policies that establish LGBTQ rights. In 2011, her advocacy helped successfully launch the first-ever U.N. Human Rights Council Resolution on LGBT Persons.

Hillary Clinton continues to support global policy initiatives through her involvement in The Clinton Foundation, which assembles businesses, governments, NGOs and individuals to improve global health, increase the opportunity for girls and women, reduce childhood obesity, create economic opportunity and help communities address the effects of climate change.

Many Clinton Foundation initiatives focus on supporting small businesses in target countries and educating citizens on improving their practices, such as providing agricultural programs for farmers in Tanzania.

As the 2016 presidential election closes in, Hillary Clinton hopes to highlight her extensive foreign policy experience and her commitment to global development to prove her ability as the most qualified presidential candidate. On her campaign website, Clinton maintains that a key pillar of her foreign policy will be to uphold America’s humanitarian ideals: “America is defined by our diversity and our openness, our devotion to human rights and democracy, and our belief that we can always do more…”

Taylor Resteghini

Sources: The Clinton Foundation, Foreign Affairs Magazine, Hillary Clinton Campaign, The Huffington Post, Human Rights Campaign
Photo: Mashable

what-is-a-true-heroBelieve it or not, reducing global poverty can take less than 20 minutes. Any individual can learn how to fight global poverty by contacting his or her congressional leaders to change the way that foreign policy is currently addressed.

Each state contains two senators and a population-based number of representatives. Simply check out websites such as Congress Merge or The Borgen Project to find the names of congressional leaders in each district.

The first and easiest way to reach your congressional leaders is by phone and email. Senators and Representatives act as the congressional voice of the people in their districts, which means their actions reflect the desires of the citizens.

Calling and emailing congressional leaders about specific issues helps them to better serve the public. Offices record each call or email regarding issues, and then pass the data on to the congressional leader.

Weekly calls and emails significantly increase a bill’s chances of gaining congressional support. A call takes about 30 seconds and an email takes just a few minutes.

You may also wish to take your advocacy a step further by meeting with your congressional leaders in person. Meeting face-to-face with a member of Congress can be intimidating. Not surprisingly, congressional leaders have packed schedules and may be busy, but the task is not impossible.

Most congressional leaders specify their preferred method of contact on their websites. Maintain vigilance with calls, emails or faxes until the Congressional leader agrees to a meeting.

Before meeting with a member of Congress, research him or her. Learn his or her interests, which committees he or she belongs to and his or her stance on previous bills. Form an idea of where the member stands with the bill you are lobbying.

Finally, word of mouth is an excellent technique to raise awareness. Teach your friends, classmates, family members or coworkers how to call and email congress to bring poverty reduction bills to the forefront of congressional leaders’ agendas.

The Borgen Project is currently building support for the following bills:

The Electrify Africa Act: Only 5 percent of sub-Saharan Africans have access to electricity. That means roughly 1.3 billion people still resort to open cook fires for food, warmth and light. The Electrify Africa Act will “encourage African countries to provide first-time access to electricity and power services for at least 50,000,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa by 2020.”

The Food for Peace Reform Act: This act consists of amending the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 and reforming the Food for Peace Program to increase funding and more efficiently transport food to disaster-stricken areas.

The Global Food Security Act: One in nine people goes hungry every day. Children make up the majority of this statistic. The Global Food Security Act will “reduce global poverty and hunger, achieve food and nutrition security, promote inclusive, sustainable, agricultural-led economic growth, improve nutritional outcomes, especially for women and children, [and] build resilience among vulnerable populations.”

The Reach Every Mother and Child Act: Hundreds of mothers, infants and toddlers die each day from pregnancy complications and other preventable causes. The Reach Every Mother and Child Act is designed to “implement policies to end preventable maternal, newborn, and child deaths globally” by designing more effective programs in high-risk areas and funding innovative tools and research.

Sarah Prellwitz

Sources: Borgen Project 1, Borgen Project 2, Think Progress, Borgen Project 3, Borgen Project 4, Congress, Congress Merge, PreservationNation
Photo: Pinterest

World Hunger Action Month
Established five years ago, World Hunger Action Month has been an international holiday aimed at raising awareness and inspiring people to donate to one of the several causes on World Food Day.

This holiday takes places throughout the month of October with World Food Day occurring on Oct. 16, 2015; in the spirit of this holiday, the list below describes several prominent organizations for those who are inclined to donate:

  1. World Food Programme – The World Food Programme was created in 1961 as part of the UN in order to aid countries susceptible to malnutrition. Its mission is to create a world where one has access to his or her daily needs at all times. Operating with sister agencies in Rome, the UN and with NGO partners, the WFP routinely affects more than 80 million in 75 countries with food assistance.
  2. UNICEF – Originally founded in 1946 to aid post-war countries, by 1954 its mandate adopted the needs of children who also lived in the developing world. Today, working in roughly 190 countries, UNICEF provides nutrition, safe water, sanitation and immunization to the world’s extreme poor; approximately 90 percent of revenue goes straight to the programs it supports.
  3. Stop Hunger Now – Stop Hunger Now is a relatively new foundation that began in 1998; despite this, the organization has since become a major influence by providing more than 180 meals to recipients in 65 countries.
  4. Action Against Hunger – This is a highly rated organization. The effects of this charity can be seen in more than 45 countries, and it aids around 13 million people annually. Reportedly, for every dollar, 93 cents are invested in relief programs.
  5. Freedom from Hunger – Freedom from Hunger is a longstanding organization focusing its efforts strictly where poverty and hunger are paramount issues. Today this organization reaches 24 countries across the world.
  6. Save the Children – Beginning in 1919, Save the Children was founded by Eglanyne Jebb to assist war-torn Europe. After the Second World War, its revitalization then spread from continent to continent, ceaselessly expanding even through today with the undertaking of the Millennium Development goals.
  7. FHI – Food for the Hunger International Federation began in 1971 founded by Dr. Larry Ward; it was not registered as an international NGO until 1987 in Geneva.The FHI provides various services depending on the need of the locals, yet focuses on health (including nutrition), sanitary water and agriculture.
  8. Hunger Project – The Hunger Project is an innovative organization that attempts to empower men and women in rural regions to become self-reliant and sustain their own development.Its work has reached 24,000 communities, affecting roughly 20.6 million individuals.
  9. Bread for the World – This organization produces change by advocacy. Bread for the World was founded in 1974 and reaches out to elected officials through letters in order to produce responses among the congressional leadership.
  10. Heifer International – Established in 1944, this organization provides livestock and training to those in poverty in order to break the cyclic struggle to access food.

Emilio Rivera

Sources: WFP, UNICEF, Stop Hunger Now, Action Against Hunger, Freedom from Hunger, Save the Children, FHIF, THP, Bread, Heifer International
Photo: Flickr

Celebs Speak Up for Refugees
The migrant crisis appears to escalate more and more each day: more stories of migrants crossing borders, fleeing war-torn, violent fragments of communities on foot and by boat. As governments, particularly in the E.U., struggle to determine how to handle the situation, many celebrities are advocating for governments to treat the refugees with due compassion and kindness.

JK Rowling is promoting a petition in the U.K. that advocates for the acceptance of asylum seekers. She tweets, “If you can’t imagine yourself in one of those boats, you have something missing. They are dying for a life worth living. #refugeeswelcome.”

She also is criticizing the press for not giving the issue enough attention and coverage. Rowling is a known philanthropist and also spent some time as a researcher with Amnesty International. Samantha Morton, who is starring in Harry Potter spinoff “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them,” also advocated for the U.K. to reconsider its position on refugees.

Author John Green declared a commitment to matching up to 20,000 pounds toward fellow author John Ness’s donation page for organization Save the Children. Green is famous for Paper Towns and Looking for Alaska; he also carries a strong Twitter and YouTube presence.

Actresses Olivia Wilde and Sophia Bush criticized GOP nominee Donald Trump’s attitude toward immigrants while praising Iceland’s recent commitment to taking in refugees.

The Icelandic government is reviewing a recent Facebook appeal from citizens to increase the number of refugees permitted asylum in 2015 and 2016. Sophia Bush tweeted, “Wow. While we try to throw people out and build a wall, others are opening their homes to refugees. True humanity.” This was later re-tweeted by Olivia Wilde.

For those who are not celebrities, social media is serving as an equally powerful means for advocacy. The outcry following the publication of the drowned Syrian boy shows the power of social media to fight for human rights and support refugees.

Furthermore, advocacy organization Sum of Us created a catch-all page compiling relevant links for donation pages, fundraising opportunities and event listings. Through petitions, advocacy and pledges for support, hopefully refugees can receive the care and support needed to gain stability after such a long time in crises.

Priscilla McCelvey

Sources: Global Post, JK Rowling, Sum Of Us, TIME
Photo: Google Images

Trending hashtags can sometimes be confusing and pointless. Usually, hashtags accompany a picture on Instagram or a tweet on Twitter and sometimes they are associated with different challenges. But, every once in a while, a hashtag will emerge and correlate with a worthy cause, and using it on social media will raise awareness for that cause.

The hashtag, #DizzyGoals, is raising awareness for The Global Goals one video at a time. #DizzyGoals requires a person to spin as quickly as possible around a soccer ball 13 times and then attempt a penalty shot. Many professional soccer players have accepted the challenge, including Gareth Bale of Real Madrid, whose video featured some of his friends and teammates.

Less than a month away, the Global Goals launch on September 25 in New York City with 193 world leaders in attendance, and the campaign is doing everything in its power to raise international awareness and support of the goals. The Global Goals are dedicated to ending global poverty, fighting injustice and correcting climate change through a set of 17 initiatives for the next 15 years.

Before world leaders commit themselves to the goals, however, citizens around the world must know about them. World leaders listen to citizens to understand what needs to be done; the more people that know about the goals, the more likely the world leaders are to support them.

Therefore, it is imperative that the Global Goals become famous amongst world citizens and #DizzyGoals is one entertaining way to do that.

Many of the videos that accompany the hashtag feature professional soccer players spinning rapidly around a soccer ball, and then stumbling to kick the next ball, where the inevitable dizziness usually results in an epic fall to the grass. Nonetheless, the stars of the challenge are sure to mention their support for the Global Goals and provide links to goals’ website.

The Global Goals have the power to positively change the world. Share a #DizzyGoals video to inform more people about the Global Goals, or grab a soccer ball and take the challenge!

Sarah Sheppard

Sources: Global Citizen, Global Goals, Twitter,
Photo: Express

What do Selena Gomez, Sarah Jessica Parker and David Beckham have in common? They are all Celebrity Goodwill Ambassadors for UNICEF.

Founded in 1946 by the United Nations and made a permanent organization of the United Nations in 1953, the United Nations Children’s Fund, or UNICEF, works to ensure the rights of children. According to the Declaration of the Rights of the Child, children have rights to education, protection, health care, shelter and good nutrition. In the poorest regions of the world, children may be denied these rights because of a lack of access to resources, goods and services.

UNICEF has celebrity ambassadors and supporters in countries around the globe. The ambassadors help to raise awareness of global children’s needs, advocate to world leaders for children’s rights and set an example as globally aware citizens. There are three types of Goodwill Ambassadors and Advocates: international, regional and national. These advocates raise awareness internationally, regionally or nationally, with respect to their position.

The Celebrity Goodwill Ambassador program began in 1954 with its first ambassador, the famous entertainer on the screen and on Broadway, Danny Kaye. Following Kaye were other notable performers, actors, singers, athletes and celebrities. One such actor was Audrey Hepburn, who became a Goodwill Ambassador in 1989. In her time as an ambassador, Hepburn traveled to Turkey, Venezuela, Sudan and many other places, advocating for the rights of children.

Currently, there are over 20 international ambassadors, some of which include:

-Katy Perry: She was appointed to Goodwill Ambassador in 2013. Prior to this appointment, Perry had already visited Madagascar with UNICEF, and UNICEF used her song “Roar” in a public service announcement to help inspire girls.

-Liam Neeson: He became a Goodwilll Ambassador in 2011. Famous for his acting on Broadway and in feature films, such as Taken, which discusses trafficking in children and sexual exploitation, Neeson uses his fame to raise awareness of UNICEF’s causes, such as HIV and AIDS programs in Africa.

-David Beckham: Famous for his soccer skills on Manchester United, he used his interest in sports when he became a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2005, focusing on UNICEF’s Sports Development program. Since then, he traveled with UNICEF to places including Sierra Leone and the Philippines. In 2015, he started 7:The David Beckham UNICEF Fund, which furthers UNICEF’s mission to protect children’s rights.

These celebrities are making a lasting change in the fight for children’s rights and programs dealing with the results of poverty. With new advocates and ambassadors every year, it seems UNICEF will be able to positively change the lives of children for another 62 years and counting.

Rachelle Kredentser

Sources: UNICEF 1, UNICEF 2, Look to the Stars 1, Look to the Stars 2, UNICEF 3, UNICEF 4, UNICEF 5, UNICEF 6, IMBD
Photo: Daily News

At the time of this posting, eight million people and counting have signed the Up for School Petition. These people want to make sure that children all over the world get an education — a good one. One that will help end the cycle of poverty.

This includes children displaced due to natural disasters or wars. This includes children living in poverty so bad that their parents cannot afford to send them to school, and the children themselves are forced to work. This includes girls who are married off as children or who are unmarried but get pregnant while still of primary or secondary school age or who have their period but no appropriate way to take care of the blood.

Up for School, a petition sponsored by A World at School, demands government leaders to fulfill their promise made at the U.N. in 2000, which guarantees all out-of-school children will be in school before the end of 2015. As Hellen Griberg, A World at School Global Youth Ambassador, reminded world leaders of the Up for School Petition at the Oslo Summit for Education Development on July 7, 2015, “We know that nothing changes without pressure. Therefore, we have been building support in every corner of the world.”

In 2000, 102 million primary school children were out of school. By 2011, the number dropped to 57 million. Progress was being made in developing countries. Primary school enrollment reached 90 percent. Literacy rates were on the rise and gender gaps were narrowing. In 2012, however, the number started rising again to 58 million children out of school. The number is still rising and has now reached 59 million.

Along with this increase in numbers is a decrease in funding. International aid to basic education started falling in 2011 for the first time since 2002. In 2014, only one percent of overall humanitarian aid went to education. Now progress is stalling, placing the 2015 target at great risk.

Yet education is crucial to overcoming poverty. The United Nations Children’s Fund considers education to be critical in achieving all the Millennium Development Goals. Education provides future generations with the tools to fight poverty, disease and gender disparity — all issues that need work in order for the world to improve the environment, the economy and our security. From the midst of today’s primary school children, our future leaders will emerge — our educators, doctors, scientists, economists, heads of state and all the others who will be needed to support a developed world. We may not know them by name now, but one day they will be making decisions about our world.

“Sometimes we wait for others and think that a Martin Luther [sic] should raise [sic] among us, a Nelson Mandela should raise [sic] among us and speak up for us. But we never realize that there are normal humans like us, and if we step forward, we can also bring change just like them,” asserted the Nobel laureate, Malala Yousafzai, on the June 18, 2015 airing of The Daily Show. Yousafzai is the survivor of the Taliban’s assassination attempt in 2012 for openly supporting girls’ right to education.

Why should I sign the Up for School Petition? I cannot think of a reason why anyone should not — or cannot. Most of us may not have had a voice at the Oslo Summit for Education Development on July 6-7, 2015 or at the International Conference on Financing for Development in Ethiopia on July 13-16, 2015. We also will not have the opportunity to speak at the U.N. Summit to adopt the post-2015 development agenda on September 25-27, 2015. What we can do, though, is visit the Up For School Petition website to sign the petition now. I just did. It took three minutes.

– Janet Quinn

Sources: United Nations 1, United Nations 2 UNICEF, UpWorthy, A World at School 1, A World at School 2
Photo: A World at School