Posts

refugee crisisThe question regarding what should be done about the refugee crisis is currently one of the most heated debates in Congress. But, where does each Democratic Candidate stand on the refugee crisis? Here are the Democratic candidates on immigration.

Joe Biden

Former U.S. Vice President, Joe Biden, is primarily focused on addressing the Southern border crisis by admitting more refugees and asylum-seekers, particularly from Central America. When referring to refugees and immigrants Biden stated, “We could afford to take in a heartbeat another two million. The idea that a country of 330 million cannot afford people who are in desperate need and who are justifiably weak and fleeing depression is absolutely bizarre.”

Cory Booker

Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey similarly plans to expand pathways for refugees and asylum-seekers as well as to address the root causes of migration and the refugee crisis. Not only does Booker hope to increase the cap on refugees but also staffing at the border to assist with interviews and to improve in-country refugee processing. Additionally, Booker plans to investigate the root causes of migration through the lens of corruption, violence, poverty and climate change by creating a role in the State Department. He is committed to spending foreign aid in order to address the root causes of the refugee crisis.

Pete Buttigieg

Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana hopes to return the refugee admissions target to 110,000 or potentially more. Buttigieg believes letting in more refugees will “help grow our tax base and plug labor gaps as Americans age.” Buttigieg also wants to help other countries resettle refugees and integrate them into society so that resettlement will be mutually beneficial. Ultimately, Buttigieg hopes to change the discussion around immigrants and refugees. He stated on Twitter, “Immigrants and refugees are not a problem that we need to handle; they are an asset to our nation and an essential part of the fabric of this country—our policies must reflect that.”

Amy Klobuchar

The two primary plans Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota has for addressing the refugee crisis are reinstating the 110,000 refugees cap while simultaneously increasing spending on foreign aid. In order to process this number of refugees, Klobuchar would reopen the International U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services offices. Klobuchar would also accept more Muslim refugees into the country because she adamantly opposes the “Muslim Ban.” Klobuchar believes that a strengthened vetting process for visitors and refugees would eliminate any need for this ban. Additionally, Klobuchar plans to increase foreign aid and the State Department’s budget to address the current crisis and deter future crises by promoting global stability.

Bernie Sanders

Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont has a platform of immigration reform that is “grounded in civil and human rights.” He plans to achieve these values by changing the treatment of individuals at the border, such as ending family separation, the detention of children at the border and the detention of asylum seekers while their applications are being processed. Sanders plans to end the United States’ for-profit detention centers entirely. Additionally, Sanders wants to support refugees globally by providing foreign aid to other host countries to create an international community committed to resettling refugees and ending the refugee crisis it created.

Elizabeth Warren

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts has the most progressive target for resettlement. If elected, Warren aims to resettle 125,000 refugees in the U.S. in her first year in office and then at least 175,000 by the end of her first presidential term. She hopes to address the refugee crisis by providing foreign aid in Central America in order to stabilize this region. Warren plans to implement a system that would make it easier for asylum seekers to get a day in court. She has also stated she will reduce immigration detention for all immigrants crossing the border.

Andrew Yang

Entrepreneur Andrew Yang is most concerned with the crisis occurring in Venezuela. Yang wants to both support the Venezuelan people through humanitarian aid and through distributing foreign aid to the countries that are admitting massive numbers of Venezuelan refugees. Although Venezuela is Yang’s primary concern, he also plans to work with the entire international community in order to address the global refugee crisis. Yang believes that the U.S. should disengage in military efforts abroad attempting to promote peacekeeping because these efforts are causing more destabilization than peace.

There is a lot to consider when choosing who to vote for in the 2020 Presidential Election. However, the refugee crisis has certainly been a priority. There are currently 25.9 million refugees and 41.3 million internally displaced people throughout the world. The need for a president that understands the importance of diplomacy and foreign aid spending when it comes to addressing the refugee crisis is, therefore, imperative.

– Ariana Howard
Photo: Flickr

eradicate global povertyThere has been so much progress to overcome global poverty since 1990. About 10 percent of people around the world live on $1.90 a day, but The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals aim to completely eradicate global poverty by 2030. Here are 10 ways people can help speed up the process to eradicate global poverty.

10 Ways to Help a Developing Nation Out of Poverty

  1. Fundraising: Fundraising is very important in the way that nonprofits, such as NGOs and other organizations, raise money to fund projects, operations, salaries and overhead costs. The money these associations raise will help them make people’s poverty-reduction efforts a reality.
  2. Donating: Donations are voluntary gifts or contributions towards a specific issue or cause. Donations “comprise of a large chunk of NGO funding,” which also helps organizations fund projects to help eradicate global poverty. While a majority of nonprofit organizations depend on donations for their projects, a large amount of its funding is because of the wealthy individuals that donate massive amounts of money as well.
  3. Calling Congress: Calling congress is one of the most effective ways to contribute to the eradication of world poverty because of the way that it can get congressional leaders to notice specific issues or bills. Political offices keep tally marks on every call they receive, so making multiple phone calls during the week will increase the chances of change, such as encouraging congress to protect the International Affairs Budget.
  4. Mission Trips: Going on mission trips allows a person to personally and intimately help others living in poverty. These interactions can lead to a change of perspective and life after seeing and experiencing poverty first hand.
  5. Advocating: Advocating for a developing nation ensures that the most vulnerable people in society have their voices heard on important issues. It also defends and safeguards their rights so that others take their views and wishes into consideration when making decisions about their lives.
  6. Lobbying: Lobbying is important because it is the reason why the U.S. has a productive government. Lobbying bills or solutions to certain issues can help resolve them in developing nations, which positively influences the eradication process of global poverty.
  7. Volunteering: Building a house, a fence, even handing out canned food are amazing ways to start helping those in poverty. Volunteering for nonprofit organizations, foundations and missions involve small acts of kindness that make the biggest differences in people’s lives.
  8. Microlending: Microlending is when a development organization provides a small loan to start or expand businesses that can act as a push to a virtuous economic cycle. Not only does microlending improve the living conditions of developing nations, but it also encourages citizens that they are capable of starting a business of their own.
  9. Saving services: Since people in developing nations receive low wages and irregular incomes, saving facilities deliver tools to help manage cash flow and risks. This minimizes citizens’ vulnerability. Saving services can be there to help whenever there is a necessity of money accumulation regarding events that a person either expects or does not expect.
  10. NGOs: Non-governmental organizations are great associations that help with the eradication of poverty. They work to fundraise, advocate, lobby and volunteer in efforts of poverty-reduction. If a person joins an NGO, it is the best way to help a developing nation out of poverty.

There is always a way to help a developing nation out of poverty. Following any of these 10 steps will ensure the future of millions who are seeking a way out and eradicate global poverty.

– Isabella Gonzalez Montilla
Photo: Flickr

Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act
Malala Yousafzai is a Noble Peace Prize laureate. After surviving a Taliban encounter, she wrote the memoir, “I Am Malala.” She advocates for education and against discrimination.

On September 26, 2019, Hakeem Jeffries introduced the Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act. Communities of Pakistan and the United States have aligned with Malala’s text, principles and initiatives while many support her opinions on terrorism and poverty. The Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act intends to ensure that young adults and Pakistani students live without fear of discrimination, and can successfully garner an education.

The Malala Yousafzai Act

There are government programs that guide access to education throughout the diaspora communities of Pakistan. The Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act is pushing for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to support education initiatives for all in Pakistan, but in particular, for women and children. In Pakistan, approximately 22.8 million children under 16 are not enrolled in school. There is a significant gender disparity too as boys tend to outnumber girls.

This is the main reason for the Malala Yousafzai Act and Congress intends to uphold the very nature of equality. The purpose of the bill is to enhance opportunities for women to obtain a scholarship. If the bill passes, USAID will leverage the number of scholarships available to women in Pakistan.

Rurally, Pakistani women face many obstacles. The development of health, nutrition and the overall labor force is a determinant in the education of women. Issues such as early marriage, transportation and societal pressures as housewives prevent women from enrolling in higher education. The World Bank states, “The benefits of education go beyond higher productivity for 50 percent of the population. More educated women also tend to be healthier, participate more in the formal labor market, earn more income, have fewer children, and provide better health care and education to their children, all of which eventually improve the well-being of all individuals and lift households out of poverty.”

The Malala Yousafzai Act continues to mitigate discrimination and gender inequality. Malala Yousafzai frequently discusses the war on terrorism and how violence is a harsh reality for the vast majority of Pakistani women. These women continue to face seclusion and exclusion on the basis of patriarchy. Terrorists actively threaten girls and women to remove them from advancement opportunities in higher education and the public sphere.

Conclusion

For her 16th birthday, at the United General Assembly, Malala said, “So let us wage a glorious struggle against illiteracy, poverty, and terrorism. Let us pick up our books and our pens. They are the most powerful weapons. One child, one teacher, one book, and one pen can change the world. Education is the only solution.”

Currently, Malala is a student at the University of Oxford. She is studying politics, economics and philosophy. She continues to engage with women from across the globe, inspiring emerging adults to voice opinions. Anyone can make a direct impact by sending an email to Congress via The Borgen Project. For more information on how to advocate for the bill, visit here.

– Zach Erlanger
Photo: Flickr

the global fragility act
The Global Fragility Act of 2019 (H.R.2116/S.727) is one of the first-ever whole-of-government efforts to recognize regions where violent conflict exists or could potentially arise and address those issues through diplomatic, development and security efforts. Its main goal is not only to stabilize these areas but also prevent the emergence of violent conflict in countries that are at a higher risk or are more fragile due to a lack of governance and economic opportunity, as well as extreme poverty.

What Is the Problem?

With the current levels of humanitarian crises and extreme poverty worldwide, there is a great need for a bill like the Global Fragility Act. Globally there are over 134 million people that are in need of aid with the main causes being conflict and natural disasters. Additionally, over 550,000 people die annually as a result of violence, which has led to an increase in the need for aid from $3.5 billion in 2004 to about $20 billion currently. Unfortunately, when some provide assistance to address these issues, places mostly use it to address the consequences of violence rather than the root causes.

What Is the Global Fragility Act?

The Global Fragility Act is a bipartisan measure that will steer away from the focus placed on the symptoms of violence and instead solve the problem before it starts. It covers 12 different goals which will address the causes of fragility such as instability, weak governance and a lack of economic opportunities. The bill will resolve these issues by enhancing stabilization in the areas where conflict is prevalent.

According to the Friends Committee on National Legislation, the bill aims to “establish an interagency initiative/strategy to reduce fragility and violence, select pilot countries where the U.S. will implement the initiative, provide critical funds for stabilization, prevention and crisis response, [and] mandate evaluation and accountability.”

The inter-agency initiative is the first of its kind and will include the joint efforts of the U.S. State Department, Defense Department and USAID. These agencies will select countries and regions where conflict and violence are the most prevalent based on the most current data available regarding fragility, violence and number of people forcibly displaced, among other indicators. Additionally, the Global Fragility Act will also establish the Stabilization and Prevention Fund and the Complex Crises Fund. The Department of State and USAID will manage these with the intention of taking preventative or responsive measures to crises. Furthermore, the Act will also establish indicators to monitor the progress in the pilot regions, while also requiring the agencies involved to send biennial reports to Congress regarding how the program has developed in each region.

Who Are Its Sponsors?

The Global Fragility Act is a bipartisan effort given that it addresses issues that go beyond party adherence. As has been mentioned there are two versions of this bill, the House H.R.2116 bill and the Senate S.727 bill. Sponsors for the House bill include the following: Representatives Engel (D-NY), McCaul (R-TX), A. Smith (D-WA), Wagner (R-MO), Keating (D-MA) and Rooney (R-FL).

The senators in support of the S.727 bill include Senators Coons (D-DE), Graham (R-SC), Merkley (D-OR), Rubio (R-FL) and Young (R-IN). There are a number of additional supporters, but these are the main sponsors, as well as the ones who introduced the bills to their respective chambers.

Where Does It Stand Now?

Currently, the Global Fragility Act has passed in the House of Representatives; however, it has yet to be approved in the Senate. On June 25, 2019, the Bill went to the Senate for consideration. Once the Senate approves it, it will then move on to the President to sign into law. However, everyone needs to support it for it to receive approval. The U.S. public can involve themselves and help turn this bill into law. U.S. senators are only a call, email or letter away. Constituents can find their senator’s contact information here and they can email Congress here. Voicing support for this bill would not only contribute to raising people out of poverty but also strengthening U.S. national security.

Laura Rogers
Photo: Pixabay

 

The READ Act
According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), nearly 263 million children and youth around the world are without an education. Of all of the regions, sub-Saharan Africa has the most detrimental number of children out of school – over a fifth of children between the ages of six to 11 and about one-third of children between the ages of 12 to 14. As the children grow older, the rates continue to worsen – almost 60 percent of youth between the ages of 15 to 17 are not receiving an education. The READ Act is a big step forward in the fight to change these numbers.

The Necessity of the READ Act

The UIS and the Global Education Monitoring (GEM) Report show that in Nigeria alone, 8.7 million children who are supposed to be in primary school are not. In Sudan, it is 2.7 million children and in Ethiopia, it is 2.1 million children. These children are not given the chance to thrive and challenge themselves and it is out of their hands due to the vast global poverty they are encompassed in.

Statistics such as this emphasize the importance of laws such as the Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development (READ) Act. This act was signed into law in 2017, and it is this law that is providing these 263 million children (130 million of whom are girls) hope for a deserved and promising education.

Bringing the READ Act into Reality

Representative Nita Lowey (D-NY) and Representative Dave Reichert (R-WA) first introduced the READ Act into Congress. Both Rep. Lowey and Rep. Reichert are important contributors to the passing of this bill, along with Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Senator Richard Durbin (D-IL).

The main causes as to why these 263 million children do not have access to education are conflict and political instability. This law aims to provide education to the children who are in these situations, while simultaneously aiming to improve the overall quality of education. Rep. Reichert commented to World Vision, “By giving young people in impoverished regions the tools to read and write, we will put them down a positive path where they are better able to care for themselves, the needs of their families and their communities.”

The READ Act came about as an idea: what if the United States could make a significant difference by ensuring that every child has an equal and fair opportunity for a safe, quality education? After 13 years of constant due diligence and advocates contacting Congress over 1500 times, today there is widespread global success from this act.

How the READ Act Will Help

UNICEF reports that the READ Act of 2017 “will be tasked with developing a strategy to work with partner countries and organizations to promote basic education in developing countries.” The READ Act creates programs that also promote education as a foundation for economic growth. The act not only recognizes the importance of children having access to a quality education, it emphasizes that the act will create a chain reaction in communities by providing more jobs which will aid in diminishing poverty.

Rep. Lowey stated, “Prioritizing education around the world will not only help students learn to read and write – it will ultimately help protect vulnerable communities from hunger and disease and increase economic advancement, particularly for girls and women.” The READ Act, in providing millions of children around the globe with an education, is generously increasing the chance for these children to find jobs and build stable lives one day as they get older.

It is because of American citizens’ insistence that Congress take action that the READ Act has become an applicable law. More importantly, it is because of the citizens’ efforts that millions of children around the world now have new opportunities open for them and a brighter, more hopeful future to look forward to.

– Angelina Gillispie

To find out more about the past successes of our advocacy work and our current legislative priorities in Congress, head over to our Legislation page.

Photo: Flickr

how to stop poverty
Poverty in the world is a topic constantly present in the news, media and everyday life. With nearly half of the world’s population living on less than $1.25 a day, it can be discouraging to say the least when asking how to stop poverty.

Researchers estimate that it would take $60 billion annually to completely end poverty, which would only be a fourth of the income from the top richest billionaires in the world. But what can be done when there is not as much money to give? Fortunately, there are multiple ways every person can help end poverty.

Donate

The most common but just as helpful step is donating. Multiple websites accept donations to help end poverty. Websites such as Self Help Africa, Habitat for Humanity, and Save the Children use donations to help build new homes, provide clean water and food and help when disaster strikes.

Many of these organizations allow people to volunteer and work hands-on in the program, but if this isn’t an option, donating is a great way to help out. Try searching around for different organizations! There are a lot of programs that work on poverty, and they should state exactly where their donations go.

Talk to Your Representatives

Congress is made up of multiple representatives and senators from all over the country who are there to represent their constituents’ worries, wants and where they believe action should be taken. Calling your representative is a very simple action with huge impacts — plus it only takes about thirty seconds to complete!

You can find the representatives for your area right on the Borgen website. If talking on the phone is a bit stressful, emailing Congress works just as well! Email and/or call every week to continuously encourage Congress to support fighting poverty in foreign countries.

The representatives need to make note on what issues are called in about, and the more calls an issue gets, the more attention and action it will receive at the legislative level. 

Clean Out that Pantry and Closet!

No one likes clutter, but it can be difficult to motivate oneself to go through all of those old clothes in the closet. However, by donating, one can remember that it is all going to a good cause! Haven’t worn that sundress in a few years? Do those jeans just not fit right anymore? Give them to someone who could use them!

Sometimes it can be difficult to get rid of things that have sentimental value, but by donating you can be reassured that your old favorite outfit will have another life with someone who could really use it.

The exact same thing can be done with food as well! Check through the cupboards for non-perishable foods that you won’t use and give them to a food bank. This website can help locate the closest food shelf, their hours and how to contact them!

Buy Fair Trade products

There is an unfortunate and dangerous power imbalance between international trade and large corporations. Fair Trade Products, however, works on improving worker conditions, higher wage for the farmers and workers, and works against child and forced labor. The website also includes a list of products, brands and retailers certified under their name.

When asking how to stop poverty, simply switching up the brand of morning coffee or going to a different grocery store is one simple way to help farmers and workers get the living wage they deserve.

Demand Action

Poverty has been a huge crisis in the world for a very long time, and people often find themselves asking how they can stop it. While the question of how to stop poverty is a loaded one with multiple elements, there are little things that anyone can do everyday to help. Donating, volunteering, helping at a food shelf, switching coffee brands — all of these are ways that everyone can help.

As discussed, talking to local representatives and bringing their attention to important issues like poverty is a huge step to helping end it; but sometimes the task can be overwhelming. However, working together, getting involved and communicating with local government can all be catalyzed by just one person. Don’t be discouraged — demand action.

 – Marissa Wandzel

Photo: Pixabay

 IranThe United States House of Representatives recently passed legislation condemning the use of civilians as human shields, a violation of internationally recognized human rights currently being practiced by Hizballah. The Sanctioning Hizballah’s Illicit Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act is currently being reviewed by the United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

Hizballah is a terrorist organization originally formed by Iranian extremists in Lebanon. They are responsible for terrorist attacks all over the world, including bombings of the United States embassy in Lebanon, suicide bombings in Bulgaria and barrack attacks in Beirut. The organization has been operating in Lebanon for decades, sustaining political power by holding nearly half of the seats in Lebanon’s cabinet and National Assembly. Hizballah has maintained a reputation for being the most successful anti-Israel group in the Middle East, gaining support from Arab nationalists as well as Iran and Syria.

Hizballah is currently putting Lebanese lives at risk by placing military strongholds within Lebanese villages. They seize civilian homes, hospitals and schools and use them to store weapons and house troops. Over 200 villages are currently being used by Hizballah for military purposes, mainly in southern Lebanon. The terrorist organization is essentially using civilians as human shields to try and protect their military with no regard for their safety. If conflict were to occur between Israel and Hizballah, which is likely and recurrent, civilians will be caught directly in the middle of the violence. These practices are in direct violation of Article 58 of the Geneva Conventions precautioning against the effects of attacks, which state that parties of conflict must avoid locating military objectives in densely populated areas and take precautions to protect civilian populations.

If the Sanctioning Hizballah’s Illicit Use of Civilians as Defenseless Shields Act becomes law, Congress will condemn Hizballah’s use of human shields, and the United States president will sanction any person or entity guilty of using human shields, impose asset blocking and urge the United Nations Security Council to support a resolution imposing multilateral sanctions against Hizballah. This law will be an important step towards protecting civilians who are affected by Hizballah’s activity.

– Jenae Atwell

Photo: Flickr

How to Become a Representative for Congress
How does one become a representative for Congress? The journey to becoming a Member can be difficult and demanding. However, the privilege to represent one’s country can be very rewarding.

The U.S. Congress is divided into two chambers. The requirements vary by chamber, as do the roles they serve. To become a member of Congress one must first decide whether one wants to serve in the House of Representatives or in the Senate. Once having made this decision, one must meet certain specifications to qualify for office.

How to Become a Representative

  1. Meet the Qualifications
    The U.S. Constitution requires Members of the House be at least 25 years old, have been a U.S. citizen for at least seven years, and live in the state–though not necessarily the same district–they represent. Article VI, clause 3 requires that all Members take an oath to support the Constitution before they exercise the duties of their office.The Constitution was deliberately written to make becoming a Member of the House more accessible, to making this chamber closest to the people. Founders wanted it to be possible for ordinary citizens to obtain office and for elections to be frequent.To be eligible for the Senate, candidates must be at least 30 years old, have been a U.S. citizen for at least nine years and reside in the state they plan to represent at the time of election.
  2. Identify Key Issues 
    Members of Congress are representatives of their constituents. To become a representative for Congress, potential candidates need to determine and articulate issues that are relevant and important to voters. One must have strong knowledge of current political affairs and one’s stance on current and future policies.
  3. Build a Network
    Connections and relationships are key to running a successful campaign. According to Business Insider, this factor is causing many hopeful millennials to lose congressional races. In a blog post by hopeful House Member Erin Schrode, a 24-year-old activist from Northern California who hoped to be the youngest woman elected to the House, told readers a man told her after voting he would have voted for her instead of the incumbent–had he known who she was. Name recognition is an essential component of a successful campaign.
  4. Fundraise
    Money matters in elections. Funds pay for advertisement, media exposure, branding, letters to potential voters and commercials. While there is no minimum amount required to run for office, more funds equate to better efficiency and exposure.
    Wendy Carillo, a thirty-six-year-old who arrived in America as an undocumented immigrant recently launched a race for Congress. In an interview with Medium, she suggested a candidate should raise at least $100,000 to pay for the “mini enterprise” one creates when running for office.
  5. File Paperwork
    According to BallotPedia, federal law requires all candidates to file a statement of candidacy within 15 days of receiving donations or funding costs for their campaign that exceed $5,000. This is the only part of ballot access that is mandated by federal law. To have one’s name printed on an election ballot, a congressional candidate must do one or both of the following: collect and file petition signatures and/or pay registration fees. Once this is satisfied, requirements vary from state to state.
  6. Campaign
    The final and most crucial task is to campaign. Talk to voters. Learn what matters to them. Appeal to their desires in your language and actions. Congressional candidates can spend up to 18 hours a day campaigning. A successful candidate must know and act on what matters to voters.

Still want to become a representative for Congress after having read up on how to? Stay grounded in the fact that campaigning does not have to be difficult or tiresome. Listening to the needs of constituents and turning them into policies make the work rewarding and gratifying. Our country truly becomes a nation for the people, run by the people when members of Congress remember this principle.

Jeanine Thomas

Photo: Flickr

End Neglected Tropical DiseasesPrevalent in more than 149 countries, Neglected Tropical Diseases (NTDs) are a range of parasitic and bacterial diseases that affect more than a billion people across the world. Neglected Tropical Diseases disproportionately target poor and vulnerable populations in tropical areas, and if not treated, can often lead to physical and intellectual impairments. Fortunately, humanitarian organizations such as USAID are working alongside U.S. Congress in order to end Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Typically caused by inadequate sanitation and lack of clean drinking water, NTDs vary in their effect but can prove detrimental, especially in children. These diseases can impair intellectual development in children as well as cause blindness and other physical disabilities. The health costs are not the problem caused by NTDs, as they also reduce school enrollment and prevent economic progress because infected individuals are limited in ability. This is why it is critical to end Neglected Tropical Diseases.

USAID is leading the global fight against NTDs. It implemented large-scale treatment programs and research for the affected countries. In the past 10 years, the U.S. made great progress in this fight, giving more than $11.1 billion in donated medicines. This contribution provided more than 1.6 billion treatments to approximately 743 million individuals.

The U.S. impact does not end there. In addition to the treatment programs and research implemented by USAID, Congress also prioritized this issue by introducing the End Neglected Tropical Diseases Act (H.R. 1415).

H.R. 1415, sponsored by Representative Christopher Smith (D-NJ), advances the current program working against NTDs. This act prioritizes improving the current program by monitoring funding, including morbidity management in treatment plans and expanding research development. So far, this act has five cosponsors and was referred to three House sub-committees.

Although USAID led a strong battle against NTDs, there is still much work to be done for the one billion people affected by this problem. As NTDs are slowly eradicated, the livelihoods of the world’s poor will begin to improve as children can return to school and adults are able to achieve financial stability.

Kelly Hayes

Photo: Flickr

The READ Act
On August 1, The Borgen Project-backed bill Reinforcing Education Accountability in Development (READ) Act passed the Senate by a voice vote. The READ Act, H.R. 601, passed the House of Representatives on January 24 of this year. This low-cost bipartisan bill promotes universal basic education worldwide.

Specifically, it updates the objectives of the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961 to support U.S. universal education policies that involve cooperation with partner countries, the private sector and civil society. The READ Act also emphasizes the need for strengthening education systems, especially so that girls can safely attend school.

Provisions to evaluate its effectiveness are included in the bill. By Oct. 1, 2017, the president must submit a comprehensive strategy for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 through FY 2022 that promotes basic education in partner countries. The president is then required to submit to Congress an annual implementation report.

The act also establishes the role of Senior Coordinator of U.S. International Basic Education Assistance within the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).

The bill was introduced in the House by Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), the ranking member on the House Appropriations Committee, and Rep. Dave Reichert (R-WA), a member of The Borgen Project board of directors. The Senate version was sponsored by Sens. Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Richard Durbin (D-IL).

Rep. Lowey said on Twitter: “Pleased the Senate passed my bipartisan #READAct to prioritize education around the world.” On prioritizing education, Lowey has also said that promoting universal education is important in combatting poverty, disease, hunger and extremism.

The Congressional Budget Office said that the READ Act will likely cost taxpayers a total of $1 million between 2017 and 2021.

In the past 25 years, literacy rates rose 33% and primary school enrollment tripled. However, 250 million children and youths worldwide currently do not have access to quality education, and 500 million adult women are illiterate.

Both USAID and U.S. foreign aid previously succeeded in promoting universal education and literacy. In 2002, there were no female students in Afghanistan. Now they make up one-third of all Afghan students.

The Borgen Project is a strong supporter of the READ Act. In this year alone, 5,003 emails were sent to Members of Congress through The Borgen Project website in support of the READ Act.

The READ Act now heads back to the House of Representatives with minor revisions, before moving on to the president for his approval.

– Sean Newhouse

Photo: Flickr