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Sonita Alizadeh’s Feminist Advocacy
Sonita Alizadeh is a 22-year-old rapper from Herat, Afghanistan. She became an advocate for humanitarian issues such as child marriage in 2014 after winning $1,000 in a U.S. music competition where she wrote a song encouraging Afgan people to vote. Sonita’s music video “Brides for Sale” also premiered in 2014 on YouTube, kickstarting her career and garnering over one million views as of 2019. This article will focus on Afghanistan’s policies on child marriage, Sonita’s history and how Sonita’s advocacy is making an impact. All of these aspects highlight the importance of Sonita Alizadeh’s feminist advocacy.

Afganistan and Child Marriage

In 1997, the Republic of Afghanistan permitted girls under the age of 16 to marry with the consent of their father or a judge under a civil code. In 1994, the Afghanistan government set the minimum age of marriage to 18, and in 2009 passed the Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) law; yet people often do not implement protections. The advocacy organization against child marriage, Girls Not Brides, cites UNICEF’s statistics for child marriage in Afganistan as of 2017: 9 percent of girls marry by 15 and 35 percent marry by 18.

Child marriages that still happen in Afghanistan often occur for several reasons including a lack of female education, displacement, dispute settlements for rival families and traditional family values and practices.

Afghanistan has made progress such as making ending child marriage a sustainable development (SDG) goal by 2030. Afghan women, such as Sonita Alizadeh, are speaking out when the government is not helping them effectively. That is why Sonita Alizadeh’s feminist advocacy is vital; it gives the people that child marriage affects a chance to speak for themselves.

Sonita Alizadeh’s History

Sonita Alizadeh and members of her family escaped Taliban rule in Afghanistan and journeyed to Tehran, Iran. There, Sonita began creating music, although it is illegal for women to sing a solo in the country. Her music was about the hardships she had seen her friends endure in Afghanistan when their parents encouraged them to marry as young as 12.

Sonita had to advocate for herself at 16 when her mother visited her from Afghanistan. Sonita received the opportunity to return to her home country if agreed to marry. Her mother planned to have a dowry set with a man for $9,000 for Sonita as a bride. This prompted Sonita to make her first YouTube video in response to her predicament, the video “Brides for Sale.” The video got the attention of the Strongheart organization in the U.S. The group sponsored 17-year-old Sonita in 2014 with a student visa to attend Wasatch Academy in Utah on a full scholarship. Sonita’s first concert in America was in May 2015, and she began sending money home to her mother living in Afghanistan.

Sonita’s Activism

After moving to the U.S., Sonita Alizadeh used her platform to speak about child marriage. Her YouTube channel has 12 videos that range from her music to interviews to Sonita’s graduation speech from Wasatch Academy in 2018. Sonita uses her platform to educate the 11.1 thousand subscribers she had as of 2019. BBC listed Sonita as one of its 100 women people should recognize in 2015 and inspired a European documentary based on her life that premiered in 2016 and won a NETPAC Award.

Recently, Sonita debuted a new song at the 2018 Social Good Summit concert in New York City. As of 2019, Sonita attends Bard College in New York where she represented her school in the Women Warriors: The Voices of Change concert event at the Lincoln Center in September 2019. Organizations such as the Strongheart Group, Global Citizen and the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Organization support Sonita’s Alizadeh’s feminist advocacy.

Conclusion

The voices of Afghan women are vital in battling injustice. Sonita Alizadeh’s feminist advocacy highlights the determination of one woman to empower women forced into child marriages. The light Sonita sheds on the hardships Afghan women are also valuable as a form of advocacy, making those who did not grow up with her background understand the needs of women in dire situations.

Natalie Casaburi
Photo: Flickr

Social Media Affected Global Poverty
Social media has become a powerful presence in today’s world, with 3.48 billion people, 45 percent of the world’s total population, using social networks. Because social media can help get a message across or start many campaigns, people often use it to spread the word about things they are passionate about, including global poverty. Here are the five times social media affected global poverty.

Jonathan Acuff

Jonathan Acuff is an American author who runs a popular blog, StuffChristiansLike.net, that over three million people read. He has amassed a couple hundred thousand followers over all of his social media platforms, and they read his content daily. In 2010, Acuff garnered attention after he used his blog, Twitter and Facebook to raise $60,000, enough to build two kindergartens in Vietnam. His daughter saw a picture on the internet of an impoverished boy that shocked her, and he decided to post about needing $30,000 for a kindergarten in Vietnam as a result. He anticipated that it would take six weeks to raise the money. Through the power of social media, however, he managed to raise the money in a mere 18 hours, showing how powerful social media can be to spread awareness and help reduce global poverty.

Catapult

In 2012, Maz Kessler launched Catapult, the first crowdfunding platform for projects aimed at women and girls. Crowdfunding is when people fund a project by raising small amounts of money many people via the Internet. As the Guardian reports, “Catapult connects supporters to projects through social sharing, encouraging users to donate and track the progress of their donations.” Donations help women and girls living in global poverty around the world—from money going to building birth waiting homes for mothers in Sierra Leone to many global initiatives in Africa. So far, 432 projects have received crowdfunding and close to two million girls and women have received support. Catapult has a large following on social media with over 32,000 followers on Twitter, which shows how big of an impact crowdfunding through social media and the Internet can really have to make an impact to change the lives of those living in global poverty.

#ministermondays

In 2011, Dr. Agnes Binagwaho, Rwanda’s minister of health from 2011-2016, announced Monday with the Minister, or #ministermondays. This announcement meant that Rwandans would have the opportunity to ask Binagwaho and the Ministry of Health directly every other Monday and get responses about health programs in Rwanda. This hashtag serves as an example of how social media can be effective as a tool to educate and inform others about poverty happening around the world and in their own countries.

Omran Daqneesh

In 2016, a picture of a 5-year-old boy with his face drenched in blood and covered head to toe in a thick layer of dust surfaced online. This picture was of Omran Daqneesh, who had escaped a building in Aleppo that an airstrike hit. The Aleppo Media Center posted a YouTube video that contained the image and millions of people on social media quickly viewed, posted and shared it. The attention that the photo garnered on social media led to major news companies, such as NPR, picking up the story and sharing it. This picture raised awareness for the Syrian Civil War and how brutal the conditions were for innocent people and children living in Syria. This likely would not have happened without social media.

Global Citizen

Global Citizen is a movement with the goal to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030. On its website and social media platforms, Global Citizen supporters, called Global Citizens, can learn about the causes of extreme poverty and take action by tweeting or sharing global issues happening in the present. By sharing and helping the global poverty cause, Global Citizens in return earn rewards, such as tickets to concerts or shows. So far, Global Citizen has impacted 650 million people worldwide, showing truly how social media can make an impact on causes such as global poverty.

These are just a few examples of how social media affected global poverty in a positive way. In today’s world, thanks to modern technology, people have the power to help others like never before.

– Natalie Chen
Photo: Flickr

Mandela 100 Festival
Singer Beyonce and her spouse, rapper Jay-Z, will be among several major artists to perform at Global Citizen’s Mandela 100 Festival in December 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. Other artists scheduled to perform are Ed Sheeran, Chris Martin, Pharrell Williams, D’banj, Femi Kuti, Sho Madjozi, Tiwa Savage and Wizkid. This latest concert campaign is said to be Global Citizen’s ”biggest campaign on the Global Goals to end extreme poverty ever.”

According to Global Citizen, the festival is to represent a celebration of Mandela’s legacy as an exemplary leader, his fight against apartheid, and his methods of non-violent protest that shaped the future of South Africa, setting an example worldwide. The Mandela 100 festival will be the first-ever musical event organized by Global Citizen in Africa

 A Global Initiative

As an organization that is composed of members worldwide, Global Citizen is a model example of a successful nongovernmental organization (NGO), a true grassroots movement. The organization has projected some major numbers for 2018: an estimated 2.25 billion people worldwide are expected to receive some form of poverty relief from Global Citizen, ranging from a year of free education for children to clean water for an entire community.

Global Citizen divides its goals into nine separate categories, each representing a broad set of issues that need to be resolved. They are:

  • Girls and Women
  • Health
  • Finance/Innovation
  • Education
  • Food and Hunger
  • Water and Sanitation
  • Environment
  • Citizenship

Global Citizen’s goal is to eliminate extreme poverty worldwide by 2030—just 12 years from now. And it seems that the organization may accomplish its goals, having secured a whopping $2.9 billion in funding from government organizations worldwide for 2018 alone.

How Everyone Can Help

But besides relying on funding from government bodies, Global Citizen asks that individuals take action as well, through twitter, email or petition. Global Citizen’s website offers a streamlined way for its constituents to influence representatives not only in their own country but in countries worldwide.

Some of the most recent and significant contributions to Global Citizen have come from the U.K., Norway and the E.U. These nations gave £225 million, Kr.2.07 billion and  €337.5 million to Global Citizen’s Global Partnership for Education project, respectively.

Mandela 100 Festival: A Festival For The People

The Mandela 100 Festival begins on December 2, 2018, and besides the proceeds going toward Global Citizen’s international fight against poverty, the other goal of the festival experience is to ignite a passion in young people to feel empowered to make changes in the world. Global Citizen wants to involve youth, on an international level, in the fight against extreme poverty.

Global Citizen’s website states it wishes to “galvanize young, passionate people across Africa to pressure their leaders to make important strides.” In fact, the motto for the festival is “Be The Generation.” Considering that Global Citizen is expecting to end abject poverty worldwide in little over a decade, millennials may just become the generation to tip the scales in the ongoing fight to elevate all members of our global community.

– Jason Crosby
Photo: Google

types of advocacy work
Advocacy can be done and acknowledged in many different forms. In simple terms, advocacy is the public support for particular causes and policies. The following list delineates eight types of advocacy work to help people worldwide, and some you can help with right from the comfort of your home. To support these programs and groups to continue their advocacy work, you can share their websites on social media, as well as donate and volunteer to their cause.

Eight Types of Advocacy Work

  1. Eastern Congo Initiative (ECI)
    Founded by Ben Affleck in 2010 the ECI works within the bounds of advocacy and public and private partnerships to help the people of the Eastern Congo. Its goals are to raise public awareness, promote policy change through the U.S. government, and help communities locally. Some of the types of advocacy work that ECI does daily are helping improve maternal and newborn health care, aiding the DRC security sector and creating more economic opportunities in the Eastern Congo.
  2. International Child Resource Institute (ICRI)
    ICRI is working to help improve the lives of children and families globally through education, empowerment, health care, children’s rights and community development. ECRI offers travel goals anyone can take so you can travel with a purpose. You can go to places such as The Great Wall of China, the Kakadu National Park in Australia and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and help fundraise for IRCI along the way; everything raised through the trips goes directly to the organization’s programs.
  3. ONE
    ONE is an advocacy group that fights and alleviates extreme poverty and preventable disease through public awareness. Due to ONE’s specific type of advocacy work, the group has been able to help over 110 million people; ONE takes on issues in disease, agriculture, energy, maternal and child health, water and education.
  4. Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF)
    AHF a nonprofit organization that helps people in over 39 countries fight against HIV/AIDS. Some of the types of advocacy work that AHF does include testing one billion people every year for HIV/AIDS, finding new cutting-edge medicine and discovering new ways to educate, treat and prevent further spread of the disease.
  5. Global Citizen
    Global Citizen is a movement that started in 2012 that aims to help fix the world’s most significant every-day challenges. Due to their types of advocacy work, Global Citizen has gotten over $30 billion in financial aid to help over one billion people worldwide; in addition, the organization gained 130 commitments and policy announcements from world leaders. Their ultimate goal is to end extreme poverty by 2030.
  6. Survival International
    Survival International works towards the global movement for tribal people’s rights. The goal is to help defend tribal people’s lives, protect their lands and allow them the autonomy to determine the course of their own futures.
  7. UNICEF: For every child
    UNICEF works in over 190 countries to help save children’s lives and defend their rights. The types of advocacy work UNICEF focuses on are education, child survival, child protection, equality for women and girls and innovation.
  8. Intern for The Borgen Project
    The Borgen Project offers five different types of internships which can be done right from home. The internships available are Public Relations/Marketing, HR, Writing, Journalism and Political Affairs. All of these internships can further help show the types of advocacy work both The Borgen Project and one intern can do.

With just these eight options, everyone has the opportunity to get and stay involved. Increased awareness and action can change the world, it’s just a matter of picking the cause you want to fight for.

– Amber Duffus

Photo: Flickr

Global Citizen: Success Stories of the Global Poverty ProjectThe Global Poverty Project, also known as Global Citizen, is an education and advocacy organization working to increase the number and effectiveness of people taking action to see an end to extreme poverty. Global Citizen’s advocacy work focuses on eight issues: girls and women, food and hunger, health, education, water and sanitation, environment, finance and innovation and citizenship.

Global Citizen has had success stories in these areas: 

  1. Girls and Women
    At the 2017 Global Citizen Festival, Accenture, Citi, Ernst & Young and Procter and Gamble committed to sourcing $100 million each through their supply chains from women-owned businesses, a majority based in developing countries. 
  2. Food and Hunger
    In 2017, the Executive Director of the World Food Program (WFP), David Beasley, confirmed that $575 million of $990 million committed by Congress in May, helped by 49,291 actions taken by Global Citizen, was released to the WFP and others to immediately fight famine.
  3. Health
    Over the past seven years, Global Citizen has taken 1.47 million actions to increase access to global health services, including HIV/AIDS treatment. These actions have led to 48 commitments by governments and are set to affect 626 million people by 2030.
  4. Education
    In Feb. 2018, Global Citizen held the first Global Partnership for Education (GPE) Financing Conference hosted jointly by a G7 leader, French President Emmanuel Macron, and the president of a developing country, Macky Sall of the Republic of Senegal. The conference was held in Dakar, Senegal, to support $2.3 billion for education in developing countries. GPE’s global ambassador, Rihanna, was present and spoke as well.
  5. Water and Sanitation
    At the Global Citizen Festival, Nigeria committed to getting 5.5 million people out of open defecation by the end of 2018. 
  6. Environment
    In the wake of Hurricane Irma, the United Arab Emirates Minister of Climate Change and Environment committed $50 million on the Global Citizen Festival stage to fund renewable energy supplies and another $10 million toward humanitarian relief in Antigua and Barbuda. 
  7. Finance and Innovation
    Global Citizen partners with the private sector to further fight poverty. One of the biggest successes was at the Global Citizen Festival in 2015, where the European Commission committed to increase support for the refugee crisis by €500 million over the existing development aid budget of the European Commission.
  8. Citizenship
    In 2017, over three million Global Citizen supporters’ actions helped to drive $5.7 billion in 143 commitments by calling upon leaders as a collective power to step up for the world’s most vulnerable.

Because of its advocacy and supporters, Global Citizen will continue to reduce poverty significantly in the coming years. 

– Julia Lee

Photo: Flickr

Investing in WomenInvesting in women can cause multiple benefits for the economy, food security and healthcare. There are many organizations that have programs for women’s education and there are some that solely concentrate on getting women access to what they need. Two organizations that are dedicated to women are Womensphere and the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF). By supporting and helping women around the world, these organizations are creating growth in developing countries.

Womensphere was founded in 2007 by Analisa Balares, who is currently the chief executive. Balares started Womensphere with the goal of unleashing women’s potential to lead and transform the world. Womensphere does this by investing in programs that educate or help develop women and girls, mobilizing others to do the same and hosting its own conventions where women can collaborate and share their skills.

Womensphere is investing in women by hosting conventions that allow women to share their accomplishments. One of these conventions is an award ceremony for different organizations that are making a difference for female activism. One award recipient, Nicole Schwab, received the Luminary award for her Gender Equality Project. This project is working to close the global gender gap by developing a global standard assessment for companies that is non-gender based. This allows women to be included more and have opportunities at higher positions. So far the project tested their idea on seven companies and five countries and hope to use this assessment framework for companies globally. Womensphere also funds and develops different leadership projects that advance women as public, societal, or entrepreneurial leaders.

WILPF was established in 1915 that is dedicated to bringing women around the world together to end violence for peaceful political, societal, and economic climates for all. WILPF four main programs as of this year are disarmament, human rights, women, peace and security and lastly crisis program. All of these programs unite women around the world to solve common problems that are happening in multiple areas. To achieve this WILPF creates awareness on issues like women’s rights as well as financing initiatives that advocate against violence.

The Disarmament Program started in 1915 when the organization was established. In 1999, the Crisis Program was developed to coincide with it. These projects are decreasing violence that directly affects women and children. The programs do this through monitoring, advocacy and reporting military spending. These programs also work to control and decrease various weapon systems to disallow any unnecessary violence.

Both of these organizations see the importance of empowering women and are dedicated to bringing women together. According to the Global Citizen, there are plenty of reasons why supporting women has a positive impact on society. One of these reasons is that women can change the global economy. Studies show that 90 percent of what women earn goes back to their families. The more women work, the more they spend on their children’s needs, food and healthcare. Education and awareness of childbirth and sex can cause lower maternal deaths of young children and decrease the number of teen pregnancies.

There are many benefits to investing in women and Womensphere and WILPF are just two organizations that are helping empower women and giving women more opportunities.

Deanna Wetmore

Ban Ki-moonLike all jobs, the role of Secretary-General of the U.N. comes with its own challenges and rewards, especially when you’re following in the footsteps of someone like Kofi Annon. Ban Ki-moon has served in this position since January 2007.

Ban Ki-moon’s agenda has been all encompassing — promoting sustainable development, empowering women, supporting countries facing crisis and instability, dealing with arms control and non-proliferation, all while strengthening the U.N.

“Be a global citizen. Act with passion and compassion,” said Ban Ki-moon at Our World, Our Dignity, Our Planet: the Post-2015 Agenda and the Role of Youth. “Help us make this world safer and more sustainable today and for the generations that will follow us. That is our moral responsibility.”

In his first year as secretary-general, he called attention to the genocide in Darfur and made it a top priority. Under Ban Ki-moon’s leadership, a hybrid force, part African-Union and part U.N., was established for peacekeeping, according to the BBC.

“He worked doggedly on agreements between the government of Sudan and the African Union that led to a UN Security Council resolution last summer authorizing a hybrid UN force made up largely of African Union soldiers,” said Howard LaFranchi in a March 2008 Christian Science Monitor article.

Not only has Ban Ki-moon worked to address humanitarian issues like global poverty through the use of the Millennium Development Goals but he has also made it his mission to tackle climate change through the Global Goals for Sustainable Development.

“The Goals are universal; they apply to all countries, since we know that even the wealthiest have yet to conquer poverty or achieve full gender equality,” said Ban Ki-moon in an op-ed for the Huffington Post in 2015.

According to his U.N. priorities, he also sought to reduce emissions from deforestation and forest degradation along with increasing monies for the Green Climate Fund and putting them to good use.

Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel applauded Ban Ki-moon’s efforts to address climate change, global humanitarian issues and the refugee crisis. “With sound preparations, and when the many partners involved pull together, the international community can accept shared responsibility,” said Merkel at the U.N. Climate Change Conference in Paris. “To a very great extent we have you to thank for this achievement. And I would like to thank you most warmly.”

Although Ban Ki-moon’s term as secretary-general concludes at the end of this year, he can leave knowing he had a positive impact on the global community.

— Summer Jackson

Sources: Bundesregierung , BBC, Huffington Post, UN 1, UN 2, UN 3

FC Barcelona, Global Citizen, Gates Foundation Unite to Combat Poverty
Although athletics are intended to be competitive, they have a unique way of bringing people together; a shared love for that game or passion for a team unites people across the globe. The most universally uniting sport, however, must be soccer.

Almost every kid ever participated in peewee soccer – remember the oranges at halftime? The game is played all over the world, professionally, collegiately and friendly. The international phenomenon is a simple concept (kick ball, score goal), perhaps one of the main reasons for its timeless universal success.

Soccer is global, and as one of the greatest teams in professional soccer, F.C. Barcelona is globally recognized for its international fan base and crazy-talented players, like Lionel Messi. Barcelona, however, is not solely praised for its talent on the field. The team is also receiving well-deserved credit for its efforts to end global poverty.

The F.C. Barcelona Foundation was founded in 1994 and gives Barcelona the opportunity to give back globally. All projects developed by the organization are centered on sports, and promote quality education and positive values. The efforts of the organization benefit children and adolescents of Catalonia and the world.

The recently announced partnership between the F.C. Barcelona Foundation, Global Citizen and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation will empower people to take action to end extreme global poverty.

These three major powerhouses will surely make a profound difference in many lives and raise awareness about the realities of poverty. The partnership will work in alignment with the United Nations Development Goals to eradicate poverty by 2030.

Sports have the unique ability to unite people from all walks of life. Mix that with advocacy and activism – a real game-changer. Together, Barcelona, Global Citizen and The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation unite to change the world and encourage others to play hard against poverty.

Barcelona just scored a stellar goal.

Sarah Sheppard

Sources: Global Citizen, FC Barcelona
Photo: FCFoundation

Global_Citizen_Festival
H&M is known for providing fashionable and affordable styles for men, women and children. However, the Swedish clothing store chain also does its part to promote sustainability across the world. That’s right – H&M knows how to make fashion sustainable.

A proud partner of the Global Poverty Project, H&M is dedicated to supporting the mission to end extreme global poverty and building sustainable lives for people around the world.

By default, H&M is also in a partnership with Global Citizen, the online platform for the Global Poverty Project that provides crucial information about ongoing problems in the world and actions global citizens can take to eliminate them.

Most recently, H&M and Global Citizen have launched an exclusive t-shirt line to promote the Global Citizen Festival this fall. Musicians Coldplay and Ed Sheeran also contributed to the designs to show their support for the fight against global poverty. Coldplay and Sheeran will also perform at the Global Citizen Festival on September 26th.

Each shirt has a design unique to the musician and is made entirely of sustainable materials. At $9.95, the shirts are on sale at all H&M locations in the U.S. and 25 percent of the proceeds go to Global Citizen.

Furthermore, H&M encourages customers to donate gently used clothing to be recycled. Donation stations are located in every H&M store nationwide until Sept. 17, in a box that advertises the Festival.

Tickets for the Festival are free of monetary charge. Instead, guests must earn their tickets by taking actions against poverty. For every customer that purchases a t-shirt or donates clothing, H&M will provide them with the opportunity to earn free tickets.

Sheeran expressed his excitement to work alongside H&M and Global Citizen to create a shirt that fights back against poverty, uniting people to take meaningful action. T-shirts and fashion are no longer all about style; fashion is now also about taking sustainable steps towards a positive future.

Sarah Sheppard

Sources: PR News Wire, Global Citizen 1, Global Citizen 2
Photo: Google Images

global_citizen
When two mega-successful organizations come together to fight the same battle, the win is almost inevitable. The win against global poverty will be slow and steady, but quite sweet.

Earlier this month, Chime for Change and Global Citizen announced their partnership to develop a campaign dedicated to ending global poverty by 2030, in alignment with the United Nations’ timeline for the Sustainable Development Goals. The campaign will create major change for girls and women around the world.

Chime for Change is a global campaign itself, designed to empower women by raising money and awareness for women’s issues. Founded in 2013 by superwomen Beyoncé Knowles and Salma Hayek, the campaign provides a stable and united voice for the voiceless by focusing on education, health and justice for girls all around the world.

Global Citizen is an extension of the Global Poverty Project, created by Ryan Gall and Riot House in 2012. As an online platform, Global Citizen educates its community through informative articles and shares ways to take action in the fight against poverty. It focuses on health, education, sustainability and women’s rights.

In their mission to eradicate global poverty, Chime for Change and Global Citizen hope to use their partnership to raise awareness about the hardships women in poverty face every day. Together, they promote gender equality, a primary factor to ending global poverty.

Global Citizen will provide Chime for Change with a well-read platform to connect with millions of people around the world. On globalcitizen.org, Chime for Change will have the opportunity to present information about women’s issues and encourage others to support women and girls around the world.

This September, Chime for Change will be a presenter at the 2015 Global Citizen Festival in New York City, where Queen Bey will run the show as a headliner. Together, Chime for Change and Global Citizen will bring new opportunities to girls and women, helping them livesustainable and poverty-free lives.

Sarah Sheppard

Sources: Chime For Change, Bustle, Global Citizen
Photo: TGIF Guide