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Poverty in Guatemala
Mercado Global is working to reduce poverty in Guatemala by providing craftswomen and weavers of the rural highland regions with opportunities to become fiscally sustainable and contribute to their communities’ economic growth.

In Guatemala, only 45% of girls of secondary school age are enrolled in secondary school, and only 72% of women are literate. In order to promote female empowerment, Mercado Global offers business education programs that teach women how to start and run a community business — from managing cost and pricing to filing taxes. The education programs also offer leadership training sessions and assistance in developing savings and accessing credit.

Once craftswomen know how to invest and sustain their businesses, they sell their wares through international retail partners such as J. Crew, Anthropologie and Accompany. Mercado Global also offers personal and community savings programs as well as microloans.

To place the need for financial sustainability into context, over half of all Guatemalans live in poverty. Within the indigenous population, 75% are living in poverty. The World Bank reported that the country reduced its poverty rate from 56% to 51% between 2000 and 2006. However, more recent figures show that poverty rose to 59.3% in 2014. The effects of poverty are especially evident in rural areas, where eight out of 10 people are considered poor.

According to a 2010 Economic and Social Council report, women in Guatemala experience gender inequalities, which are often compounded by geographic and ancestral factors. Women earn 31% less than men in urban centers, and 37% less in rural areas. Indigenous women in rural areas face a 28% employment rate, while 63% of rural indigenous men are employed.

While the World Bank predicts the reduction of rural poverty in Guatemala will likely be a slow and long-term endeavor, Mercado Global plans to continue empowering rural indigenous women one loom at a time.

Casie Wilson

Photo: Flickr

youth_employment
A world in which every youth has access to employment may sound a little far-fetched, but this is just what global organization Solutions for Youth Employment (S4YE) strives to achieve.

Acknowledging International Youth Day, which comes around every August 12, the S4YE coalition is initiating a five-year strategy which will focus on the specific challenges that youth face in receiving employment across the world.

S4YE is a global coalition made up of civil society actors, government officials, foundations, private sector entities, international organizations and young people endeavoring to help the 600 million youth who are unemployed and simultaneously not receiving education or any kind of additional training across the globe.

“In 2014 nearly 500 million young people around the world are unemployed, inactive, underemployed, or engaged in insecure employment,” states the S4YE.

Tackling such an issue will not be easy, but strides are being taken to make a difference. Over the course of a 15-year initiative, the organization’s first ambitious strategy is to support 150 million youth worldwide by 2030.

Although unemployment is an issue affecting an astronomical amount of people, S4YE is specifically focusing on areas where it is a national priority including the Middle East, North Africa, sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, the Caribbean and Asia.

According to an article by the World Bank, the addition of a billion more people entering the workforce in the coming decade means that at least five million more jobs will need to be created each month to meet the demands. If this cannot be done, youth will find themselves in a place of inopportunity, which will only lead to social and political instability.

The magnitude of the problem is grave; if nothing changes for the unemployed youth—with 1 million more youth in Africa and India turning 15 each year—the poorest 40 percent of the world’s population will fall into poverty.

S4YE identifies some of the challenges of accomplishing total youth employment, which include developing a skilled workforce, creating well-functioning markets and ensuring a stable middle-class consumer base. Essentially, traditional models of engagement may be abandoned to guarantee that millions will have the opportunity to escape poverty.

Despite the inherent obstacles, it is S4YE’s vision to see a world where all youth have access to job opportunities that empower them, so they are able to share their prosperity with the world.

Potential solutions for these challenges have also been identified and include leveraging public and private investments for job creation, research and evaluation to design an education based training, and finally, leadership is needed to identify what strategies are and aren’t working, implementing them into the design of future policies and investments.

As our world population continues to climb, it is up to organizations like S4YE to generate creative solutions to keep pace with a rapidly expanding presence and ensure that every human has an opportunity for a life well lived.

Nikki Schaffer

Sources: S4YE, World Bank
Photo: Twitter

young_african_leaders_initiative
The Young African Leaders Initiative (YALI) is the combined efforts of the U.S. government, Non-Governmental Organizations, universities and companies to support African youth and future leaders in hopes of creating a better future for Africa as a whole. It was established by President Obama in 2010.

Not only does YALI aim to create and shape African leaders, but it also wants to create a network between them. What is striking about this measure is that it lays down a framework for these future leaders who are full of potential, but then leaves the more substantial and meaningful portion of the work to the young leaders themselves, leaving it up to them to shape their world.

YALI goes about this goal in several ways. For example, it offers online courses for individuals who want to learn more about areas such as entrepreneurship, leadership and public management. Completion of a YALI course not only means that a person has learned about honing valuable life skills, but also that they receive a certificate to prove it.

YALI is also working to construct Regional Leadership Centers throughout Africa with the intent of increasing accessibility and relevance of training programs to leaders and future leaders across Africa. Two have opened so far this year, in Accra and Nairobi, and two more are planned for Dakar and Pretoria by the end of 2015.

The YALI Network face2face is a Facebook group that helps young African leaders share events encouraging leadership and fellowship, or even create new skills. Members are encouraged not only to attend events but to create their own on topics that interest them or that would be beneficial to their particular community. It’s a tool to help create and maintain connections.

Another huge event put on by the group is the Mandela Washington Fellowship for Young African Leaders, which brought 500 African leaders ages 25 to 35 to the United States in 2014 and 2015. Fellows take academic courses in business, civic engagement and public administration and receive leadership training. Some also participate in internships. What they take home is access to new opportunities, seed funding and useful skill sets to help build their own communities.

Participants in the fellowship are selected from almost 50,000 applicants. Next year, there are plans to double the number of participants to 1,000, as well as to develop an exchange program where 80 Americans are sent to Africa to work with alumni of the fellowship program.

Each applicant has his or her own story and set of experiences that make them valuable contributors to the fellowship. For example, Grace Alache Jerry, Miss Wheelchair Nigeria, is a spokesperson for people with disabilities, founder of her own nonprofit organization and organizer of a series of benefit concerts.

Eldine Chilembo is an advocate for women’s empowerment in the maritime industry in Angola. Noluthando Duma helps orphans in her South African Province of KwaZulu Natal and hopes to develop a home to provide resources to such children.

Kenyan Kezy Mukiri said of her experience in the fellowship, “What I’m taking back with me is humanity. We need to connect; the world is becoming a global village.”

The bringing together of such inspired, dedicated minds is an undoubtedly noble cause. President Obama summed up the goal of the movement nicely at his speech at this year’s Washington Summit.

“Our hope is. . . when you have all gone on to be ministers in government or leaders in business or pioneers of social change, that you will still be connecting with each other, that you will still be learning from each other.”

Emily Dieckman

Sources: Insidevoa, Miami Herald, NPR, State, Voanews, Young African Leaders
Photo: The White House Blog

seychelles
Two separate grant agreements between Seychelles and the European Union were signed on December 10. The two agreements will provide as much as $6.4 million in order to help foster sustainable development and fight the effects of climate change in the archipelago nation.

The two agreements come on the heels of warnings from both the UN and the World Bank Group about the potential of climate change to exacerbate poverty in coastal communities. Seychelles’ economy—dependent chiefly upon tourism and tuna hauls—is particularly vulnerable to effects of climate change.

Recently, Seychelles has become something of a regional leader in the fight for sustainable development. Seychelles has already reached the majority of the UN Millennium Development Goals, and is now advocating the adoption of “blue economy” principles, which emphasize the protection of maritime resources and the economic potential of the Indian Ocean’s fishing, shipping, energy and tourism sectors.

Seychelles Foreign Affairs Minister John-Paul Adam believes that the development of the blue economy could allow the Indian Ocean to become a hub of sustainable ocean management and resiliency in the face of a changing climate. Adam, speaking at the 38th annual ministerial meeting of the G77 plus China, said, “The blue economy provides a blank canvas to many developing countries to charter a completely new sustainable development pathway that is to their best interest.”

In a press statement at the same meeting, Adam called for cooperation amongst southern hemisphere nations in science and technology in order to bolster blue economy sectors. Seychelles is also doing its part in building regional cooperation, strengthening bilateral ties with Fiji in the fisheries sector.

Seychelles’ efforts to sustain development and mitigate the compounding effect of climate change on poverty exemplify the kind of regional leadership that will be necessary in meeting the UN Sustainable Development Goals. Similarly, the EU grants will need to be replicated by wealthy nations in order to provide developing nations with the financial resources necessary to not only continue developing, but to do so in a sustainable and climate-conscious way.

– Parker Carroll

Sources: Chatham House, Seychelles News Agency 1, Seychelles News Agency 2, Ventures Africa
Photo: Seychelles News Agency

young political leaders
The American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL) focuses on international education exchange programs for young political leaders worldwide. Participants gain more than a standard experience abroad, however. The program provides in-depth exploration of the governance, politics, bilateral relations, geographic diversity, culture and policy-making of the host country. Since their founding in 1966, ACYPL has worked in 113 countries around the world.

ACYPL’s goal is to provide opportunities for the development of future political leaders, allowing them to gain insight into the realm of international relations. The program promotes more than just knowledge, focusing on individual growth and development as well.

One of ACYPL’s strategic goals is to strengthen participant’s leadership skills and promote an open-minded attitude. Mutual understanding, respect, and friendship are all positive outcomes of the experience. In addition, the program provides an opportunity for networking, allowing people to stay in touch across the globe.

Lasting around 14 days, the program is for mid-level professionals with leadership potential in government, the private sector or civil society. The program requires that participants be between the ages of 25-40 and have current employment related to the legislative and governing process.

As our world becomes increasingly globalized, cooperation is becoming as crucial as ever. The founders of ACYPL understood the importance of promoting understanding across cultures as an imperative ingredient for a progressive future. In 1966, in the midst of the Vietnam War, the assassination of President Kennedy, and the Chinese revolution, a group of young Democrat and Republican leaders decided to create an opportunity for the next generation of political leaders to know and understand each other.

With the support from the U.S. government, Spencer Oliver, Peter McPherson, Hodding Carter, Bill Hybl, Charles Manatt and Pat Buchanan created the ACYPL. Young American political leaders began to travel to the Soviet Union and throughout Western Europe. In return, the U.S. welcomed international delegates.

As the program grew in response to political developments, new exchanges were forming at a rapid speed. When President Carter normalized relations with the People’s Republic of China, his special White House advisor at the time was Sarah Weddington—the only person in the administration who had actually been to China. She was on the first ACYPL delegation in 1977 as a young Texas state representative.

The ACYPL conducts multinational programs on topics of global or regional importance including the North American Trade Agreement, clime change and energy security and political activism for minority populations.

According to the ACYPL, the U.S.’s national and international conversations have become increasingly polarized. Thus, the ACYPL works to open a door for respectful dialogue among Democrats, Republicans, and Independents all over the U.S. In addition the conversation is shared with numerous political affiliations from countries all around the globe, who despite their differences, desire to solve problems through informed policy making. The ACYPL hopes to enhance delegate’s understanding of international structures, advocating for a well-informed and comprehensive perspectives on issues.

Most recently in 2004, Pakistan joined the partnership. The ACYPL works to continue to establish exchanges with countries on all ends of the spectrum—whether it is a country deemed strategically significant, a developing democracy, or a longtime ally, the ACYPL is constantly looking to extend its network.

While continuing to develop as many political leaders as possible, the ACYPL signifies a beacon of hope for peace. Aiding in a mutual understanding of a country’s culture and the political system in which governs its borders is a crucial first step in this process.

– Caroline Logan

Sources: Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Exchange Program, American Council of Young Political Leaders
Photo: Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs Exchange Program

Global_Leaders
For individuals who are passionate about improving worldwide living conditions and gaining the skills necessary to further oneself in the field of global health, internships are fraught with worthwhile and unique opportunities to gain knowledge and hands-on experience. With the plethora of diverse internships, the Global Health Corps (GHC) initiative, established in 2009, has stood out as an enriching opportunity for passionate young individuals. The Global Health Corp was engendered by the belief that adequate health is not only a privilege, but also a right for every human across the globe.

GHC aligns interns with top-notch organizations so both parties are able to collaborate-mutually benefiting each other in order to improve global health. According to the GHC, many opportunities to improve global health are not available for individuals who have not already established themselves in the medical field. Thus, another goal of the Corp is to provide opportunities for young people, especially individuals from diverse roots, to achieve their potential and make an impact on worldwide healthcare.

The program offers summer internships at the GHC headquarters in New York City. Furthermore, fellows can also be placed in locales such as Burundi, Rwanda, Uganda and Zambia. The internship provides unique opportunities such as aiding the enhancement of the GHC program, raising money through fundraising, and improving communications support.

According to the Corp, there are a series of six steps taken throughout the internship project. First, fellows are chosen, then they are paired with a host organization and partnered with a participating organization. Additionally, fellows are able to develop their unique skill-sets, establish an educated community and continue to promote global health initiatives long after the internship expires.

The Corp also provides opportunities for interns to work for global change through three key goals. Interns will be able to help increase the impact of prominent organizations by working with such organizations. Additionally, the GHC provides excellent training for aspiring future leaders by engaging interns in a wide-range of developmental activities. Furthermore, interns are able to engage in constructing an international community for change that will continue to flourish even after the yearly internships have been brought to a successful end.

– Phoebe Pradhan

Sources: Global Health Corps, Huffington Post
Photo:
Wize Hive

Amigos_de_las_Americas

What does a word leader look like? Presidents, executives, members of Congress, and those with major publicity are probably the first people that come to mind.

Yet there are some leaders that don’t get this same attention. These leaders are in the background, changing communities one step at a time and building life long bonds to international cultures that can’t be diminished.

These leaders are the young students of the Amigos de Las Americas organization. Founded in 1965, Amigos stresses the importance of leaders and advocates out in the communities today. Developing leadership and cultural skills, Amigos sends high school and college students out into international communities, where developed skills are used to implement change in health and education practices.

The community service projects that Amigos have been involved in have a profound impact on the people of Latin America. In just 48 years of operation, Amigos has administered nearly 8 million immunizations, given 63,904 medical screenings and planted nearly 300,000 trees in numerous communities of Latin America. They have constructed health facilities, homes and community centers, as well as nearly 38,000 restrooms.

The influence this organization has on Latin America can’t be overstated, and students have had an overwhelming response. Over two dozen chapters have opened up in America, including a large chapter in Austin. Eighteen states in America host these chapters and are involved in the Amigos organization.

Amigos have already begun planning ahead to the summer projects of 2014. Some of the places where students will participate include Peru, Paraguay, Nicaragua, and Ecuador. The organization accepts donations on their website to help fund these trips and other projects. For more information on how to apply for one of these trips, visit www.amigoslink.org.

There are no limits to becoming a leader. Make a difference now.

– William Norris

Sources: Amigos de las Americas, Austin Amigos
Photo: Amigos de las Americas

Nelson Mandela's Childhood

Nelson Mandela’s life has been exemplary in many ways. Through his patience, his perseverance, his strength and his courage, he managed to lead South Africa through troubled social and economic times to become one of the world’s largest emerging economies and bring an end to apartheid to establish a new “Rainbow Nation” in honor of its racial diversity.

Nelson Mandela’s childhood is no less remarkable than his career. From a family that was traditionally powerful – his father was in line to be chief until a dispute robbed him of the title – Mandela came from humble beginnings. After his father was dispossessed of his status, his family was forced to move to a small village, where he was raised in a hut and lived a very simple life, eating what they could grow and playing with the other village boys. His first name was Rohlilahla, meaning “troublemaker” (an apt name for the man who would later become the leader of the African National Congress). He adopted Nelson when he began formal schooling and was given an English name.

After his father died, he was sent to live with Jongintaba Dalindyebo, a regent of the Thembu people, who began raising Mandela to assume a position of leadership when he grew older.

Mandela’s interest in African history is said to have started during his lessons next to the palace, where he studied English, Xhosa, geography, and history. He became interested in the effect of the arrival of the Europeans on the nation and the people. Later, in a coming-of-age ritual in the village, Chief Meligqili, a speaker, uttered words that would greatly influence Mandela.

“He went on to lament that the promise of the young men would be squandered as they struggled to make a living and perform mindless chores for white men. Mandela would later say that while the chief’s words didn’t make total sense to him at the time, they would eventually formulate his resolve for an independent South Africa.”

From the village, Mandela would go to boarding school and later university, which would feed the fire of his emerging interest in the rights of South Africans.

Mandela disproves the common conception that one needs to come from an established background in order to be successful; what made the difference in Mandela’s case was the education afforded to him by Dalindyebo, and later through boarding school and university. Mandela’s understanding of his own country’s history and his exposure to multiple facets of life gave him insight into the lives of many of the different citizens of the country.

Much of Mandela’s strength stemmed from a humble background and the early lessons of hardship and the value of each opportunity.

– Farahnaz Mohammed

Sources: Biography.com, History.com
Photo: The Guardian

10 Quotes from Margaret Thatcher on Leadership, Poverty and Peace
Margaret Thatcher, Britain’s first female Prime Minister, died of a stroke on Monday, April 8 at the age of 87. Her accomplishments and failures are numerous but her humble beginnings in the apartment above her father’s shop did not stop her from climbing the political ladder and making a name for herself. With over a decade in Parliament, a friendship with Ronald Reagan, and great debate regarding her sensitivity, or lack thereof, to the social impact of the economic reforms she led, under her belt, “Maggie” certainly left an impression on the World. Criticism and praise aside, these quotes from Thacher’s book, Statecraft: Strategies for a Changing World (2003) on leadership, poverty and peace evoke discussion.

“It is always important in matters of high politics to know what you do not know. Those who think that they know, but are mistaken, and act upon their mistakes, are the most dangerous people to have in charge.” — Margaret Thatcher.

“(Not) even the US can impose peace: it has to be genuinely accepted by both parties involved.” — Margaret Thatcher

“Whether at home or abroad, the task of statesman is to work with human nature warts and all, and to draw on instincts and even prejudices that can be turned to good purpose. It is never to try to recreate Mankind in a new image.” — Margaret Thatcher

“Bribing regimes to comply with requirements which they should have acknowledged in the first place is not a process that appeals to me.” — Margaret Thatcher

“It is one of the great weaknesses of reasonable men and women that they imagine that projects which fly in the face of commonsense are not serious or being seriously undertaken.” — Margaret Thatcher

“To be free is better than to be unfree – always. Any politician who suggests the opposite should be treated as suspect.” — Margaret Thatcher

“Whether manufactured by black, white, brown or yellow hands, a widget remains a widget – and it will be bought anywhere if the price and quality are right. The market is a more powerful and more reliable liberating force than government can ever be.” — Margaret Thatcher

“The larger the slice taken by government, the smaller the cake available for everyone.” — Margaret Thatcher

“I think we’ve been through a period where too many people have been given to understand that if they have a problem, it’s the government’s job to cope with it. ‘I have a problem, I’ll get a grant.’ ‘I’m homeless, the government must house me.’ They’re casting their problem on society. And you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women, and there are families. And no government can do anything except through people, and people must look to themselves first. It’s our duty to look after ourselves and then, also, to look after our neighbor. People have got the entitlements too much in mind, without the obligations. There’s no such thing as entitlement, unless someone has first met an obligation.” — Margaret Thatcher

“There is much to be said for trying to improve some disadvantaged people’s lot. There is nothing to be said for trying to create heaven on earth.” — Margaret Thatcher

– Kira Maixner

Source Rightwing News Time
Photo Wikimedia

 

Read Humanitarian Quotes.

biden
With old Senate mates and close confidants gaining power and moving up the ranks in government administration, Vice President Joe Biden’s talent of using personal relationships to gain influence within the Obama administration is helping him take on a larger role in foreign policy.

Recently, Biden was essential in ensuring that Syrian opposition leader, Moaz al-Khatib, met with a former Senate mate, Secretary of State John Kerry. He also helped in easing tensions over another former Senate mate, Chuck Hagel, becoming Defense Secretary. His role in both of these situations was simple. He made phone calls and his credibility and stature in the U.S. government did the rest.

Because of Biden’s connections and personal ties to top government officials – the above just being a couple of examples – Vali Nasr, a former State Department official, believes “it’s not so much that he [Biden] intends to expand his influence, but his stature will rise by default.” He has also built specific relationships with influential leaders around the world, such as slated President of China Xi Jinping.

Biden taking on a larger role in foreign policy would help the White House have more control on this issue area, which seems to be their intent. Biden bringing his whole team up, vis–à–vis Drake’s song “Started From The Bottom”, seems to be key to the White House having this control. Considering Biden’s ability to take on specific issues and build key relationships, an increased role in foreign policy for Biden seems to be on the horizon.

– Angela Hooks

Source: NY Times
Photo: Huffington Post