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How Sephora is Fighting Global PovertyFounded in 1970, Sephora is an international makeup retailer providing cosmetic products to people around the world. These cosmetic products range from perfumes and lotions to makeup and hair care products. As a beauty empire, Sephora currently employs people in 35 countries and makes upwards of $4 billion in revenue every year. Considering Sephora’s worldwide influence, the retail giant has decided to invest money and resources to help people living in poverty worldwide. Below are four ways Sephora is fighting global poverty.

4 Ways Sephora is Fighting Global Poverty

  1. Sephora supports aspiring entrepreneurs: Since 2015, Sephora has offered Sephora Accelerate, whereby aspiring entrepreneurs apply to participate in a six-month-long boot camp. During this boot camp, successful applicants learn the necessary skills to connect with diverse communities, market their products and launch a business within Sephora. In 2021, Sephora focused on helping entrepreneurs of color build a business within Sephora and embark on this journey. Overall, Sephora Accelerate allows successful applicants to collaborate with Sephora staff and jumpstart their careers in the cosmetic industry.
  2. Sephora’s Charity Rewards initiative allows customers to give back: In 2020, Sephora launched the Charity Awards initiative. This program allows customers to redeem their Sephora points in the form of a charity award. Customers acquire Sephora points each time they purchase a Sephora product. For example, when a customer redeems 500 points for a charity reward, Sephora will donate $10 to a charity of their choice. Likewise, redeeming 1,000 points results in a $20 donation and redeeming 1,500 points results in a $30 donation. This initiative allows people to buy products and simultaneously help communities around the world.
  3. Sephora supports Best Buddies International through its Charity Rewards program: This nonprofit is a worldwide volunteer program providing people living with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) access to one-on-one friendships and employment support. Founded in 1989 by Anthony Shriver, Best Buddies International engages with more than 1.3 million participants in 56 countries worldwide. To combat global poverty, the organization provides leadership and employment opportunities to people with IDD to jumpstart their careers.
  4. Sephora backs Rare Impact Fund’s efforts through its Charity Rewards program. Founded by actress and singer Selena Gomez, the Rare Impact Fund is a subset of the larger Rare Beauty cosmetic brand. The Rare Impact Fund is committed to supporting mental health awareness programs and raising $100 million over the next decade for mental health services around the world. Additionally, the Rare Impact Fund partners with The Trevor Project, which provides a suicide intervention program for LGBTQ people in different countries worldwide. Overall, the Rare Impact Fund combats global poverty by financing mental health support programs for those in need.

Sephora’s initiatives like Sephora Accelerate and Charity Rewards help fight global poverty by jumpstarting people’s careers and supporting nonprofit organizations. Additionally, Sephora is fighting global poverty by donating $10 to any legally recognized charity for every hour an employee volunteers at a nonprofit organization. Overall, these measures prove Sephora goes beyond selling cosmetic products, using its worldwide influence to help people in need.

– Chloe Young
Photo: Flickr

Homeless Youth in CanadaThe plight of homeless youth in Canada is a recent issue in the public eye. The increased representation and awareness have garnered celebrity support, such as from Blake Lively and Ryan Reynolds. The married couple has committed to donating $500,000 in total to the cause. Covenant House Vancouver and Toronto, foundations dedicated to opening their door to the homeless youth in Canada, are the lucky recipients.

The Issue

The first majority study done on homeless youth in Canada, “Without a Home: The National Youth Homelessness Survey,” was conducted just four years ago in 2016. A recent study found that the youth make up around 20% of the entire homeless population in Canada.

These children often experience housing instability and child abuse prior to their homelessness experience. Once on the streets, children under 16 — around 40% of the homeless youth in Canada — struggle through increased adversity. Further, various forms of oppression often couple homelessness. A staggering number of these children identify as POC, LGBTQ+, and of many other marginalized groups.

However, organizations and philanthropists alike have stepped up to address this dire situation.

Covenant House

Covenant House is an international organization that provides support and aid for homeless youth in Canada. The organization’s mission statement is: “Covenant House launched a federation-wide initiative to design and implement a cutting-edge, data-informed strategy to help even more of our kids achieve meaningful, long-term outcomes.”

It especially focuses on offering services to members of the LGBTQ+ community, POC, and abuse victims. The organization provides more than just direct support for these young individuals. Covenant House commits to restructuring data processing regarding homeless youth, reviewing methods of information analysis and generation, and finding the best performance measurement strategies. The organization works toward short-term as well as long-term change.

Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively’s Involvement

The serious issue of youth homelessness in Canada deeply struck Ryan Reynolds, a Canadian himself. In response, Reynolds and Blake Lively decided to donate $500,000 to the cause. The couple even matches donations up to $375,000 before the end of 2020 to encourage others to donate.

The choice of where the funds should go was a personal one. Reynolds has a long-time relationship with the Covenant House. The dedication they put into their work and the extensive impact they wield in the community inspired his “investment.”

In the interview done by Covenant House, he described the donation as an investment rather than a monetary donation into homeless youth in Canada. Reynolds stated, “The young people who pass through the doors of Covenant House more often than not have a story marked by extraordinary trauma. They are so much more than that trauma. They have so much to offer the world. Matching this gift is saying you believe in them. You believe in the power of compassion to transform the trajectory of a human being.”

The CEO of Covenant House Vancouver, Krista Thompson, expressed her gratitude for the donation and continued relationship with the couple. Thompson remarked, “Ryan and Blake truly understand that young people who are facing homelessness deserve unconditional love and absolute respect.” The money will be used to assist with youth experiencing homelessness and fund much of the research that is occurring to combat the issue of homelessness as a whole.

Manasi Singh
Photo: Flickr

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In a move widely criticized by human rights groups, India’s Supreme Court voted to reinstate a law banning gay sex last Wednesday. The vote reverses a landmark 2009 decision by the Delhi High Court that found Section 377 of India’s penal code, which bans “carnal intercourse against the order of nature,” unconstitutional.

Section 377 is an outdated holdover of British colonial law that dates back to 1861. That the British have long since repealed their own sodomy laws and are to begin marrying LGBTQ couples in March makes India’s support of the old law even more puzzling.

Violation of Section 377 is punishable by a fine and up to 10 years in prison. Although convictions are rare, the law has largely been used by police and other officials to blackmail and threaten members of the LGBTQ community. Its reimplementation ignores evidence that the law perpetuates harassment and threatens health and safety of LGBTQ citizens, and that it actively discriminates against sexual minorities.

In its 2009 ruling, the Delhi High Court decriminalized sex between two consenting adults, regardless of their gender, finding that Section 377 violated constitutional guarantees of privacy and equality. The Supreme Court disagreed and reversed the ruling. In what many see as an effort to shirk responsibility for the disgraceful decision, the court released statements that Parliament was “free to consider the desirability and propriety of deleting Section 377 IPC from the statute book or amend the same as per the suggestion made by the attorney general.”

This gesture was clearly disingenuous, given India’s fractured parliament, growing conservatism, and upcoming elections that make controversial political moves from parliament members unlikely.

The Supreme Court’s decision shocked many and sparked protests by gay rights supporters across the country. Most had assumed, considering the increase in visibility and acceptance of the LGBTQ community in the years following the 2009 ruling, that the Delhi High Court’s ruling would be upheld.

After 2009, many LGBTQ citizens felt supported by the unexpected show of solidarity from their government. According to Harish Iyer, an equal rights activist based in Mumbai, there was more than a 100 percent increase in people wanting to come out of the closet after the ruling. LGBTQ activists, who say that being gay was rarely discussed in Indian families before the decision, credit the ruling with helping to rid the subject of its taboo nature. Pride parades erupted even in small cities across the country, and Bollywood took note, including more LGBTQ characters than ever in movies and television shows. It seemed that India was moving forward.

“What are you doing now? Pushing them right back in [the closet]?” Iyer asks of the Indian government. “It’s not going to work. People who are out will be louder and stronger.”

There is hope that a strengthened LGBTQ community will be more equipped to take on rights violations than ever, but they will need help.

The Naz Foundation, a group working to prevent the spread of HIV who originally brought the issue to the Delhi High Court in 2001, has promised to redouble its efforts to fight the reinstatement of Section 377. Visit www.nazindia.org/advocacy to learn more and donate today. People cannot afford to move backwards in the fight for human rights.

Sarah Morrison

Sources: Al Jazeera America, The New Yorker, New York Times, New York Times, Time

ethiopia_lgbtq_rights
“Africa will become a graveyard for homosexuality!”

This is the rallying cry of Seyoum Antonius, president of United for Life, an NGO self-described as Christian, pro-life and backing the sanctity of marriage. He was the organizer of a national conference titled “Homosexuality and its associated social disastrous consequences” held in Ethiopia’s capital Addis Ababa in June.

At the conference, Antonius presented his findings from a “study” that “proved” homosexuality leads to STDs, HIV and “severe psychological disorders.” His “findings” were received among wide condemnation of homosexuality from Ethiopian officials, religious leaders and civil representatives as a “western epidemic.”

Seyoum Antonius is only one of a number of reasons that Newsweek, in its recent investigative report, asserts that where life is getting better for many countries’ LGBTQ communities, “in Ethiopia, it’s getting worse.”

Prior to Antonius’s horrifying and detrimental conference, life was already bleak for Ethiopia’s LGBTQ community. Homosexuality is illegal in Ethiopia. Sentences for “homosexual activity” range on average from ten days to three years but can be as high as ten years in prison under certain circumstances.

Ethiopian daily newspaper Yenga had described homosexuality as a “rapidly growing ‘infestation’” whose “carriers” were “estimated to have reached 16,000.” Yenga also asserted that gays have an average of 75 partners a year and that their inherent promiscuity drives them to have between “seven and nine partners a day.”

Further, a 2007 Pew Global Attitudes Project reveals that 97% of Ethiopians believe that homosexuality should be outlawed.

But this isn’t enough for Antonius. A representative from the Ethiopian Inter-Religious Council Against Homosexuality claimed that the council was making “promising” progress in its efforts to sway the government toward implementing the death penalty for “homosexual acts.” Antonius has been clear that he won’t give up his efforts until this happens, hence his chilling rallying cry.

Two laws in Ethiopia in essence completely bar any health centers, charities, or publications in service of Ethiopia’s LGBTQ community. One, Ethiopia’s strict anti-terrorism law, allows the government to prosecute any person who “writes, edits, prints, publishes, publicizes, [or] disseminates” statements the government considers terrorism. This translates to the police being able to search and arrest anyone they want — without a warrant.

Another pivotal law is the one that bars all charities and NGOs that receive more than 10% of their funding from abroad from engaging in activities that further human rights or promote equality.

The result of these laws, both adopted in 2009, is that the few reputable organizations doing work on human rights within Ethiopia have been either closed or coerced to wipe any mention of human rights from their mission statements.

Leslie Lefkow, Human Rights Watch’s deputy editor for the Africa division describes Ethiopia’s restrictive approach as a “two-pronged strategy that results in a climate of fear and self-censorship. The government has effectively closed off the country in terms of independent investigation. They’ve eviscerated the civil society.”

That strategy is so effective that not even major international organizations like the Global Fund to Fight Aids, Tuberculosis and Malaria have had any success funding programs that educate men who have sex with men about HIV prevention or treat those that are inflicted with the disease.

Further, according to Amnesty International’s Claire Beston: “The U.S., U.K. and other governments give huge amounts of aid to Ethiopia while remaining tight-lipped about the extensive violations of human rights happening throughout the country.” Human Rights Watch, which used to research LGBTQ issues in Ethiopia, has found it “increasingly challenging” to do that work, given that it calls for undercover work.

Life is getting worse for the LGBTQ community, indeed.

Kelley Calkins

Sources: Newsweek, Pink News, UNHCR, Pew Global
Photo: Rainbow Ethiopia