Countries That Still Have Slavery
Although modern slavery is not always easy to recognize, it continues to exist in nearly every country. In total, there are 167 countries that still have slavery and around 46 million slaves today, according to the 2016 Global Slavery Index.

The U.S. Department of State defines modern slavery as “the act of recruiting, harboring, transporting, providing, or obtaining a person for compelled labor or commercial sex acts through the use of force, fraud, or coercion.”

India, China, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Uzbekistan and North Korea are at the top of the list for countries that still have slavery. Here are some facts about what slavery is like in each of these countries.

The Highest Numbers: 6 Countries That Still Have Slavery

  1. India (18.4 Million) India has the highest number of slaves in the world. Like many other countries, modern slavery in India can take the shape of domestic service, forced begging, commercial sexual exploitation, forced marriage and forced recruitment for armed services. Because of India’s growing economy, many modern slaves work in factories that export goods to other countries. Consequently, men, women and children work long hours without proper compensation or even basic rights.
  2. China (3.4 Million) The Chinese government relies on exports of goods and raw materials even more than India. According to a CNN report, people in China are forced into labor across many different industries. The migration of poor families from rural to urban areas in search of jobs often leads to opportunities for traffickers. Although families travel together, many eventually split up. Individuals sell young boys to other families who lack sons, and girls often face sex slavery or forced marriage.
  3. Pakistan (2.1 Million) Modern slavery in Pakistan, like India, centers on debt bondage, or bonded labor. Brick-making employs around 10 million people in Pakistan. Children and families often work 10 hours each day in brick kilns and are denied basic rights or laws to protect them. Without this protection, workers face torture and sexual exploitation.
  4. Bangladesh (1.5 Million) Contemporary slavery in Bangladesh is accounted for through 80 percent forced labor and 20 percent forced marriage, according to the Global Slavery Index. Poverty, natural disasters and government corruption have made Bangladesh the 11th most vulnerable country to slavery within Asia.
  5. Uzbekistan (1.2 Million) The main cash crop of Uzbekistan is cotton. Each fall, when cotton crops are booming, the government forces millions of people out of their jobs to work in the cotton fields. International organizations monitor the process, however, the government still does not compensate these people. They also do not enforce proper safety precautions.
  6. North Korea (1.1 Million) The government of North Korea has done little to criminalize modern slavery. People of all ages are subject to forced labor while their government says they are “living in a socialist paradise.” One in twenty North Koreans is enslaved. Although the country does not have the highest total number of slaves, it does have the highest concentration of forced labor.

While many countries have taken steps toward banning and criminalizing slavery, there is still much to do. Countries that still have slavery are facing many problems that we all must address. “Improving the rights of 45.8 million human beings is both wise and urgent for all leaders of countries and organizations,” said Andrew Forrest, Founder and Chairman of the Walk Free Foundation. “Eradicating slavery makes sense; morally, politically, logically and economically.”

Madeline Boeding

Photo: Flickr

International Monetary Fund Facts
The International Monetary Fund (IMF), in combination with the World Bank, is the world’s largest public lender today.

Key Facts About the International Monetary Fund


  1. In the 1930’s the world was overtaken with financial turmoil from the Great Depression. Markets all over the world collapsed and countries closed their doors to foreign imports. The IMF was conceived in July 1944 at the United Nations Bretton Woods Conference in New Hampshire, to protect the world from a similar blow and hasten financial recovery in war-torn nations.
  2. The Fund was created to act as a credit union and watch over the values of the world’s currency, while facilitating International Trade, promote employment and sustainable growth and help to reduce global poverty. Its main aim is to maintain economic stability and help countries complete financial transactions.
  3. The three main responsibilities of the IMF are: Surveillance — specifically to monitor the economic and financial policies of its members; financial assistance through loans to its members experiencing balance of payments issues; and technical assistance to help members design and implement economic policies that foster stability and growth.
  4. Primary aims of the IMF: Promote international monetary cooperation, facilitate the expansion and balanced growth of international trade, promote exchange stability, assist in the establishment of a multilateral system of payments and make resources available to members experiencing balance of payment difficulties.
  5. The IMF is accountable to 189 member countries. Its Headquarters is located in Washington D.C.
  6. A country’s voting power is based on the size of its economy and the amount of the quota it pays when it joins the IMF. The U.S. has the largest share of votes (approximately 17 percent). Decisions require a supermajority– 85 percent of votes.
  7. The IMF advocates currency devaluation for governments of poor nations with struggling economies.
  8.  The largest borrowers of the IMF are Portugal, Greece, Ukraine, and Pakistan. The largest number of IMF loans have gone to the African Continent.
  9. The U.S. contributes about 20 percent of the total annual IMF Budget. The largest member of the IMF is the U.S. while the smallest member is Tuvalu.
  10. The fiscal year for the IMF begins on May 1 and ends on April 30.
  11. The head of the IMF staff is the Managing Director. The Managing Director also acts as Chairman of the Executive Board and serves a five-year term. The present Managing Director is Christine Lagarde of France. The Executive Board Members monitor the day to day work with the guidance of the International Monetary and Financial Committee.

Studies show that contrary to the criticism of the IMF, it fulfills its functions of promoting exchange rate stability and helping its members correct macroeconomic imbalances.

Aishwarya Bansal

Photo: Flickr

Kashmir Family Aid is an organization based out of Portland, Oregon that recognized the influence that secular education in Pakistan could have in combating extremism. The benefit of increased U.S. national security is an added positive outcome. Founder Sam Carpenter assured that the organization’s ultimate goal is fighting poverty through education.

Education in Pakistan is very much bound up in religion. There are over 20,000 madrassas, or religious schools, in Pakistan. This means that 3.5 million children and young adults are given Koranic teachings as their primary source of education, and, while this is a respected and understood aspect of Pakistani culture, it has increased the threat of extremism to the point of government intervention. As reported by the Washington Post, part of the Pakistani government’s 2015 plan for combating terrorism included “registrations and regulation of madrassas,” but it is still approximated that at least 9,000 are unregistered and that two to three percent have ties to student radicalization.

In the politically divided areas of Pakistan and Azad Kashmir, a 2005 earthquake left over 70,000 people dead and three million homeless. The earthquake destroyed 8,000 of the region’s 11,000 primary schools. Kashmir Family Aid was founded to help the area recover from such devastation.

The organization provides school supplies to the small village of Sarli Sacha in the foothills of a rural area that is nearly inaccessible in winter. They continually strive to provide money directly to schools, such as one in the Langla Village that cannot provide the $30 to $40 USD monthly salaries to its teachers. Fearing that the corruption of local officials has contributed to the misappropriation of government funds and undermining of education in Pakistan, Carpenter insists on paying school administrators and teachers in cash.

After bringing secular education to about 1,200 children, Kashmir Family Aid retreated their physical presence, fearing potential kidnap or arrest. In a country where 89 percent of people see Americans as an enemy, help was not always interpreted as such by local leaders. They now work primarily out of their Oregon office to raise money to be contributed to funds such as the Helping Hands Welfare Association.

Providing secular education in Pakistan is potentially one of the most streamlined ways of monitoring and preventing extremism. One of Kashmir Family Aid’s biggest supporters in Azad Kashmir was the prime minister himself, showing that the hope for schools that could produce doctors, educators and community leaders instead of Jihadists is not an American interest alone.

Brooke Clayton

Photo: Flickr

In 1995, The Citizen’s Foundation (TCF) was created by a group of people who believed that education in Pakistan should be a right, not a privilege. For the 20 million children who still do not have education today, that belief could change their lives.

The program began its mission by creating five schools in the slums of Karachi. Now they operate nearly 1,000 schools across poverty-stricken areas of Pakistan.

One of the main goals of The Citizen’s Foundation (TCF) is to help women and girls out of poverty by changing their roles in rural communities. Women who are mothers, and have been considered little more, are now being taught to read in communities with TCF schools. In addition, nearly 15,000 new jobs came along with the schools, and almost all of these positions have been filled by women.

TCF hopes for a balanced gender ratio in its students, and it has nearly attained that goal. Today, 45 percent of students are girls–that is 45 percent of the 145,000 students now receiving education in Pakistan.

The Citizen’s Foundation hopes to create stability through education and employment that will benefit Pakistan domestically while reducing the threat of corruption festering in impoverished communities that has threatened national security abroad.

With career counseling, vocational training, alumni development programs and summer camps, TCF is encouraging the well-being of entire communities, not just putting children behind desks. They have even implemented nine water filtration plants and five reverse osmosis plants to bring clean water to the communities where they operate.

The success of TCF has been recognized across the world. In 2011 the organization was awarded the Qatar Foundation’s award for the Annual World Innovation Summit for Education (WISE), and in 2013 it won a Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, which included $1.25 million of support.

$144 provides one year of education in Pakistan, and The Citizen’s Foundation is determined to continue implementing their curriculum’s in rural, poor areas across the country until that education is a reality for every child.

Brooke Clayton

Photo: Flickr

Award-Winning PPAF Strengthens Pakistani Poverty Efforts
At the 2017 Global Diversity and Inclusion Benchmarks (GDIB) Conference, the Pakistan Poverty Alleviation Fund (PPAF) won the Outstanding Achievement Award for promoting diversity and inclusion within its organization and society. During the conference, the PPAF, recognized as Pakistan’s pre-eminent poverty reduction organization, was awarded for its contributions to Pakistani poverty efforts.

The GDIB Conference, which was held on Apr. 27, 2017, in Karachi, Pakistan, aimed to identify and recognize practices and standards for various organizations around the world that aspire to further mankind. These achievements include ensuring the long-term sustainability of the world and its people and raising struggling people out of global poverty.

In the efforts of alleviating the poverty that distresses Pakistan, the PPAF is dedicated to reducing poverty and improving living conditions across many struggling regions of Pakistan by exemplifying principles of diversity and inclusion. Also, varying themes of social inclusion, gender and environment are implemented through all PPAF’s projects and programs.

Established in 2000, the PPAF was primarily funded by the World Bank and the Pakistani government. In providing loans and grants throughout many struggling regions of Pakistan, it was reported in 2015 that PPAF’s assets totaled $308 million.

Since July 2009, approximately 10 million people have benefited from the PPAF’s various project interventions, with more than half of them being women. Additionally, 125,000 children were enrolled in 896 project-supported schools and 6.5 million patients were treated for various conditions in 482 project-supported health facilities. The PPAF aims to progress Pakistani poverty efforts by giving physical, emotional and financial stability to millions of vulnerable and marginalized people throughout Pakistan.

Brandon Johnson

Photo: Flickr

Child Labor in Pakistan
Child labor in Pakistan? For many years, Pakistan’s reputation has been notorious as one of the worst child labor offenders. In recent years, child labor prevention efforts have been heightened. Beginning in 2017, a province in Pakistan passed a new law banning child labor. Could this province be a guide for the rest of the nation? Here are the three things you need to know about child labor in Pakistan and how lawmakers are putting an end to this problem.

More than 12.5 million children are involved in child labor in Pakistan. According to Reuters, “Pakistan’s Labour Force Survey, 2014-15 showed that of those children aged between 10 and 14 years active in child labor, 61 percent were boys and 88 percent came from rural areas.”

In Pakistan, 38.8 percent of the population is living in poverty, with one in four individuals living in acute poverty. For many citizens in Pakistan, it is hard to find a job or to secure one paying enough to provide for a family. Students from impoverished backgrounds who are unable to enter school are most likely to become affected by child labor in Pakistan.

Many child workers are often abused where they work, suffering beatings or torture. Many children are sent to live with middle class and elite class families to perform as domestic servants. Jobs like these become particularly dangerous for children, as they are at the risk of physical and sexual abuse without real supervision.

There are a few programs funded by the government to tackle child labor in Pakistan. For instance, the Children Support Program gives parents money so that they can send their children to school instead of encouraging them to join the work force. This program is available to parents of children ages five to 16. So far, the government has distributed $3 million to families.

In 2016, Pakistan was criticized for not conducting any surveys focusing on the child labor of the past 20 years. This allowed for about 25 million children, who are not attending school, slip under the radar.

On Jan. 26, 2017, the province of Sindh made child labor illegal under The Sindh Prohibition of Employment of Children Bill, banning children under the age of 14 from working. The law also prohibits adolescents from working between the hours of 7 p.m. to 8 a.m. and for those adolescents who are working, they cannot work more than three hours a day.

Sindh is known as the most impoverished province in Pakistan. As reported by, “In Sindh, 43.1 percent [of the] population is extremely poor due to lack of education, health facilities and poor living standards.” The new law states that offenders of the child labor law will be imprisoned for six months and fined 50,000 rupees. Meanwhile, offenders who are found with child workers in dangerous workplaces (such as stone crushing and carpet weaving) will be sentenced to three years of imprisonment with an increased fine of 100,000 rupees.

Since the province of Sindh is beginning to tackle the issue of child labor in Pakistan, in the future, the rest of the Pakistani work force could follow its example and eliminate all labor misconducts.

Maria Rodriguez

Photo: Flickr

Pakistan and Tajikistan
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President of Tajikistan Emomali Rahmon held a meeting in March reaffirming the close relationship between the two nations and their dedication to furthering the peace, prosperity and progress of Pakistan and Tajikistan.

The meeting followed the 13th annual Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) Summit held in Islamabad, Pakistan. After showing remorse for the deaths of seven Tajikistani following a series of avalanches back in January, Sharif pledged the equivalent of nearly $5 million in aid to Tajikistan.

The leaders discussed the progress between Pakistan and Tajikistan in commercial growth, specifically with regard to the 1,000 Electricity Transmission and the Trade Project for Central Asia and South Asia (CASA-1,000). CASA-1,000 is a World Bank initiative developed to create sustainable electricity trade between Tajikistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Afghanistan and Pakistan, and has recently been approved to move into its construction phase.

During the meeting, Sharif and Rahmon focused on augmenting trade, energy and defense collaboration between Pakistan and Tajikistan. The conversation was likely stimulated by the Turkish President’s appeal for the cooperation between ECO member states, in terms of connectivity and energy development. He highlighted the region’s need for trade by conveying that although the ECO holds more than six percent of the world’s population, its stake in global trade stands at only two percent.

At the 13th ECO Summit, the heads of state adopted the Islamabad Declaration and Vision 2025, both of which necessitated increased cooperation and integration. Speaking at a press conference late, Sharif declared his support for the Vision’s practical and efficient goals and application guidelines for the region’s development.

At the conclusion of the meeting between the leaders of Pakistan and Tajikistan, President Emomali Rahmon thanked Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif for his approval of Tajikistan’s addition to the Quadrilateral Transit Traffic Agreement. The bilateral agreement, initially signed in 2010, will continue to facilitate connectivity and trade between Pakistan and Tajikistan.

Jaime Viens

Photo: Flickr

Sustainable Energy
A rise in population and an increase in new industries has created a demand for energy that Pakistan has been unable to handle. At its peak, the deficit in electricity was over 40% of the national demand. Despite having several energy sources including natural gas, hydroelectricity and coal, more than 140 million Pakistanis do not have access to electricity. Scientists are studying several solutions including biogas, a renewable and sustainable energy source.

The demand for the most utilized sources of energy — oil and gas — outweigh the supply. According to the Oil and Gas Development Company, Pakistan’s oil supply will be depleted by 2025 and natural gas will be depleted by 2030. Climate change and droughts have endangered the supply of hydroelectricity as well.

According to Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, Punjab Chief Minister, Pakistan’s energy crisis is responsible for a massive loss in both the industrial and agricultural sectors. To meet growing demands, it is necessary to explore other possible power sources.

Biogas, a renewable and sustainable energy source, could be the answer to the energy and agriculture crisis. Being an agricultural country, Pakistan has a substantial number of cattle that produce a huge amount of waste. This waste could be used to generate electricity while also eliminating the waste disposal problem. Animal manure, industrial waste, agricultural residue and kitchen waste can all be converted to biogas and used to produce electricity.

Pakistan’s bio-gas technology company, PAK-Energy, has installed seven biogas tanks in Lahore and plans to install over 25,000 more in the next 3 years. Access to clean-burning fuel can reduce health problems, environmental degradation and poverty. Moreover, farmers can use bio-fertilizer as organic fertilizer.

Other projects include a plan for renewable energy sources — wind, solar and biogas — to provide at least five percent of the total commercial energy supply by 2030. Ultimately, officials are hopeful that at least 2.5% of energy will come from renewable and sustainable sources.

Mary Barringer

Photo: Flickr

China Boosts Pakistan
Recently, nearly 200 scientists, researchers and officials from the space industry participated in the Symposium on Space International Cooperation, promoting the economic and social development of the developing world. The symposium, held in November, in Beijing, was a joint effort put together by the International Academy of Astronautics and the China International Exchange Center for Astronautical Science and Technology.

During the symposium, Hiroki Matsuo, Vice-President of the International Academy of Astronautics confirmed China’s commitment to collaborating with developing countries in the areas of space-based navigation, manned and robotic space flights and data applications—namely with Pakistan and Venezuela. Matsuo declared, “Preparation work for the Venezuela Remote Sensing Satellite II project is proceeding according to schedule.” He also verified that a similar remote sensing satellite, to be used by Pakistan, would be finished in 2018.

Remote sensing satellites are dedicated to accumulating data about the earth’s surface and can help survey resources on land, monitor nearby oceans and forecast weather — something essential to crop planning and resiliency in the aftermath of natural disasters.

Both the Venezuelan and Pakistani remote sensing satellites are being developed by the China Academy of Space Technology. The company is also dedicated to expanding its services to other countries in the developing world, especially to countries in the Middle East that are new to the space market. To date, 11 satellites, developed in China, have been completed and exported to nine different countries, including Laos, Nigeria and Bolivia. The successes of the China Academy of Space Technology in working with the developing world can be attributed to their commitment to providing more than just the design and manufacturing of remote sensing satellites. They also incorporated launch, operations and training services into their business model.

Hu Zhongmin, the Director of the International Cooperation Department at the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corp, the parent company of the China Academy of Space Technology, is excited about further collaborations between China and other countries. Zhongmin and his company understand that multi-national exchanges of space technology can greatly benefit the developing world.

When it comes to manufacturing and launching satellites, China has had a long-running relationship with Venezuela. In fact, the Venezuelan Remote Sensing Satellite II, to be completed later this year, is the third collaborative effort between the two countries. The first was a communication satellite, launched in 2008 and the second was the Venezuelan Remote Sensing Satellite I, which was launched in 2012.

Pakistan is also a veteran to the world of space technology, establishing the Space Sciences Research Wing to the Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission in 1961. The original project from the program, Rehbar-I, was launched in 1962 and became only the tenth of its kind in the world. Data from this original Pakistan Space Sciences Research project helped officials study weather, cyclones and cloud formations above the Arabian Sea.

Ashley Henyan

Photo: Flickr

Comparing Gender Inequality Examples and Progress Across the GlobeIt is the time of year to reflect on achievements and the need for change. The World Economic Forum 2016 Report on the Global Gender Gap points to both.

Countries are measured on the following metrics regarding women and gender inequality: economic participation and opportunity, political empowerment, educational attainment, health, and survival.

The highest possible score is one for gender equality. The lowest possible score is zero for gender inequality. Rwanda has achieved a ranking of five. Pakistan and Yemen are 143 and 144 respectively out of a total 144 countries. Gender inequality examples are numerous in both Yemen and Pakistan.

Gender inequality leads to gender-based violence against both women and young girls affecting one in three females around the world, in the name of “honor killings”, public stoning’s, wartime rape, domestic violence and abuse. Increased conflict in Yemen highlights a correlation with marrying off child bride’s sooner. This is a longstanding human rights violation in Yemen.

Numbers from a survey of 250 community members conducted by UNFPA indicated 72 percent of child marriage survivors in North Yemen were married between the ages of 13 and 15. In the South, 62 percent were married before the age of 16. Child brides experience pregnancy complications and are more vulnerable to violence. They are expected to conceive within their first month after marriage.

Pakistan also experienced severe spikes in violence against women this past summer. Women died by burning, strangling, and poison. Women are vulnerable to early marriage, domestic violence and death by male family members who may be suspicious that they are unfaithful.

New legislation passed in October called the “anti-honor crime bill”. This marks progress; there will, however, remain obstacles between parliament and religious groups. For real change, all murders will need to be treated the same as a crime against the state.

True change for women living in vulnerable settings is possible. Protecting Girls Access to Education in Vulnerable Settings Act is a bill that was introduced in July 2016 that “… is critical to ensure that children, particularly girls, displaced by conflicts overseas are able to receive a quality education and that the educational needs of women and girls are considered in implementing U.S. foreign assistance policies and programs.”

Pakistan activists are taking action for change with a play on words to end violence against all women. The U.N. Women Pakistan’s new #BeatMe campaign challenges men to beat well-known women from Pakistan at things in which they excel. The campaign confronts physical abuse with female mountain climber Samina Baig. She is the only Pakistani woman to climb Mount Everest.

The campaign will focus on success stories of women from all walks of life. Pakistan’s #BeatMe campaign has advocacy components, legal services for survivors and intends to address a shift in social attitudes particularly among men and boys. The campaign’s long-term goals focus on opening a global dialogue about women’s rights and gender equality.

It has been twenty years since the Rwandan genocide where 100 million men, women and children died. Women extended their strength as mothers into the fields of construction and mobilization to rebuild their nation. Today women have a seat at the economic and political tables of power. This is why Rwanda ranks 5th this year for improving the status of women.

  • Fifty percent of Rwanda’s Supreme Court Justice’s are women
  • Girls attend public school in equal numbers to boys
  • Women can legally own property and pass citizenship to their offspring
  • Established businesswomen are leaders in the private sector
  • Rwanda ranks first in the world for women’s representation in elected lower house of parliament.

New laws are one factor in the Rwanda’s shift to a country where women hold a new place in society. These laws are strengthened by a paradigm shift in the collective thinking of the entire country.

Rwanda did not rebuild overnight. The strength of Rwandan women is a model for countries at war, where women are struggling to stay alive, and seek freedom from violence, a large stepping stone to education, political power and equal pay.

Addison Evans

Photo: Flickr