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The Cost pf Ending PovertySeveral economists estimate that the cost of ending world poverty is around $175 billion. To the average person, this amount can seem like an unachievable goal to reach, therefore making any contribution futile. In other instances, some people prefer not to make direct donations to end poverty, in fear that their money is not being allocated efficiently.

Let’s consider a product that has had immense success despite its price often being called into question.

AirPods, similarly to most Apple products, have become a staple for many technology users. Chances are that you either know someone who owns a pair of AirPods or you own a pair yourself.

On different social media outlets like Twitter and TikTok, AirPods have turned into a meme in which the small product is often mocked for its big price. The first generation AirPods sold for an average of $149 per pair. On October 30, 2019, Apple launched AirPods Pro at a price of $249.

Apple sold over 60 million pairs of AirPods in 2019 and is projected to sell an estimated 90 million pairs in 2020. In 2019, AirPods generated an estimated revenue of $6 billion while the revenue in 2020 is expected to reach $15 billion.

Apple’s sales of AirPods in 2020 alone is eight percent of the yearly estimated cost of ending poverty. On a large scale, this percentage may seem like a small portion of what is needed to minimize this global issue. However, $250 on a smaller scale can go a long way to help.

6 Other Ways to Spend $250 that can Help End Global Poverty

  1. Sponsor a child – Many children from war-torn countries live as refugees in impoverished conditions. With a full $250 donation, UNICEF will be able to sponsor three refugee children for a lifetime. Through this donation, UNICEF can provide these children with access to clean drinking water, immunizations, education, health care and food supply.
  2. Buy a bed net – A bed net can help prevent the spread of malaria by creating a physical barrier between the person inside and the malaria-carrying mosquitos. The CDC Foundation’s net is an insecticide-treated net (ITN) which continues to create a barrier even if there are holes in it. Each net can protect up to three children and 50 nets can be provided with a $250 donation.
  3. Provide a community with bees – Bees pollinate around an average of a third of the food supply. Consequently, providing a community with a batch of bees could help local agriculture flourish. Additionally, these bees are often monitored by community-based youth programs that promote entrepreneurship. Through Plan International, seven different communities could benefit from a $250 donation.
  4. Register a child – By registering a child with a birth certificate, that child then has access to necessary human rights such as health care, education and inheritance. A birth certificate is also an essential part of protecting children from child marriage, human trafficking and forced labor. A $250 donation could register seven children for a record of existence.
  5. Buy a goat, baby chicks and a sheep for a familyGoat’s milk can provide children with protein that is essential for growth. Baby chicks can also produce nutritious eggs and the possibility to generate income. Sheep will yield milk, cheese and wool for a family. All of these animals will offer a family a continuous supply of living necessities. One of each animal can be given to a family through a $250 donation.
  6. Fund a community center – A $250 donation could go towards investing in the lives of youth in poverty by funding a community center. This donation goes towards building or modernizing youth centers in impoverished areas. A community center creates a space for health operations, play spots for children and technological hubs.

These are a few of the many effective ways to make a simple contribution to alleviating this global problem that costs no more than a set of AirPods.

Ending world poverty is not an easy task, nor is it inexpensive upon first glance. However, an individual can make a massive impact once the cost of ending poverty is put into perspective. A personal contribution to ending poverty can be as simple as making a donation for the same price as a pair of AirPods.

Camryn Anthony
Photo: Flickr

Child Marriage in MalawiChild marriage rates in Sub-Saharan Africa are the highest in the world, with an average of 35% of girls married before the age of 18. In the sub-Saharan nation of Malawi, the rate of child marriage in 2015 was the ninth highest worldwide. The widespread issue of child marriage in Malawi has impacted many young girls and their futures. One of the major contributors is widespread poverty. Over half of the Malawi population lives below the poverty line, causing girls to be married off in hopes of economic advancement. However, these marriages perpetuate the cycle of poverty in the nation as girls are unable to continue their education: 55% of girls in Malawi do not return to school after eighth grade. However, recent successes are working to end child marriage in Malawi.

Changes to Malawi’s Constitution

The Malawi government has been making strides against child marriages within the nation. In 2015, the Marriage, Divorce and Family Relations Act raised the minimum marriage age from 15 to 18. Nevertheless, a loophole limited this law from fully eradicating child marriage by allowing children between the ages of 15 and 18 to get married as long as their parents gave consent.

Luckily, in February of 2017, the country’s government addressed this loophole. A vote ensued in the nation’s Parliament to pass a constitutional amendment banning child marriage in Malawi for those under the age of 18. The amendment passed unanimously, making child marriage officially illegal in the nation.

The Road to Change

In recent years, organizations around the world have shown increasing interest in eliminating child marriage in Malawi. For example, Plan International, an organization dedicated to advancing equality for children with a focus on girls, joined the movement by supporting Malawian youth groups that spoke up against child marriage.

The United Nations has also spoken out against this issue. U.N. Women Malawi engaged through lobbying efforts, holding consultations with different Malawian agencies about banning child marriage. The organization is continuing to support the ban by aiding in the law’s implementation.

Government Efforts

Local leadership and government have also proven a fighting force against child marriage. Many chiefs within the nation have created specific rules regarding child marriages for their communities. For example, Chief Kapolona of Machinga, Malawi has seen success as the number of child marriages in his community decreased from 10-15 a year to just two cases in 2017.

On the national level, the Malawian government has made commitments to ensure a complete ban on child marriages. For instance, the government has pledged to a United Nations Sustainable goal to “achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.” Through this goal, the nation plans to eradicate all child marriage in Malawi by 2030. Malawi’s government also created the National Plan of Action to Combat Gender-Based Violence in Malawi. This document includes many smaller goals, all of which are designed to end child marriages.

Although Malawi has a robust history of child marriage, the nation has made drastic progress in eradicating the issue. Hope now exists for young girls across the country to escape poverty, finish their education and gain financial independence.

– Erica Burns
Photo: Flickr

School closures in Kenya
As a means to control the rampant virus that is COVID-19, Kenya closed all of its schools in March 2020. Although school closures in Kenya have occurred to maintain citizens’ safety, there are problems and concerns. George Magoha, Education Prime Minister of Kenya, stated that, due to schools closing just three months into the school year, students will be a year behind in their studies once school resumes in January 2021. The school closures could further marginalize certain children and families. Additionally, teenage pregnancy is another problem that learning at home could bring.

Further Marginalization of Kenyans

Once schools shut down worldwide, many students seamlessly transferred to online learning. This, however, was not the case for rural, remote areas in Kenya like Kajiado and Samburu county. According to the World Economic Forum, only 17% of Kenyan households had internet access as of 2016. With little to no access to internet connectivity and technology itself, online learning is nearly impossible. These children are at a strikingly harmful disadvantage in comparison to students residing in more urban areas, like Naibori country. Students in rural areas cannot academically progress like other students who have the means to learn online.

Not only are students with little internet access often behind, but school closures in Kenya also greatly impact refugee students. For many refugee students living in the Dadaab refugee complex, for example, going to school and receiving an education is their best opportunity for future success. Considering lower retention rates and even being a year behind, this success may prove to be more difficult to attain.

School closures in Kenya also place a heavy burden on parents and guardians. With little to no preparation for home-schooling, parents and guardians now have to teach their children. Little to no academic planning creates major problems with information retention, causing students to be even more behind in school.

Teen Pregnancies

Only 10% of teenage girls who leave school ever go back. Due to the virus, young girls cannot attend school, thus potentially lowering this percentage even more. The longer teenage girls are out of school, the worse the consequences may be for their futures. One example is teen pregnancies.

According to a Kenya government-administered health survey, teen pregnancies are rapidly increasing. As of 2015, Kenya had the largest number of teen pregnancies in East Africa. According to Plan International, “98% of pregnant girls were not in school, and 59% of the pregnancies among girls aged 15-19 years were unintended.” Prior to the pandemic, education and resources for young teenagers were not readily available for many. Now, those resources are even more difficult to receive.

Moreover, going to school every day was an escape for teenage girls from predatory family members in the home. With school closures in Kenya, young women do not have the protection from family members and neighbors that their schools provided. Sexual violence in Kenya affects about 33% of girls; due to school closures, this number may rise.

Solutions

Although many students do not have access to necessary resources, learning by the radio has been a very helpful resource for both Kenyan and refugee students. For the 100,000 students who reside in the Dadaab refugee complex, radio lessons have been able to reach all 22 of the complex’s schools. This allows refugee students to continue their education, thus, continuing their mobilization in society.

To promote the health and safety of all Kenyans, UNICEF delivered many basic needs to Kibera in April 2020. Kibera is the largest informal settlement in Africa where nearly 1 million individuals live on less than a dollar a day, according to UNICEF. The delivered supplies included 26,000 bars of soap and 100 disinfectant sprayers for the Nairobi City Government’s use in public spaces. Aid like this keeps Kenyans safe and should later create safer conditions for schools in Kenya.

School closures in Kenya have created countless problems and concerns for its citizens. With delayed schooling, lack of necessary technology and the potential of increased teenage pregnancies, the effects of school closures in Kenya may persist for years to come. However, organizations like UNICEF are working to provide compulsory resources, like proper education.

– Anna Hoban
Photo: Pixabay

Poverty in Sudan
Sudan is one of the poorest developing countries in the world with over 40% of its citizens living below the poverty line. Poverty in Sudan results from a combination of factors ranging from the country’s location in the Sahara desert to rampant government corruption.

The History of Poverty in Sudan

Around 80% of the country’s rural population relies on subsistence agriculture. However, due to inconsistent rainfall and a lack of conservation measures, many of these vulnerable populations end up landless and jobless due to desertification and flooding. As a result of these conditions, more than 2.7 million children are acutely malnourished. Further, estimates determine that 5.8 million people in Sudan are food insecure.

Additionally, since its independence in 1956, Sudan has faced continued political unrest. The dictator Omar Hassan al-Bashir banned nongovernmental organizations, which inhibited humanitarian assistance and led to the persecution of the Christian minority in the country. Although circumstances looked hopeful in 2019 as a result of the overthrow of Omar Hassan al-Bashir and the shift of Sudan into a transitional democratic government, the scars of Bashir’s 30-year regime remain. Sudan still faces an economic crisis due to the loss of two-thirds of its oil revenues with the succession of South Sudan during Bashir’s rule. Additionally, Sudan has over 2 million internally displaced people.

These conditions have left Sudan in a humanitarian crisis. However, many organizations are combatting the issues and providing relief to the Sudanese people. Here are five organizations fighting poverty in Sudan.

5 Organizations Fighting Poverty in Sudan

  1. UNICEF Sudan: Around 65% of the Sudanese population is under 25 years old, and UNICEF Sudan is the leading agency dedicated to providing long-term humanitarian and developmental assistance to these vulnerable children and adolescents across the country. The organization has allocated an aggregate budget of $47,125,000 from regular resources and $193,925,000 in other resources to Sudan’s country program from 2018-2021. UNICEF Sudan established its Policy, Evidence and Social Protection program to help strengthen the national and local governmental agencies in Sudan by redistributing budget allocations to improve holistic conditions for children in aspects ranging from health, nutrition, water and sanitation, education and social protection. One of UNICEF Sudan’s objectives in 2020 is to provide treatment for 300,000 children between the ages of 6 to 59 months who experience severe acute malnutrition.
  2. The World Food Programme: The World Food Programme works to improve conditions in Sudan by providing food, economic resources and educational programs to the Sudanese people experiencing continuous internal conflicts. In 2019, the organization implemented a four-tier plan that will last until 2023 and aims to respond to imminent emergencies and other persistent issues such as malnutrition, food insecurity and lack of access to humanitarian resources. In 2019, there were 3,810,110 beneficiaries of the program. The program also delivered 153,698 mt of food to the country. The World Programme is currently working to install a solar power plant to reduce carbon emissions in Sudan.
  3. Save the Children: Save the Children began its work in Sudan in 1984. This organization aims to help displaced women, children and families by providing assistance in the areas of education, health and related programs. Although Bashir’s rule in 2009 revoked Save the Children U.S., its partnership with Save the Children Sweden and help of donations and sponsors allowed this organization to continue to affect change by protecting 38,342 children from harm and providing 185, 009 children vital nourishment.
  4. Mercy Corps: Mercy Corps began humanitarian and development assistance in Sudan in 2004. It operates primarily in the South Darfur and South Kordofan states to provide resources for food, health care, education and other humanitarian efforts. In addition, Mercy Corps also helps Sudan manage conflict and disasters with the hope of providing long-term stability and resourcefulness to the Sudanese people. Specifically, Mercy Corps hopes to maintain stability through its establishment of 10 community-based organizations that provide emergency preparedness, response and coordination in South Kordofan states. MercyCorps has impacted hundreds of thousands of Sudanese people to date by providing clean drinking water to  265,000 individuals and assisting 23,000 local farmers.
  5. Plan International: Plan International has provided humanitarian relief to Sudanese women and children since 1977. Plan Sudan focuses on the following program areas: children’s health, water and sanitation; hygiene; learning for life and economic security. One can see the success of its efforts through its sponsorship of 31,419 Sudanese children.

Though the country requires a lot more work to eliminate poverty in Sudan, these organizations provide hope for its people. Through continued efforts, hopefully, Sudan will overcome the systemic poverty and internal corruption that has long plagued the country.

– Kira Lucas
Photo: Flickr

Gender inequality in Somalia

COVID-19 is deepening gender inequality in Somalia, as girls and women are increasingly losing autonomy over their bodies and the ability to plan for families themselves. It is projected that there will be an increase in female genital mutilation (FGM) and childhood marriages. The international community has a responsibility to intervene in Somalia to protect the human rights of girls and women.

Female Genital Mutilation

The COVID-19 lockdown in Somalia has led to a rapid increase in Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). Somali parents have taken advantage of school closures as a result of COVID-19, asking nurses to perform FGM on their daughters now because they have time to stay at home and recover.

Circumcisers are traveling neighborhoods offering to cut girls who are at home, causing a dramatic increase in FGM procedures. Sadia Allin, Plan International’s head of mission in Somalia stated, “the cutters have been knocking on doors, including mine, asking if there are young girls they can cut.

COVID-19 prevention measures are perpetuating the continuation of FGM and consequently gender inequality in Somalia. In 2020, at least 290,000 girls in Somalia will undergo FGM, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA). Somalian citizens are unable to raise awareness about the dangers of FGM in their local communities because of the ongoing lockdown.

Child Marriage

Child marriages are also projected to increase as a result of COVID-19. Families are more likely to marry off their daughters during stressful crises to reduce the number of people they must provide for. It is expected that the economic fallout of the pandemic will result in 13 million child marriages by 2030.

The closure of Somalian schools because of COVID-19 could also escalate the number of child marriages. Girls Not Brides chief executive Faith Mwangi-Powell stated, “Schools protect girls. When schools shut, the risks (of marriage) become very heightened.”

Efforts to Stop Gender Inequality

International organizations, such as Girls Not Brides, Plan International and Save the Children, are taking a stance to protect vulnerable women and girls in Somalia.

In April, Girls Not Brides wrote a letter to the African Union, urging the group to take a stance against gender inequality. Girls Not Brides explained ways that the African Union can protect vulnerable communities during COVID-19. These steps include training educators to recognize and prevent violence, protecting social sector spending and adopting distance learning solutions, among many others.

Plan International is demanding that sexual and reproductive health information and services that prevent and respond to harmful practices, such as FGM, should be an integral part of the COVID-19 response. The organization also advocates that girls and young women should be included in the conversation to ensure their voices are heard and their needs are met. Plan International strives to end FGM so that women and girls can make their own decisions regarding their sexual reproductive health and well-being. Its work is extremely important because FGM can cause a variety of short-term and long-term health risks. Girls and women who undergo FGM are likely to experience excessive bleeding, genital tissue swelling and infections.

Save the Children is a humanitarian organization for children around the world. The organization launched the “Save our Education” campaign to promote distance learning and to encourage investment in education systems for the future.

Somali girls who do not return to school will grow more vulnerable to the effects of gender inequality as described above. The World Bank discovered that “each year of secondary education may reduce the likelihood of marrying before the age of 18 by five percentage points or more in many countries.”

Organizations such as Girls Not Brides, Plan International and Save the Children are trailblazers for the eradication of FGM and discontinuation of unwanted pregnancies and child marriages in Somalia during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are paving the way to decrease gender inequality in Somalia.

Danielle Piccoli
Photo: Flickr

Living Conditions in Timor-Leste
Timor-Leste or East Timor, a small island between Indonesia and Australia, has struggled with gaining independence since its colonization in the 16th century. The long-standing political turmoil which placated the country throughout much of its history has impacted its economy. The overarching lack of access to raw materials, such as clean water, also depicts the nation’s struggling economy. Below is a list of 10 facts about living conditions in Timor-Leste.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Timor-Leste

  1. Housing: World Bank estimates from 2016 assumed that Timor-Leste’s economy and its building of national infrastructure would increase steadily over the subsequent three years. It predicted that the growth of the nation would decrease to four percent in 2017, bounce back up to five percent in 2018 and hit six percent in 2019. Unfortunately, the situation concerning Timor-Leste’s housing has remained stagnant. Most people’s houses consist of bamboo, wood and a thatched roof. People that live in urban areas are able to use concrete, which shows a divide in the living conditions in Timor-Leste.
  2. Education: Approximately 20 percent of preschool-aged children in Timor-Leste attend school and nearly 37 percent of young adults living in rural areas are illiterate compared to the six percent in urban areas. Sanitation and access to clean, drinkable water are sorely lacking in schools alone. In 2008, UNICEF began partnering with local agencies to end this issue. It advocated for the establishment of the Basic Law of Education in 2008, the Basic Education Law in 2010 and the National Policy Framework for Preschool Education in 2014 among others.

  3. Agriculture: Agriculture accounts for 80 percent of Timor Leste’s income; its main products include maize, rice and cassava. Very few of the farmers have access to sustainable technologies or practices that are necessary for efficient agricultural production. USAID implemented a plan to address this developmental disparity from 2013 to 2018 through its partnership with Developing Agricultural Communities (DAC). This partnership works with local sectors to teach horticulture technologies and the 349 participating farmers saw great results. Original participants saw their production increase by 183 percent and total revenue by 186 percent, while farmers new to the DAC increased production by 466 to 517 percent.

  4. Access to Food: Due to the heavy reliance on agriculture for survival and income, droughts and shortages of food production can result in high levels of starvation. The 2017 Global Hunger Index classifies Timor-Leste as suffering from high levels of malnutrition. Since 2001, the number of undernourished people has remained stagnant at 300,000. The Sustainable Agriculture Productivity Improvement Project (SAPIP) aims to improve incomes in addition to food and job security to the rural areas of Timor-Leste. It has a six-year-plan agreed upon by the World Bank and government in 2016 and predictions dictate that it should impact 16,500 households and approximately 100,000 people.

  5. Employment: While a majority of the population’s jobs consist of agriculture and farming, there is a huge job market in the science and technology fields. The employment rate is one of the highest that the country has seen in 10 years at 97 percent. This illustrates that while Timor-Leste may be a poor country, it has a lot of untapped potential.

  6. Medicine: Access to doctors and basic medicine has improved over recent years, but many rural communities still seek basic services. New organizations are currently emerging to improve supply chain management of pharmaceutical supplies. There are only 175 doctors that serve the entire population of Timor-Leste. Similar to the United States, citizens have a choice of whether to invest in private or public health care and the government monitors both.

  7. Mosquito-Borne Diseases: Although water surrounds Timor-Leste, the water conditions are poor which make it very easy to contract diseases. The lack of sanitation and regular garbage collection contribute to attracting mosquitoes. Dengue fever and malaria are two of the most common mosquito-borne diseases in Timor-Leste and both have a high mortality rate. Currently, there is no treatment for dengue fever in the area, but there are multiple courses of medical treatment available for malaria.

  8. Water Conditions: Timor-Leste is an island nation, but there is an overall lack of access to clean water that plagues much of the population. Access to clean water and toilets remain a constant issue in Timor-Leste as 353,000 people do not have access to clean water. Subsequently, over half of the population does not have a decent toilet which can lead to major health major issues. In fact, 65 children die each year from dirty water and unsanitary toilets. Women also suffer from managing menstruation, which can greatly inhibit their academic achievements and widen the blatant gender inequality within the country. WaterAid Australia is working tirelessly with the government to make clean water, toilets and good hygiene a part of daily life. The program, which started in 2015, has grown to support WASH delivery service projects in over 180 countries, providing services to approximately 25,000 people.

  9. Plan International: This organization works with various communities across Timor-Leste to provide access to clean water as well as to raise awareness of the importance of handwashing and waste management. Since 2011, it has built 32 village water supply systems which have benefited over 9,000 individuals.

  10. UNFPA Timor-Leste: Maternal health is an issue that has largely slipped through the cracks. In 2010, reports stated that for every 100,000 births in the country, 150 died from complications involving childbirth and pregnancy. Hemorrhaging, anemia, infections/sepsis, labor obstructions and unsafe abortions are the major causes of maternal death. Below are the four pillars that UNFPA works hard to ensure are available to all women:

    1. Modern Contraceptives: Birth control, condoms, etc.

    2. Antenatal care: Routine health screenings of pregnant women without symptoms in order to diagnose diseases or complicating obstetric conditions.

    3. Safe Delivery: A delivery in a medical setting or by a midwife, in which health professionals monitor both the mother and baby.

    4. Emergency Obstetric Care: Basic emergency obstetric and newborn care is critical to reducing maternal and neonatal death.

With the increase of birth rates and access to clean water and food, there is no question that progress is occurring in Timor-Leste. Improvements are slowly diminishing the fatal health issues in the country as these 10 facts about living conditions in Timor-Leste have illustrated.

Joanna Buoniconti
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Girls Education in South Sudan
South Sudan has experienced widespread political conflict and insecurity in recent years. Working towards a more peaceful and inclusive future, the South Sudanese government has set out to completely restructure its education sector. Despite some growth in this area, education remains inaccessible for women and girls due to the nation’s dedication to maintaining traditional gender roles. This has grossly affected girls’ livelihood, quality of life and educational opportunities. Below are the top 10 facts about girls’ education in South Sudan.

Closing the Gender and Socio-Economic Gap in Education

  1. South Sudanese women and girls are less likely to complete primary and secondary education than boys. According to the World Bank, it is estimated that seven girls per ten boys attend primary school. Meanwhile, only five girls per ten boys enroll in secondary education.
  2. Although some girls do manage to make it to secondary school, not many of them are able to
    finish. In 2013, only 500 girls in the entire country were in their graduating year of
    secondary school.
  3. Gender inequity in the South Sudanese education remains an issue. Females make up only 12 percent of the country’s teaching population.
  4. According to Fiona Mavhinga of Zimbabwe, “extreme poverty and gender inequity drive the injustice” preventing girls’ education in countries like South Sudan. Fiona was one of the first girls supported by Camfed, an international educational charity.
  5. Cultural notions that women are child-bearers and homemakers drive inequity. Meanwhile, men dominate the educational, business, and political sectors of society. In fact, South Sudanese women and girls are more likely to die during childbirth than complete primary education.
  6. South Sudan partnered with UNICEF in 2007 to help more children get to school. The initiative also created alternate forms of education for women and girls unable to travel to school every day.
  7. In the northern states, almost five percent of students travel more than one and a half miles to and from school each day. In southern states, educational sites average from one for every five communities to one for every 15 communities.
  8. The student to teacher ratio in South Sudanese schools is overwhelming. Urban classes often exceed 100 students under the direction of just one teacher.
  9. While education is technically free for South Sudanese students, there are many expenses that the system does not cover. Families are expected to pay additional fees if they want their children to have an education. This includes charges for textbooks, uniforms, school fees and more. Thus, socio-economic status plays a major factor in access to education.
  10. South Sudan is working with global partners such as UNICEF and Plan International to restructure the education system and expand girls’ access to education. Organizations based within South Sudan like Girls’ Education South Sudan (GESS), work to remove those barriers that block women and girls from study.

While organizations such as UNICEF, Plan International, and GESS are working to open access to education for girls, South Sudan is still struggling to close the gender gap in education. Regardless, the top 10 facts about girls’ education in South Sudan show that the movement to support girls’ education is more prosperous than ever.

– Morgan Everman
Photo: Flickr

children in venezuela
In a nation experiencing an economic crisis, the children of Venezuela are suffering. Poverty is on the rise, including an increase in the malnutrition of children due to limited access to resources. Families fleeing to Peru have traveled quite far. Along the way, many have faced discrimination due to their migrant status. UNICEF and Plan International have developed a strategy for aiding children who are experiencing rapid changes in their home lives. They are helping children in Venezuela find a “Happiness Plan.”

Conditions in Venezuela

At one time, Venezuela was part of a wealthier portion of Latin America. However, with new officials and underdevelopment, poverty is now abundant. A large number of resources were focused toward developing the oil industry while other developments were delayed. With the newfound prosperity that oil brought, the economic gap grew further and further apart. The consequences of such destitution can be easily seen in the adults and children of Venezuela. Food, medicine, water and other resources are greatly lacking. This leaves people desperately searching for food.

The desperation associated with poverty was significantly increased in March due to a five-day blackout. Resources like food and water were even more scarce than usual. Some resorted to collecting water from sewage pipes. Multitudes of people were left without food. People rushed to stores to find food but discovered that the stores were already stripped. Some stores were even trashed and burnt in the chaos that ensued with riots. The riots were also the cause of several deaths from untreated medical conditions to gunshot wounds. Hospitals operated under less than ideal conditions, with limited access to electricity and supplies, such as soap.

The Effects of This Crisis On Children

In a press release, UNICEF stated, “ While precise figures are unavailable because of very limited official health or nutrition data, there are clear signs that the crisis is limiting children’s access to quality health services, medicines and food.” Statistics about conditions in Venezuela can be hard to come by, and the ones that are available are often disheartening. Malnutrition is becoming a larger issue for the children of Venezuela. While the government has attempted some measures of addressing the problem, such as monthly packages of food for sale, more still needs to be done to provide for the Venezuelan people.

As a result of the continued crisis in Venezuela, many have fled the country. As of 2018, two million people had already left Venezuela; without a doubt, numerous others have left since. For those who are awaiting refugee status or to be reunited with lost family members, UNICEF has created a safe place to help children with this difficult time.

The Happiness Plan

The “Happiness Plan” is a safe space for children that has been set up in a tent in the country of Peru. Filled with games, coloring pages and books, this tent provides an outlet for children to be children while awaiting their official entry into Peru. In addition to the fun activities, the “Happiness Plan” offers psychosocial support from professionals for children struggling with these difficult transitions they are facing.

Some of the children passing through the tent have been separated from their families. They are awaiting the chance to rejoin their families in Peru. Others are with some members of their nuclear family but had to leave the rest of their family and friends behind them in Venezuela. One survey taken by UNICEF and the International Organization for Migration stated that 73 percent of Venezuelan families in Tumbes, Peru, had to leave behind one or more of their children.

In such a dismal time for Venezuela, it is reassuring to know that organizations such as UNICEF and Plan International are implementing programs to help these children who have experienced such abrupt change. They will undoubtedly need physical and psychological support to heal from the trauma they have experienced in their home country.

Carolyn Newsome
Photo: Flickr

Gender-Based Violence in BrazilAccording to the U.N., gender-based violence in Brazil is a major issue. A woman in São Paulo is assaulted every 15 seconds. A group of girls from Maranhão, Brazil hopes to change that. The girls are participating in Plan International’s Girl Leadership Project. Part of the initiative entails getting involved in local government and petitioning congresspeople for change. Eighteen-year-old participant Luanna Natalia spoke her mind on the issue of gender-based violence and discrimination.

“No woman or girl deserves to suffer violence or prejudice just because they’re female,” Natalia said. “We can only achieve equality if we work together to build a better world and a better society in Brazil.”

Gender-based violence is not just a problem in Brazil. It affects women worldwide. According to the U.N., as many as 76% of women are targeted for physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetimes. This pandemic undermines the safety, stability and security of all women, not just those personally affected. It also presents a serious issue in terms of global poverty. Women generally make up half a country’s potential workforce. Gender-based violence can:

  • Prevent women from working due to illness, injury or fear;
  • Increase lost wages, as well as health care, police and legal expenditures;
  • Limit women’s access to reproductive health care and family planning, making work difficult after pregnancy;
  • Increase the likelihood of miscarriages, stillbirths or abortions;
  • Force women to have more children than they’d like (these children may also experience a lower quality of life, putting more strain on a developing country’s already sparse resources).

In order to more actively fight gender-based violence, the U.N. proposed a Millennium Development Goal to promote gender equality and empower women by 2015. In 2015, the U.N. reiterated this sentiment in its Sustainable Development Goals, reflecting the work that still needs to be done by 2030.

Plan International’s Girl Leadership Project represents a promising step toward ending gender-based violence in Brazil and elsewhere. By raising awareness and empowering girls to advocate on behalf of themselves and other women, Plan International and other organizations are working to convince world leaders that the problem of gender-based violence deserves more attention. In the words of Natalia, “If we stand together, it proves we are not in this fight alone.”

Sabrina Santos

Photo: Flickr

Plan International

Plan International recently announced a multi-organizational partnership to help track the U.N.’s global goals for gender equality.

The goals for gender equality stem from the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). These goals, adopted in 2015, aim to vastly improve the living conditions around the world.

The central focus of this project is gender inequality. Plan International decided to collect relevant data and use it as a benchmark to determine the amount of progress.

Partner Organizations for Gender Equality

To do so, they partnered with several organizations. These include the International Women’s Health Coalition and KPGM. In addition, Plan International chose the ONE Campaign and Women Deliver.

Plan International chose these organizations because their previous work and values align with those of Plan. However, some organizations bring additional value to the table.

For instance, KPMG has a history of partnership building in the private sector. They also have a strong data tracking history with their Change Readiness Index. That index will be especially important in the project’s next few months.

The project’s first step is to sift through the data that already exists. They can then determine what is relevant to their goals for gender equality and what is not.

In an exclusive interview with Mary Bridger, the Engagement Manager for Plan’s SDG tracking initiative, she said, “We don’t feel that you can truly comprehend the realities for girls and women until you look beyond the quantitative data and find out what the lived realities for these individuals are (i.e. you can measure the geographic proximity of a school to girls, but until you ask them whether they feel safe on public transportation, you don’t know the true barriers).”

Prioritizing Gender Equality

For now, the project’s next goal is to work with their partners to push the scope of their research and develop the tools necessary to allow them to best capture those lived realities.

Bridger underscored the importance of this campaign when she said, “Plan International’s purpose is to work towards all children fulfilling their rights, focusing on excluded and vulnerable groups so that no-one is left behind. However, we have recognized the urgent need to prioritize girls as the most marginalized group whose rights are violated most.”

Plan International and their partner organizations all believe that meeting goals for gender equality will have a ripple effect within local communities and even worldwide.

Sabrina Santos

Photo: Talent Culture