Posts

IDPoor Card
Poverty could double in Cambodia as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, pulling an estimated 17.6% of the population below the poverty line. Faced with a shrinking economy, Cambodia teamed up with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and UNICEF to issue IDPoor cards, which give struggling families 176,000 riels, or about $43 per month. With an IDPoor card, a family can buy dry food ingredients and products with long shelf lives to ration throughout the month.

The IDPoor card is part of the “Cash Transfer Programme for Poor and Vulnerable Households,” a government initiative designed to help strengthen social protection in Cambodia in the face of COVID-19.  Based on the country-wide poverty identification system launched in 2007, the cash transfer programme is a game-changer for Cambodians across the region.

Inside the Cash Transfer Programme for Poor and Vulnerable Households

Each household has an entitlement to $20 or $30 monthly. Families with members of vulnerable groups–such as individuals living with disabilities or HIV–are eligible for additional monetary support.

A partnership between the UNDP, Australia and the Cambodian Ministry of Planning made the cash transfer programme possible. With 1,700 tablets and the necessary software supplied by the Australian government and the UNDP, local officials interviewed and registered families who had fallen into poverty during the pandemic. In total, nearly 700,000 people in the database received funds in a cashless form, either through their phone or a card.

The Groundwork and The Future

The U.N. worked swiftly alongside the Cambodian government, developing the IDPoor cards just three months after the COVID-19 pandemic hit the country. The groundwork for such an agile response took the form of a 2015 pilot program that supported vulnerable mothers and children before the pandemic. The onset of COVID-19 expanded the program to include low-income families across the region. UNICEF Chief of Social Policy, Erna Ribar, noted that the expansion of the 2015 pilot occurred in hopes of “[laying] the foundations for Cambodia to develop greater resilience to future economic shocks, ultimately paving the way towards a more equal society.” As the program came to fruition, the money transfer service extended its reach to even more remote populations, some of whom were handling money electronically for the first time.

In addition to the IDPoor Card, the U.N. continues to support the Cambodian government by providing medical equipment and technical support. The U.N. has also helped the country battle the pandemic by raising awareness about COVID-19.

The COVID-19 pandemic is among the greatest challenges in the modern world, and Cambodia believes that it should deal with it swiftly. Thus far, the country’s success in its money transferring service mirrors its success in controlling community spread. As Cambodians across the region continue to weather the economic consequences of COVID-19, the IDPoor card scheme remains a signal of hope.

Jai Phillips
Photo: Flickr

Self-sustainability in EritreaSalesian Missions, an organization part of the Salesians of Don Bosco, has provided the Don Bosco Technical School in Eritrea with funding to buy two cows. The funding, which also enabled students to buy food supplies, will help the school work toward self-sustainability. In the future, the Salesian missionaries hope to gain funding to purchase two additional cows and renovate the barn housing the cows. The funding is part of a long-term self-sustainability project. Members of the school and the community have also been growing their own vegetables, selling milk and making furniture to sell. Self-sustainability in Eritrea is important as nearly 70% of Eritreans live in poverty.

Don Bosco Technical School

The Don Bosco Technical School is located in Dekemhare, 25 miles away from the Eritrean capital, Asmara. The education facility teaches technical skills in “automotive work, general metal, general mechanics, carpentry, building construction, woodwork or furniture making, electricity, electronics and surveying.” The school also teaches courses in information technology and academic subjects. After completing a course, students participate in “military training for six months” and the Eritrean government allocates jobs to them. Salesian Missions’ funding plays a vital role in the school’s flourishing self-sustainability project.

Salesians of Don Bosco and Salesian Missions

The Salesians of Don Bosco is a global Catholic organization founded by an Italian Catholic priest, Don Bosco, to “serve the young,” especially impoverished and marginalized people. It is now the second-largest order within the Catholic Church. Salesian Missions, its U.S. developmental branch, is made up of more than 30,000 religious members dedicated to serving the world’s most impoverished people. Salesian Missions’ overall goal is to equip children with the skills needed to secure employment and achieve self-sufficiency in order to break cycles of poverty.

Poverty and Agriculture in Eritrea

Eritrea’s economy depends, in part, on agriculture. While agriculture makes up about one-third of the country’s economy, it accounts for about 63% of total employment. Eritrea’s agriculture sector is highly dependant on rainfall, making it a volatile sector due to increasing droughts.

According to the World Population Review, 69% of Eritrea’s population lives in poverty. Eritrea ranks fifth for global poverty, behind only South Sudan, Equatorial Guinea, Madagascar and Guinea-Bissau. Due to high rates of poverty, self-sustainability in Eritrea is the surest means of survival.

Eritrea is also known for its strict government. Dubbed by many as the “Africa’s North Korea,” Eritrea has been subject to several U.N. and EU sanctions, some of which have been lifted. However, Eritrea was recently hit with sanctions for human rights violations tied to the conflict in Ethiopia. As an isolated nation, Eritrea is cut off from many of the advantages of globalism and does not enjoy the same opportunities for global trade.

A Future of Self-Sustainability

Because of its high poverty rates and struggling agricultural sector, any funding into agricultural resources greatly helps the citizens of Eritrea, allowing them to work toward self-sustainability and thrive for far longer than short-term food aid would allow. Salesian Missions is doing important work since self-sustainability in Eritrea is vital for the survival of many.

– Augustus Bambridge-Sutton
Photo: Flickr

Clean Water in SomaliaSomalia is facing an ongoing humanitarian crisis that has affected millions. Over 70% of the country’s population is currently living in poverty, with more than 4.8 million people suffering from food insecurity. Political instability, armed conflict and extreme weather coupled with the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic has caused the country’s GDP to decrease by 1.5%. Extreme weather caused over $3 billion worth of damage to Somalia in 2018 which was more than 50% of the country’s GDP. The current state of Somalia has only deteriorated with the need for humanitarian support increasing. Food insecurity, malnutrition and access to clean water in Somalia are major issues requiring continued humanitarian attention.

Access to Clean Water in Somalia

The United Nations has reported that over 2 billion people globally lack access to clean water. UNICEF reports that only 52% of the population of Somalia has access to a water source. With such a low percentage of the Somali people having readily accessible clean water, preventable diseases become a greater threat. Access to clean water in Somalia means improving sanitation, hygiene and decreasing susceptibility to diseases like cholera, diarrhea and respiratory infections.

Save the Children has reported that droughts have left 70% of Somali families lacking access to clean water. The survey gathered responses from over 630 families in 18 provinces of Somalia. Droughts have led to crop failures resulting in more people struggling with food insecurity. Without access to clean water, women and children face an increased risk of health-related issues, like preventable diseases and childbirth complications.

Providing Clean Water in Somalia

Mercy-USA for Aid and Development is a nonprofit organization from Michigan that has been working in Somalia since 1997. The United States-based nonprofit has projects spanning several countries including Syria, Kenya and Yemen. The programs in Somalia are developing self-reliance skills through education, skill training and food and water assistance. In order to combat the crisis of accessibility to clean water in Somalia, Mercy-USA is building wells for the Somali people. The organization has built over 700 wells, which have provided clean water to over 750,000 people. The organization can build a new well for $3,500 which can provide water to an entire community.

CARE International is a non-governmental organization based in Switzerland that has been providing humanitarian aid to Somalia since 1981. The organization has been helping mitigate the damage that extreme weather like floods and droughts have had on Somali agriculture. CARE’s programs in Somalia have helped over 250,000 people through improvements to clean water accessibility, sanitation and hygiene. The organization works with local authorities and international organizations to treat preventable diseases like acute watery diarrhea. CARE International has provided over 10,000 people access to clean water. The organization’s ongoing projects include efforts to improve agriculture, sanitation and develop local businesses.

Looking Forward

With extreme weather displacing communities and damaging agriculture, more people are finding themselves without access to clean water in Somalia. The Somali government is working to expand assistance and opportunities to those suffering from the effects of poverty with the support of humanitarian organizations like Mercy-USA and CARE International. The poverty rate is expected to remain at 71% as the Coronavirus pandemic further exacerbates food insecurity and displacement. Continued humanitarian support is necessary to improve the situation of the Somali people and ensure everyone has access to clean water in Somalia.

– Gerardo Valladares
Photo:Flickr

Playgrounds Made of Recycled Materials in IndiaOne of the lesser-known consequences of India’s rapid urbanization has been the lack of available playgrounds and recreational spaces for India’s youth. A recent study found that 90% of India’s youth never get to use a playground. This disproportionately affects children living in poverty. To improve the mental, physical and social health of India’s most impoverished urban youth, playgrounds, recreational spaces and sports need to be more accessible, especially in India’s urban slums. One method of providing such an outlet to Indian children is through the construction of playgrounds of recycled materials.

Indian Youth Face Disadvantages

With so few spaces to play, children resort to playing in dangerous places like on the side of the road, in construction areas or near railways. In addition to having exposure to more dangerous situations while playing, the lack of recreation space for India’s urban youth has other disadvantages as well. Daily physical activity has been proven beneficial to the mental and physical health of children by decreasing depression, reducing anxiety and strengthening the immune system.

Practicing sports and engaging in recreation have positive social effects for girls in particular. Girls who play sports and keep up with physical activity are less likely to experience an unwanted pregnancy, smoke cigarettes or consume drugs.

Anthill Creations

Anthill Creations is a nonprofit organization (NGO) in Bangalore, India, working to help solve the problem of the absence of recreation spaces for India’s youth through designing and constructing playgrounds out of recycled materials.

India’s landfills have an abundance of industrial materials such as tires, concrete pipes and scrap wood. While watching children play with scrap materials that litter the streets, the founder of Anthill Creations, Pooja Rai, came up with the idea to build playgrounds out of the same recycled materials and litter that one can find in and around India’s slums and landfills.

Anthill Creations relies on the input, trust and energy of the communities where the NGO works in order to design each playground specifically for that community. When undertaking a construction project, the team at Anthill Creations spends time with the local children for days prior to beginning construction; the goal is to both gain the trust of the local children and to understand what they would desire in their new playground.

The organization’s volunteers construct the playgrounds, oftentimes even attracting volunteer labor from the very communities in which the organization is working. Rai says this helps foster a sense of “ownership and responsibility” of and for the playgrounds among the local volunteers.

The Positive Impact

Anthill Creations coordinates with other NGOs, private corporations and local governments in order to maximize its positive impact on India’s urban youth. As a result of Anthill Creations and its projects for government schools, the nonprofit has been able to help reduce absenteeism; children are more excited to come to school when they have a new playground to play on. Anthill Creations also worked with the United Nations in order to construct playgrounds for Rohingya refugees from nearby Myanmar.

Anthill Creations projects are a sustainable way to provide low-cost recreational spaces and playgrounds to India’s children, while also repurposing India’s abundant scrap in a way that can benefit the country’s most impoverished communities.

– Willy Carlsen
Photo: Flickr

Human Trafficking in Uruguay
Uruguay has recently increased its national response to violent and organized crime after seeing an increase has included the smuggling of drugs, weapons and people. To help end human trafficking in Uruguay, the government is taking steps to increase awareness and identification about the practice and its victims.

The United Nations defines human trafficking as the transfer of persons through the use of force or coercion for the purpose of exploitation, often involving forced labor or sex work. Around 10% of human trafficking occurs in Latin America, accounting for over $1 billion of the money traffickers make throughout the world.

Where Uruguay Stands

A small country of over 3.4 million bordering Brazil and Argentina, Uruguay has historically had one of the lower crime rates in South America. Despite this, the 2020 Trafficking in Persons Report categorizes Uruguay as a Tier 2 country, which it has been for the last five years. The report, which the U.S. State Department publishes, consists of three primary tiers. The first denotes that a country is making sufficient effort to end human trafficking and the third signals that a country is making little to no effort.

In 2019, Uruguay identified 83 new victims of human trafficking; this number is down from the 95 victims it identified in 2018. Shelters and other services are available for victims, however, most resources like these are only in the capital of Montevideo. Victims identified in other areas of the country face additional challenges because of this.

Most victims of human trafficking are women and girls, who are often from vulnerable communities. Poverty is one of the leading risk factors that experts associate with human trafficking, meaning that in addition to direct responses to human trafficking, reducing poverty can also be a form of prevention.

What Uruguay is Doing

As a Tier 2 country, Uruguay still has room to improve its handling of human trafficking but is making significant efforts to advance the quality of its response and resources for victims. Primary among these is the country’s National Action Plan in 2018, which involved the creation of a committee focused on ending human trafficking in Uruguay.

Besides raising public awareness about the issue, Uruguay is also training law enforcement and other officials on how to recognize human trafficking when it occurs and provide help. A national hotline is also now available 24 hours a day. Uruguay is also providing access to shelters and services for victims outside of Montevideo as an ongoing effort to end human trafficking in the country.

Civil society and the public have also made their voices heard on the topic, including former victims. In the summer of 2019, Sandra Ferrini, who experienced trafficking as a teenager, made a powerful statement as she led the country’s first march against human trafficking.

Potential Improvements

The efforts that Uruguay is enacting to prevent and educate about human trafficking have improved the country’s situation, but it still needs to do more work. The Trafficking in Persons report made several recommendations for Uruguay to continue improving its efforts.

One area the recommendations focused on was improving the long-term support for victims. Suggestions included more funding for shelters, particularly in areas outside of the capital Montevideo. Programs for social reintegration are also a promising form of support, including those that focus on vocational training.

The report also recommended that Uruguay pursue more prosecutions of the people running human trafficking. Cases against traffickers have increased in the last few years, with 18 cases undergoing prosecution in 2019 compared to just 10 a few years before. Increasing prosecution can further hold perpetrators accountable and decrease trafficking in Uruguay.

With further engagement on the issue from both the government and the public, Uruguay can improve services for victims and significantly reduce human trafficking within its borders.

– Nicole Ronchetti
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

The Connection Between Prison and Poverty
In many societies around the world, mass incarceration is rampant and disproportionately affects those living in poverty. In 2013, reports determined that more than 10 million impoverished people have undergone incarceration. This has led to a dampening of upward social mobility because even after prison convicts face the stigma of being a former felon, individuals who believed that their best option to rise from poverty was a life of crime will likely return to a community where their best survival option is criminal. A connection between prison and poverty emerges in developing countries where cyclical policies keep people at the bottom of the social hierarchy with no way out.

The Connection Between Prison and Poverty

Former U.N. Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty and human rights Philip Alston studied this prison-poverty connection. In 2018, he released his findings in a report that documented how overly harsh government policy can have a pronounced effect on impoverished offenders. Alston notes, “so-called fines and fees are piled up so that low-level infractions become immensely burdensome, a process that affects only the poorest members of society, who pay the vast majority of such penalties.” If someone fails to pay their debts, the government will often place restrictions on their driver’s license, making recidivism far more likely.

Pre-Trial Detention in Brazil

Brazil ranks as the country with the third-highest rate of incarceration, behind China and the U.S. Its prison population rises above 755,000. Like the United States, the developing country engages in pre-trial detention. Pretrial detention is the act of holding a person suspected of a crime without rights until a court date. However, poor people often stay in detention facilities longer than the wealthy. This is because they cannot afford the exorbitant cash bail that the wealthy can. A 2010 study found that hundreds stayed in jail several years past their planned release. Additionally, “irregularities” lead to the mistaken detainment of over 16,000 Brazilians. Pretrial detention inmates currently overcrowd Brazil’s prisons, which make up nearly a third of the inmate population.

The War on Drugs in Thailand

With the number of people incarcerated at 344,161, Thailand ranks as number six in the world when it comes to mass incarceration. Similar to Brazil, the country has its own struggles with prison and poverty. An unexpected explanation for Thailand’s overcrowded prisons is the American War on Drugs. In 1997, a financial crash forced many Thai people into unemployment. This economic despair led to an increase in the number of drug users. In 2003, the government chose to heavily police these now-impoverished citizens. While Thailand has backed away from violent crackdowns, the majority of arrests are still primarily drug offenses. To evade time in prison, wealthier people can pay the $1,300 in drug charges. In 2016, only 27% of first-time offenders managed to avoid recidivism, as those in poverty could not afford bail.

Penal Reform International

While the connection between prison and poverty seems deep-rooted, it is still capable of transformation. Organizations have worked to alleviate the flaws of prison systems throughout the globe through educational, political and relief efforts to break the cycle. Penal Reform International is one such group.

Founded in 1989 with a focus on rehabilitation, Penal Reform International (PRI) works with the United Nations and other organizations to advocate for fair treatment of people in the criminal justice system. PRI observes detention centers and offers solutions to systemic abuse. For example, PRI studied the lives of the female offender population in the country of Georgia. The report found that they detained over a third for non-violent drug offenses. About 40% of those questioned committed crimes for financial reasons, while 80% were also mothers. Among those who received a release from prison, more than half had trouble finding employment due to their record, while most never obtained any kind of rehabilitative assistance. Between 2016 and 2019, PRI created a project providing services to Georgian women prisoners. Services included legal aid, counseling, business grants and healthcare assistance. Respondents expressed that the project has greatly improved their mental wellbeing, preparedness and self-esteem.

Prison and poverty can intertwine when the prison system values money over people. Nevertheless, learning about these issues surrounding developing countries can shed light on the flaws in one’s own.

– Zachary Sherry
Photo: Flickr

Denmark's Foreign Aid
When it comes to foreign aid, one of the most widely-commended countries is the small nation of Denmark. The Danes are well-known for their generous aid spending and both donor and recipient nations recognize Denmark as a highly effective partner in the fight against global poverty. Here are five facts about Denmark’s foreign aid.

5 Facts About Denmark’s Foreign Aid

  1. Denmark is a world leader in foreign aid spending. In 2019, Denmark spent $2.55 billion on foreign aid, a seemingly small figure compared to the $34.62 billion the United States spent, but Denmark’s population is only about 1.76% that of the U.S. When adjusted for population, Denmark’s foreign aid totals $447 per-capita, much higher than the United States’ $95 per-capita. In fact, Denmark is the fourth-highest per-capita spender of all OECD countries after Norway, Sweden and Luxembourg.
  2. Denmark has consistently been a world leader since the 1970s. The United Nations uses foreign aid as a percentage of Gross National Income to measure a country’s proportional spending, and Denmark is one of the few countries that has met or exceeded the U.N.’s target of 0.7% of GNI since 1978. Denmark’s foreign aid currently amounts to 0.71% of its GNI, trailing only Luxembourg, Norway and Sweden among OECD countries. However, for a brief period during the 1990s, Denmark actually increased this number to over 1%.
  3. Low-and-middle-income countries rate Denmark high for usefulness, influence and helpfulness in foreign aid. In a new study that AidData conducted, leaders from 40 aid-receiving nations ranked Denmark as a top development partner. Besides meeting the U.N.’s foreign aid target, Denmark scored second among all countries for its usefulness regarding policy advice, second for its influence in setting agendas and first for its helpfulness regarding reform implementation. Since 2009, these reforms have included promoting greater private sector expansion and focusing on social progress as a catalyst for economic growth. Denmark’s long-term commitments to implementing such policies in a small number of prioritized nations have proven to be highly effective in reducing extreme poverty.
  4. Denmark manages its foreign aid spending and implementation through DANIDA, the Danish International Development Agency. DANIDA’s top priorities for 2020 are advancing human rights and equality, developing sustainable green growth, providing humane asylum for displaced people and maintaining international cooperation in all global efforts. Denmark’s foreign aid reaches over 70 low-and-middle-income countries, but those of the highest urgency include Afghanistan, Somalia and Niger. Efforts in Afghanistan largely center around education as Danish aid provides teacher education, updated textbooks and curriculum development. In Somalia, DANIDA works to develop safety nets, human rights advancements and strengthen national and local governance. Niger receives policy advice on properly handling the irregular number of migrants in the country as well as basic delivery of living essentials to impoverished children.
  5. Denmark can still improve. While the country is one of only six to meet the U.N.’s target of 0.7% GNI in 2019 with 0.71%, this is a substantial drop from 2015 when Denmark spent 0.85% of GNI on foreign aid. Addressing this cutback, which was largely due to increased spending on refugees within the country, should be a top concern. Reverting back to 2015’s percentage or higher is a positive step Denmark can take, and such a move is all the more likely now as Denmark’s 2019 net migration was negative for the first time in almost a decade. As the country spends less on internal migrants, more of the Danish budget is available to supplement the once-highly-robust foreign aid sector.

One of the most effective ways developed governments can help to improve conditions in poverty-stricken nations is by properly funding and managing healthy foreign aid budgets. By taking Denmark’s example, more countries should seek to meet the U.N.’s 0.7% GNI target and implement this aid in a manner that best fits the needs of impoverished individuals in low-income countries.

– Calvin Melloh
Photo: Flickr

Women’s Rights in Egypt
Currently governed under Islamic Law as Egypt’s amended Constitution states, religion plays a major role within legislative policies. It has been a debate for several years as to whether the decline in women’s protection in Egypt is due to religious laws or the current socioeconomic environment. In order to approach the complexities of modern-day Egyptian society and women’s rights in Egypt, one must first understand the history of Islamic Law. Known for existing as more of an all-encompassing religion, Islam not only provides theological practices but also a way of living.

 Islamic Law

 Article 40 and 46 of Egypt’s present constitution explicitly states, “All citizens are equal before the law. They have equal public rights and duties without discrimination between them due to race, ethnic origin, language, religion or creed.” The second article of this same constitution declares “Islam is the religion of the state and Arabic is its official language. The principles of Islamic Sharia is the principal source of legislation.”

 Many women in Egypt (and other predominantly Islamic regions) are facing a dilemma concerning their religious and basic freedoms. Because Egypt incorporates Islam even within legal policies, it somewhat discourages other religions. This is why the second-largest religious community is Christianity, comprising approximately only 5% of the Egyptian population.

Women’s religious and basic human rights greatly differ from men’s rights and social roles. An example of this may include the regulations in regards to a woman’s attire. The hijab as well as other head and body coverings was initially symbolic of modesty within the Islamic religion. Moreover, although the Qur’an very clearly addresses men alongside women when proclaiming rules of “guarding their modesty,” men do not have to participate in the wearing of head/face coverings.

As of recently, though, the practice of adopting body and face veils into a woman’s everyday appearance has evolved into more of a preliminary societal standard. Because scripture claims that women exposing themselves to any man unrelated to them (besides children) is a sinful act, women experience pressure to adorn these religious coverings in public just to prevent shame, which only further enforces this oppression.

Socioeconomic Factors

This brings up the debate attempting to answer whether the lack of basic human rights for women is due to the Islamic nature of Egyptian society, or society itself? Women are hesitant to go into public without these coverings because of societal and religious pressures, but the act of preserving their modesty exists now as somewhat of a precautionary measure, as well.

In several impoverished countries or regions of extreme poverty, the economy is the primary factor in societal normalities. Women’s rights in Egypt undergo frequent testing, especially in areas of extreme poverty within the country. Because of scarce job opportunities and the dilapidated financial state of certain areas, women frequently endure mistreatment. They often cannot challenge their social or religious roles or financially provide for themselves. Their husbands, neighbors and, in some cases, their relatives, use this to their advantage which results in the very common sexual harassment of women.

Because of the different roles of Egyptian men and women, the deterioration of women’s rights in Egypt and sexual harassment of women has been a prominent issue since at least the ‘80s (this was the beginning of the selective documentation of sexual harassment cases in Egypt). Although the Qur’an prophesizes the equality of men and women under God, others in Egypt sometimes see women as lesser than. In this case, the argument that socioeconomic factors are separate from religious practices and laws is valid.

 Moreover, the United Nations conducted a census in 2013 revealing that an estimated 99.3% of women could encounter sexual harassment in Egypt. Meanwhile, another study concluded that about 86% of women reported that bystanders frequently ignore the aggression.

This demonstrates the frequency in which these dangerous acts happen in public. It is seemingly a social norm for women to not only have to uphold traditional religious roles but also to face arbitrary sexual aggression in public.

Solutions

As of 2014, however, Egypt is now addressing this violent aggression towards women. For the first time in Egyptian history, sexual harassers are undergoing prosecution and courts are holding them accountable. Egypt still requires more improvement, but more and more women are beginning to make others aware of this issue, even globally. The current economic state of Egypt is also developing. With an extreme poverty rate of 32% in 2018 and one of approximately 29% in 2020, Egypt is continuing to see a decline in extreme poverty.

 The societal and religious pressures persist, but Egypt is generating more discourse to help bring more attention to the issue of women’s rights in Egypt. Moreover, the debate over religion is increasing along with the dismantling of unjust socioeconomic systems.

– Caroline Kratz
Photo: Flickr

Awareness Around Global Poverty Helps
Raising awareness is a key strategy of ending global poverty. Raising awareness around global poverty helps bring people together who share the goal of eliminating global poverty. There are several factors to consider when channeling awareness. Public interest and celebrity involvement can play a factor in successful events involving raising awareness.

Social Media

Social media is an effective method many nonprofits use to help raise awareness about global poverty. A U.S. study revealed that 47% of those surveyed were able to learn about important causes such as global poverty via social media. Moreover, it showed that 15% gained an awareness of issues relating to ending poverty through social media. Additionally, social media compelled 56% of its consumers to contribute to missions relating to global poverty eradication. The study showed that 59% of people who engaged with a post donated money, while about 53% acted by volunteering, 52% donated items such as clothing or food, 43% became involved in an event for the cause and about 40% purchased a product that supported the cause monetarily.

More than half of all Facebook users have said that they support a charity or cause pertaining to ending global poverty so that their friends can see their support. Also, those engaging in fundraising efforts have seen results up to 10 times greater when incorporating Twitter. While the numbers show how effective using social media to raise awareness can be, it is important that nonprofits strategically approach issues and carefully consider target audiences.

International Focus Days

Days like Giving Tuesday are often effective in raising awareness and donations pertaining to global issues. Donations on Giving Tuesday have grown by more than $360 million from 2012 to 2018. Facebook and PayPal match millions of dollars in donations in honor of the day.

The United Nations raised awareness on the issues of global poverty by marking October 17, 2020, the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. It used the day to raise awareness of how those living in poverty suffer and what others can do to make a differente. The U.N. used #Endpoverty to raise awareness and educate the public about global poverty. The U.N. recognizes and promotes many international focus days throughout the year which raises awareness on issues that those living in extreme poverty face. These international focus days include World Tuberculosis Day and World Refugee Day.

The Make Poverty History Campaign

The involvement of celebrities in various initiatives often attracts attention, aiding in raising awareness about global poverty. In 2005, the world stood together for the Make Poverty History campaign, a global campaign with the aim of addressing major issues that those living in extreme poverty face. More than 40 celebrities endorsed the event and rallied their fans’ support. Among those celebrities were Pink, Nelson Mandela, George Clooney and Brad Pitt. Celebrities held rallies and performed concerts to help raise awareness. Their endorsements initiated action.

Informing World Leaders

The efforts focused on bringing the issues of poverty to the attention of world leaders. The objective was to encourage them to take action. In the 10 years following the Make Poverty History campaign, aid to Africa increased by more than 60%. In fact, European aid to impoverished countries increased by 48%. This aid led to 36 targeted countries wiping out more than $90 billion in debt for their citizens, HIV cases dropping by 33% in targeted parts of Africa, malaria reducing deaths by more than 50% in Africa and polio reducing cases to less than 500 globally by 2013. Additionally, more than 30 million African children started school, whereas poverty previously affected their enrollment.

How Awareness Around Global Poverty Helps

While there is evidence that shows the effectiveness of raising awareness, there are those that argue the effectiveness. In an article entitled “Stop Raising Awareness Already” by Ann Christiano and Annie Niemand, the writers caution about the dangers of raising awareness and that it can have the opposite of the desired effect causing people to disregard the message if it does not receive proper execution and result in action. While proper execution of raising awareness is crucial to action, no action can occur without awareness.

Again, raising awareness around global poverty helps bring communities together to help create change on issues. Awareness can bring enthusiasm to people and help them feel inspired to create change or act. While awareness alone cannot end global poverty, it is a crucial and effective first step.

– Carolyn Lyrenmann
Photo: Flickr

Virginity tests
On January 5, 2021, the Punjab province of Pakistan voted to outlaw the common tradition of virginity tests. The tests involve those conducting them to manually insert two fingers into a woman’s vagina to check for an intact hymen. In the case of victims of rape, a court-appointed medical examiner conducts these tests. Some also refer to virginity tests as the “two-finger test.” According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the test has no scientific basis and is both painful and traumatic. The eradication of these tests marks a momentous advancement towards gender equality in Pakistan.

Pakistan Law

Justice Ayesha A Malik of the Lahore High Court is the first person to order the immediate suspension of these tests. While the procedure is not legally mandated, it was a routine practice in rape cases. According to The News International, reports occur of at least 11 rape cases in Pakistan each day, and victims do not report cases in many instances. Of the 22,000 reports of rape in Pakistan in the last six years, only 0.3% of the perpetrators have received a conviction.

Premarital sex is a crime in Pakistan. As a result, the purpose of the test is to discredit victims based on their suspected sexual history. According to the Humanitarian Response, the procedure tests the laxity of the vagina to determine whether a woman was sexually active before the rape occurred. Furthermore, the outcome of virginity tests has a significant impact on judicial proceedings, with the results often leading to acquittals and a loss of credibility to victims.

Justice Malik states that women suspected of indulging in sexual activities habitually received harsh judgment before the courts, and the courts often discounted their abuse. These tests often have physical, mental and social repercussions. Virginity tests often aggravate injuries that women sustain during the rape. Women undergo exposure to the harmful stigma of dishonor and shame that this trauma brings onto their families.

Gender Inequality

Sahar Bandial, a lawyer in Pakistan, advocated for the establishment of new protocols to protect women from legal abuse and discrimination. The banishment of virginity tests as a means to control women is only the first step in achieving gender equality. Women often have to take a virginity test before marriage and employment. Historically, virginity tests have never had scientific justification. The color of urine, shaping of the nipples or the circumference of a women’s forehead are examples that have forced the taking of such tests.

Gender inequality has been a significant challenge in South Asian countries, with families continuing to commit honor killings throughout these regions. Justice Malik hopes that other provinces will follow the Punjab province in advocating for gender equality throughout Pakistan.

According to the United Nations, the practice of virginity tests has persisted in at least 20 countries today. However, significant developments in the banishment of this invasive practice have occurred. In 2013, India outlawed these tests, followed by Bangladesh in 2018. Although many nations have banned virginity tests, it is still common practice in many regions.

Similar petitions to outlaw virginity tests are pending in other regions. Many people hope that establishing the invalidity of the tests will set precedents in other areas. As more South Asian countries take note of the Lahore case, the gap in gender equality should begin to close.

– Nina Eddinger
Photo: Flickr