global poverty advocatesThe Time 100 is published in April every year, presented as a list of 100 of the most influential people from all over the globe. The list is highly anticipated, selected by the editors of Time Magazine, and centers a range of change-makers separated into five categories: pioneers, artists, leaders, icons and titans.

All are trailblazers of change in their own right, but several important mentions include the global poverty advocates. These figures drew attention to issues surrounding global poverty and human rights abuses around the world. They are inspirations for the many activists who hope to follow their blueprint of innovative change.

Fred Swaniker

Fred Swaniker is a Ghanaian entrepreneur and a pioneer, especially for the African Youth. He realized that Africa’s greatest asset is also its biggest challenge, the youth.

This led to the birth of the African Leadership University. Founded in 2013, ALU is opening campuses around Africa and aims to train 3 million entrepreneurial, ethical leaders for Africa and the world by 2035. Africa faces some of the highest global rates of extreme poverty, largely due to histories of corruption and exploitation. This history resulted in low incidences of democracy and economic opportunities. Swaniker is one of the most innovative figures equipping a future generation to manage and tackle these grave issues, and a true ally for the global poor.

Yalitza Aparicio

Yalitza Aparicio is a Mexican actress and ‘artist,’ best known for her academy award nominated performance in the 2018 hit film “Roma”. But, her story is particularly important due to her heritage as an indigenous Oaxacan woman, who before her acting success, was a preschool teacher in rural Mexico. Having an advocate for this population is particularly important since Mexico’s indigenous people are far poorer than its non-indigenous people. About three-quarters of indigenous peoples in Mexico are poor, while only half of the non-indigenous people live below the official poverty line. Her inspirational story sheds light on the cause of the long disenfranchised group including the everyday racism that they face. It positions her as a role model for many generations behind her.

Abiy Ahmed

Because of ‘leader’ Abiy Ahmed, Ethiopia is cautiously learning to embrace a new system of democracy and human rights, a rare occurrence in the country’s fractured political history. Since his ascension to power in 2018, Ahmed embraced notions of transparency and gender equality as part of his political platform. He released all journalists incarcerated under the previous regime. Ahmed also made half of his cabinet female and appointed the first female head of the supreme court. He negotiated a new peace treaty with Eritrea, effectively ending a 20-year civil war. In 2020, the country will have its first free elections in 15 years.

Although this is a test of the current turbulent political climate punctuated by extremist dialogue, it does give the country new hope for democracy and prosperity in the future that seemed impossible before his ascension to power.

Radhya Almutawakel

Radhya Almutawakel is a Yemeni human rights defender and ‘icon,’ most commonly known for her work documenting human rights abuses by all parties. Since the start of the conflict in Yemen in 2014, nearly 7,000 civilians were killed and 14 million remain at risk of starvation.

Almutawakel traveled around Europe and advocated on behalf of the people, encouraging leaders to take steps to end violence. She also founded the nonprofit Mwatana for Human Rights, designed to “advocate for human rights through the verification and documentation of violations, provision of legal support to victims, lobbying, as well as awareness raising and capacity building.” These actions help increase the visibility of the conflict and the consistent suffering of the people. This itself is a big step forward in the road to peace.

LeBron James

LeBron James is undoubtedly a ‘titan.’ Most commonly known as one of the most successful basketball players in history, he is also a passionate philanthropist. Born in Akron, Ohio, to a teenage mother, he is described as being “sharp minded” and “grounded,” overcoming many challenges to become as successful as he is. His most famous initiative is the “I Promise School” for disadvantaged kids. Opening in his hometown in 2018, it secured educational opportunities for at-risk youth he personally never had access to. His foundation consistently donates to a wide range of charities with similar ideals. One of them is ONEXONE, a global children’s charity that runs programs based on five fundamental pillars: water, health, education, play and nutrition.

At only 34 years old, his work as a global poverty advocate is just beginning.

This list is a selection of just five global poverty advocates from the Time 100, all of whom are noteworthy advocates for a variety of ideals in their individual and often original ways. Many more global poverty advocates exist around the world, all fighting to generate change for the global poor.

Holly Barsham
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Meghan MarkleMeghan Markle, now known as the Duchess of Sussex, began humanitarian work long before she joined the royal family. When she was 11 years old, she was so struck by a clearly sexist ad for dish soap that was targeting women, she wrote a letter to elected officials, to which she received a written response from Hillary Clinton. She has famously cited this story in her speech at the U.N. Women gathering in 2015 as the starting point to her activism. She utilized the fame she garnered from starring on the popular USA Network TV show “Suits” to increase her humanitarian efforts.

Since becoming Duchess of Sussex, she has traveled throughout the Commonwealth discussing humanitarian issues that affect the countries the royals represent. Here are the 10 best humanitarian quotes by Meghan Markle, Dutchess of Sussex.

The 10 Best Humanitarian Quotes by Meghan Markle

  1. “One hundred and thirteen million adolescent girls between the ages of 12-14 in India alone are at risk of dropping out of school because of the stigma surrounding menstrual health […] these factors perpetuate the cycle of poverty and stunt a young girl’s dream for a more prolific future.” In her 2016 visit to Delhi and Mumbai, India, Markle was prompted to write an open letter, featured in Time magazine, calling for action against menstrual stigmas that keep Indian girls from school and from being equal participants in society.
  2. “I think there’s a misconception that access to clean water is just about clean drinking water. Access to clean water in a community keeps young girls in school because they aren’t walking hours each day to source water for their families. It allows women to invest in their own businesses and community. It promotes grassroots leadership, and, of course, it reinforces the health and wellness of children and adults. Every single piece of it is so interconnected, and clean water, this one life source, is the key to it all.” Also in 2016, Markle traveled to Rwanda as a global ambassador with World Vision, a humanitarian agency who seeks to impact the lives of young children by eliminating the root causes of poverty. It is one of the largest international charity organizations for children.
  3. “Women’s suffrage is about feminism, but feminism is about fairness.” In celebration of the 125 year anniversary of women’s suffrage in New Zealand in late 2018, Markle gave a speech about feminism. New Zealand was the first country in the world to grant women’s suffrage. In her speech she also quoted suffragette Kate Sheppard, reiterating that “All that separates, whether race, class, creed or sex, is inhuman and must be overcome.”
  4. “Women don’t need to find their voice, they need to be empowered to use it and people need to be urged to listen.” In February 2018, in her first public appearance alongside Prince Harry, Kate and Prince William, Markle voiced her support of the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, which focus on eliminating sexual misconduct against all people and supporting victims of assault while promoting gender equality across all industries.
  5. “Don’t give it five minutes if you’re not going to give it five years.” When delivering the keynote speech at the Create & Cultivate Conference in 2016, Markle brought to light the importance of prioritizing and making commitments. She demonstrated the importance of utilizing skills for long-term solutions and goals and to focus attention and energy only on things that can be cultivated and maintained in the long run. She also emphasized pursuing passions and planning on working towards it for years to come.
  6. “We just need to be kinder to ourselves. If we treated ourselves the way we treated our best friend, can you imagine how much better off we would be? … Yes, you can have questions and self-doubt, that’s going to come up, that’s human.” Markle puts the “human” in humanitarian. She shows it is important not only to show up for others but to show up for yourself in order to make a lasting impact and to be able to maintain your best self in the process.
  7. “With fame comes opportunity, but it also includes responsibility – to advocate and share, to focus less on glass slippers and more on pushing through glass ceilings. And, if I’m lucky enough, to inspire.” In an interview with Elle Magazine, Markle talked about the things that inspired her when she was young and her experiences going from working on a TV series to helping in Rwanda.
  8. “Everyone should be afforded the opportunity to receive the education they want, but more importantly the education they have the right to receive.” In October 2018 in Fiji, Markle gave a speech on the importance of women’s education and cited the ways scholarships and financial aid funded her education and how worthwhile it was for her as an adult.
  9. “Because when girls are given the right tools to succeed, they can create incredible futures, not only for themselves but also for those around them.” The trip to Fiji and Markle’s speech were used to announce two grants that were awarded to Fiji National University and the University of the South Pacific to provide workshops for the women faculty at the universities to allow more women to be a part of decision-making at the schools.
  10. “I am proud to be a woman and a feminist.” Markle began her speech at the U.N. on International Women’s Day 2015 with this line. It was the same speech where she told the story of her 11-year-old self prompting advertisers to change their sexist dish soap advertisement.

Meghan Markle started her activism at the early age of 11 and didn’t look back. Her career as a successful actress gave her the platform to share her causes with the rest of the world. Clearly, the Duchess of Sussex has been a humanitarian long before being thrust into the global stage, and the top 10 best humanitarian quotes by Meghan Markle prove it.

Ava Gambero

Photo: Mark Tantrum

Global Education
Macroeconomist and Columbia University professor Jeffrey Sachs has been hailed by Time Magazine as one of the 100 most influential world leaders of our time. Best known for his New York Times Bestseller “The End of Poverty,” Sachs recently published a statistically rich article on Project Syndicate calling for the U.S. to increase its support for global education.

Sachs is currently the director of the U.N. Sustainability Development Solutions Network. Sachs once optimistically claimed, “extreme poverty can be ended not in the time of our grandchildren, but in our time.” His call for increasing access to global education is expressed primarily in tandem with his focus on meeting the U.N. Sustainability Goals by 2030.

A Global Fund for Education (GFE), a coalition that would bring together wealthy countries to collaboratively provide financial assistance to countries that need it the most is, for Sachs, the essential key to doing so. Yet, Sachs’ presents startling statistics representing an enormous imbalance in U.S. priorities and an overt militarization in its defense strategy. Moreover, the numbers signal the United States’ negligence. in pursuing a successful strategy towards eradicating poverty.

According to Sachs, roughly $1 billion per year is spent on supporting global education where approximately $900 billion is spent on military-related programs. These military programs included in the sum constitute the Pentagon, CIA, Homeland Security, nuclear weapons systems and veterans’ programs.

Sachs claims that an extra $45 billion per year would guarantee children access to education, one that would allow them to be literate, and minimize risk from joining gangs, drug traffickers and jihadists — all elements that encourage a more dangerous global terrain.

In another article published on Project Syndicate, Financing Health and Education for All, Sachs claims that if the U.S. followed in the footsteps of Sweden, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and the United Kingdom in supporting health and education, the U.S. could add roughly $90 billion per year to global funding. The extra $45 billion per year then, would offer an easy and complete fix to the eradication of poverty by 2030.

The U.S. could also utilize $90 billion of the $900 billion allocated to military projects towards development aid. These steps would promote the U.S.’s national security as well as give the 200 million children currently out of school the opportunity to become literate and contribute to their own country’s economies.

The Global Fund for Education, if implemented, would allow low-income countries to submit proposals for support where if approved would receive both financial funds and monitoring of its implementation.

Bolstering educational systems and the world’s youth in an increasingly knowledge-based economy will increase the U.S.’s national security and alleviate poverty by 2030. Sachs’ optimism then is not misplaced — so long as the U.S. as well as other wealthy countries reform their strategies.

Priscilla Son

Photo: Flickr

“Just like Pope John Paul II was in 1995, Pope Francis has been named Time’s ‘Person of the Year’ for presenting the Church’s ‘timeless truths’ to today’s world. In all that he does, through his humble ways and simple lifestyle, Pope Francis clearly radiates the joy that comes from loving God and caring for his people.  There could be no finer choice for ‘Person of the Year.'” – Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Archbishop of New York

 Pope Francis has been named Time’s Person of the Year for 2013. The popular magazine states that in order to gain this title a person must cast a strong influence over the world. It is clear that he has done this. His humility and selfless acts of kindness has renewed some faith back in to the Catholic Church. Catholics and non-Catholics have started to see the Pope in a different light. Aptly named “The Peoples Pope,” Pope Francis is no stranger to the poor. He states,  “Many of you have been stripped by this savage world,”  “[It] does not give employment [and it] does not care if there are children dying of hunger.”
“The times talk to us of so much poverty in the world and this is a scandal. Poverty in the world is a scandal. In a world where there is so much wealth, so many resources to feed everyone, it is unfathomable that there are so many hungry children, that there are so many children without an education, so many poor persons. Poverty today is a cry.”
Pope Francis urges world leaders for the inequality gap between the rich and poor to be closed. Until this is met Francis will continue to lead by example. He gathers to hear stories from Syrian refugees and eats with the poor. He washes the feet of juvenile delinquents and blesses people by the handful. His frugal lifestyle and refusal to live in luxury shows his love and devotion for the sick and the suffering. He believes that if humility is shown through his hands, others will follow suit.– Amy Robinson

Sources: BBC, NBC News, RT, CNN
Photo: Business Insider