The 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 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 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.
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 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 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