Advocating for Youth Leadership to Achieve the SDGs

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Mary Kate Costello addresses youth attendees of 2017 Winter Youth Assembly.

In keeping with The Hunger Project’s priority to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals through community-led development, advocacy for youth leadership and engagement has been at a forefront. The Hunger Project took a leading role in both the United Nation’s 6th Annual Youth Forum and the Winter Youth Assembly at the United Nations at the beginning of February 2017.

Follow-up: Click here to read Mary Kate’s article on young women’s cooperatives.

The Hunger Project’s Senior Policy Analyst, Mary Kate Costello, has been an active member of the United Nation’s Interagency Network on Youth Development’s Working Group on Youth and Gender Equality, and is now co-chair of its new Task Force on Young Women’s Economic Empowerment. Such engagement afforded The Hunger Project the opportunity to chair two sessions during the Youth Forum: breakout sessions on SDGs 2 and 5.

Mary Kate participated in the SDG5 session as a panelist, focusing on the importance of young women-led cooperatives, especially at the grassroots. Not only will cooperatives provide improved income generation for young women, but also offer unique social inclusion – especially for marginalized persons such as those with disabilities and indigenous women. Mary Kate stressed Coop UK’s research that cooperatives have an 80% success rate in their first five years compared to 40% for other economic initiatives and investments. Discussion during the breakout session included hindrances to gender equality in the economy as a result of both discriminatory laws and discriminatory practices that do not adhere to favorable laws for women. One such example noted was Ghana’s policies entitling women and men to have the same allowances in owning land. However, this is not reflected in the percentage of land owned by women. Approximately 15% of men own land in Ghana, whereas less than 10% women own land.[1]

The Hunger Project, as a leader in integrated community-led development, was asked to moderate one of the Youth Forum’s Media Zone Panels. Mary Kate Costello engaged with three youth leaders about their work toward SDG2, ending hunger, in their respective home countries of Trinidad and Tobago, Nepal, and Colombia. Issues covered included how to encourage youth interest in agriculturally focused employment, mobile phone technology and grassroots capacity assessments and rehabilitation of abandoned fisheries to generate exponential income. The full panel is available here.

The week rounded off with chairing and speaking in the Winter Youth Assembly

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Winter Youth Assembly attendees discuss their leadership initiatives toward SDGs 1 and 2.

interactive session on SDG1, ending poverty. The Hunger Project, alongside cohosts Campus Kitchens Project and FeelGood, looked
at existing youth-led initiatives toward ending hunger that mitigate poverty. The United Nation’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) delivered the keynote address via their Lead Technical Specialist, Mattia Prayer Galletti, challenging that youth development need not only include youth in program design and implementation, but more important youth leadership in both aspects.

The Hunger Project, out of its pillar to empower women, is an organizing partner of the upcoming CSW Youth Forum from 10 – 12 March 2017, and will be featured in a plenary panel on the topic of young women-led cooperatives again. This year’s CSW Youth Forum is the second of its kind, chaired by UN Women and YWCA, as a youth-focused “opening” to the annual Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) at the UN. The Hunger Project will maintain its engagement in the arena of youth development and leadership as a key element of community-led programming to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

[1] http://news.trust.org/item/20160516120134-jqvsx

Common Violence Hinders the Common Man and Woman

51xb42qd1fl-_sx334_bo1204203200_In the 2014 book The Locust Effect, Gary Haugen makes the case that “common violence” impedes progress in international development. Haugen likens the cloud of locusts that swept over the middle of the United States in 1873, a force that devoured and decimated everything in its path, to the plague of violence that infects the world’s poor and inhibits progress towards a better life.

Haugen lists the main types of common violence that inhibit progress as sexual violence, which includes but is not limited to the trafficking of women and girls and sex slavery, forced labor, abusive police practices, torture, pre-trial detention, and violent land seizures. There is a range of what these types of violence looks like in different cultures and countries, but Haugen classifies common violence as any type of lawlessness that can occur almost anywhere to anyone where law enforcement and criminal justice systems are broken and do not benefit the people. He ties in the title again when describing the relationship between crime and the poor: “unlike the locusts of the Great Plains, who were equal-opportunity destroyers, the locusts of violence in the developing world actually seek out the poor.”

Haugen claims that crime and violence affect the poor more because they are targeted by those who have more power and money. Being born poor is being born with a target on your back; not just for those who will exploit you, but for police themselves. Haugen believes that a lack of training, corruption, and outdated, colonialist police programs that have never learned to serve the common people have resulted in completely ineffective police and criminal justice systems that do not work for the poor.

Violence and crime vary from country to country, from community to community, but almost all law enforcement, criminal justice, and court systems in the developing world could use some updates. Haugen acknowledges that change will not come easily, but claims it can be done. He sees some common themes in successes:

  • Each movement of criminal justice reform required local ownership and leadership of a very intentional effort to transform the justice system
  • Each public justice system had its own particular problems, symptoms of dysfunction, and obstacles to reform that required highly contextualized solutions
  • Committed community leaders and reform-minded elites played a critical role
  • Effective criminal justice systems improved the working conditions of the people working in the system
  • The priority goal of effective transformation efforts was a criminal justice system that prevented violence and crime and built trust with the public

Haugen gives some examples of successful projects and programs that have reformed law enforcement, criminal justice, and court systems.

  • In Brazil a group of organizations have united to combat forced labor slavery. Brazil’s Ministry of Labour and Employment (MTE) has Special Mobile Inspection Groups (GEFMs) that conduct surprise inspections and investigations on landowners and employers suspected of using slave labor. Between 1995 and 2010 these mobile units have rescued 38,301 laborers and the mobile units are being replicated across Brazil. These efforts have raised the profile of forced labor and awareness is higher than ever.
  • In Sierra Leone a small group called Timap for Justice are dedicated to legal empowerment of the poor. They believe that a shortage of qualified lawyers and the lack of available funds to pay for them is limiting the poor’s access to legal services. Timap uses highly-trained paralegals as their solution to address common crimes. These paralegals are trained to provide legal services to the poor without the cost of a lawyer. Paralegals are trained in mediation techniques and to be flexible with multiple approaches to law, whether from a traditional legal standpoint or a religious one. 40% of Sierra Leone has access to a community paralegal now, thanks to this scalable program which is in the process of expanding its reach.
  • A group in Peru, Paz y Esperanza, has mobilized community efforts to bring public accountability to the criminal justice system. By way of awareness and public action campaigns, they have fully secured more than 152 convictions of sexual predators since 2003. Paz y Esperanza brought the epidemic of sexual violence into the public conversation and even led a successful campaign to remove four corrupt judges from the local courts who refused to prosecute sexual violence with integrity.

There are many more success stories and useful lessons to learn in The Locust Effect. Haugen wants us to talk about violence in the broader context of development because he believes that success will only be long-lasting if the threat of fear of violence is diminished. He makes a compelling case.

 

Images courtesy of un.org and amazon.com

UNICEF Calls for Innovation

Screenshot 2015-11-12 at 4.08.31 PMThis year’s State of the World’s Children Report has been published and it is calling for innovation. While it is a fact that remarkable progress has been done towards the protection and promotion of children’s rights, an unfortunate amount of children still exist whose rights are continuously violated and are regularly experiencing the tragic repercussion of poverty and malnutrition. The State of the World’s Children Report – Reimagine the future: Innovation for every child, expresses the need for cooperation from the global community to find advanced and unconventional ways to address the age-old problem that is still affecting the lives of the innocent children all over the world, which is poverty and malnutrition.

(See table at the bottom of this post with a quick summary of statistics in Hunger Project program countries.)

Poverty begins prior to the birth of the child, increases across the life course and onto the succeeding generation. It is a cycle of deprivation. A child living in poverty does not only mean being deprived from an access to material goods, it is also a deprivation of life, health, cognitive development, education and opportunities. While an adult may experience poverty temporarily, for children, the consequence can last a lifetime.

Poverty is associated with malnutrition. According to UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children report, the poorest 20 per cent of the world’s children are twice as likely as the richest 20 per cent to be stunted by poor nutrition and to die before their fifth birthday. Stunting is one of the many manifestations of malnutrition. It is a form of growth failure. Stunting commence prior to the birth of a child. Poor maternal nutrition, inadequate feeding practices, lack of access to clean water and sanitation, non-exclusive breastfeeding and clinical and subclinical infections or diseases are causative agents of stunting. Not only poverty has an awful repercussion to a child’s health, it also deprives a child’s fundamental right to life.

Poverty also plays a huge role when it comes to a child’s cognitive development. Children living in poverty are most likely to encounter learning disabilities and developmental delays. According to UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children report, nearly 9 in 10 children from the wealthiest 20 per cent of households in the world’s least developed countries attend primary school – compared to only about 6 in 10 from the poorest households. Children who are stunted are most likely to have poor performance in school and have higher chances of dropping out. They are unable to reach their full potential because of the procured learning impediment. Some children choose to drop out of school and prefer to start working at a very young age for the reason that they are able to contribute to their family’s income.

Poverty persists to be a driving force of child marriage. Seldom families get their daughters to marry before 18 because it reduces the family expenses. Many communities also practice economic transactions like “bride price,” where the family receives money or livestock in exchange for their daughter. This practice often results to girls not being able to obtain an education. UNICEF reported that for every 100 boys in secondary school, only 76 girls are enrolled. The cycle of poverty is an often product of child marriage. Because of early marriage and pregnancy, girls are forced to drop out of school, making it harder for them to escape the awful consequences of poverty.

The Hunger Project recognizes the significance of nutrition for the eradication of world hunger and poverty. At the Hunger Project’s epicenters, health care professionals explain the basics of nutrition for both children and mothers and the importance of pre- and postnatal care to women. Women also have access to antenatal care services in the epicenter and children also have access to the epicenter nursery schools and are guaranteed to a full nutritious meal every day they are in attendance. The Hunger Project also partners with more than 100 organizations representative of governments, civil society, the private sector, philanthropic foundations and the research community dedicated to the eradication of malnutrition and poverty.

Others fail to see the correlation between nutrition and poverty. To some, it is mere financial inequity. They fail to see the bigger picture of how one factor leads to the other. Children who are living in poverty are much more likely to be in poverty later in life and is likely to shepherd the next generation to go through the same vicious way of life. Not unless the cycle is being cut, helpless and innocent children are relentlessly punished of this deprivation.

According to UNICEF’s State of the World’s Children report, all children must have an equal chance to make the most of their potential. The report features people across the world who went the extra mile and applied unorthodox approaches to further the progress. The global community must prioritize the children and fully dismantle the numerous hindrances to achieve innovation and ultimately achieve a future in which children from all corners of the world can enjoy their rights.

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Progress on Millennium Development Goal #1 (Eradicating Extreme Poverty and Hunger)

UN MDG

Photo Credit: UN.ORG

In 2000, leaders from 189 nations setup the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) to eradicate extreme  poverty and hunger, to achieve universal primary education, to promote gender equality and empower women, to reduce child mortality, to improve maternal health, to combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, to ensure environmental sustainability and to develop a global partnership for development. (UN Millennium Project, 2014).

Millennium Development Goal # 1 Targets and Progress (Adopted from the UN.ORG/MDGs)

GOAL 1: ERADICATE EXTREME POVERTY & HUNGER

Target 1.A: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1.25 a day

  • The target of reducing extreme poverty rates by half was met five years ahead of the 2015 deadline.

  • The global poverty rate at $1.25 a day fell in 2010 to less than half the 1990 rate. 700 million fewer people lived in conditions of extreme poverty in 2010 than in 1990. However, at the global level 1.2 billion people are still living in extreme poverty.

Target 1.B: Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people

  • Globally, 384 million workers lived below the $1.25 a day poverty line in 2011—a reduction of 294 million since 2001.

  • The gender gap in employment persists, with a 24.8 percentage point difference between men and women in the employment-to-population ratio in 2012.

Target 1.C: Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger

  • The hunger reduction target is within reach by 2015.

  • Globally, about 870 million people are estimated to be undernourished.

  • More than 100 million children under age five are still undernourished and underweight.

For more on 2013 MDGs Report Click here: http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/poverty.shtml

According to FAO (2013), 38 countries met anti-hunger targets for 2015. The 38 countries were honored on June 16, 2013 during the FAO Conference in Italy. According to FAO report, 20 countries have achieved MDG number 1. These were:  Algeria, Angola, Bangladesh, Benin, Brazil, Cambodia, Cameroon, Chile, Dominican Republic, Fiji, Honduras, Indonesia, Jordan, Malawi, Maldives, Niger, Nigeria, Panama, Togo and Uruguay. An additional 18 countries reached both MDG 1 and the WFS goals. These countries were: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Cuba, Djibouti, Georgia, Ghana, Guyana, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Nicaragua, Peru, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) and Viet Nam. (FAO, 2013).

Countries who achieved MDG number # 1 in Green and Countries who achieved both MDG#1 and WFS goals in Yellow

AlgeriaAzerbaijanArmeniaAngolaBangladeshBeninBrazilCambodiaChileCameroonCubaDjiboutiDominican RepublicFijiGeorgiaGhanaGuyanaHondurasIndonesiaJordanKyrgyzstanKuwaitMalawiMaldivesNigerNigeriaNicaraguaPeruPanamaThailandTogoSao Tome and PrincipeTurkmenistanUruguaySaint Vincent and the GrenadinesVenezuelaVietnamSamoa

For more on the 2013 FAO Report click here: http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3434e/i3434e00.htm

References:

FAO. (2013). The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2013. Retrieved on Feb 3, 2014 from http://www.fao.org/docrep/018/i3434e/i3434e00.htm

World Bank. (2014). Global Monitoring Report 2013: Sub-Saharan Africa

Rural-Urban Dynamics and the Millennium Development Goals. Retrieved on January 31, 2014 from http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTPROSPECTS/Resources/334934-1327948020811/8401693-1355753354515/8980448-1366122085455/SSA_RegionalBrief_GMR2013_Eng.pdf

World Bank. (2014). Report Card: The Millennium Development Goals, 2013. Retrieved on January 31, 2014 from http://siteresources.worldbank.org/INTPROSPECTS/Resources/334934-1327948020811/8401693-1355753354515/8980448-1366123749799/GMR_2013_Report_Card.pdf

UN. (2014). The Millennium Development Goals Report 2013. Retrieved on January 31, 2014 from http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/pdf/report-2013/mdg-report-2013-english.pdf

A Panel on Ending Extreme Poverty in Conflict-Affected Contexts at Center for American Progress 01/28/14

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A panel was held at the Center for American Progress (CAP) this morning on ending extreme poverty in conflict-affected contexts. Among the Panelists were Alex Thier, Assistant to the Administrator, USAID , Larry Attree, Head of Policy, Saferworld ,Nancy E. Lindborg, Assistant Administrator for the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance (DCHA), USAID , John Norris, Executive Director, Sustainable Security and Peace building Initiative, Center for American Progress and Nora O’Connell, Associate Director of Development Policy and Advocacy, Save the Children as a moderator of the panel. The panelists hoped that President Barack Obama includes United States’ role in global development and peace in his State of the Union Address tonight. According to the panelists, by 2020, extreme poverty will affect people in conflict areas and fragile states. One of the panelist has advised that fighting against poverty in conflict-affected areas ‘should not be seen as an ambition rather as a necessity’.  Participants have raised questions on the importance of mitigating interventions and development programs, and the need to have a coherence between military strategy and development policies.  Also noted was the importance of engaging China, Brazil and other countries active in conflict-affected areas in the fight against extreme poverty.

For more info read: http://www.americanprogress.org/events/2014/01/23/82767/ending-extreme-poverty-in-conflict-affected-contexts/