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Archive for the ‘Protection’ Category

By: Maria Dieci

Every four years, the world comes together over a shared love of soccer.  National pride blossoms and old rivalries resurface during the World Cup.  Emotions soar as entire nations watch with bated breath as their teams fight for the highly coveted title of world champion.  With hundreds of millions of people in every corner of the world tuning in to the matches, the tournament is proof of soccer’s ability to capture the world’s attention.  South Africa, the host country, understands its enrapturing nature, and uses it to promote children’s rights.

A TEAM EFFORT

UNICEF has partnered with various local organizations to bring education, opportunity, and safety to vulnerable children and youth.  A program called World Cup in My Village brings the excitement of the matches to rural African villages with live screenings.  In addition to giving children a safe space to watch the matches, the screens transmit vital information regarding children’s health and their rights.

Besides the promotion of children’s health, the World Cup campaigns seek to ensure protection for vulnerable children during and after the tournament.  Civil society partners in South Africa have worked together to make this a reality.  Child friendly spaces, established at the stadiums, offer protection and child care to children who become separated from their families or are targets of sexual exploitation or violence.  Protective measures have been established across the country.  Now, all nine South African provinces have trained social workers who can identify and effectively help children at risk.  The Red Card Campaign targets families, children, and tourists, and educates them about the dangers and consequences of child trafficking, exploitation, and abuse. Education comes in the form of red cards similar to those given to soccer players on the field for committing fouls, but these hold important messages about protection, prevention and awareness.

Education is empowerment, and every child should feel empowered to take charge of his or her life.  Through the 1Goal campaign, FIFA and civil society organizations across the world hope to tackle the poverty and gender inequalities in education currently present in South Africa.  The campaign culminates on July 11, with a summit on education in Cape Town.  Currently, 72 million children are denied education.  1Goal strives to put every one of these children in school by 2015.  2015 marks the end date for the Millennium Development Goals outlined by the UN as well.  This campaign is an effort to make these goals a reality, because currently there is not enough action being taken.  If efforts do not increase to secure universal education, 56 million children will still be denied schooling in 5 years.

CHILDREN FOR THE FUTURE

What these campaigns realize is that children are the future.  We cannot afford to lose a generation of doctors, soccer players, activists, and teachers because they were unable to attend school.  We should be doing everything we can to give youth these opportunities.  These campaigns use a universal love for soccer to promote a universal need for education and healthcare.  Because of their efforts, vulnerable youth are being equipped with the tools they need to map out their own futures and score their own goals.

RETURN TO THE OUR GLOBAL VICTORY HOMEPAGE WHERE YOU CAN PARTICIPATE IN GIVING YOUTH OPPORTUNITY!

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Written by: Maria Dieci

National security threats have changed face drastically over the course of the past few decades, and have become infinitely more frightening, invisible, and unpredictable.  Lawless lands, where conflicting groups vie for power, are the most dangerous threats to national security.  Violent, extremist groups – such as Al Qaeda and the Taliban – threaten both US security and the stability of the countries they infest.  What makes these threats so difficult to isolate and defuse is that they do not operate in an organized manner and they threaten their own people with little opposition.  Further, weakened states fail to provide their citizens with protection from terrorist groups because of fragile or inexistent infrastructure.

According to a United Nations estimate, 4 billion people live outside of the protection of the law.  These people may not even know what basic rights they have, let alone if they are being violated.  In many disorganized states, there is no effective mechanism to control corruption, greed, and exploitation.  Further, while some of these states are signatory to United Nations Human Rights Agreements, they have no matching legislation and no effective public justice system to protect the poor.  Those in power are unchallenged, and can strip the poor of any foreign assistance they receive.  As much as 85% of foreign aid never reaches those for whom it is intended, reveals a World Bank study.  Could half a century of development work have been done in vain?

YOUTH ARE A SIGNIFICANT PART OF THE SOLUTION

Corruption, violence, and injustice are common in failing states, delivering crippling blows to the most vulnerable sectors of the population: the poor, women, and children.  Education and healthcare are scarce, and the youth of these countries have very few opportunities.  Without opportunity, there is little hope for the future.  Feeling hopeless youth are a vulnerable target of terrorist organizations that offer food for their families, security, acceptance, and purpose in exchange for loyalty.

This is why creating opportunity for children is so important and why human rights groups have made it their mission to provide hope for the world’s youth.  Children equipped with education, adequate healthcare, and prospects for the future are more stable.  They are also less likely be recruited by terrorists and are poised to strengthen and rebuild their countries.  Youth must be given opportunities to learn, harvest dreams for themselves, and be a positive force in their countries.

Regardless of political belief, those who are interested in national security have a vested interest in human rights, and those who are interested in human rights have a vested interest in national security.  Development must happen on the ground level with the empowerment and education of youth and the establishment and safeguarding of human rights.  It must also happen on the national level with the development of infrastructure, the creation of public justice systems and the restoration of political stability.  Only then can a weakened state be strengthened and rebuilt in order to champion human rights, offer hope for the future, and, as a consequence, achieve national and international security.


Return to the Our Global Victory homepage to see how you can become involved in providing youth with opportunity and hope for the future.

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written by: Maria Dieci

In the past week, there is one crisis that has gotten a lot of media attention: the issue of Somali child soldiers.  This catastrophe has not been on the forefront of the international agenda in the past, merely flying under the radar as something that no one wanted to deal with directly.  This is no longer.  The United Nations classifies the Somali Transitional Federal government as one of the “most persistent violators” of sending children to the front lines.  The Somali government deploys hundreds of children – some as young as nine – to make up its army.

In 1991, the Somali government collapsed, leaving the country lawless and disorganized. Children were robbed of opportunity, of safety, and of a future.  Vulnerable and hopeless, these children were the perfect soldier recruits.  Today, the vice-chairman of the Elman Peace and Human Rights group, Ali Sheik Yassin, estimates that 20% of government troops and 80% of rebel forces are children.  It is disheartening to hear these numbers and to think of the lost childhoods behind them.

In the past few days, the United Nations has taken a strong stance regarding this issue.  It stands ready to “adopt targeted and graduated sanctions” against commanders who recruit child soldiers.  The president of the Somali government has taken action per the prompting of the international community.  He has ordered the military chief to “conduct a full review” on the issue and demobilize under-age army recruits immediately.

There is hope for the children who are victims of this crisis, and for Somalia. If successful, policies developed to stop the use of child soldiers in Somalia could serve as a model for the demilitarization of child soldiers in other areas. The initial policies outlined by the UN are only the beginning of solving the problem, however.  Children who are released from their military service are often traumatized, unable to reintegrate into society, and ostracized by their villages and families.  They need to be presented with opportunities to complete their educations and rehabilitation programs so they can take their lives back and turn their futures around.

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