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By: Maria Dieci

Doctors without Borders (MSF) and VII Photo agency partnered to document and show the world the neglected and mostly invisible crisis of childhood malnutrition in a multimedia exhibit in New York City.  The exhibit, Starved for Attention, marries video footage and photography from some of the most accomplished human rights photojournalists to create haunting and powerful collages of various malnutrition “hotspots” — Burkina Faso, Bangladesh, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, India, Mexico, and the USA.

The Brooklyn based exhibit is minimalist: the main room is a little too big, a little too bare…a visitor walks in and immediately feels slight discomfort, obviously the intended reaction.  The photos and videos are projected from several television screens, mounted on sleek white free-standing panels.  The footage is soundless, except for two stations where one can choose to turn on the accompanying documentary with a remote control.  It is powerful and uncomfortable to see a steady stream of lifeless eyes, emaciated bodies, and hopeless situations.

A GLOBAL TRAGEDY

At any given time 195,000 children are plagued by malnutrition worldwide.  About 80% of these children live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.  According to MSF, malnutrition kills at least one third of the 8 million children under the age of five who die each year.  The root cause is largely poverty: many families simply cannot afford nutrient-rich foods. Families struggle to survive on simple and nutrient poor diets of porridges made with whatever local cereals are available.  Maize, rice, sorghum and millet are often staples in these areas.

Mothers are not ignorant of what is happening: they watch their children slowly waste away before their eyes.  There is nothing that they can do besides give up their own food for their children, which they do.  In the exhibit, one desperate mother revealed that she would regularly give her rations to her hungry children; she only needed to eat once a week to stay alive.  But this is not nearly enough.  Mothers should not have to watch their children die, helpless to save them.

HOPE FOR THE FUTURE

Every one of these deaths can be prevented if the nutritional requirements of young children – the most vulnerable are infants under two years – are met. Starved for Attention not only focuses on the tragedy of childhood malnutrition, but more importantly on the successful programs put in place to fight it, and how they must be developed.  Mexico and the United States exemplify the successful implementation of these strategies.  They focus on children up to two years of age: direct nutrition programs ensure that even children from the poorest families have access to invaluable foods such as milk and eggs.


Our Global Victory is committed to providing children worldwide with futures full of opportunity and promise.  Visit our website to get involved and learn more about our mission!

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By: Maria Dieci

The International Day of the African Child has been celebrated annually on June 16 since the Organization of African Unity founded it in 1991.  This holiday is celebrated to honor the memory of all of those killed and all of those who marched in the 1976 demonstrations in Soweto, South Africa.  Thousands of school children in the city took to the streets to protest their inferior quality of education and to demand the right to be taught in their native language.  The rally was the target of police brutality.  Hundreds of young boys and girls were gunned down.  In the few weeks of protests that ensued, more than a hundred people were killed and more than a thousand people were injured.  This day of remembrance does not simply dwell on the past, but looks toward the future of African children.

The focus of this holiday is on the collective responsibility of national governments to plan and budget for children’s rights.  UNICEF executive director, Anthony Lake, asserts that the millions of African children that die before they learn to read can be saved with an increased investment in health care and education by the governments.  These advances will not only save the lives of the children, but will improve the development of the nation.

Reasons to Invest in Children:

  • Health and Education = Productive members of society
  • Increased education leads to better workforce
  • Educated workers earn more – boost local economy
  • Better health leads to healthier future generations
  • Cycle of poverty will be broken!

Our Global Victory helps secure optimistic futures for Africa’s children.  Help one of our partners, the HoPE Primary School project, give Ugandan children the gift of an education.

Our Global Victory is announcing its Atlanta Tattoo Artists for Human Rights Contest to benefit underprivileged children and communities in the areas of education, opportunity, and protection. Artwork submitted by the winning artist will be used on t-shirts and bags for charity to fund the humanitarian projects featured on the Our Global Victory website. These include building classrooms for refugee children in Uganda, creating leadership opportunities for at-risk youth in NYC, providing education and healthcare for children from slum communities in Pune and Mumbai, and providing literacy education for women and children working in the Nigerian marketplace. If you would like to have a copy of the flyer sent to your email address, please email Our Global Victory at ourglobalv@gmail.com with your request. The winner will be announced on July 28, 2010. For contest details, please view the flyer below:

written by: Maria Dieci

This week, the Gates Foundation called for global collaboration to save women’s and children’s lives.  Melinda Gates pledged $1.5 billion, over the course of 5 years, towards maternal and child health, family planning, and nutrition programs for the developing world.  She urged other global leaders to make health implementation and education a top priority on their agendas.

What can be taken away from this strong statement is the progress that has already been made through maternal and childhealth-care projects, and the prospects that the future holds.  We, a global community of collaborating individuals, have taken steps in the right direction.  Recent studies estimate that the number of women dying from pregnancy related causes has decreased by 35% in 30 years.  This year, 7.7 million children are estimated to die – a shocking and saddening figure in itself to be sure– but when compared to the 16 million that died in 1970, it is clear that notable progress has been made.

The lives that have been saved have been saved through the implementation of simple and often low cost measures.  Education about family planning, breastfeeding, and keeping a baby warm, coupled with basic prenatal care are often all it takes to bring a healthy baby into the world and into the arms of a healthy mother.  This is paradoxically uplifting and frustrating news. Uplifting on the one hand because many lives can be changed if these practices are put to use in places where they are needed.  Frustrating because it makes you wonder why there are still millions of children dying   before they learn to read.

But these frustrations should not be left to fester.  Instead, they should be redirected towards constructive teamwork aimed at solving some of these problems.  If we do not lose sight of the goal, if we do not let the numbers overwhelm us, we can give every child in the world a chance to shape their own futures.

See how you can take the first steps in making this vision a reality by checking out the OGV website!

This week, in Washington DC, the 2010 Women Deliver conference will bring together global leaders to discuss political, economic, technological, social, and cultural solutions for women and girls.

Mother and child head home to Nigerien village of Tsaki. UNICEF/NYHQ2005-1050/Chalasani

written by: Maria Dieci

Isobel Coleman, Senior Fellow for US Foreign Policy, Director of the Women and Foreign Policy Program at the Council on Foreign Relations and author of Paradise Beneath Her Feet: How Women Are Transforming the Middle East , tells us the reasons why companies should actively promote the empowerment of women in developing countries.

Women’s empowerment and education leads to improvements in child health and nutrition, increases in agricultural productivity, overall economic expansion, and decreases in the infant mortality rate. Two out of the eight millennium development goals set forth by the United Nations address women directly, while the remaining goals positively affect women.  It is for these reasons, among others, that women’s empowerment needs to be a focal point for public policy and action.

However, as Coleman aptly points out, policies cannot be effective when there are still monumental gender gaps in much of the developing world.  Today, many women around the world are prohibited from fully contributing to the societies in which they live because of gender discrimination.  This issue, Coleman argues, to be appropriately and effectively tackled, must involve collaboration around the world including from “the world’s largest companies.”

Isobel Coleman

What Coleman speculates could be “the greatest cultural shift of the twenty-first century” will occur when companies realize that by empowering women in developing countries they not only improve their public image, but also increase their profit. At the same time, the resources that corporations can contribute can make a significant difference in these women’s lives, their children’s lives, and the health and prosperity of their communities.

Positive Effects of Female Empowerment on Businesses:

  • More productive labor force
  • Expanded customer base
  • Increased investment
  • Improved global supply chains

The article highlights several organizations that champion the empowerment and education of women:

  • Nike – The Nike Foundation has distributed close to $100 million towards health, education and leadership programs for young girls. The Girl Effect has raised global awareness and support for female empowerment.
  • India’s Hindustan Unilever – The Shakti Entrepreneur Program provides micro-credit grants to rural women who then distribute the company’s products.  Women involved benefit from higher familial status and self-esteem and invest in their children’s health, education, and nutrition.
  • Wal-Mart – In a partnership with CARE, Wal-Mart has introduced several programs aimed at teaching literacy and workplace skills, many targeted at women.
  • US Military – In an experimental program, the military engages Afghan women in making uniforms for the national police and army.

These four giants are taking steps to empower women.  The hope is that as more corporations recognize the positive effects for the world economy and their businesses, they will proactively contribute to change the status of women throughout the developing world.  There is one common thread in every story of empowerment: the essentiality of education.

Everyone Can Help Empower Women

Our Global Victory (OGV) has partnered with The MarketPlace School Initiative to give this gift of education to vulnerable men, women, and children in Nigeria.  The project provides literacy classes to those who have not been able to overcome the barriers to education.  This project’s unique approach is that it brings education to the marketplace – the place where most of the community congregates to work.  It targets women especially and enables them to apply for micro-loans, start businesses, and increase their income so they can provide for their families, purchase uniforms, and afford school fees for their children.  Visit the OGV site today to learn more about how you can collaborate with this wonderful project and join the movement to empower women across the globe!

Primary article used for this post: The Global Glass Ceiling: Why Empowering Women is Good For Business, by Isobel Coleman

The founder of OGV speaks with conference attendees.

Our Global Victory was pleased to be a guest at the 2010 Voices for Africa conference at the Harvard Graduate School of Education on April 10, 2010.

Speakers included Dr. Shirley Burchfield from World Education, Dr. Tatiana Carayannis from the Social Science Research Council, and Godfrey Orach Otobi, a student of Fletcher School at Tufts, who shared his personal experiences growing up in conflict.

Rich discussions followed informative presentations on topics aimed at highlighting the challenges of accessing quality education faced by African children in conflict and post-conflict situations.

Some thought provoking issues that were discussed were:

The Youth Bulge in Africa

Participants discussed how the youth bulge in Africa will affect the economy and the possibility of increasing future conflict. Many states greatly affected by conflict in Africa are made up of over 50% youth under the age of 25. Many young people have not had access to education for many years and have lived in traumatic situations. Some scholars believe that these youth will be more likely to become involved in future conflict. However, the overall consensus of practitioners and researchers at the conference was that this was an extremely important opportunity to provide these youth with opportunities and that they could influence their states in positive ways that would result in economic growth and peace for Africa.  Discussed by Dr. Tatiana Carayannis of the Social Science Research Council.

GET INVOLVED! Forego two lattes this year – and make a small donation of $10 – to build classrooms for a post conflict refugee community in Uganda so they can become more sustainable!

Dr. Carayannis, Richard Opio, and Dr. Mendenhall

Getting Vital Information to the People of Africa

With limited resources, how can positive messages and accurate news spread through Africa? Many practitioners and advocates are harnessing the power of radio to reach the African populations. Organizations such as Search for Common Ground, are utilizing the radio to promote peace between groups and empower young people using interactive programming. Other organizations offer important educational information including agricultural, disease prevention, and objective news to help increase political participation from villagers. Discussed by Sally Chin of the Carr Center for Human Rights Policy at the Harvard Kennedy School.

Adult Literacy Education

A crucial need that is often overlooked in literacy education is the need to educate illiterate adults in a meaningful way. This includes finding out what they need and want to learn and what would be most useful for them to learn. Some possibilities of note were how to make prices in the marketplace, basic literacy, and issues useful to their everyday lives. Most adults do not wish to go through the rigorous literacy programs that are taught to children in primary school and need a program that is adapted to suit their lives. Discussed by Atema Eclai of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.

GET INVOLVED! Forego two after dinner desserts this year – and make a small donation of $10 – to give adult education to people in the marketplace of Vandeika Benue State Nigeria so that they can afford to send their children to school!

Sally Chin, Joe Read, and Atema Eclai

The afternoon talk given by Godfrey Orach Otobi on The Effect of Conflict on Education in Uganda tied the conference together and made people appreciate a deeper understanding of the days topics. Godfrey described growing up in conflict and how his experiences made it impossible for him access a quality education. He described how he and his classmates fled for their lives from rebels who captured them repeatedly after every escape. Despite constant trauma, it was his mother’s inspirational words and thoughts on education that gave him the strength to survive. He now advocates on behalf youth in Uganda and to giving them opportunities for a bright future.

The overall tone of the conference can best be described by Atemi Eclai’s words when she urged people to look at Africa “through a lens of hopefulness”.

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