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Posts Tagged ‘Children’

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.

Return to the Our Global Victory homepage!

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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.

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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:

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Education not only leads to a greater chance for employment, it also protects children, and builds nations. Education gives children options and children who perceive themselves as having options are more successful and have more positive outcomes than children who do not perceive themselves as having options. The issue of providing access to quality education is an international one in developed countries and in developing countries. Over 75 million children  are not in school. Of those children who are in school it is unknown how many of them are receiving a quality education.

 

A recent article in the New York Times highlighted the need for better data gathering techniques in the U.S. school system. The article stated that public school records fail to keep track of how many children leave high school each year and that records do not track what happens to those children that have left school. These children are often underprivileged and in the most need. The article alluded that children who are the most challenging to education are often pushed out of the school system. What becomes of them?  

 

Further, children in foster care who age out of the system without a permanent family have often been in and out of foster care facilities and in and out of school. Options for these children are often bleak with many of them ending up homeless without the chance to attend college or learn the skills necessary to be competitive in the job market.

 

Children who work outside of the home, in an effort to support their families, are often preyed upon by human traffickers. For these children, school becomes a safe space because it is the teachers and other students who realize if they are missing and watch over them during school hours.

 

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Access to quality education is a human right and accomplishes the following:

  • Raises self esteem and self awareness which leads to positive relationships throughout life
  • Gives children the tools and skills that they need to be competitive in the job market after graduation
  • Teaches children valuable resources for the future
  • Provides a safe place during school hours
  • Gives children options
  • Attending school helps to prevent and ease symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder in refugee, internally displaced, war afflicted, and abused children
  • Information is used to prevent transmittable diseases and unwanted pregnancies
  • Provides nutrition – school meals may be the only meal a child has during the day
  • Provides the tools necessary to compare information
  • Develops analytical thinking
  • Contributes to peaceful communication and negotiations
  • Produces thoughtful leaders
  • Provides nations with future community developers, leaders, teachers, and skilled workers
  • Helps prevent the cycle of violence
  • Exposes children to new ideas, possibilities, healthcare, and mentors

 

Education plays many roles in a child’s life. It is necessary to make sure that all children have access to quality education and to not underestimate the amount of children or the origin of children in need.

Some ways to make a difference in the lives of children:

  • Support projects that benefit children
  • Become aware of educational issues in your area or other areas of interest and share your knowledge with others
  • Work with your company to develop a mentorship or other options focused program for underprivileged children
  • Volunteer to support youth opportunity projects in person or online
  • Let youth build their resumes by using some of their intellectual products with your company. This could be some artwork, poetry, essays, strategy, or marketing products 

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‘Together we can change the world.’ Many people say this and it is true for many situations. People have gathered together to abolish slavery and achieve suffrage, to fight crime and rebuild infrastructure, to build schools and inform education policy.  People can move mountains, so why can’t people influence corporate social responsibility? The answer is: We Can.     

Today, individuals have so much information at their fingertips from corporate websites, blogs, and social networks to formal reporting initiatives. Corporations have few places to hide their practices within the supply chain. Individuals can monitor corporate decisions and tell others about what they have found. Further, corporations know that word of mouth is still one of the strongest influencers of consumer choice.  

It is easier than ever to share ideas. People no longer have to run into someone at the store to hear their thoughts about the latest products. They can read reviews online about them or, even more powerful, consult their Facebook, MySpace or Twitter cyber friends and acquaintances in real time for their advice. On Twitter, a member can tweet a 140-character question about a corporation and receive 50 responses in less than a minute including opinions and links to articles, reports, and blogs that inform their purchasing decision.   

 

Together We Can Change the World 

Increasingly, CEOs and Corporate Social Responsibility Implementers within corporations are realizing the importance of listening to the consumer voice. This is especially true in today’s economy. A recent IBM Global CEO Study found that successful “CEOs are spending more to attract and retain increasingly prosperous, informed, and socially aware customers.” Practicing good social responsibility translates to better standing in the community, bigger profits, attracting and retaining more talented employees, and greater social impact

Increasingly, organizations recognize the importance of private enterprise in the success of reaching the Millennium Development Goals. From the 2nd addition of the International Business Leaders Forum’s Framework for Action report:

Corporations can contribute to the success of the MDGs in the following areas:

·      Fundamental business operations and supply chains – implementing responsible business practices in areas such as human rights, labor, environmental, and health.

·      Social investment and philanthropy – contributing employee volunteers and expertise, product and in-kind contributions and supporting community based projects.

·      Public advocacy and institutional strengthening – collaborating on initiatives to support systemic change on local, national, or global levels. 

Collaboration between individuals, NGOs, non-profits, governments, and the private sector is so important that it is the eighth MDG: “’To develop a global partnership for development,’ explicitly calls for partnerships, which are essential at all levels-local, national, global-for the attainment of the other seven goals and the values and actions set out in the Millennium Declaration.” – UNDP

First Steps to Creating Change

·      Put away preconceived notions of what type of entities have the right to contribute to social issues.

·      Work together to discover strengths and how these strengths can be best used toward achieving common goals.

·      Ask how can non-profit, for-profit, government, NGO and individual efforts be coordinated to have the greatest impact on society.

·      Let people hear your voice. Find ways to get your voice heard on issues that you care about.

·      Join with like-minded others to influence corporate social responsibility efforts in education, poverty, child safety, the environment, and other important issues.  

·      Expect that the corporations you do business with are good citizens and hold them accountable to this.

·      Be the Change. Whenever possible make choices on products and services that reflect the change that you want to see in your community and the world. Choose corporations, products, and services that practice good social responsibility, give back to the community, support social projects, or contribute to society issues.        

As people become more aware of the potential good that can be achieved by collaborative entity efforts, greater impact can be achieved. People have more power to influence the way corporations approach social responsibility than they may realize. This is true for all societal issues but is especially important for children’s issues and meeting the goals Millennium Development Goals pertaining to children

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