Posts Tagged ‘Millennium Development Goals’

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.


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.


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.



Read Full Post »

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.


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.


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!

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

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

Read Full Post »

HoPE Primary School – Uganda

I was introduced to this project by my professor, Sarah Dryden-Peterson, at Harvard. Sarah had spent time in Uganda researching and wrote a paper on this remarkable refugee community. HoPE provides free education to refugee children and a center to foster peaceful relations between refugees and locals. Their current need is to build three additional classrooms each costing $7345. This will provide education for additional students and help this community become more sustainable.

MarketPlace School Initiative- Nigeria

A former classmate, Haviva Kohl, co-founded this initiative to provide literacy education for children and adults in an area with immense need: the marketplace. Children making a living in the Nigerian marketplaces often forego schooling to help feed their families. Women who get an education from MPSI will be able to apply for micro-loans, expand or start businesses, and pay for school fees for their children. Just launched in March, 311 women are already enrolled. Current need is $2568 to help create the Vandeika, Benue State School.

Akanksha – India

A colleague of mine spent time volunteering in India with Akanksha and was amazed at their ability to provide education, opportunity, and protection to children from slum communities in Pune and Mumbai. Their current need is to help maintain schools, buy medical supplies, and help support their social welfare program.

Global Potential – Central America

A fellow Harvard Alum introduced me to a program that she believes in so much that she volunteers with it in a full-time position. GP projects help underprivileged youth in NYC and Boston by enabling them to build skills and by helping them stay in school. In turn, they travel to an impoverished community outside of the U.S. to complete a service project that helps that community build its economy and create sustainability. Their current needs are funding for transportation, training, and accommodations for their upcoming service projects.

Each of these projects fit meet the OGV guidelines and criteria to ensure their impact, legality, non-discrimination policies, and ethical standards. For more information on this process click here.

Read Full Post »

‘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

Read Full Post »