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The MDGs and Gender Equality

Promote gender equality and empower women

The third goal of the United Nations Millennium Development Goals is “Promote gender equality and empower women.” This includes equality in education, labor rights, health care, and legal and political access.

Often in the development context, even in situations where all indicators point to progress, women and girls lag behind. For example, a 2008 UNESCO report found that out of an estimated 774million adults who lack basic literacy, 64% are women.

Importance of education

As is often the case in the long-term development context, education is the foundation for real progress. The stated target of goal 3 is, in fact, to eliminate gender disparity in all levels of education no later than 2015.

Girls who receive an education have a higher income earning potential than those who do not, between 10% and 20% more for every year of education they complete. With higher income comes a healthier family, as women can buy better food for their children. They can afford to keep their children in school longer, instead of keeping them home to work. Educated women are also more likely to participate in politics, not just by voting but also by running for public office.

Change now

While education is important in the long-term for women in developing countries, they face many pressing short-term issues as well.

Women, whether they have received an education or not, face great discrimination in the work place. They lack equal pay for equal work, lack maternity leave, face sexual harassment, or are not allowed to hold the same jobs or do the same kinds of work as men. A report from UNICEF in 2007 found that while women perform 66% of the world’s “work” and produce 50% of all food, they earn just 10% of the income and own only 1% of the property.

If women are to meet the short-term metrics of the MDGs, significant political and economic reform must take place in many developing countries. There is hope for change though. CGAP, an independent policy and research center housed at the World Bank, says the following about what happens when women are the focus of micro-finance development programs:

“Women often become more assertive and confident. In regions where women’s mobility is strictly regulated, women have often become more visible and are better able to negotiate the public sphere. Women involved in microfinance may also own assets, including land and housing, and play a stronger role in decision making. In some programs that have been active over many years, there are even reports of declining levels of violence against women.” (via CGAP.org)

 

Making change happen

How you can help

As I am sure you have noticed, Jolkona launched a new campaign with the Seattle International Foundation to provide grassroots leadership training to women from around the world. Though the Groupon deal that helped launch the campaign has ended, you can still contribute through the Jolkona project page.

Here are a list of additional projects Jolkona currently supports that are in line with the Millennium Development Goal of promoting gender equality and empowering women.

  1. Provide education to the females of Afghanistan
  2. Support women farmers in Sudan
  3. Ignite girls’ leadership in Pakistan

For more information on the work the United Nations is doing focused on goal 3, take a look at the UN Women MDG page.

MDG 2: Achieve universal primary education

Achieve universal primary education

Today we continue looking at the connection between the United Nations Millennium Development Goals and Jolkona. The second of the MDGs is achieving universal primary education. This means that every child receives the equivalent of an American sixth grade education.

A sixth grade education does not sound like much, and for those of us in the West we often think of someone who’s formal schooling stops at elementary school as being at a massive disadvantage compared to others with a high school or college diploma or other advanced academic degree.

But with a sixth grade education comes at least basic literacy and arithmetic skills—skills vital for economic development. Farmers need to know what price they are paying for seeds, store owners need to read property leases, and parents need to read and understand medical dosage information for treating their sick children.

Current progress

According to the United Nations 2011 MDG Report, as of 2009 about 67 million children are still out of school, down from 106 million in 1999. Of that 67 million, about 48 million live in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia (32 million in Africa, 16 million in Asia). The biggest barriers for the 67 million children still out of school remain gender (being female), poverty and/or being located in a rural community.

Still, some of the poorest countries in Africa (including Burundi, Rwanda, Sao Tome and Principe, Togo, and the United Republic of Tanzania) have managed to achieve the goal, giving hope that even the least developed countries can still achieve universal primary education by 2015.

How you can help

Jolkona supports a variety of projects aimed at achieving universal primary education. Here are a few:

  1. Provide tutoring to indigenous children in Guatemala
  2. Help teachers at a school in rural Zambia
  3. Support children’s education in India

For more information you can visit the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) education web site.

MDG 1: Eradicate Extreme Poverty and Hunger

Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger

A few weeks back we began our discussion of the Millennium Development Goals and Jolkona. Today we will continue by looking in depth at the first of the MDGs.

The first of the MDGs is the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger.

Targets for eradicating extreme poverty

There are two target metrics the UN has set for the eradication of extreme poverty.

  1. Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than $1/day
  2. Achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all, including women and young people

Economists use two bars for determining who in the world is considered economically poor. The first, people living on $2/day, are considered “merely” poor. The second, those living on $1/day, are considered the “extremely poor”.

This may seem like a strange distinction to make but it’s important because while we would all like to see everyone living in poverty to have a chance at a better life, it is those living on $1/day or less who are the most vulnerable to climate change, natural disaster and economic hardships like recessions or changes in food prices.

The best way to lift these people out of poverty is meaningful work. Article 23 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights states, “Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment.”

Target for eradicating hunger

  1. Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people suffering from hunger

The most obvious cases of hunger are usually acute famines, such as what is currently transpiring in East Africa. A mix of political instability and climate change can create a situation in which crops are unable to grow, and people and livestock die as a result.

Food security is also an issue closely tied to poverty. People who are poor or extremely poor often cannot afford to buy the food they need for themselves or their families, especially in light of food prices that have risen sharply in the past few years. For some people, undernourishment or malnourishment is a way of life.

Poor nutrition hits children especially hard, and has long lasting effects. Children who do not receive a proper diet suffer from physical and mental developmental issues. This can range from simply being under-height and weight when they reach adulthood, to severe mental retardation as a result. According to one USAID report, even before the 2008 global financial collapse and concurrent rise in food prices, 178 million children (about 1/3 of all children) were suffering from chronic malnutrition.

What you can do to help

Eliminating extreme poverty and hunger would not just meet the first of the MDGs, it can have a huge impact on all the others as well. Here are some ways you can get involved through Jolkona supported projects:

  1. Provide seeds or farming tools to a family in Nicaragua
  2. Provide healthy meals for children in Uganda
  3. Help families fleeing famine in Somalia

For more information, take a look at the United Nations Development Program’s Millennium Development Goals page.

Give My Lunch Infographic

The famine in Somalia and the crisis in the Horn of Africa is getting worse every single day, and it is the children who are the most at risk.

It doesn’t take much to help. As this infographic shows, the $5 that you spend every day on your lunch for a month can help feed a family of six for three weeks. That’s a lot of aid for a very little amount.

1) Donate to help feed families fleeing Somalia

There are multiple gift options, and with every donation that you make, you will receive proof of impact for the families you help.

2) Join our founders’ “Give My Lunch” campaign

Our founders, Nadia and Adnan, are giving up lunch for 30 days and using that money to help those affected by the famine in the Horn of Africa. You can join them with as little as $5. As of August 15, they reached their initial goal to feed 30 families. But since there’s still a great need, they’ve increased the goal to 40 families — or more! Join them.

3) Share this infographic

A picture says a thousand words, and the same thing goes for an infographic. Please help us raise awareness of the crisis and how people can get involved.

Together, we can help change the situation in the Horn of Africa.

Many thanks to our infographics intern, Sylvia Ng, for designing this!

This month, as we say goodbye to many of our awesome summer interns, we’d like to recognize our star volunteer that made it all happen. Meet Dania Primley (@DPrimley), officially our Director of Human Resources, but like many of our amazing volunteers, she goes above and beyond just that.

Dania at Canlis, Rishi Sanyal Photography

Dania at Canlis (Rishi Sanyal Photography)

Dania has been volunteering with Jolkona since April 2011 and immediately came in and took ownership of our HR needs and volunteer/internship recruiting. She created templates, procedures and policies and managed to recruit an awesome team of rock star interns.

Dania’s awesome recruiting efforts led to Jolkona accomplishing many things this summer, such as developing our Facebook Welcome Page, conducing marketing PR segment research, finally setting up QuickBooks, developing a plan for our soon-to-launch brand ambassador program, developing a partner welcome packet, and so much more!

Aside from helping with our HR needs, Dania has also taken it upon herself to be our morale officer, helping to make our all-hands meetings informative, fun and social. Last, in her spare time (we’re not sure how she finds any in between all of her friends’ weddings) she volunteers on the partner management sub-committee, which is helping to follow up with our partners on reporting feedback on donations.

Volunteers like Dania are what keep Jolkona going strong and allow us to achieve our mission of engaging the next generation of philanthropists.

Here’s what Pavan Kumar Potaraju, Events Team/Microsoft Giving Campaign volunteer had to say about Dania:

When I met Dania for the first time at one of our Jolkona meetings, I was amazed at her positive energy and passion for our organization. Her contribution has been tremendous, from recruiting new volunteers (and interns) to finding great venues for our meetings and events. Dania is Ms. Dependable, who does her work with so much conviction and fun that she often inspires people around her. Working with her, simply put, is super fun!

And from Laura Kimball, Jolkona’s Director of Communications & Social Media:

Dania is a spitfire of energy. She came to Jolkona to help with the events team but didn’t mind at all when Nadia and I asked her to help build our internship program. As a start-up nonprofit, we rely heavily on the professional skills that our volunteers bring to the table, and Dania is a prime example of how a volunteer arrived with one set of skills but jumped in where we needed her expertise the most.

One of our spring interns actually complimented us on how organized we were with the orientation and on-boarding process — that statement was 100 percent due to the procedures that Dania set up and trained us to implement.

Dania is a huge asset to the Jolkona team, not only for her HR/volunteer management expertise, but excitement about the organization and how she’s always eager to jump in and help out when needed. I’m honored to work with her.

Dania exudes energy and passion, has a contagious smile, and we are honored and lucky to have her as part of the amazing team of volunteers at Jolkona. Thank you Dania for all of your hard work and contribution to Jolkona so far!

Note from the editor: Looking to be a part of Jolkona’s team? We’re actively recruiting for fall interns and year-round volunteers. Check out our openings here.

Guest post written by Noah Levinson, founder and director of Calcutta Kids

Every hour, 40 young children in India die from a disease which has afflicted every person reading this blog at one time or another — diarrhea. For most of us, diarrhea is a mere annoyance, a discomfort, one easily remedied by a few Pepto-Bismol tablets. But for hundreds of thousands of children in India and the developing world, diarrhea kills. In fact, diarrhea remains the second leading killer of children in the world. Jolkona partner Calcutta Kids is saving lives with a proven model of treatment and education that costs a mere $10 per child.

child being treated at Calcutta Kids Diarrhea Treatment Center
Child receiving oral rehydration solution at the Calcutta Kids Diarrhea Treatment Center

Effective, inexpensive treatment saves lives

It’s not actually the diarrhea that kills, but rather the dehydration caused by the diarrhea. While oral rehydration solution (ORS) is readily available throughout India, it is often misused or not enough of it is given to properly rehydrate the child. Providing ORS in a clinical setting greatly increases a child’s chance of survival.

Calcutta Kids has replicated the successful model of the International Center for Diarrheal Disease Research, which annually treats more than 180,000 diarrhea-afflicted patients in Bangladesh by providing oral rehydration solution in a clinical setting. Situated in a slum area outside of Kolkata, India, Calcutta Kids’ clinic officially opened in March 2011. Since then, it has successfully treated more than 200 young children with a combination of treatments: ORS, zinc, and very occasional use of antibiotics, plus behavior-change communication to promote good hygiene habits. Treatments usually last two to four hours, and families receive a follow-up home visit by a trained health worker to ensure that the child is recuperating and to provide life-saving information to the child’s caretaker.

One of the innovative components of this treatment is that the protocol is guided by a database to ensure that each step is followed. Through alarms in the database, nurses are informed when the next checkup must take place; through a graph, the doctor can estimate the child’s level of dehydration. The database also ensures that a trained health worker provides behavior-change communication before the child can be discharged.

Calcutta Kids' Diarrhea Treatment Center
Mothers receiving training and education to treat and prevent diarrhea

How you can help

Through Jolkona, Calcutta Kids has found a platform through which we can sustain our efforts to fight these senseless child deaths from diarrhea. At a cost of only $10 per treatment, we hope that people of all means will be able to finance one diarrhea treatment each month — and quite possibly, save a child’s life. We also encourage caring individuals and families to commemorate a loved one’s birthday or a holiday with a truly meaningful gift: a second chance at life for a child.

And when you donate to Calcutta Kids, we will make sure that you know how your money has been spent by sending you a digital copy of the discharge certificate of the treated child (with the name omitted for confidentiality purposes) with a full explanation of the services provided.

Noah Levinson, MPH, is the founder and executive director of Calcutta Kids, a nonprofit organization he founded while he was an undergraduate student at Marlboro College. He is also a founding board member of Jolkona Foundation and has provided Jolkona with invaluable guidance since our early days.

Calcutta Kids is an organization committed to the empowerment of the poorest children and expecting mothers in the underserved slums in and around Kolkata, India. Calcutta Kids is well versed at leveraging its resources — something we seek to emulate at Jolkona Foundation.

GET INVOLVED!