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WATER & SANITATION

Period Poverty: Everything You Need to Know

It is a global sanitation issue affecting boys and girls around the world.


Why Global Citizens Should Care
More than 800 million people menstruate daily. The world must act to end period poverty and guarantee clean water and sanitation for all by 2030. Promoting menstrual equity is key to supporting women and young girls. You can join us in taking action on this issue here

Women and young girls who menstruate are ostracized from basic activities, like eating certain foods, or socializing, all over the world. The cultural shame attached to menstruation and a shortage of resources stop women from going to school and working every day. Period poverty is the lack of access to sanitary products, menstrual hygiene education, toilets, hand washing facilities, and, or, waste management.

Take Action: Urge The Australian Government to Show Leadership on Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

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A handful of US states have passed laws mandating schools provide period products to students, deeming them as essential as toilet paper, but more work needs to be done. Federal prisons only made menstrual products free in 2018. Activists recently organized a petition and march to put pressure on the Department of Education to eradicate period poverty in the US. They called on the government to treat period products as health necessities, support policies that protect students who menstruate, and fund period products in school bathrooms. 

“Meeting the hygiene needs of all adolescent girls is a fundamental issue of human rights, dignity, and public health,” Sanjay Wijesekera, former UNICEF Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene said

Inadequate menstrual hygiene is not a unique problem women in the US face. It affects populations in the developed and developing world, and women living in poverty are especially vulnerable.

Here’s everything you need to know about this serious human rights concern.

Who is affected?

Menstrual health is not just a women’s issue. Globally, 2.3 million people live without basic sanitation services and in developing countries, only 27% of people have adequate handwashing facilities at home, according to UNICEF. Not being able to use these facilities makes it harder for women and young girls to manage their periods safely and with dignity. 

Girls with special needs and disabilities disproportionately do not have access to the facilities and resources they need for proper menstrual hygiene. Living in conflict-affected areas, or in the aftermath of natural disasters, also makes it more difficult for women and girls to manage their periods. 

Related StoriesApril 24, 20184 Million Kenyan Schoolgirls Are Going to Receive Free Sanitary PadsMay 26, 2017CHIME FOR CHANGEThese Girls Are Sewing Re-Usable Period Pads to Keep Girls in School

Young boys benefit from menstrual hygiene education, too. Educating girls and boys on menstruation at an early age at home and school promotes healthy habits and breaks stigmas around the natural process. Achieving menstrual equity means access to sanitary products, proper toilets, hand washing facilities, sanitation and hygiene education, and waste management for people around the world all. 

What are the main causes?

Menstruation is stigmatized around the world. In Nepal, for example, menstruating women are seen as impure by their community and banishedto huts during their cycles. While menstrual huts are technically illegal, families continue taking the risk because myths and misconceptions are deeply rooted in Nepalese culture. The non-governmental agency WoMena conducted a study in Uganda and found many girls skipped school while on their period to avoid teasing by classmates. 

Meeting the hygiene needs of all adolescent girls is a fundamental issue of human rights, dignity, and public health.

Sanjay Wijesekera, former UNICEF Chief of Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

Many girls and women also cannot afford menstrual materials. The tampon tax, known as the “pink tax,” is named for the frequent marketing of the color pink toward women. Although some countries around the world have lifted the tax on period products as luxury items, others continue to use it as a form of gender-based discrimination. Ending the tax worldwide will notsingle-handedly make period products affordable — too many people cannot pay for them at all and are often torn between purchasing food or menstrual supplies. In Bangladesh, many families cannot afford menstrual products and use old clothing, according to the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF). And in India, only 12% of menstruators have access to sanitary products, leaving the rest to use unsafe materials like rags and sawdust as an alternative, the Indian ministry of health reported

Why is it a problem?

Poor menstrual hygiene can cause physical health risks and has been linked to reproductive and urinary tract infections, according to UNICEF. It also stops women from reaching their full potential when they miss out on opportunities crucial to their growth. Young girls who do not receive an education are more likely to enter child marriages and experience an early pregnancy, malnourishment, domestic violence, and pregnancy complicationsas a result.

 

Girls' periods affect their #SDGs, especially school attendance. #Tanzania's WomenChoice Industries produce affordable menstrual products to end period poverty. They're also the winner of our #SDGsAndHer Competition w/ @WorldBank, @wharton & @UN_Women! http://ow.ly/hYrn50ikAdf 

 
 
 
 

Period shame has negative mental effects as well. It disempowers women, causing them to feel embarrassed about a normal biological process. 

Read More: These South African Women Are Using Menstruation Cups to Change the World

“Me and my sisters all hid our sanitary cloths under the bed to dry, out of shame,” Anita Koroma told the organization Water Supply & Sanitation Collaborative Council (WSSCC) of growing up in Sierra Leone.

On the contrary, menstruators should feel proud and confident in their ability to thrive within their societies. 

How can we stop it?

The first step is to normalize menstruation and destroy taboos around the natural process. Then policy must be enforced to make menstrual products, sanitation and hygiene easily accessible. Activists and advocates are demanding that governments prioritize menstrual equity policy, but historically the issue has presented a challenge. 

 

“Politicians don't like this issue because it's not sexy,” said Dr. Varina Tjon A Ten, a former parliamentarian in the Netherlands and a professor at The Hague University. 

Organizations like MINA Foundation are not waiting on the government to take action — they provide young women with menstrual products to help them stay in school. 

On a global level, the WSSCC is working to improve sanitation and hygiene for the most vulnerable populations. The organization aims to break the menstruation stigma and change national policy through education and behavior change with initiatives like hosting menstrual waste workshops in West and Central Africa, and promoting toilet designs that can handle menstrual material waste in India. 

“It’s simple,” head of human rights at WASH United, Hannah Neumeyer explained, “women and girls have human rights, and they have periods. One should not defeat the other.”

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14 Ways You Can Help Syrian Refugees Now

The Syrian conflict is entering its ninth year and your help is more needed than ever.

Why Global Citizens Should Care:
Over 6.1 million people in Syria are internally displaced, according to the World Bank, and about 2.5 million of them are children. The Syrian conflict has now entered its ninth year and millions of people are still trapped in the atrocities of this war. You can help by taking action here.

As the Syrian conflict enters its ninth year, civilians continue to bear the brunt of the humanitarian catastrophe that has now killed at least 370,000people since 2011. However the true number of lives lost could be much higher as the United Nations says the conflict has made it incredibly difficult to keep accurate count.

Take Action: Call for Education of Syrian Refugees

Actúa: Tuitea ahora

 
 
 
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Over the last year, the war and its civilian casualties have shown no signs of letting up. The Syrian government, with help from Russian forces, have laid siege to residential areas of Aleppo, and captured rebel-held territories in the south.

Aided by Russian warplanes, the government carried out extensive airstrikes this week. Among the many targets, was a makeshift tent camp that provided shelter for displaced families east of the city of Idlib. Two women were killed and at least 10 children injured in the strike.

Read More: At Least 29 Syrian Refugee Children Have Died This Winter

The United States has been reluctant to get involved, but last year US ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, warned that the US “remains prepared to act if we must.

On Jan. 28, 2017, President Trump signed an executive order banning some of the world’s most vulnerable people. The order called, “Protection of the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States” banned people from Syria indefinitely, and started a 90-day ban on visas for people from Iraq, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, and Yemen — predominantly Muslim countries.

Read More: Mr. President, We Don’t Support Your Policy on Refugees

This included children, mothers, and families who were separated from one another. Fortunately, companies like Airbnb, Starbucks, and others stepped up, offering free accommodation for those stranded as a direct result of the policy.

You can step up, too. Here are 15 ways to help refugees NOW.


Syrian-Refugees-Ways-To-Help.jpgA Syrian displaced young girl who fled Raqqa city with her family carries a baby carseat on her head upon her arrival at a refugee camp, in Ain Issa town, northeast Syria, July 24, 2017.
Image: Hussein Malla/AP

Donate or Volunteer With the International Rescue Committee

The International Rescue Committee works globally and has been providing critical humanitarian aid to Syrians since 2012. They provide services from cash vouchers for Syrians to purchase food, legal assistance, employment, and education.

In 2018, the IRC announced that it assisted 853,000 people in need of primary, reproductory and trauma care. Across Syria, the IRC provides lifesaving support to around 1 million people.

In the United States, you can sign up to volunteer at a local resettlement office. Learn more here.

Donate to International Red Cross

The International Red Cross is standing at the ready to help Syrians still trapped in Eastern Aleppo. You can support their efforts to treat the wounded, make sure children are properly fed and cared for, and to get people to safety as quickly as possible by donating here.

Donate to the White Helmets

The Syrian Civil Defence, also called the White Helmets because of their headwear, are on the ground helping Syrians in Aleppo. Donate here.

16 ways you can help syrian refugees now b1.jpgImage: Flickr: Freedom House

Work for refugees when they can’t

Double up your support by donating your time and money to refugees. Fear that refugees will take jobs, and lack of economic opportunities for refugees contributes to a difficult environment for refugees to generate income. Combine this with the lengthy time it takes to process work visas for refugees and it can be hard for refugees to feed their families.

This is part of what inspired #WorkforRefugees. A project from World Vision New Zealand where students contributed a portion of their earnings to charities supporting refugees. You can do this too. Donate a small portion of your effort to show support for refugees and #WorkforRefugees to show your efforts.

Translate for a Syrian refugee

Lend your time in any way you can with the skills and tools you have. If you’re awesomely bilingual, especially in Arabic, you have a great opportunity to help. Donate your time by translating for Syrian refugees. Being in a place where you don’t speak the language can be intimidating. Signing up to translate is a great way to help refugees understand their rights and surroundings in a new environment.

Help with legal support

Law students and practicing attorneys need to gain experience to master the law. One option to do this while helping refugees is by taking action. Use your budding legal skills toward those who need help the most. 

Refugees need help navigating complex laws around immigration status too. A group of law students realized that both could benefit from working together and created an organization that pairs law students and professionals with refugees (15% are Syrian) in need of legal assistance. If you have experience, or are looking to gain experience in the legal field you can join the International Refugee Assistance Project or learn more about it here.

Support doctors and medical needs

Doctors without Borders, also known as MSF (Médecins Sans Frontières), provides support in Aleppo, and has doctors working in neighboring countries such as Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey. You can donate your time and efforts in many ways, Click here to learn more.

Voices_for_Refugees_Wien_2015_11.jpgImage: wikimedia: VolkshilfeÖsterreich

Airbnb your apartment or room with refugees

Through Refugees Welcome you can sign up to provide shelter to refugees by renting to them or offering to invit ethem in and room with them. The organization will even help you pay your rent and cover extra utilities.

In this story from NPR about Refugees Welcome, an asylum seeker and German roommates share their positive experience. German host Kakoschke says, "I think I just asked when we met the first time if it's OK for him that I drink alcohol. He said, 'Yes, of course, it's your life, do what you want with it.'"

Be like these adorable Canadian kids

 

While world leaders argue about what to do with the growing number of refugees fleeing Syria, these Canadian kids are excited to welcome new friends into their classrooms and communities. Adopting this attitude toward refugees is one more way to help.

Or 6-year-old Alex in the US, who pleaded to Obama to help bring Omran Daqneesh to safety. 

LEB_20160120_WFP-Abeer_Etefa_6770.JPGImage: Abeer Etefa World Food Programme ©

Read their stories

Refugee’s stories know no boundaries. Their experiences range from overcoming all odds to put together a team for the Olympics, to a cat that travelled hundreds of miles to be with the girl who saved him to tragic stories from families who lost loved ones in addition to their previous lives. It takes courage to tell your story, and the rest of the world can help by reading. Refugees what the world to know #IamSyrian, and the stories are powerful. Taking the time to learn what refugees are currently going through makes a difference.

Share their stories

Incredible stories of the perilous journey family members, children, and even cats make to find one another inspires and connects humanity in understanding where refugees are coming from. Sharing these stories allows more people to see Syrian refugees want the same things in life that all global citizens need — acceptance and their basic needs met.

8726792558_e76659e6ab_z.jpgImage: Flickr: Bread for the world

Write a letter to a refugee

So you’re not a doctor, or lawyer but if you’re reading this you can still lend your support by letting Syrian refugees know they’re not alone. Send a letter to a refugee through CARE. Find out more here.

Support businesses run by refugees

One of the biggest challenges refugees face is the economic challenge of finding work, and making enough money in a new country to support a family. There’s plenty of kickstarters and Go Fund Me campaigns to help support refugees like this man who began by selling pens to feed his family.

Think about what you would take

Share your empathy and stand in solidarity with Syrian refugees by sharing a tweet telling everyone #WhatWouldYouTake if you had to leave your home behind. Learn more check out how you can take this action here.


Maybe you’re not able to take on all of these ideas for how to help refugees, but by putting yourself in their shoes, reading stories, and talking about the Syrian conflict with friends and family you can expand the conversation and work towards ending this global humanitarian crisis. 

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HEALTH

How this Nigerian entrepreneur went from small start-up to saving lives

11 January 2019 3:22PM UTC | By: STANLEY AZUAKOLA

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Since we first spoke with Temie Giwa-Tubosun in 2016, she’s been featured on Humans of New York and The Guardian’s Small Changes podcast to discuss her growing start-up company, LifeBank, which delivers lifesaving blood transfusions and oxygen.

Now, Temie’s channelling her expertise and transporting her ideas to the other side of Africa. She is on the advisory board for the Lake Victoria Challenge — a competition which uses innovative technology to transport health support and materials to some of the most remote parts of East Africa. Read on to find out more about how Temie got to where she is today. 


In 2009, Temie Giwa-Tubosun visited Nigeria, her homeland, for the first time since she was 10 years old. 13 years abroad had insulated her from some of the harsh realities in her home country, but back as a graduate school intern with the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID), she witnessed an incident which became a motivation for her life’s work.

A young woman had been in labour for three days and her family, unable to afford hospital bills, milled around her waiting for death to come. Temie and her colleagues showed up at the doorsteps of the petrified family hoping they would participate in a household survey. It was fortuitous timing – they lifted the woman into their truck and moved her to the hospital. She survived, but her baby sadly died.

“I had never seen anything like that. The family had resigned itself to losing her,” says Temie of the incident.

DDlYL3nXgAA0TzK.jpg-large.jpg

Temie with one of the motorbikes used to transfer LifeBank blood across Nigeria. via Twitter.

Blood is a big deal

Temie spent just three months in Nigeria during that visit but she became obsessed from that moment with stopping maternal mortality.

Nigeria contributes the second largest share to maternal and child death rates in the world – hemorrhages kill more pregnant women every year than any other complication apart from pre-eclampsia (high blood pressure). Malaria patients (especially children), sickle cell patients, cancer patients, victims of terror attacks, and many others end up needing blood at different times as well. A pattern was emerging in Temie’s mind – blood is a big deal.

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In 2012, Temie returned to Nigeria and started the One Percent Project to “inspire a new generation of voluntary blood donors to solve the problem of blood shortages.”

The One Percent Project kept a database of willing prospective donors who could be reached at a moment’s notice to donate blood. At the time of writing, the project had received donations of 3500 pints of blood to date, enough to save over 10,000 lives. Her work earned her a 2014 nomination in the BBC’s 100 Women List.

But Temie wasn’t satisfied. The NGO model wasn’t working for her. It could not solve the problem in a “significant way,” she said and she worried about sustainability when the project rested on the whims of donors.

“Every year the funders decide what they care about,” she says. “I spent 70 per cent of the time looking for money.” Her response was to quit her day job with the Lagos government and launch a technology-powered social enterprise called LifeBank, “the biggest virtual based blood bank in Nigeria.”

At first glance, it seems like the only problem is one of supply not matching demand, but it is “actually an information and logistics problem.”

A blood bank in Ikeja, Lagos – for instance – may have the blood needed by a patient elsewhere in Lagos, but the patient and the hospital may be unaware. Stored blood has a shelf life and is discarded if it is not used within six weeks. This is waste which could be avoided if the hospital had access to the information.

The second challenge is transporting the blood from where it is available to where it is needed in safe and reliable condition.

LifeBank solves both of these problems. It uses technology to provide information to health providers about where to find the blood they need at any given time and then helps deploy it in quick time and in good condition to save lives.

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“We have an online database where health providers can search themselves for blood availability and pay for it. Or they could call us on our toll free numbers to help them find it,” she says.

Nigeria’s health systems largely remain basic and unreceptive to change – Nigerians spend up to $1 billion annually on medical tourism – so LifeBank is operating in almost virgin territory. Making a business case to investors for health technology in Nigeria, according to Temie, is challenging – especially for women.

“Investors tend to bet on people who look like them,” she says. A 30-year old mum navigating in the male-dominated tech sector of a notoriously sexist society like Nigeria looks nothing like the typical investor. “It is hard for them to trust the judgement, vision and ability of women to move the company they’re building forward,” Temie says, “but I don’t let it stop me.” Her advice to women? “Don’t wait till you think everything is certain. Women have to just start.”

This article originally appeared on ONE Africa in December 2016.

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JAN. 19, 2018

 

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ENVIRONMENT

5 Household Products That Are Slowly Destroying the Environment

And 5 things you should be using instead.

Having a clean house is great — but a clean environment is even better.

Many of the household and kitchen items we use on a daily basis may seem innocuous but have a detrimental effect on the environment. Ingredients found in soaps and detergents can wreak havoc on marine life and water systems. And despite our best recycling efforts, single-use plastic products like shrink wrap and coffee pods are still damaging to the environment.

While it would be impossible to completely eliminate all these items from most households, Global Citizen has rounded up alternatives to these products that can help make your home, and the environment, a little greener.


1/Laundry and Dish Detergents

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, many detergents contain phosphorus and nitrogen. These ingredients make their way into water sources where they cause aquatic plants to proliferate and then die. As the plants decay, they sap oxygen from the water, suffocating marine life, Belgium’s Federal Public Service for Health, Food Chain Safety, and Environment reported. Detergents also frequently contain surfactants, which help to separate water and oil. But surfactants also attack the mucus coating of fish, leaving them vulnerable to parasites and other contaminants around them, according to the EPA.

Swap for:Laundry and dish detergents that have higher concentrations of plant-based ingredients and are biodegradable.

 

2/Single-Use Coffee Pod Machines

Who doesn’t love a cup of coffee in the morning? Especially if it’s easy and convenient to make.

In recent years, coffee pod machines have become extremely popular. In 2016, the machines — most of which use single-serve coffee pods — were predicted to overtake both instant and ground coffee.

And while companies like Keurig and Nespresso have introduced recyclable pods, not everyone is in the habit of recycling, and research has found that it can be a difficult behavior to adopt, according to the Huffington Post.

The plastic and aluminum pods that don’t get recycled ultimately end up in the trash and contribute to landfills.

Swap for: French presses or aeropresses, but opt for stainless steel filters over paper ones.

Take Action: Pledge to take three for the sea.

 

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Tea pot.jpgImage: Flickr - Phillip Jeffrey

3/Tea Bags

If you were hoping to avoid the environmental pitfalls of coffee by switching to tea, you may be disappointed to learn that our tea consumption can also negatively impact the environment.

Pyramid-shaped tea bags have risen in popularity over the past few years, and while these bags are often described as “silky,” they’re plastic, so they cannot be composted and are not biodegradable.

While traditional paper tea bags are better for the environment, many are not fully biodegradable. A report released in 2010 found that tea bags produced by several major UK brands were 80% biodegradable at most, according to the Guardian.

Swap for: Metal tea balls and infusers, which can be washed and reused, or loose leaf tea in a pot.

 

4/Disposable Wipes

Disposable wet wipes — whether we’re talking about baby wipes or disinfecting wipes — pose a major problem for sewer systems and the environment. In the UK, the number of wet wipes found along the coastline has increased by more than 400% over the past 10 years, the Guardian reported.

And though many disposable wipes are marketed as “flushable,” they often contain plastic and are not biodegradable. Once in they’re in the sewer system, wet wipes bunch together and trap food and other waste to form giant blockages and “fatbergs” — clumps made of fat from food waste and wipes — according to the Atlantic.

Read more: Disgusting Wads of Wet Wipes Are Clogging Sewers Across the UK

Swap for: Stick with toilet paper or try washcloths. According to the Environmental Working Group, disinfecting wipes are not necessary for most messes, often a non-anti-microbial cleaning agent and a cloth will do the trick. As for baby wipes and other wet wipes, safe cleaning products are just as effective when used with reusable washcloths.

5/Plastic Cling Wrap and Aluminum Foil

Though plastic wrap and aluminum foil can help us reduce our environmental impact by keeping food fresh longer and cutting down on food waste, both have major negative consequences on environment.

Neither is regularly recycled and both require fossil fuels to produce, the Slate reported, which generates greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.

Swap for: Glass or plastic reusable containers, or an environmentally-friendly alternative to cling wrap like Bee’s Wrap — a reusable wax-coated cloth that can be used just like plastic film.

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JAN. 8, 2019

 

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CITIZENSHIP

7 Charts That Show the World Is Actually Becoming a Better Place

It's not all bad news.

By Julius Probst, Doctoral Researcher in Economic History, Lund University

Swedish academic Hans Rosling has identified a worrying trend: not only do many people across advanced economies have no idea that the world is becoming a much better place, but they actually even think the opposite. This is no wonder, when the news focuses on reporting catastrophes, terrorist attacks, wars and famines.

Who wants to hear about the fact that every day some 200,000 people around the world are lifted above the US$2-a-day poverty line? Or that more than 300,000 people a day get access to electricity and clean water for the first time every day? These stories of people in low-income countries simply doesn’t make for exciting news coverage. But, as Rosling pointed out in his book Factfulness, it’s important to put all the bad news in perspective.

While it is true that globalisation has put some downward pressure on middle-class wages in advanced economies in recent decades, it has also helped lift hundreds of millions of people above the global poverty line – a development that has mostly occurred in South-East Asia.

Take Action: Sign the Year of Mandela Declaration and Commit to Be the Generation to End Extreme Poverty

 

The recent rise of populism that has swept across Western countries, with Trump, Brexit, and the election of populists in Hungary and Italy, among various other factors, is thus of great concern if we care about global welfare. Globalisation is the only way forward to ensure that economic prosperity is shared among all countries and not only a select few advanced economies.

While some people glorify the past, one of the big facts of economic history is that until quite recently a significant part of the world population has lived under quite miserable conditions – and this has been true throughout most of human history. The following seven charts show how the world has become a much better place compared to just a few decades ago.

1. Life expectancy continues to rise

Even during the Industrial Revolution, average life expectancy across European countries did not exceed around 35 years. This does not imply that most people died in their late 30s or even 40s, since it was mostly very high levels of child mortality rates that pulled down the average. Women dying in childbirth was obviously a big problem too. So were some common diseases such as smallpox and the plague, for example, which now have been completely eradicated in high-income countries.

2. Child mortality continues to fall

More than a century ago, child mortality rates were still exceeding 10% – even in high-income countries such as the US and the UK. But thanks to modern medicine, and better public safety in general, this number has been reduced to almost zero in rich countries.

Plus, developing economies like India and Brazil now have much lower child mortality rates today than advanced economies had at similar income levels about one century ago.

3. Fertility rates are falling

Even though many are concerned about the global population explosion, the fact is that fertility rates have fallen significantly across the globe. UN population estimates largely expect the global population to stabilise at about 11 billion by the end of this century.

Moreover, as can be seen from the chart, many developing countries such as Brazil, China and a number of African nations have already switched to a low-fertility regime. While this transition took many advanced economies almost 100 years, starting with the Industrial Revolution, many others have since achieved this over just two to three decades.

Read More: The Most Captivating Photos From 2018's Devastating and Inspiring Moments

4. GDP growth has accelerated in developed countries

Technological leaders, the US and Western Europe, have been growing at about 2% per year, on average, for the past 150 years. This means that real income levels roughly double every 36 years.

While there were many long-lasting ups and downs, like the Great Depression or the recent Great Recession, the constancy of the long-run growth rate is actually quite miraculous. Low-income countries, including China and India, have been growing at a significantly faster pace in recent decades and are quickly catching up to the West. A 10% growth rate over a prolonged period means that income levels double roughly every seven years. It is obviously good news if prosperity is more shared across the globe.

Read More: Bill Gates Says Digital Currencies Could Empower the World's Poorest

5. Global income inequality has gone down

file-20190102-32121-h3gvef.pngMax Roser, CC BY-SA







While inequality within countries has gone up as a result of globalisation, global inequality has been on a steady downward trend for several decades. This is mostly a result of developing countries such as China and India where hundreds of millions of people have seen their living standards improve. In fact, for the first time ever since the Industrial Revolution, about half of the global population can be considered global middle class.

6. More people are living in democracies

Throughout most of human history people lived under oppressive non-democratic regimes. As of today, about half of the human population is living in a democracy. Out of those still living in autocracies, 90% are in China. While the country has recently moved in the other direction, there is reason to believe that continued economic development might eventually lead to democratisation (according to modernisation theory).

7. Conflicts are on the decline

file-20190102-32130-uqhlea.pngMax Roser, CC BY-SA







Throughout history, the world has been riven by conflict. In fact, at least two of the world’s largest powers have been at war with each other more than 50% of the time since about 1500.

While the early 20th century was especially brutal with two world wars in rapid succession, the postwar period has been very peaceful. For the first time ever, there has been no war or conflict in Western Europe in about three generations, and international organizations, including the EU and the UN, have led to a more stable world.

This article was originally published in The Conversation. Read the original article here.

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238
WATER AND SANITATION

How the Ebola outbreak spurred improved access to running water in Liberia

16 November 2018 1:35PM UTC | By: WOMEN'S ADVANCEMENT DEEPLY

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This story was originally reported by Kate Thomas for Women’s Advancement Deeply.

Until 2014, handwashing facilities were scarce across much of Liberia. The 14-year conflict that ended in 2003 wiped out the country’s water pipe infrastructure, even in the capital, Monrovia. Most of Liberia’s 4.7 million people were left without access to running water, and the taps in hospitals and health facilities ran dry.

According to a study conducted by the Liberian government and UNICEF in 2008, 8% of people had access to water pipes, but none of those were actually connected to the national water plant. Most people trekked to wells daily, washed in public bathhouses or turned to expensive imported bottled water for daily washing and consumption. Even the most high-end apartment buildings relied on rooftop water tanks, filled on a regular basis by water trucks with hoses.

WADwater2.jpgBut when the Ebola outbreak hit Liberia in 2014, Liberian health workers, community volunteers and international organisations, partnering with the Ministry of Health, campaigned to change things. Dispenser taps filled with water and chlorine began appearing all over – not just at Ebola treatment units, but outside stores, businesses and restaurants, too. After the outbreak ended in 2016, some remained in place, with soap on hand in place of chlorine.

At the same time, the Liberia Water and Sewer Corporation (LWSC) began restoring piped water to homes and businesses, pumping water across the 40-mile (65km) distance from its plant to central Monrovia. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) recently turned over three water plants to LWSC, creating access in the western town of Robertsport as well as the northern cities of Voinjama and Sanniquellie.

Resupplying the country with water has been a slow process, and one that is not yet complete. But for the first time in almost two decades, thousands of Liberians are gaining access to running water.

“It’s changed so much for me,” says Miatta Johnson, who runs a cookshop offering a daily menu of Liberian stews and soups from small premises in downtown Monrovia. “Ever since I opened the place, I had to buy water to cook with.”

Johnson says she frequently ran out of water, and there were times when she could not afford to buy sachets of water – regularly sold by street vendors – to “just waste on hands.” She says, “Since Ebola everybody’s been saying, ‘Wash your hands.’ But a lot of the big people didn’t understand that for the small people like me, washing hands could be expensive.”

In a country where finding water has been a daily challenge for a long time, many people were not in the habit of regularly washing their hands. It was not only a matter of behaviour change but also one of accessing a source of clean water. And for some health workers it meant a high-stakes choice between spending 30 minutes finding water or attending to a critically ill patient.

WADwater1.jpg“People said that washing hands was good practice, but I couldn’t make water appear like magic,” says Cecilia Tubman, a nurse who responded to the Ebola outbreak. “As a country, we never used to wash our hands. All day long we would touch things. Then we would go home and eat together. But the fingers move everywhere. People say that Ebola stripped our culture, but I think good hygiene practices have added more value to our culture.”

In the four years that have passed since the heat of the Ebola outbreak, Liberia’s National Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Commission has been more active than ever. On October 15 this year, International Handwashing Day, the commission released statistics noting that on a global level, handwashing is linked to a reduction in the risk of pneumonia of up to 50% and a 47% reduction in the risk of diarrhea – both common illnesses in Liberia.

“Good handwashing can prevent disease outbreaks, reduces absenteeism in schools and workplaces, as well as improve productivity and health outcomes,” the commission said in a statement.

Indeed, Johnson remembers the ways in which limited access to water affected not only her business but also her education. She dropped out of high school around the time that she first began menstruating, she said, simply because the school she attended did not have latrines or access to water. “It was so discouraging,” she says. “But it was better for us girls to stay home than go to school with shame face because of what the people might say about hygiene.”

She believes that as access to running water improves across Liberia, it will transform daily productivity and health – and encourage young girls to complete their education. “That will be good for them and good for the country,” she says.

Access to pipeborne water is not free, but customers like Johnson say it is worth the price of the bill, especially since the cost of buying water in sachets or bottles has escalated significantly in recent months. Johnson says she has actually made savings, and with them, she plans to expand her cookshop. First, though, she says, she will buy more soap.

ONE welcomes the contributions of guest bloggers but does not necessarily endorse the views, programs, or organisations highlighted.

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DEEP DIVES

Why data can be sexist

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Why data can be sexist
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When I worked at Microsoft, we were passionate about connecting everybody to computers and software. To do it effectively and efficiently, we scrutinized data every single day. We had access to so many numbers, and we looked at them backward and forward to make sure there was solid evidence behind every decision.

When we started our foundation, we learned right away that everyone working there was just as passionate, maybe even more passionate, about making sure every child in the world has the chance to lead a healthy, productive life. But when it came time to turn that passion into evidence-based decisions, I was surprised by how much of the data we needed was simply lacking, especially when it came to the lives of women and girls.

Bill and I just published our Annual Letter about what has surprised us the most over the years, and one of the topics I take on is these data gaps—and what the world needs to do to fill them in.

How much income did women in developing countries earn last year? How much property do they own? How many more hours do girls spend on household chores than boys?

I don’t know. Neither does anyone else. The data just doesn’t exist.

Bill and I could easily spend our whole annual letter talking about the role data plays in driving progress for the world’s poorest people. Data leads to better decisions and better policies. It helps us create goals and measure progress. It enables advocacy and accountability.

That’s why the missing data about women and girls’ lives is so harmful. It gets in the way of helping them make their lives better.

The problem isn’t only that some women are missing from the record altogether. It’s also that the data we do have—data that policymakers depend on—is bad. You might even call it sexist. We like to think of data as being objective, but the answers we get are often shaped by the questions we ask. When those questions are biased, the data is too.

That’s why the missing data about women and girls’ lives is so harmful. It gets in the way of helping them make their lives better.
 
For example, what little data we do have about women in developing countries is mostly about their reproductive health—because in places where women’s primary role in society is being a wife and mother, that’s what researchers tend to focus on. But we have no idea how much most of these women earn or what they own, because, in many countries, income and assets are counted by household. Since the husband is considered the head of the household, everything a married woman brings in is credited to him.

When such flawed data is all you have to go on, it’s easy to undervalue women’s economic activity—and difficult to measure whether women’s economic condition is improving.

Three years ago, our foundation made a big investment to start filling some of these data gaps. We are part of a network of organizations working to accelerate a gender data revolution—from empowering data collectors with new tools and training to breaking down existing datasets by gender to mine them for insights.

This work to collect and analyze data can sound—let’s face it—boring. But what’s not boring is using data to empower millions of women and girls.

When I was in Kenya a few years ago, a data collector named Christine let me accompany her as she went door to door surveying women in one of the poorest parts of Nairobi. She told me that many of the women she meets through this work have never been asked questions about their lives before. Christine says that when she knocks on a woman’s door and explains that she’s there to learn more about her, it sends a message to that woman that she matters—that someone cares about her.
What we choose to measure is a reflection of what society values.
 
I think her point is a powerful one. What we choose to measure is a reflection of what society values. That’s why when it comes to understanding the lives of women and girls, the world can’t accept “I don’t know” as an answer.

Read the rest of our Annual Letter at gatesletter.com.

Posted: March 5, 2019
Originally published: LinkedIn on February 24, 2019
Edition: Forward
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WHAT IS IT LIKE TO LIVE WITH HIV IN ZAMBIA?

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YOU ASKED. CONNIE ANSWERED.

CONNIE IS A LONGTIME (RED) AMBASSADOR WITH AN INCREDIBLE STORY.

Before treatment was available in her home country of Zambia, she lost three children to AIDS. Years later, she found out she was HIV+ and went on life-saving treatment. Today she’s an AIDS activist in her community, and thanks to (RED)-supported programs, she gave birth to her daughter Lubona who’s HIV free.

We asked our community on Instagram what questions they had for Connie about what it’s like to live with HIV.

WHAT IS IT LIKE TO LIVE WITH HIV?

You have just reminded me that I have HIV! Sometimes I forget that I am HIV positive, because I find nothing different in my life, I live my life like every other people, the only constant reminder is every evening when my alarm goes off, reminding me that I have to take my medication.  

WHEN DID YOU GET DIAGNOSED WITH HIV?

Officially, I was tested 15 years ago. But 29 years ago, I brought my daughter in to get tested, and I was tested then as well. But they didn’t tell me I was positive. Before treatment was available and before I knew my status, I lost three of my children to AIDS.

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WHAT MEDICINE DO YOU TAKE AND HOW OFTEN? IS IT FREE?

I am on a combination of three drugs and the tablets are called Atripla, which I take once a day at night. Thanks to support from organizations like (RED) and The Global Fund, the medication is free at my local clinic.

ARE THERE SIDE EFFECTS FROM MEDICATIONS?

Every person reacts differently. Some people don’t have a problem, some have mild side affects, and others may react badly — just like how people react differently to certain foods.

Connie with her daughter Lubona

Connie with her daughter Lubona

WHAT’S DOES A RELATIONSHIP LOOK LIKE BETWEEN SOMEONE WHO IS HIV+ AND HIV FREE?

Thanks to educational resources, life-saving HIV medicine and other preventative measures, couples with one partner who is HIV+ and one who is HIV free are able to lead normal, happy, healthy lives. And any HIV+ mother on medication can have a happy, healthy HIV- family. If she adheres to her medication, a woman living with HIV can give birth to an HIV free baby.

WHAT KEEPS YOU GOING? WHAT INSPIRES YOU?

After I lost my first three children to AIDS, I started taking life-saving HIV medicine. What kept me going back then was the fact that I was lucky to be alive, considering the fact that so many people needlessly died simply because there were HIV/AIDS fighting programs did not exist. But today, I’m a proud mother to my daughter Lubona who is HIV free, thanks to my medication. My daughter inspires me to keep taking my medication so that I can stay alive, healthy, and thriving — in order to take care of my baby, and watch her grow up.

WHAT’S A TYPICAL DAY FOR YOU?

There is nothing extraordinary about being HIV+. I live a normal healthy life, just like any other working woman or mother who is living without HIV.

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WHAT BRINGS YOU JOY IN LIFE?

My daughter Lubona, who was born HIV free. I also help other people in my community who are living with HIV accept their status, and start going on treatment. I am also grateful for the wonderful medicine that has keep me alive and healthy for so many years.

WHAT DO YOU DO TO FIGHT STIGMA IN ZAMBIA?

Education is vital to ending stigma and discrimination. As part of my work, I speak with HIV+ people, and sharing my own personal experiences helps educate and inform them on this virus. We must educate people living with HIV to embrace their status in many different ways — such as drama, music, educational posters, radio programs, sharing personal experiences and more.

Connie’s daughter Lubona, who was born HIV free.

Connie’s daughter Lubona, who was born HIV free.

HOW VITAL DO YOU THINK IT IS FOR ZAMBIAN RESIDENTS TO BE EDUCATED ON HIV/STI AWARENESS?

Extremely vital, considering the world is at risk of not meeting the target of ending AIDS by 2030. Education leads to less infections and protection against unnecessary disease.

DO YOU THINK TARGETING A YOUNG AUDIENCE IN ZAMBIA WITH HIV PREVENTION EFFORTS IS A GOOD STRATEGY?

Yes, it is so important since young people, especially young women, are at such higher risks for HIV infection. But we cannot leave behind other age groups, who could potentially be fueling the spread of the virus. At risk communities also include adult men, young women and girls, and especially pregnant women and their unborn babies


LEARN MORE ABOUT OUR IMPACT

March 8, 2019Comment
 
 
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