Zero Poverty: Ending Extreme Poverty … in a Generation #2030Now #GlobalGoals #SDGs #Poverty #ZeroPoverty

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The Zero Poverty Project

1.3 billion people in our world currently live in extreme poverty.

From The Global Poverty Project:

These 1,300,000,000 individuals live on less than what you can buy in the US for $1.25 per day. You might think this buys more in a poor country than it does here, but actually, it’s a figure that’s been adjusted for purchasing power, which means that anywhere in the world, the $1.25 a day measure buys little more than enough basic food, clean water and cooking fuel to make two simple meals.

In the last 30 years, the proportion of the world’s population that live below this line has halved – from 52% in 1980, to 25% today. That’s a decline from 1.9 billion people down to 1.3 billion people.

At the Global Poverty Project we’re passionate about communicating these amazing achievements, and highlighting the opportunity we have to bring this number down to zero – within a generation.

This post summarizes how we can each play a part in realizing this opportunity – moving a world without extreme poverty from its current status of ‘improbable possibility’, to ‘likely reality’. This list is designed to introduce you to the key themes and issues related to ending extreme poverty.

How we think about extreme poverty

We know ending extreme poverty is a big and complex challenge. It has many causes, and there’s certainly no silver bullet or single solution, but we don’t think that this complexity means the challenge cannot be overcome. There are a huge number of smart and talented people all over the world in charities, business, academia, evaluation organisations,government and think-tanks who are building an evidence base of things that work, things that don’t and why.

The big three issues

To see an end to extreme poverty, there are three big issues that we need to see action on – governance, aid and trade. We know that we have the resources (economic, social, political and environmental) to see an end to extreme poverty. But, right now, the world works in a way that keeps some people poor, which is what we all need to focus on to see an end to extreme poverty.

Improving governance structures can ensure that decision-making works in favour of the world’s poorest people. At present, most discussions about governance are framed in terms of corruption. Rather than treating the problem of corruption as an excuse to stop investing in development efforts, we need to get behind those working in communities to counter corruption: by holding local leaders to account, increasing transparency, and ensuring that laws are applied. Corruption is not only a problem that needs to be tackled in poor countries. In rich countries we need to hold governments and businesses to account for any complicity in the process of corruption, or for unethically undermining poverty reduction through actions like avoiding tax or utilising vulture funds to recover illegitimate debts. We’ve posted more about corruption here, including an interview with leading experts here, or you can see the work being done by corruption-fighting organisations like Global Witness and Transparency International.

Next, we need to make sure that aid that’s given – whether through donations to charities or taxes to government – is spent on programs that really work. Foreign aid won’t end poverty – but it’s a vital ingredient that can be used to make investments in things like health, education and infrastructure – resources needed for countries and communities to lift themselves out of poverty and prevent dependence on aid in the future. We’ve written more about good aid here, here and here.

Ultimately, extreme poverty ends when local communities can trade their way to a better future. The amazing poverty alleviation that we’ve seen in the past generation has been led by countries who have joined global markets: in China 400 million citizens have been lifted out of poverty since 1980, South Korea has moved from aid recipient to aid donor by building industry and creating world-renowned brands, and Botswana has grown faster than any other country in Africa by wisely investing proceeds from its diamond mines. Currently, the potential of trade is limited by the rules which work against poor countries, and will need to be reformed before we will see an end to extreme poverty.

The Elephants in the Room

Beyond these three issues, climate change and resource limitations are the elephants in the room, threatening the potential end to extreme poverty. The impact of these issues can be seen in the Pakistan floods, and in the record food prices which will mean that 1 billion people go to bed hungry tonight. On both of these issues our challenge is distribution, not scarcity. We aren’t running out of food – there’s more than enough food on our planet to feed everyone. The problem is that the world’s poorest people can’t afford to buy enough of it. In order to realize the potential of developing populations, rich countries have to increase their efficiency in resource use, and support clean development.

Our role

All of the opportunities and challenges of fighting extreme poverty outlined above are technically possible and eminently affordable. Our role is to make them politically viable and increasingly probable.

We can make a start with simple changes to the way that we act on a daily basis and by learning more about the issues so we can make informed decisions, especially about the ethics of the products we buy and the effectiveness of the money we donate.

Beyond that, we can help others realise that it is possible to end extreme poverty, that we are already making significant progress, and that practical steps can be taken to overcome the challenges that remain.

From there, it’s about using your voice as a citizen to join the campaigns and initiatives of organisations fighting hard in your local community to change the rules and systems that keep people poor: ensuring that corruption is reduced, that aid is given in appropriate quantities in the right way to the right things, and changing trade rules to give the world’s poorest a fair chance to lift themselves out of poverty.

Most importantly, it’s about recognizing that the movement to end extreme poverty is led by people in poverty themselves. As we reflect on the changes of the last generation, we can look forward a generation and see a real prospect of extreme poverty not existing. Our role is to get behind the world’s poor, give voice to their aspirations, and work as citizens and consumers to make the end of extreme poverty the legacy that our generation leaves on this world.

Simon Moss, Co-Founder and Chief Operations Officer, Global Poverty Project

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Quality Education: Taco Bell Is Helping All 210,000 of Its Employees Get an Education #SDGs #2030Now #GlobalGoals

All Taco Bell employee are now eligible for scholarships, online classes, and skills training.

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Fast-casual restaurant chain Taco Bell is known for its creative combinations: quesadilla and burrito (Quesarito), tacos and pizza (Mexican Pizza), and tacos and gorditas (Doritos Cheesy Gordita Crunch).

Now, the chain is getting creative with its employee benefits, combining work with educational opportunities for all of its 210,000 workers.

On March 15, Taco Bell announced that employees at the chain’s 7,000 stores nationwide are eligible for education classes at 80 online universities, as well as tuition assistance and college credit for job training at the restaurant.

Discounted classes are offered through Taco Bell’s partnership with Guild Education, which also works with Chipotle.

“When we surveyed our employees, education support was one of the top three things they asked for,” Frank Tucker, global chief people officer at Taco Bell, said in a statement. “The barriers to achieving their education goals were time, money and support.”

Programs like this, which are also available for workers at other fast food chains, such as Chipotle, McDonalds, and Starbucks, can be the jump-start students with a high-school degree or less need to improve future economic prospects.

Although the large majority of Americans have a high school diploma or equivalent, just one in three have a bachelor’s degree, and slightly over 10 percent have a master’s degree. Obtaining a bachelor’s degree can increase earnings by more than $20,000 per year, according to Smartasset.

So far, Taco Bell’s program seems to be working, and not just for employees. According to the press release, 98% of 700 workers who participated in a pilot program stayed with the company for more than six months — much higher than the company’s average six-month retention rate of 64 percent.

And with the company planning on adding 100,000 new jobs by 2022, they may not be only employees working at Taco Bell in the long-run.

Hopefully, the early success of Taco Bell’s will inspire other fast-food and fast-casual employers to provide educational opportunities for their workers, as well. 

Sustainable Cities & Communities: This African City May Be the First Ever With 100 Million People Living in It {Lagos!!}#GlobalGoals #SDGs #2030Now

It would be the biggest city in a world of 14 billion people, according to a new study.

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By Henry Ridgwell

LONDON—The world could see its first city with a population of 100 million by the end of this century. That is the conclusion of new research into the speed of urbanization in many fast-growing countries in Africa and Asia, which suggests even small cities could balloon into huge metropolises in the coming decades.

By the end of the century, the world’s population is forecast to reach up to 14 billion. Eighty percent of those people will be living in cities, according to new research from the Ontario Institute of Technology.

“We are now seeing the urbanization wave headed through China, it is toward the latter part of its urbanization. And now it is headed for India, and then we will see it culminate in the big cities of sub-Saharan Africa,” co-author and professor Daniel Hoornweg told VOA via Skype.

That could mean the first 100-million population city, and the top candidate is Lagos, Nigeria.

Africa and cities

Today its population is 20 million, not the largest, as that accolade belongs to Tokyo with about 38 million people, but one of the fastest growing. In two generations, Lagos has grown a hundredfold. By 2100 it is projected to be home to more people than the state of California.

“Lagos, Dar Es Salaam, Kinshasa: These are the cities that are looking at four- to five-fold increases in population. By the end of the century, the lion’s share of large cities, the top 20 if you will, most of those will be in Africa,” Hoornweg said.

Lagos sprawls across 1,000 square kilometers, an urban jungle of skyscrapers, shanty towns and everything in between. Its population grows by 900 people per day.

The poorest residents, often migrant communities, live in slums by the lagoon. Amnesty International has warned of ruthless forced evictions to make way for new developments, which have left more than 30,000 people homeless and 11 dead.

Oladipupo Aiveomiye lives in the Ilaje-Bariga shantytown.

“The threat of being evicted, the threat of being chased away overnight has gripped people to the extent that they cannot even work or operate in this area,” he said.

Young continent

Across Africa the median age is younger than 20 and the fertility rate is 4.4 births per woman. Even small cities are forecast to balloon in size. Niamey in Niger could grow from less than 1 million today to 46 million by the end of the century; Blantyre in Malawi from 1 million to 40 million.

Asia, too, will witness huge urban growth, with Kabul in Afghanistan projected to hit 50 million people.

Hoornweg says despite the associated problems of slums, poor sanitation and pollution, increasing urbanization can be a good thing.

“Cities, by their nature, because of a more compact lifestyle, can provide a quality of life higher than anywhere else with less energy per unit of GDP,” he said. “So, cities actually provide a really important opportunity. We will not get to global sustainability without big cities.”

Many cities in the West are predicted to plateau or decline in size. By the end of the century, only 14 of the biggest 100 are forecast to be in North America or Europe.

Reduced Inequalities: This Hong Kong Heiress Became an Accidental #LGBT Champion #HumanRights #PressForProgress #SDGs #GlobalGoals #LGBTQ

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Her father offered $127 million to any man who could make her straight.

By Beh Lih Yi

HONG KONG, March 27 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) – When Hong Kong property tycoon Cecil Chao offered $65 million to any man who could win over his lesbian daughter and make her straight, he inadvertently laid the ground for her to become one of Asia’s most prominent gay rights campaigners.

The bizarre reward in 2012 grabbed international headlines and his daughter, Gigi Chao, was bombarded with thousands of marriage proposals from across the world – from war veterans to a body double of George Clooney in a sports movie.

It was the first time the issue of acceptance of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community had played out in such high-profile way in Hong Kong – a city modern in many ways but where social attitudes remain conservative.

“I am glad it happened,” Gigi Chao told the Thomson Reuters Foundation at the office of her property firm is housed in Hong Kong’s third-tallest skyscraper overlooking the city’s harbour.

“It has been able to put a comic spin on a topic that is often marred by a lot of tragedies and taboos,” said the 38-year-old, wearing a sparkly rainbow-coloured jacket.

The elder Chao – whose property empire invests in Hong Kong, China and Malaysia – put the $65 million “marriage bounty” on his daughter’s head after she entered into a civil partnership with her girlfriend in France in early 2012.

After failing to find any suitors, the 81-year-old billionaire doubled the offer to HK$1 billion ($127 million) in 2014.

This prompted Chao to pen an open letter published in Hong Kong newspapers which said: “Dear daddy, you must accept I’m a lesbian” and urged him to treat her partner like a “normal, dignified human being”.

Such a public feud in a well-known family would have been remarkable anywhere but was particularly unusual in Asia when no country in the region at that time recognised same-sex marriage.

It was only last year that the Taiwan’s constitutional court paved the way for the island to become the first place in Asia with gay marriage after it ruled in favour of same-sex unions.

Today Chao is not only the heir to her father’s property business and one of Hong Kong’s richest women, she is also the most recognisable face campaigning for LGBT rights in the city.

ENGAGING BUSINESSES

Homosexuality has been decriminalised since 1991 in Hong Kong, a former British colony which returned to Chinese rule in 1997. The city has an annual pride parade and lively gay scene.

But despite the city enjoying freedom of speech and assembly, it does not recognise same-sex marriage and campaigners say LGBT people still face widespread discrimination and often come under family pressure to marry and have children.

Transgender people are recognised if they have undergone sex reassignment surgery but activists have been lobbying to remove this requirement.

A proposal to outlaw discrimination based on sexual orientation has been under discussion in the city’s legislature, the Legislative Council (LegCo), but there is no clear indication whether it will be adopted.

“It is disappointing in that LegCo doesn’t have the forward vision or the courage to put something forward like this in fear of offending the traditional groups,” Chao said.

But where the government has failed, is where Chao believes businesses can step in to take the lead.

The businesswoman has been using her influence in high society to forge a coalition of allies to mobilise support.

“What we found to be most effective is to engage top executives and allow them to see how inclusion, diversity and equality is something they should, and they shall, stand for and let it cascade down the organisation,” she said.

“There are a lot of notable organisations which have been doing that. Engaging the government is more difficult.”

TOP LGBT EXECUTIVE

There have been other signs of growing acceptance.

Hong Kong is set to become the host of the 2022 Gay Games, a sports and cultural event dubbed the “Gay Olympics”, after fighting off bids from cities in the United States and Mexico.

In a rare victory, a Hong Kong court last year ruled that a British lesbian whose partner worked in the city should receive a spousal visa.

The charity Big Love Alliance – of which Chao is a founding member – organises an annual Pink Dot gathering to campaign for LGBT rights and it has attracted sponsorship from embassies and investment banks.

Chao also works with the United Nations on LGBT rights and became the first Asian to be named as the top LGBT executive on an annual OUTstanding list compiled by the Financial Times which ranks LGBT role models in business.

A qualified helicopter pilot, Chao said the marriage bounty episode did not tarnish her ties with her father – who like her also shares a passion of flying.

“You build a much stronger bond in these relationships after you have been able to live your full self, be a full person and live as an honest person in front of your mum and dad,” she said.

“It is an important process to go through although in the short term it does jolt them into a bit of shock.”

But in a signal that there is still a long way to go for same-sex marriage in Hong Kong, Chao said she and her partner have had to temporarily put aside the idea of having children.

“Even for people like me – who many perceive as having all the resources in the world to do whatever I want in some ways – it is very difficult,” she said.

“It is not easy because you can’t do it in Hong Kong or anywhere else in Asia.”

Women And Girls: In Uganda, Unmarried Women Are Fighting to Keep Their Homes #TimeIsNow #PressForProgress #SDGs #WomensHistoryMonth

Women’s rights to land are often undermined by patriarchal customs.

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By Amy Fallon

Kampala, UGANDA – After almost two decades living with a man nearly twice her age, who first got her pregnant when she was 15, Jane Zamukunda finally had one small comfort: a nice home that she felt was hers.

Her partner and father of her three children had bought a piece of land in the Nansana suburb of Kampala, where they built a house together. It was comfortable by most standards, with furniture and a TV. But most important to Zamukunda, now 28, was the fact that she had a key to the house: unusual in a country where it’s rare for a woman to own property.

“That was what I aspired to, to have a house for my children,” said Zamukunda, who works as a tailor.

Then one day in 2015, Zamukunda returned from work to find her home completely empty.

“[My partner] basically cleaned out the whole house,” she said.

Different variations of this scene play out every day across Uganda, where both official legislation and cultural laws deny women their full rights to own, inherit and control the use of land and property. Women make up more than 70 percent of the country’s agricultural workforce, but less than 20 percent of women own land in their own right.

The equal property rights afforded to women by law are often overruled by traditional customs. In a 2016 survey, respondents who were asked about 14 “serious” justice problems affecting Ugandans put land as the No. 1 issue.

A month after Zamukunda’s husband disappeared, during which time she and her children slept on the floor of their empty home, a group of men carrying padlocks confronted her and told her the house had been sold to them.

“They threatened to cut me up if I even went back to the house, so I had to run,” Zamukunda said. She took refuge in her brother’s one-bedroom house, about 10km (6.2 miles) away in Kawempe slum.

When Zamukunda went to local leaders for help, they told her, “Your man was right to sell, after all, you’re not even married.” She then went to the police who told her they would search for and arrest her partner. She has heard nothing from them – or him – since.

‘CULTURAL LAWS ARE INGRAINED SO DEEP’

Desperate to keep the home she had spent 10 years sharing with her partner, Zamukunda sought help from Barefoot Law, a Ugandan nonprofit social enterprise offering free legal guidance. Zamukunda said she feels she knows more about the law than many women, but Maureen Nuwamanya, a legal officer at Barefoot Law, said that even if Ugandan women are aware of their rights, that doesn’t guarantee those rights will be recognized.

“Cultural laws are ingrained so deep” that land disputes affect Ugandan women “regardless of the fact that you know your rights,” Nuwamanya said. “It’s a patriarchal society.”

Barefoot Law advised Zamukunda that, among other things, the men who evicted her had taken advantage of the fact that cohabitation isn’t recognized by law.

If a couple lives and buys property or land together without getting married and then separates, the woman usually has no claim to that property or land.

But even if women are married to their partners, their rights to land ownership and inheritance are often undermined by customary laws built on “dominant patriarchal mindsets [and] practices,” said Isaac Ssemakadde, CEO of human rights group Legal Brains Trust.

Most land tribunals consist entirely of men, who often discriminate against women when it comes to cases of property ownership. And women are also often disadvantaged by illiteracy, making it hard for them to fight for their rights, said Regina Bafaki, executive director of NGO Action for Development.

Bafaki receives daily queries from women over land conflicts and said her organization is one of several that offers property rights training for women. But home duties mean women often don’t have time to attend.

“I also think the other challenge is more or less lack of political will to support women in acquiring land,” Bafaki said.

A government spokesman did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

LONG-RUNNING LAND BATTLES

In Uganda, where women have protested over land rights in long-running disputes, there has been recent criticism from human rights groups, the church and the public over government plans to amend the constitution to allow it to take private land for projects.

Winfred Ngabiirwe, the executive director of NGO Global Rights Alert, said the amendment, if passed, would result in “legalized land grabbing,” adding that women would be most affected. “Land is for feeding, it’s employment, [children] go to school because mothers sell crops,” she said.

With help from Barefoot Legal, Zamukunda has won the battle for her property, at least for now. The organization referred her to the office of the district commissioner, who halted the eviction. Representatives from Barefoot Legal also accompanied her to meet with her neighbors and local leaders to explain that she would be moving back in and any issues should be directed to her lawyers. Zamukunda and her children were finally able to return to their home. She cut the padlocks off the door herself.

Zamukunda said she has not seen or heard from her former partner or the strangers who tried to evict her since the dispute began. She knows there is a chance they could reappear, but said if they do, “I have help.”

But more importantly, Zamukunda wants all women in Uganda to know their property rights and get help to fight for them.

“I saw a case on the news that is exactly like mine, so I’m not the only one affected,” she said. “I want other women to be empowered.”

Now she wants the government to make sure what happened to her won’t happen to other women. She wants the government to look at recognizing property rights between cohabiting couples.

Quality Education: Linda Brown, Who Helped End School Segregation, Dies at 75 #PressForProgress #TimeIsNow #SDGs #Inclusion

Equal access to education remains an elusive goal.

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Linda Brown, the student at the center of the Brown v. Education court case that legally ended racial discrimination in US schools, died March 25 at the age of 75, according to her family.

Brown’s legacy is a reminder that meaningful social change often requires both legal action and social awareness, according to the New York Times.

When Brown was growing up in Topeka, Kansas, in the 1940s and 50s, an elementary school was located a few blocks from her family’s home, according to NPR.

Walking to class would have been easy, but Brown wasn’t allowed to attend the Sumner School — it was only for white kids.

Instead, she had to walk a much farther distance and then take a bus to an all-black school.

For her father, Oliver Brown, this unfair treatment was intolerable and one day he led his daughter to the Sumner School, but they were turned away.

“I could tell something was wrong, and he came out and took me by the hand and we walked back home,” she said, recalling the incident, in an interview with The Miami Herald in 1987. “We walked even more briskly, and I could feel the tension being transferred from his hand to mine.”

Her father soon joined the NAACP to file a lawsuit against the Topeka Board of Education, setting in motion what would become one of the most defining Supreme Court cases in US history.

In 1954, Brown v. Board of Education legally ended segregation in schools throughout the US.

“To separate them from others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their race,” the court said, “generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely to ever be undone.”

Since then, Brown has become a symbol for progress in the US. Her struggle helped to pave the way for the broader civil rights era and gave people legal recourse when facing discrimination.

But even though integration became the law of the land in 1954, US schools are more segregated now than they have been in more than 40 years.

Today, black children are more likely to grow up in poverty than they were 50 years ago and school quality and choice are largely determined by a family’s zip code.

As Vox argues, uneven access to education persists in the US because neighborhoods throughout the country have become more segregated through various policies and actions.

This stubborn reality has partly undermined the promise of Brown v. Board of Education, Vox suggests.

“Six decades after Brown v. Board, we have failed to close opportunity and achievement gaps for our African-American and Latino students at every level of education,” former US Education Secretary John King said in 2016.

“And in far too many schools, we continue to offer them less — less access to the best teachers and the most challenging courses; less access to the services and supports that affluent students often take for granted, and less access to what it takes to succeed academically,” he added.

Despite these problems, Brown, who became an educational consultant and public speaker, remained optimistic during her life that school access would improve.

“I am very proud that this happened to me and my family and I think it has helped minorities everywhere,” she told NPR.

Good Health & Well-Being: The Powerful Reason Why 84 Male Statues Are Standing on This London Rooftop #Project84 #Suicide #SuicidePrevention #SDGs #GlobalGoals #MentalHealth

Each statue represents a real man, and a real story.

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Every week, 84 men die from suicide in the UK.

It’s a statistic that’s got Britain talking today — as 84 lifesize statues, based on real people, were erected on top of ITV’s London studios, staring down at the city as it woke up.

The powerful stunt, called #Project84, was organised by the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), supported by UK television studio ITV.

Artist Mark Jenkins and collaborator Sandra Fernandez worked with bereaved family members to create each sculpture as a visual representation of real British men who have taken their lives. Every man is named on the CALM website — and the site includes stories about them as told by their closest friends and family.

Male suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK, and 75% of all suicides are carried out by men. Every suicide directly affects 135 other people — and CALM has partnered with Matthew Smith, who lost his brother to suicide 13 years ago, to call on the UK government to improve suicide prevention and bereavement support. Over 50,000 people have already signed their petition.

“My brother Dan was my best pal and my idol,” said Matthew Smith. “He was taken by something silent, something none of his friends or family saw coming. The true horror of what we as his family experienced when he took his own life is something that could be preventable if we all take a stand together.”

Mental health plays an important part in the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) that form the basis of their vision for a better world. Under its global health campaigning, it promotes positive wellbeing, and aims to reduce “premature mortality from noncommunicable diseases” by a third

Often, suicide disproportionately affects the poorest people in society. Across the world, research from the World Health Organisation shows that those with low or middle incomes have far higher suicide rates than those with a high income. Such a pattern is reflected in the UK, as one study showed that an additional 30,000 to 40,000 suicide attempts may have occurred after the economic downturn. Academics from Bristol, Manchester, and Oxford Universities suggested that austerity might be responsible for an extra 1,000 suicides.

But numbers alone can sometimes struggle to get the message across, and CALM wanted to lead with more intimate stories.

“With Project 84, we wanted to make the scale of the situation very clear to everyone that sees the sculptures,” said Simon Gunning, CEO of CALM. “By working with the families and friends of men who have taken their own lives to highlight individual stories, we hope to make the impersonal thoroughly personal.”

The stunt evoked a powerful response from Londoners who first caught sight of the statues on the Southbank on Monday morning.

If you need support and you’re based in the UK, you can call the CALM helpline on 0800 58 58 58 between 5 p.m. and midnight. Alternatively, call the Samaritans on 116 123 if you just need to talk.

Reduced Inequalities: Amid Protests in US, Pope Francis Urges Young People to ‘Shout’ #SDGs #TimeIsNow #PressForProgress #MarchForOurLives

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“Dear young people, you have it in you to shout.”

Pope Francis weighed in on the issue of youth activism on Sunday, following the student-led protests against gun violence that occurred in the US, according to the Independent.

The religious leader urged young people to keep protesting despite any opposition they may face. He spoke in front of tens of thousands of people who gathered in the Vatican’s St. Peter’s Square for Palm Sunday, CBS News reports.

“It is up to you not to keep quiet,” he told the crowd. “Even if others keep quiet, if we older people and leaders, some corrupt, keep quiet, if the whole world keeps quiet and loses its joy, I ask you: will you cry out?”

Although Francis didn’t reference the gun violence protests directly, his comments seemed to allude to remarks aimed at March For Our Lives protesters, who have been criticized as naive and misguided, according to the Independent.

The pontiff said that efforts to discredit youth activists have a long history.

“There are many ways to silence young people and make them invisible,” he said. “Many ways to anaesthetise them, to make them keep quiet, ask nothing, question nothing.

“There are many ways to sedate them, to keep them from getting involved, to make their dreams flat and dreary, petty and plaintive,” he added. “Dear young people, you have it in you to shout.”

The day before the pope spoke, anti-gun violence protests in the US and around the world drew more than 800,000 people and were led by students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, the site of one of the deadliest school shootings in U.S. history.

Emma Gonzales, a 17-year-old senior from the school who has emerged as a champion of gun regulations, called for a moment of silence that lasted more than four minutes, to illustrate how long the high school shooting lasted.

It has been hailed as one of the most powerful moments in modern US political history.

Since the massacre, students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas have reinvigorated calls for gun regulations, breaking through what has been an intractable political issue in the US.

As a result, Florida has enacted some modest gun regulations and the Justice Department recently called for a ban on “bump stock” gun modifications, which a shooter used to kill 59 people and injure more than 500 from a hotel window during the Las Vegas concert massacre last October.

This isn’t the first time that students have led social movements.

Racial segregation in the U.S. began to be dismantled only after students challenged restaurant policies in the early 1960s. Similarly, the apartheid divestment campaign in the 1970s and 80s that led to the demise of South Africa’s bigoted political system was primarily driven by students.

Pope Francis also has a record of supporting protesters and wading into politically charged issues.

He has consistently railed against regressive refugee policies in Europe and beyond, called on countries to mitigate climate change, and denounced corruption.

Peace, Justice & Strong Institutions: Thousands of Young People Registered to Vote at ‘March For Our Lives’ last Weekend #MarchForOurLives #TimeIsNow #PressForProgress #SDGs

“That’s a really invigorating number. I mean, damn, that’s awesome.”

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“If you want more justice in the justice system, then we’ve all got to vote,” former U.S. president Barack Obama said at the Democratic National Convention in 2016, “not just for a president, but for mayors and sheriffs and state’s attorneys and state legislators.” 

Two years later, that message still rings true — and in 2018 young people across the country may be starting to take on the mantle of representative democracy for themselves.

As hundreds of thousands of people across the country and around the world marched for gun reform, at least 4,800 young people — and perhaps many more — registered to vote at marches across the country, NBC News reports.

Voter advocacy groups present at the March For Our Lives in Washington, D.C., New York City, and other major US cities included HeadCount, League of Women Voters, and Rock the Vote, according to the NBC News report. 

Aaron Ghitelman, a spokesperson for HeadCount told NBC that as of Sunday 4,800 people had registered to vote at or after the nationwide rallies, with others expected to return their voter registration forms in the coming week.

“That’s a really invigorating number,” Ghitelman told NBC. “I mean, damn, that’s awesome.”

The organization, Mic reports, sent volunteers to 30 cities across the country.

“This was the No. 1 day in our history, by a wide margin. Nothing else was even close,” HeadCount founder Andy Bernstein said Sunday.

The record voter registration at the March For Our Lives is another sign that young Americans are taking their political futures into their own hands, not only through marching and school walkouts, but also through the ballot box.

Youth voter turnout has traditionally lagged behind other demographics. Just under 45% of voters aged 18-29 went to the polls in 2016, compared to more than 70% of voters over 60, according to the United States Elections Project, which uses statistics from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey.

Youth voter turnout in the United States peaked in 2008, according to the Tufts University’s Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (CIRCLE). That year, 52% of voters aged 18-29 went to the polls in Obama’s historic election.

Low voter turnout in democratic countries is nothing new — and is not relegated to the United States. Around the world, voter turnout has declined more than 10% in the past 25 years, Quartz reports.

But going to the polls is critical to ensure the 16th Global Goal for Sustainable Development: peace, justice, and strong institutions.

The participation of young people in the March For Our Lives, and the record numbers of voter signups, shows that the trend of low voter turnout is not irreversible.

“The engagement has really increased and I think it’s an awareness,” Diane Burrows, a vice president of the League of Women Voters in New York, told NBC. 

“People are really understanding the power of the vote and that’s what’s really motivating a lot of them,” she added. “They’re figuring out the importance and power of civic engagement.” 

Reduced Inequalities: Human Trafficking Reports in the UK Reach Record High — & Children Are Suffering Most #ModernSlavery #HumanTrafficking #TraffickingInPersons

The figures “almost certainly” are an underestimate of the true scale of the problem.

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The number of potential victims of modern slavery in the has reached a record high — with more British nationals at risk than ever before.

In 2017, more than 5,000 cases were referred to the UK’s National Referral Mechanism, which identifies and supports victims.

This number represents a 35% increase on 2016, and is the highest since figures were first compiled in 2009, according to a report by the National Crime Agency (NCA).

Of the 5,145 cases reported, British nationals made up the highest number of cases for the first time — with 819 potential British victims reported, up from 326 in 2016.

Albanian potential victims made up 777 of the cases, and Vietnamese made up 739 of cases. But 116 different nationalities appeared in the list of referred cases —  including China, Nigeria, Romania, Sudan, Eritrea, India, Poland, and Pakistan.

Worryingly, the number of children identified as potential victims rose by 66% from 2016 — up to 2,118 cases, from 1,278 the previous year.

“The reality is that there isn’t a region in the UK that isn’t affected,” Liam Vernon, a senior manager in the NCA’s modern slavery and human trafficking unit, told the Independent . “The number is shocking and our assessment is that this is an under-reported crime.”

According to the NCA, the increase in referrals was “driven by greater awareness” of the problem, reported the BBC . But it said that the figures “almost certainly represent an underestimate of the true scale” of the problem.

“We are now dealing with an evolving threat,” said Will Kerr, director of the NCA. “The criminals involved in these types of exploitation are going into online spaces, particularly adult services website, to enable their criminality.” 

The report comes on the third anniversary of the introduction of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 into law, on March 26.

The rise in the numbers of children involved, as well as the growing number of British nationals, is partly due to the growth of a drug supply route known as “county lines,” reported the BBC , which sees city-based gangs using young people to carry drugs like heroin and crack cocaine to rural areas.

“They are enticed by wealth but quickly coerced by violence,” said the NCA’s deputy director, Tom Dowdall.

The NCA said that some of these exploited children have mental health issues, are drug users themselves, and some have been reported missing.

Of the total number of cases, almost half (2,352) involved forced labour, while a third (1,744) involved sexual exploitation. Some 1,595 — nearly a third — related to exploitation that was alleged to have happened overseas.

The vast majority (4,714) were passed to police forces in England; 207 in Scotland; 193 in Wales; and 31 in Northern Ireland.

Home Office minister for crime, Victoria Atkins, said the government is “ leading the world in our response to this horrendous crime.” She added that more potential victims were being “identified and protected” because of an “improved understanding of modern slavery.”

“We know there is more to do, and we are working to improve the system for identifying victims and supporting them to leave situations of exploitation and begin to recover and rebuild lives,” she said

In the UK, a government estimate in 2014 said that between 10,000 and 13,000 people were living in slavery. Of these, many are living in plain sight — working in nail bars, cannabis farms, prostitution, flower-picking, and hand car washes.

To report a suspected case of modern slavery, call the helpline on 0800 0121 700, or visit the website here .