Global Citizenship in a Changing World – Reflections from the 2022 IDEA Conference

Global Citizenship in a Changing World – Reflections from the 2022 IDEA Conference

Global Citizenship in a Changing World – Reflections from the 2022 IDEA Conference
Protesters Attend March for Refugee Rights
Criomhthann Morrison
8th of July 2022

970 Years and 1 Month

Graduating mid-2020 and working amidst spikes and lockdowns, I have been fortunate to find opportunities to connect with people from across Ireland and the world through various online programmes and groups. While Ireland-based activities have gradually introduced in-person components, it’s no surprise that the annual IDEA Conference in June 2022 was the first in-person conference since the pandemic outbreak for many, including myself. Titled “The Future of Global Citizenship – educating for a changing world,” those attending were invited to look ahead to what global citizenship could look like across every facet of life for all.

The conference opened with the usual ‘long time, no see’ natter, and the facilitator Charo Lanao brought everyone together with groups physically crafting ‘‘living sculptures” of their visions for the present and future, as well as reflections on people’s experiences and backgrounds. A tally counted 970 years and 1 month of collective ‘global citizenship education’ (GCE) knowledge in the room on that one day. So I expected to pick up a thing or two.

Panel Exploring Polarisation and Systems Change

 

 

Biographies for each speaker can be found here on the IDEA website.

 

The opening panel dealt with the structural and systemic problems in our societies, workplaces and governments and how individual actions and lived experiences fit within solutions to address these. Dr Peter T. Coleman, Professor of Psychology and Education at Columbia University, highlighted how GCE practitioners can consider the polarisations around them and their participants, and the pursuit of ‘positive’ peace and ‘negative’ peace (“the promotion of peacefulness through positive interactions like civility, cooperation and care” peace” versus “the absence of violence, destructive conflict, and war,” bold added).

I found this distinction a helpful example of how even the most seemingly straightforward ideas can contain quite diverse and even incompatible assumptions and expectations, depending on the people ‘in the room’. This awareness of what we bring to the conversations and groups we find ourselves in is always worthwhile, helping us identity and talk through sometimes subtle yet substantial differences in how we understand the problems and worlds around us.

Dr Ebun Joseph, Director of the Institute of Antiracism and Black Studies (IABS), amongst many other qualifications and roles, also emphasised the importance of ‘healthy conversations’ for addressing the sticky behaviours and systems of oppression we haven’t fully shaked off yet (a purposeful choice of words, as opposed to ‘difficult’ conversations, which can prime people to resist, defend, or fight). Using an instance of racist descrimination between colleagues in a workplace as an example, Dr Joseph advises that the whole workplace should be involved in the resolution, not just the people directly involved. When discrimination happens within any context, whether at work, in education, or in public, we need to explore how and why it was enabled in the first place, and then actively change the structures and behaviours which allowed discrimination to happen. 

Most of us can name a dozen angles from which we do not face barriers and discriminatoin in everyday life like other people do, and we all have a responsibility to be part of the movements to rid of prejudice and abuse. Demanding healthy and meaningful conversations from ourselves and the spaces we’re in is one vital step in being part of an equitable, just and sustainable present and future for all.

 

Director of IDEA Frank Geary and Irish Sign Language Interpreter during the Opening Remarks.

 

Panel Exploring Challenges in the GCE Sector

 

 

The second panel gave space for 4 speakers to share their insights on key issues in the GCE sphere and the directions the space is moving in, followed by some questions from attendees. To briefly summarise some really rich sharing:

Ikal Ang’elei, an environmental activist, spoke about the importance for practitioners and activists to always work with and alongside affected communities, citing her experience as Co-Founder and Director of Friends of Lake Turkana, which works for social, economic and environmental justice for the lands and people in the area. It is an easy though grave error for genuinely enthusiastic and well-meaning individuals and groups to get caught up in their visions for their solutions instead of constructing these in partnership with the people impacted. The phrase “Nothing about us without us” springs to mind.

Mamobo Ogoro, an award winning scholar, social entrepreneur, activist and artist, followed by emphasising inclusion and belonging as key elements to reaching these visions GCE practitioners often strive for, naming dialogue as fundamental to her work with her digital media start-up GORM Media and her PhD research with minorities in Ireland. This calls for practitioners to challenge box-ticking exercises of simply getting certain people are ‘in the room’, asking if everyone in the room is fully able participate in conversations and decision-making, and what we need to do on the individual- and system-level to promote this ‘belonging’ for all. 

Dr Audrey Bryan, Associate Professor of Sociology in DCU, then raised critical questions about the individualisation and prescription of GCE in Ireland. She also cautioned the increasing focus on measurable technical skills to the detriment of considering holistically the relationships between individuals, their communities, and the challenges faced across society. Dr Bryan spoke to these ideas and more at the recorded webinar Future Trends in Development Education hosted by IDEA in Dec 2021.

Bobby McCormack, Co-Founder and Director of Development Perspectives, talked about developing the ‘innovation ecosystems’ within the sector and emphasised the opportunities for partnership especially with less obvious colleagues, sharing the example of Development Perspectives working with EirGrid to host community forums to include their voice in several energy projects. This suggests interesting opportunities outside the normal bounds of what organisations consider GCE and their roles in a changing world, offering bridges between areas of life not typically linked, from the energy system to community health to agriculture to far more.

During the Q&A, I found one moment worth noting: one attendee asked for suggestions for teaching useful and abstract tools like systems thinking to children, and another attendee quickly took the microphone to share resources produced by their own organisation for exactly this purpose. While a small interaction, it was hardly minor, and just one reminder from the day of the value of sharing these open spaces with our peers. Someone sitting behind you often has something that will help you, even before you realise you need help.

 

Conference Facilitator Charo Lanao speaking to the 70+ in-person attendees.

 

Panel Exploring Challenges in the GCE Sector

 

 

The second day of the conference ran online with two sets of workshops running parallel, which posed me the challenge of which to sign up for! The first I chose was Ecosystem Restoration and Development Education: Regenerating people and wider nature with Gareth Conlon and Karen Jeffares. I managed to catch the latter half which explored the lands, organisms and food around us, and how as GCE practitioners, mindsets should focus on bringing about positive transformation within communities, not particular solutions per se. Group discussions included reflections on how workshops with schools often implicitly task children with convincing the adults in their lives to make changes and the challenges this entails regarding justice and responsibility. Topics also arising included ‘pedagogy of hope’ and potential routes for collaboration across sectors, for example GCE and farmers.

This session posed important questions about our responsibilities as practitioners to the people and groups we work with, who we engage with in the first place, and why. Our answers can inform how we approach our work and help us to see the groups we work with (and don’t work with) as multifaceted and feeling pressures from various directions. What does this mean for fostering space to communicate, build skills, and perhaps sow seeds for peace – and which kind?

The second workshop I attended was Global Business and Human Rights with Mark Cumming. Business is an area many in GCE spaces are averse to, so the workshop sought to highlight the importance of working for human rights in the business realm, and to equip attendees to do so. We explored power of and accountability within business spaces, the state of affairs in Ireland, and what practitioners and the sector can do now and moving forward to better engage with the private sector. One key point made is the importance of building communities and movements for change, including encouraging people to join communities for their passions, and even trade unions, which the large majority of attendees reported not being part of. 

Early in the final workshop, Cumming referenced the Audre Lorde quote “For the master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house.” This is a challenge for all GCE practitioners in their work: to what degree does the work we do uphold existing structures and systems despite best intentions, and to what degree does our work truly enable communities to achieve their visions within – dare I say – a changing world? Don’t worry, I don’t have a clean answer either.

 

 Lizzy Noone from WorldWise Global Schools speaking during a Q&A.

 

The Value in Sharing Space

 

 

I didn’t get the chance to attend the other two workshops, Transformative Education in Times of Crises with Tereza Čajková and Aurèle Destrée or War, Peace and the Future of Development Education with Zelalem Sibhat, Dr Gerard McCann, and Dr Gertrude Cotter, though from the titles alone, it’s clear GCE practitioners are working hard to locate their work across the different aspects of global and local challenges communities are facing around the world. That said, judging from my conversations with several speakers and attendees, perhaps people were most excited to simply share space with each other and feel more connected with and part of a larger whole.

What I am most excited about are the coming weeks and months, when the conversations and ideas shared will percolate in my mind and influence my work in obvious and subtle ways, some examples of which already spring to mind. And so what are the next steps for global citizenship and educating in a changing world? Healthy conversations, critical reflection, and collaboration across sectors may not be novel suggestions to some or most, but are nonetheless vital to achieving a present we can stand over.

Feature photo caption: From the left: unnamed, Susie Spratt from An Gáisce, Tahla from Amnesty, unnamed. Contact [email protected] if you feature in this photo and would like to be named.

Featured photos by Méabh Hennelly with permission from IDEA.

Connect with Criomhthann over LinkedIn or Twitter.

This article was supported by: Engagement Coordinator Aislin and STAND News & Comms Intern Penelope Norman.

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Meet Treasa Cadogan, United Nations Youth Delegate for Ireland

Meet Treasa Cadogan, United Nations Youth Delegate for Ireland

Meet Treasa Cadogan, United Nations Youth Delegate for Ireland

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Treasa Cadogan is a United Nations Youth Delegate for Ireland for 2021-22, and “a very proud Cork person” from Cape Clear Island (with a population of less than 200 people, according to the 2016 Census). The United Nations Youth Delegate Program began in Ireland in 2015 with support from the Department of Foreign Affairs and National Youth Council of Ireland. The goal of the program is to empower young people “to be active global citizens contributing to building a world of justice, equity, and dignity.”

 

Treasa’s Journey to the Role 

Treasa’s journey to becoming a Youth Delegate was an accumulation of previous experiences and undertakings. “Nothing stands alone, nothing stands by itself”, according to Treasa, whose first involvement in community work began at a young age when helping her mother with local family fun days to raise money for charity. Later on, Treasa engaged with more local issues and joined the board of the Cape Clear Island Development Co-Operative. Alongside her growing interest in community work, Treasa became more involved in advocacy when completing a Bachelor’s degree in International Development and Food Policy in University College Cork. Her studies helped to lay the “foundations for becoming a youth delegate” which combined with her local community involvement and learning more about global issues.

A rural upbringing on a small island has surely influenced Treasa’s areas of interest including “rural development, youth participation and getting young people involved”. The limited number of people on Cape Clear impacts on who interacts with who, what everyone talks about, and how often these interactions occur. Treasa notes that intergenerational learning is a huge part of her rural community, and that the benefits of sharing different perspectives (particularly across generations) and learning from each other are integral to local, as well as international, development.

Treasa also has “an interest in food systems and sustainable farming, which, obviously coming from rural area and from a farm, it kind of goes nicely into that kind of climate action that [she] feel[s] like our whole generation is really interested in”. Treasa was awarded the Climate Ambassador Outstanding Achievement Award in 2020 for her work on local climate action in Ireland, and becoming a Youth Delegate has given Treasa the opportunity to see how these local issues are a microcosm of global problems such as climate change.

Since becoming Youth Delegate, Treasa has become more aware of issues beyond Ireland and what is reported in the Irish media. For example, a few weeks after the beginning of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, Treasa attended the United Nations Security Council and heard about conflicts in other countries she had not been aware of. Learning about other issues does not subtract from what someone already knows, but as Treasa explains, there is “so much going on and you’re forever learning. I think that’s one thing that I enjoy after leaving college, that I still am continually learning”. The willingness to investigate topics for yourself and openness to gaining new knowledge and understanding are essential to move beyond preconceived ideas about global issues.

Treasa has utilised her role as a United Nation Youth Delegate for Ireland to showcase to others the UN’s impact on their own lives, from the  local to the national level. She highlights “how the UN-level policies influence Irish policy, which I don’t think many people know. They just see it as this big kind of institution that kind of talks every so often” and her role as a Youth Delegate entails “bringing other people along on the journey and hopefully informing other people of what we’re getting up to”. During her time in UCC, Treasa co-founded the UCC Fighting World Hunger branch and she is now involved in the Sustainable Development Goals including Zero Hunger. These initiatives have similar aims but are happening on different levels. Similar to the top-down influence of international organisations and governments on policies, local movements also influence from the bottom-up.

 

Policymakers do notice things like that. The government, TDs and MEPs. They will notice these grassroots initiatives which will hopefully create movement in government level policies and local policies.”

 

For example,the formation of the UCC Fighting Hunger branch by Treasa and other students prompted the UCC Student Union into action. UCC Fighting Hunger highlighted the struggles for some students to access affordable food and in response, the UCC Student Union started a food bank to support students in this situation. Grassroot initiatives can draw the attention of larger organisations and leaders to issues that would benefit from their involvement. Local movements can bring about change to government policy, just as governments decisions have local effects, by emphasising issues that impact both levels. As Treasa phrased it, “it’s kind of that bottom-up or top-down. They have to meet eventually in the middle”.

Treasa has also enjoyed meeting Youth Delegates from other countries and expanding her network far beyond Cape Clear and Ireland. A standout moment for Treasa as a Youth Delegate has been attending the Commission on the Status of Women in New York, during which she also attended the United Nations Security Council and General Assembly. Treasa has also given speeches to the European Parliament about youth participation in rural development. She has organised UN Food Systems Summit Independent Dialogues and spoken at events such as Oxford Real Farming Conference and Girl Up India.

 

“The best thing is to just take the first step…”

 

If Treasa’s work as a Youth Delegate and beyond has inspired any young people to become involved in foreign policy and diplomacy, her advice is that “the best thing is to just take the first step” and to join youth organisations such as Comhairle na nÓg or Foróige (if under eighteen), or college societies. Treasa acknowledges that “it’s always so intimidating”, but “these organisations only want to see you improve and thrive”. The smaller steps will build up over time and individuals can learn from their experiences, so “Take the leap!”

The next steps for Treasa include another few months as a Youth Delegate and contributing to another event in New York. In the longer term, Treasa hopes to go into more humanitarian work. Two previous plans to do this were halted because of Covid-19, but Treasa is adamant about going “out in the field, out on the ground”  as “I never want to be the person who speaks about a development issue, but I’ve never actually experienced it in the country it’s happening”. Whether it is a community project on Cape Clear or international work as a United Nations Youth Delegate, Treasa continues to work to bring about positive changes on the local, national and international levels.

 

If you enjoyed this article, you can also read about STAND Contributor Patricia Gonzáles’ Instagram Live Chat with Diandra Ní Bhuachalla, the other UN Youth Delegate for 2021-22, by following the link. You can also watch the full Live Chat with her on our Instagram page @stand.ie, or directly reach it with this link

This article was supported by: STAND News and Comms Intern Criomhthann Morrison

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Meet Diandra Ní Bhuachalla, United Nations Youth Delegate for Ireland

Meet Diandra Ní Bhuachalla, United Nations Youth Delegate for Ireland

Meet Diandra Ní Bhuachalla, United Nations Youth Delegate for Ireland
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Since 2015, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and NYCI have partnered to provide the opportunity for young Irish people to participate in the UN Youth Delegate Programme. Each year, two UN Youth Delegates are chosen to form part of Ireland’s official delegation to the United Nations General Assembly. The aim of this public diplomacy initiative is to provide a platform for young people from Ireland to be represented at the United Nations, and to facilitate greater engagement with Irish youth on national and foreign policy issues. This is a unique opportunity for those wishing to get involved in developing policies that affect young people. 

We got to speak to one of the UN Youth Delegates currently in this role, Diandra Ní Bhuachalla. Diandra has an open mind towards possibilities and willing attitude to try, which has led her to opportunities such as this position. She decided not to pursue a career in law after graduating with an LLB degree, and rather use her experience with advocacy and lobbying to develop a perfect mix for the position she is in today. In our Activists and Innovators Live Chat series, Diandra shared what she does and how other young people can get involved.

 

Diandra Growing Up

From a young age, Diandra has been interested in global issues and injustice. She first became involved in student activism at age 14, when she joined her secondary school’s student council:

 

“The student council gave me an opportunity to be involved with the organisational process of campaigns such as anti-bullying and recycling. I really enjoyed being involved in the student council which led me to apply for Comhairle na nÓg.”

 

Diandra’s time on the Cork County Comhairle na nÓg was particularly characterized by her lobbying on transport for young people, eventually leading to the introduction of the Leap Card in Cork, with reduced fares for young passengers under the age of 19.  

Her volunteering experience with Comhairle shaped her and sparked an interest in politics. As a matter of fact, Diandra holds a Bachelors of Science in Government. During her college years, she did an internship in the New York State Assembly, which resulted in her becoming more interested in policy-making and the legislative system. Diandra believes she is “bringing political science and law together by studying a masters degree in MSC International Public Policy and Diplomacy.”

Her path to becoming a UN Youth Delegate started in 2015 when she first learned about it, though it was not until last year that she decided to go for it: “I waited until I really felt and believed I was the best person for it” (bold added).

Representing 1.3 Million Young People

For Diandra, being a UN Youth Delegate is a huge responsibility: 

 

“It’s an incredible programme, you need to realise its value before putting yourself forward. There are an estimated 1.3 million young people in Ireland, which seems virtually impossible to be able to represent each and everyone of them but it’s my job to be able to represent as many as possible. As a UN Youth Delegate, you’ve been chosen to represent them locally, nationally and internationally. You have to find a balance between both forms of representation; representing your country, and representing the young people of your country.”

 

Being a UN Youth Delegate is a voluntary role and varies widely day-to-day, from taking calls in different time zones to late nights with stakeholders in another country. Diandra has managed to balance her duties as a UN Youth Delegate with being a full-time masters student through her incredible organizational skills. Additionally, she has been able to focus her career path by making academics her top priority: “I have now realised that to make the biggest impact and to truly help people, I need to specialise.” 

Diandra sits in the centre of the photo with a sign on a table in front of her which reads "Ireland". Behind is a large conference room with rows of tables and desks with other representatives at the 66th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women..
Diandra at the 66th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women in New York in March 2022.

“My main hope for the future is to have a future.” 

As a young activist, one of Diandra’s main concerns is climate change: “My main hope for the future is to have a future.” As overwhelming as climate change is, she believes that we still have potential to take collective, empathetic action:

 

“Everyday that we allow species to become extinct, have the worst weather recorded, we allow governments to give the fossil fuel companies a free pass, the longer we are putting the future generations in danger. The WE is collective – fast fashion, big contributors, governments and fossil fuel industry. We’re not feeling it like the Global South is; the impact is felt much deeper there, where the greatest proportion of the global youth population resides. We are furthering the divide in gender, education, and inequalities by ignoring climate change.”

By being a UN Youth Delegate, Diandra represents the power of young people, and hopes to be an encouraging figure for people to follow their dreams. In closing our Live Chat, she reminded us that if young people are experiencing problems, or want to take social or political action, she can be contacted through the UN Youth Delegate @unyouthirl social media channels.

 

 

If you want to learn more about Diandra, you can check out our STAND News Live Chat on our Instagram Page @stand.ie linked here, or watch the Live Chat linked here. You can also follow her journey on LinkedIn here.

If you enjoyed this article, you can also read about STAND Contributor Niamh Kelly’s chat with Treasa Cadogan, the other UN Youth Delegate for 2021-22, by following this link.

You can find author Patricia Gonzáles on LinkedIn by following the link.

 

 

Featured image provided by Diandra Ní Bhuachalla.

This article was supported by: STAND News and Comms Intern Criomhthann Morrison

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Tampon Taboo: The Ad Ban that Displayed the Existing Social Stigma of Periods

Tampon Taboo: The Ad Ban that Displayed the Existing Social Stigma of Periods

Women

Tampon Taboo: The Ad Ban that Displayed the Existing Social Stigma of Periods

Shot of the tampax ad where two women disucss tampons

22nd August 2020

 

“You gotta get ‘em up there, girls!” reads the tagline for Tampax’s latest TV advertisement, Tampons and Tea, featuring a mock chat show in which a host and guest discuss correct tampon usage. This ad was controversially pulled from Irish television at the end of July after 84 viewers issued complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority for Ireland (ASAI). ASAI accepted that the ad caused widespread offence andbanned it from being shown again in its current format.  

The manufacturers, Procter & Gamble, defended the ad based on its instructive intentTampons and Tea was created in response to findings that revealed 42% of women are not inserting tampons correctly and about 80% of women feel discomfort while wearing them.  

Out of the 84 complaints received by the ASAI, several critiqued the advert for containing sexual innuendo, being unsuitable for children and demeaning to women. While the ASAdid not take action against the ad based on these claims, it is still disturbing to see terms such as “sexual”, “unsuitable” and “demeaning” employed in conversations about women’s periods in modern Ireland.  

It is maddening to think that anyone could call Tampons and Tea demeaning to women yet have no issue with the majority of unrealistic adverts for menstrual products. These ads generally focus on concealing periods anddepicting them as a problem, rather than a natural, lived experience. The women are portrayed smiling, laughing and carefree in the outdoors usually practicing some variation of an extreme sport whiledressed scantily in white. Flash forward to the next frame where a strange clinical blue liquid is used to indicate their menstrual blood.  

It’s also hardly demeaning to suggest some women may not know how to insert a tampon correctly, especially when you consider the reality that period-centred education is worryingly substandard. Most girls who have attended school in Ireland will know that education surrounding tampons usually extends to the best way to conceal them discreetly up a jumper sleeve! Classroom curriculums are typically limited to the biological workings of the menstrual cycle, and neglect to acknowledge the practical, everyday implications of periods.

 This lack of formal education leads to misinformationand this is relevant for all genders. I find it in part amusing, in part shocking, the number of males I’ve encountered who mistakenly believed that sanitary towels are stuck to the skin of the person instead of to their underwear! 

 

“Tampons and Tea was created in response to findings that revealed 42% of women are not inserting tampons correctly and about 80% of women feel discomfort while wearing them”

On Newstalk, Ciara Kelly slammed the decision to remove the ad and lamented the persistent sexualisation of women’s bodies, arguing that from the female perspective, a vagina functions for much more than sexIt’s just a bit of our body […] it sits there, it’s like having an elbow” she rationalized. While one might automatically lay the blame on men for the cancellation of the advert, surprising 83% of the complaints received about Tampons and Tea came from women. This points to worrying culture of shame surrounding the female body and its functions 

Social stigma, combined with inefficient education surrounding menstruation, means that periods are largely not spoken about. Women are taught from an early age in school, and by society, that periods are embarrassing and disgusting; something to be hidden and kept quiet aboutThey carry this mentality with them to adulthood. Yet menstruation is a natural phenomenon which half of the world’s population experience. The lack of open discussion means that women are suffering in silence.  

Last month, STAND featured an article about period poverty in Ireland, noting the lack of support and supplies available for many people who have periods. It says a lot about societal priorities that a Tampax advert is deemed too offensive to broadcast, when many in Ireland cannot even afford tampons due to period poverty. 

The power and influence of advertising must not be forgotten. Although lighthearted in tone, ads such as Tampons and Tea carry a social impact. Positively, the decision to ban the advert has been met with widespread criticism. This is a hopeful sign that, although 84 members of the public hold outdated views on menstruation, there are other voices. Periods must be discussed unashamedly in our everyday conversations. It is essential for women and people with periods everywhere that their basic bodily functions are not taboo.  

 

#FreeTheFlow

Featured photo by Tampax

 
 

 

 

10000 students working towards a more equal future

10000 students working towards a more equal future

February 20th marks the World Day of Social Justice 2020, and young people across Ireland are finding themselves facing an uncertain future on all fronts. Fighting against ever-increasing university fees, and laden down with the knowledge that just 20 companies worldwide are responsible for one third of all global emissions, it can be hard to believe that any individual can take action to truly level the playing field. 

One person alone might feel as though they can’t make a change, but what happens when 10000 third-level students come together to take one small action each for a better world? This is what STAND, a Suas Educational Development initiative, and the Unions of Students in Ireland (USI) are trying to encourage by partnering on a new platform called 10000students.ie. 

The 10000 students website, which provides examples on how to take action for the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals in every USI affiliated college across Ireland, allows students to pledge to take one action on their campus. It also counts how many actions are being taken across Ireland as a whole, with the idea being that students will see strength in numbers when it comes to taking action collectively. 

Speaking from the launch event at GMIT, Mayo, USI President Lorna Fitzpatrick had the following to say:

“Pledging to take any action on 10000students.ie is an easy way to raise awareness of the Sustainable Development Goals and to see how simple it can be to make a difference through implementing these changes in their daily lives. Students have always been at the forefront of positive change in Ireland and it is no different when it comes to the SDG’s. Last year, USI was announced as one of the twelve Sustainable Development Goal Champions and we are delighted to partner with STAND to launch this campaign to make it easy for students to make a difference while challenging their friends to do the same.”

Want to see how you can get involved? Visit 10000students.ie today and pledge to take one small action on your campus for a more sustainable planet.

Career Knowhow: Peter Schouten, War Child

Career Knowhow: Peter Schouten, War Child

Every Month, STAND brings you a quick fire Q&A from people who work in NGOs, with government or in community projects. This month we speak to Peter Schouten, who has been Spokesman for War Child since September 2014.  Based in the Netherlands, War Child helps children affected by war in 14 countries all around the world.

Can you tell us a bit about what you do?
I’m the spokesman for War Child Holland, which means being accountable for all media and press relations. I do this through managing spokespersons, initiating and coordinating press conferences, press releases, briefings, trips and media events. Our objective is to position War Child as the expert when it comes to children affected by conflict, being able to influence key stakeholders and contribute to our mission: ‘No child should be part of war. Ever.’

What do you love most about your job?
Since I’m a real news addict I really love to work with and for media and to be up to date 24/7. It’s never a dull moment. I like the diversity in my daily work. It’s not only working from behind your desk but also travelling to the 14 countries in which War Child is active. During such field trips I bring journalists with me in order to show them how, why and what we do to help children affected by war.

What do you dislike most?
A thing that I can’t get used to is the stories I hear from the children who I visit in our program countries. It’s sometimes really heartbreaking to hear their experiences. At the same time it gives me that new energy boost to let their voices be heard in the (inter)national media in order to help them and their peers.

How did you get into this area?
I graduated in both International Relations and Journalism. After working for 5 years at the Dutch Prime Minister’s Office in The Hague I decided to join War Child in 2014. I came across the organisation in Uganda and I was really impressed by how my colleagues were dealing with the war children. From that moment on I started following War Child and once the function of spokesman became vacant, I applied immediately.

What advice would you give to students who want to work in this area?
If you would like to be a spokesman it might help you to have some experiences as a journalist as well. In that case you know best of both worlds which enables you to do your work as a spokesman better.

 

War Child helps children affected by war. It offers them a combination of psychosocial support, protection and education. War Child was founded in 1995 and is an internationally acknowledged expert on children affected by armed conflict. Last year approx. 300,000 children participated in its programmes.

For more information see warchild.org.

Twitter: @schoutenpeter / @warchildholland

Photo courtesy of Peter Schouten / War Child.

 

The world’s first climate refugees?

The world’s first climate refugees?

Laoise McGrath looks at Kiribati, a country which could soon be ‘Home’ to the world’s first climate refugees.

What is Kiribati?
The Republic of Kiribati is made up of a patchwork of islands in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. The country is so remote that its nearest neighbour is more than 5000 km away. Although the country is dispersed over 3.5 million square kilometres it has only 110,000 inhabitants – and that number is declining.

How is climate change affecting the country?
The people of Kiribati are likely to become the world’s first climate refugees. All of the islands are between one and two metres above sea level, and in 1999 two Kiribati islets disappeared entirely underwater.  Due to the patterns of the tides the atolls are constantly changing shape, making life for the inhabitants of Kiribati very unstable and their future uncertain.

The country faces the constant challenge of protecting itself from flooding and providing permanent housing that is not washed away by the sea. The landscape of Kiribati is unsuitable for farming, and thus the country relies heavily on imports and the sea to provide its food; it is considered one of the least developed countries in the world.

As sea levels rise, the Kiribati people are being put under more pressure. They live a paradoxical life which is intimately connected with the ocean; it is the biggest threat to their livelihoods, and yet they depend on it as a primary food source.

In a world where climate change is becoming more apparent, Kiribati and its inhabitants could become the first climate change refugees as their home land disappears before their eyes.  

 

Above photo: Kiritimati island, part of the Republic of Kiribati. By Calvin Smith via Flickr.

Spotlight: Female broadcasters

Spotlight: Female broadcasters

Broadcasting in both radio and television has consistently been an area within the journalism industry that has presented a lack of female representation at home and abroad. It is an issue that unfortunately is not researched on an annual basis.

The most recent study available is a survey of gender balance in the Irish and UK media in 2015. It was conducted by Dublin City University’s Institute for the Future of Journalism alongside the National Women’s Council of Ireland (NWCI), as part of the Global Media Monitoring Project.

The report called “Hearing Women’s Voices,” found female voices on radio got an average of only 28 percent of broadcasting time on current affairs shows, with Newstalk at 18 percent female representation.

Furthermore, research led by City University in the UK found that the on main news bulletins across BBC and ITV, male experts being interviewed outnumbered their female counterparts by almost four to one. An Elon University study in 2013 found that in the US, male reporters had 5.5 male sources for every one female source.

At home, the NWCI called upon the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland to monitor the Irish airwaves for gender balance on a yearly basis in January of this year. The authority has yet to confirm that they will follow through with this.

 

Photo by Sam McGhee on Unsplash

Decolonising education

Decolonising education

Universities have long been seen as places of open discourse, championing the pursuit of knowledge above all else. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that college campuses have been the incubators for one of the most fascinating – and successful – academic movements of recent years: the campaign for the decolonisation of knowledge.

Aims
Simply put, the decolonisation movement aims to address the overwhelming lack of discussion around the impacts of colonialism in universities around the world. While their aims are varied and nuanced, two of the main goals championed by students and academics alike include the removal of monuments or institutional totems celebrating links to imperialism and racism, as well as re-evaluating the Euro-centric bias of many university departments.

The need for decolonisation
While to some, the arguments for decolonisation may seem nebulous and abstract, outdated curricula and colonial erasure can have real consequences. Research conducted in 2014 found that white British students were 16 per cent more likely than students of colour to graduate with a first or 2:1 degree. In analysing such attainment gaps through interviews with BME students, Britain’s Higher Education Academy found overwhelming evidence that universities were not doing enough to help students integrate during their higher education experience. Further research has found that a third of students feel that their educational environment leaves no room for their personal perspective, with some respondents explicitly citing the Euro-centric content of their reading lists.

Of course, there are many factors which contribute to attainment gaps and educational disadvantage, but the evidence suggests that decolonisation of campuses could at least go some way towards reducing these disparities.

Origins of the movement
Many associate the decolonisation movement specifically with African universities, after all, the University of Cape Town saw the inception of the original Rhodes Must Fall movement. This campaign, which sparked myriad protests throughout South Africa, saw students work towards the removal of a statue of colonialist Cecil Rhodes. Even now, African universities seem to lead the way in diverse education, with the recently opened African Leadership College in Mauritius building its social sciences curriculum entirely around a platform of decolonisation.

Expansion
But the movement is by no means limited to Africa. In the UK, students have challenged their lecturers to engage with the colonial past their institutions were built upon. Oxford famously had its own Rhodes Must Fall protests, and in Cambridge, efforts are being made to include postcolonial analysis in the teaching of sciences,and classics.

Outside of Oxbridge, The National Union of Students’ Liberate My Curriculum movement has garnered the support of universities throughout the UK, from Reading and Brighton Universities to LSE. Edinburgh University, meanwhile, has committed itself to encouraging an attitude of colonial interrogation throughout its teaching.

Wake-up call
Further movements, such as the Reclaim Harvard Law Campaign or the Malaysian Multiversity Group, which organises regular conferences to discuss decolonisation and the commodification of knowledge, show that the decolonisation campaign is quickly becoming an international movement.

As campuses become increasingly commercialised, and issues such as access to education continue, the decolonisation movement acts as a welcome wake-up call, reminding us of the history of interrogation, analysis and intellectual exploration upon which universities pride themselves.

 

Photo by Janko Ferlič on Unsplash

Right to Privacy?

Right to Privacy?

Though America has recently come under fire for its human rights violations at the Mexican border, the practice of Direct Provision should be coming under greater scrutiny.

If you are a single adult in Direct Provision in Ireland, you will most likely be sharing a room with at least one other person. In some cases, you could be sharing with up to 5 people. However, it is not possible to know how many people are sharing rooms, as statistics are not collected. This also means it is impossible to know how long single people have been sharing rooms in Direct Provision.

A statement released by the Department of Justice and Equality explained that centres “have a limited number of rooms for single adults” and ‘the capacity of each room is entirely dependent on the size of the room as per building regulations.”  

However, this practice may be in breach of the human right to privacy. Article 12 of the  Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrines this right:

No one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honour and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

By not providing asylum seekers in Direct Provision with sufficient space for privacy, people’s human rights could be infringed.

Photo by Josh Shaw on Unsplash

Celebrating the power of youth

Celebrating the power of youth

Earlier this month almost 10,000 young people from across Europe were hosted at the European Parliament in Strasbourg, for YoFest and the third annual European Youth Event, that debates issues affecting youth people. In this series, Ellen Butler explains the key issues that came up.

Global Citizenship
The event focused on how society can mobilise to become more inclusive of all genders, sexualities and ethnicities. One panel was organised by the European Youth Forum, with appearances from the European Women’s Lobby and Seyi Akiwowo, a councillor from East London and speaker on active citizenship, soft skills, social integration and sustainable development.

Language
The discussion included ways to challenge traditional behaviour towards sexuality, race and interpersonal relationships. Institutional racism is so ingrained in our lives and the way we operate that it often goes unnoticed – except, of course, to those who endure it. For example, the feeling of isolation when you are the only member of a minority group in the workplace, or feeling that you are making a fuss or being difficult by having different needs to your colleagues.  

There was also discussion on the language we use when speaking about minority groups and the role that plays in reinforcing stereotypes. Seyi Akiwowo suggested simply asking someone how they describe themselves, for example black or a person of colour, rather than making assumptions. She urges us to “be each other’s microphones”, by retweeting and sharing, and openly promoting and discussing social issues, to bring them to the forefront of our conversations.

For more on this conference, see here.

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Human Right Injustices: Africa

Human Right Injustices: Africa

This week we start a new series, looking at human rights around the world. For the first instalment, Lynn Rickard examines Africa’s position.

Armed Conflict and Violence
According to an Amnesty International Report 2017/18 Africa experienced great human rights injustices in terms of armed conflict, torture and ill-treatment, media freedom and women’s rights. Armed groups such as al-Shabaab and Boko Haram carried out attacks on civilians in countries such as Cameroon, Central African Republic (CAR), Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Mali, Niger, Nigeria and Somalia.

In October 2017, al-Shabaab carried out an attack against civilians in Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu; leaving over 512 people dead. Escalating violence in the Kasai region prompted 35,000 people to flee to neighbouring country Angola. Thousands were left dead and by September 1 million people had been displaced. While armed group Boko Haram released 82 of the abducted Chibok girls in May of last year, some of them never returned.

Media Freedom
Technological advances have allowed news to travel quicker than ever. With such progression comes inevitable regression.  Investigative journalists across the continent were arrested, detained and some threatened with death. Cameroon and Toga closed media outlets and blocked access to the internet to curtail media freedom and prevent journalists from doing their job.

Ahmed Abba, Radio France Internationale journalist was sentenced to 10 years imprisonment after exercising his right to freedom of expression. The appellate tribunal later reduced his sentence to 24 months and released him in December 2017.

Refugees and Migrants
Refugees and migrants hosted by African countries faced human rights violations while fleeing their homes. According to the Amnesty International Report 2017/18, government and opposition forces in the southern region were said to have committed “serious violations and abuses, including war crimes” against civilians. It is reported that over 3.9 million refugees have been displaced since the conflict began in December 2013.

While it is reported that Chad hosted approximately 408,000 refugees and migrants from countries such as Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Nigeria and Sudan, it is said they live in “dire conditions” within refugee camps.

We are living amongst grave human rights injustices globally. We are met with challenges in which we must tackle accordingly to achieve the “values of human dignity and equality”.

 

Photo by João Silas on Unsplash