Creating global citizens

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International Development Week educates, celebrates, and looks at the future

Kristen McEwen
News Writer

With the deadline for the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) only a mere two years away, it’s tough to say whether or not the goals will be met.

In 2000, eight goals were set at the United Nations headquarters to eradicate extreme poverty and hunger, achieve universal primary education, promote gender equality and empower women, reduce child morality, improve maternal health, combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, ensure environmental sustainability and develop a global partnership for development.

The expectation for MDG 1 – eradicate extreme poverty – was to reduce overall poverty to 15 per cent by 2015. According to the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA) website, this goal will still be met. However, this does not necessarily mean that all regions will meet this expectation.

For example, research done by CIDA shows that the rate of poverty will be 38 per cent in sub-Saharan Africa by 2015.

While the goal for eradicating poverty will be met by some regions come 2015, there are still MDGs that are much further away from their goals.

The expectation for MDG 3 – “eliminating gender disparities in primary and secondary education by 2015,” has yet to be met. According to CIDA, 96 girls were enrolled for every 100 boys in primary school in 2008. In 1999, 91 girls were enrolled for every 100 boys.

While we face many problems in our own societies, the Regina-based organization Saskatchewan Council for International Cooperation (SCIC) reminds us that our actions have an effect on other parts of the world. The best way to begin to combat these issues is by being aware.


“It’s difficult, especially when you’re trying to compete with a Coca-Cola ad. It’s difficult to try and keep people’s awareness for long enough because these aren’t really simple issues. They’re really complicated and the more you learn about them, the more complicated they become.” – Brandon Bertram


“SCIC focuses more so on raising public awareness,” said communications and fundraising officer Brandon Bertram. “What we do more specifically is getting the people of Saskatchewan more aware of the Millennium Development Goals and why they’re important, what’s the spirit behind them, what are the keys to success, and what are the possible failures.

“We’re all wondering what’s going to happen after 2015, which is where a lot of the conversation is at these days,” said Bertram. “In some regions, and some goals, there’s been tremendous success but I mean there’s still a lot of poverty in the world, there’s still a lot of environmental degradation, there’s still a lot of people who don’t read, kids not going to school, still a lot of people getting HIV and malaria and things like that.”

Bertram said it is a challenge to get the message out about international issues.

“It’s difficult, especially when you’re trying to compete with a Coca-Cola ad. It’s difficult to try and keep people’s awareness for long enough because these aren’t really simple issues. They’re really complicated and the more you learn about them, the more complicated they become.”

However, events like International Development Week bring awareness to international issues.

Since 1990, International Development week has celebrated the work people and organization do internationally to make the world a better place – from organizations building schools and water wells, to developing programs like micro-financing, to increasing gender equality and literacy.

International Development week kicked off at the University of Regina on Feb. 4 with a panel discussion formed by students. The week also housed a film screening, poetry slam, and a Global Citizen Award Gala to honour the work of some activists in the community.

“We have allies all over the province where people believe in the same things we believe in,” said Bertram. “We’re trying to get people all over the province engaged and aware of the ways that our lives intertwine with the lives of poor people around the world because we are really intertwined – the way we shop, the way we make decisions, the way we support the kind of things we’re interested in and the things we give our attention to – that supports a global system and that global system impacts people … We need to be aware of our impact on that system and how our time and energy is playing a role in other people’s lives, that’s really a big part of what SCIC does.”

To view a video of the panel discussion at the U of R, visit http://www2.uregina.ca/yourblog/?p=7260

Photo courtesy of SCIC

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