We are committed to integrating solutions to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the United Nations
And so we are also engaging in Africa, especially for the empowerment of girls and women. Our programs, based on scientific knowledge as well as ancient knowledge from traditional wisdom keepers, purposefully support them in enhancing their self-confidence for them to become strong leaders of their lives.
About the SDG's
The United Nations has a great vision and agenda for the world in 2030. The concept was with the intent of addressing human miseries, along with environmental and social challenges and finding sustainable ways to put an end to them, that the world leaders met in September 2015 under the aegis of United Nations (1).
The August conference successfully formulated several strategies and planned to make the world a better place. Based on the deliberations of this meeting, United Nations announced the 17 Sustainable Development Goals on 1st January 2016, to be achieved by 2030(2). The SDGs were developed for the whole world, and every country is expected to practice and participate in its implementation.
The whole world galvanised into action with the UN leading the biggest ever drive for sustainability. Out of the seventeen Sustainable Development Goals, SDG#10 is focussed on reducing inequality between the countries and within the country (3).
The inequality refers to a huge disparity in the financial status of individuals within the country and also between the countries. A rationalised distribution of wealth between the countries and within the country is the objective of SDG#10.
According to a report by Credit Suisse, the top 1% owns 45% of the total wealth, and the bottom half of the wealth holders collectively hold less than 1% of the total wealth (4). This tremendous polarisation of wealth is responsible for the rampant poverty and inhuman living conditions in many parts of the world. SDG#10 is an effort by the United Nations to help reduce this financial inequality between the countries and within the country as well.
Poverty and lack of livelihood breeds heinous criminal and inhuman activities like;
1. Sex Tourism.
Prostitution in a minor form has been a part of most of the countries and cultures around the world.
But extreme poverty and total lack of livelihood have driven such a considerable number of women and girls into prostitution, that it has grown into an industry know as ‘sex tourism’.
Sex tourism is described as “trips organised from within the tourism sector, or from outside this sector but using its structures and networks, with the primary purpose of effecting a commercial sexual relationship by the tourist with residents at the destination” (5). The very fact that the World Trade Organisation provides this description indicates its magnitude and undeniable presence in our society.
It is regrettable and disheartening to know that millions of women and girls in countries like Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania & Namibia are forced by hunger or antisocial elements, to satiate the sexual lust of tourists.
Women are also known to frequent African destinations like Kenya as sex tourists (7). Along with the girls, boys are also sexually exploited for monetary gains.
In one of the studies conducted by UNICEF, a horrifying data was stated that about 30% of the girls in the age group of 12 years to 18 years, who reside in the coastal regions of Kenya, are engaged in some of the other sexual activities (6). The most shameful aspect of sex tourism is the involvement of minors and children. Unimaginable, abject poverty drives the local population to sell their children as sex slaves or force them into the trade.
Commercial sex and prostitution are legally banned in Tanzania. But according to an estimate by UNAIDS, 155,540 prostitutes serve sex tourist in Tanzania (8). The islands of Zanzibar, Pemba and Mafia along with Arusha and Bagamoyo are prominent sex tourist spots in Tanzania.
It is indeed heart-rending to know that many students faced with poverty, resort to prostitution and commercial sex to finance their studies (9).
Somalia was ravaged by almost two decades of civil war and with an elected government now, is struggling to grapple with the poor economic conditions. A staggering 67% of Somalian youth lack employment and regular livelihood (10).
A similar unemployment situation prevails in Namibia, Tanzania along with Kenya.
These kinds of situations are prevalent in pockets throughout the world. It motivated United Nations to include SDG#10 in the 2030 agenda. Every citizen of the world should have enough money to live a respectable life and not be forced to resort to such extreme options for survival.
2. Human Trafficking
Akin to slavery, human trafficking is as shameful and abominable. Extreme financial deprivation and no livelihood forces many families in the countries of Kenya, Tanzania, Somalia and Namibia to sell their children to Human Trafficker.
Quite often, it is a case of abduction and forced trafficking as well. Amongst many other reasons, sex trafficking, forced labour, and debt bondage are the three most common types of human trafficking, according to the US State Department (11).
According to CTDC (Counter Trafficking Data Collaborative)2020, there are 108,613 known and registered cases of human trafficking from 164 countries (12).
In the countries mentioned, a vast number of women and children are trafficked for sex and forced labour.
US State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons have placed Kenya, Tanzania and Somalia in ‘Tier 2’(13). This grade indicates not sufficient efforts have been put in place to control human trafficking in these countries. The International Labour Organisation (ILO), for the year 2017, reports more than 24 million cases of human trafficking (14).
3. Trafficking of human organs.
With the first successful organ transplant done in 1950, it has saved many lives thereafter. It is estimated that every year about 125,000 people undergo transplant surgery throughout the world (15).
However, the demand for organs like kidney, liver, and heart, is very high. In 1991, the World Health Assembly (decision making body of WHO) issued guidelines on human organ transplantation. It clearly states, “organs should be removed preferably from the bodies of deceased persons,” and in case of live donors, they should be genetically related to the patient (16).
With a total disregard for this norm, a vast illegal global market operates and deals in human organs. The donors invariably come from poor countries, with no livelihood and source of income.
Lack of education, coupled with dire poverty makes the citizens of these countries vulnerable to organ trafficking cartels. They get lured by promises of employment and end up on the operation tables in some backstreet medical facilities, as a victim of organ harvesting. A large number of such victims breathe their last on these operation tables. It is murder!
If these helpless people had some access to decent livelihood opportunities, lots of human slaughter and barbarity could be avoided.
According to one estimate, the illicit human organ trades amount to $840 million to $1.7 billion worldwide (17).
4. Violence against minorities.
The reasons can be varied, like racial discrimination, religious biases, or just insecurity of livelihood. However, violence against minorities is an evil that human society lives with even in the 21st century.
It is prevalent throughout the world, particularly in countries with very low-income levels, where basic survival is a challenge. Lack of education and illiteracy adds fuel to the fire.
The United Nations has proclaimed 22nd August as International Day Commemorating the Victims of Acts of Violence Based on Religion or Belief, among other matters. It is with the view of highlighting the growing menace and garnering support and action against it worldwide (18).
The incidences of violence against the Rohingyas in Myanmar, or the Yazidis in Iraq and detention of more than 1 million minorities in China’s Xingjian province, along with attacks on Christians in Sri Lanka (18) are ample evidence of polarisation and hatred against minorities.
A civilised human society does not physically harm its members. A little analysis of all these problems indicates poverty and lack of livelihood as the prime causes.
SDG#10 intends as equitable distribution of wealth as possible between the countries and within the countries. But the only practical and sustainable way to achieve that is to implement SDG#4 with equal enthusiasm. SDG#4 is about ensuring equitable and quality education, along with lifelong learning opportunities for all (20).
“Education enables upward socioeconomic mobility and is a key to escaping poverty”- This description of SDG#4 by the United Nations clearly offers it as a viable and sustainable option to alleviate poverty which in turn will help achieve the SDG#10 goals.
Community leaders, activists, social service organisation, government decision-makers should take a serious note of the synergy between SDG#10 and SDG#4. With another ten years still on hand to reach the 2030 agenda, along with a sincere focus on SDG#4 we can always make it in good time.
With science and technology, the world is now connected, and immense livelihood opportunities exist for everyone who is literate and has some vocational skill. SDG#4 provides an excellent foundation to develop requisite skills, particularly in youth.
This objective will help us save them from the cruelties and inhuman consequences of poverty and lack of livelihood.
Founded by Ms Simone Junod, Athena Wisdom Institute AG is entirely devoted to developing and execution of specialised management and leadership programmes, based on contemporary knowledge and traditional wisdom. The knowledge body of the institute is based on the philosophy of conscious and inclusive leadership. It is visibly governed by empathy and concern for the well-being of all.
Currently, Athena Wisdom Institute AG offers the ‘Athena OWL Leadership Program’, which would help the community leaders, self-help organisations, and administrative professionals implement the SDG#10 and SDG#4 programme with greater confidence and enthusiasm. Let us make a difference. Together we can make the agenda 2030 a reality.