More days than not feel as bleak as stale bread nowadays. The world is melting, burning down and drowning at the same time, species are disappearing, fascism is still well and alive, and sexual assault is everywhere from our screens to our schools, to the highest court in the most influential nation in the world.
Falling into despair and giving up might feel like a warm bath after a lo(oooooooo)ng day: soothing and a great way to escape from reality. But just like taking baths too often and for too long, it's neither good for you nor the future of the planet, plus you'll come out all wrinkly.
We need to keep fighting for ourselves, for the planet, for the future, and for the ones who don't have the power or the privilege to do so. Believe me, I get it: it's hard to feel hopeful and to keep on going sometimes, but we don't have another choice.
The world is not doing great at the moment, but arguably, it's also never been better. We tend to focus on the bad, and rightly so since it's often urgent, instead of the good; but lest we forget, we have come a long way when it comes to the state of the world.
Here are 6 facts that prove the efforts of people trying to do good is not for nought for those days that make you feel like soaking in a warm bath of despair
1) Child mortality rate has decreased exponentially in the past 30 years
We've made remarkable progress when it comes to decreasing the number of child deaths. In 1990, 1 in 11 children died before reaching the age of five; in 2017 the number decreased to 1 in 26. That's more than 50 percent.
Despite the drop in mortality rates, 5.4 million children under the age of five died in 2017 and about half of these deaths occurred in Sub-saharan Africa. We still have a long way to go, but we also have proof that we can indeed save more lives.
2) We haven't eliminated child labour yet but we're getting there
In 2000, Internation Labour Organisation (ILO) began monitoring child labour worldwide and in 2007 it set out to eliminate worst forms of child labour by 2016. Unfortunately even now, in 2018, this goal is not still completely met. But before you go back into the bath, in the 16 year period between 2000 and 2016 the world saw a net reduction of 94 million in child labour and more than 50 percent reduction of children in hazardous work.
3) We have more girls in school than ever
Like many other things in life, girls need to overcome more hurdles compared to boys when it comes to access to education. According to the UN, there are still 131 million girls out of school worldwide. As unimaginably large as this number sounds (and is), the number of girls who are currently in school is much larger compared to what it used to be. According to data gathered by UNESCO, the net enrolment rate in primary education for girls has increased 25 percent in the past 40 years and is now almost at 90 percent.
4) Women's suffrage looking pretty good
In 1893, New Zealand was the first country (self-governing colony) in the world in which all women had the right to vote in parliamentary elections. In 2018, Vatican City is the only country women are not allowed to vote since only cardinals can vote in a papal conclave and women are not allowed to be cardinals.
However, let's not forget, just because women are technically — legally — allowed to vote doesn't mean they freely can everywhere in the world. In some countries, it is still quite difficult for women to exercise this civil right.
Below, you can see a map showing what year women gained the right to vote by country.
5) Global extreme poverty is decreasing
Since 1987, there has been a large drop in global extreme poverty. Between 1987 and 2013 rates have dropped from 35 to 11 worldwide, from 54 percent to 41 percent in Sub-saharan Africa, from 15 percent to five percent in Latin America, and a whopping 54 percent (58 to four) in East Asia.
6) World hunger decrease
Along with global extreme poverty, world hunger is also decreasing. According to the International Food Policy Research Institute's Global Hunger Index (GHI), the share of the population that is undernourished went down 5.4 percent between 1999-2001 and 2014-2016. In 2017, there were only four countries facing famine: Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen.
The map below shows the increase and decrease in hunger in countries included in GHI. The prevalence of green and light orange and the lack of red is encouraging.
The numbers and graphs above are a testament to the importance of research and information in our fight for a better, fairer, and more livable planet.
Human Rights Watch is an organisation that conducts research about violation of human rights all over the world and shares the results with the public and with policymakers. If you want to support the organisation in their efforts to advocate for equality for all, you can donate to them below.
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American Internet celebrity and makeup artist Jeffree Star wants to open his own vegan-friendly fast-food chain.
As reported by LiveKindly, Jeffre Star made the announcement during a live stream on his Youtube channel where he speaks to an audience of 11 million subscribers.
During the video, the makeup guru said that he is "in talks" to start the business. The concept? A vegan-friendly ('that's the real gag") restaurant, selling pink cheeseburgers and cotton candy fries.
Yes, you got that right.
As noted by LiveKindly, this is not Mr Star's first foray into the world of veganism. Over the years, his beauty brand Jeffree Star Cosmetics already launched a series of vegan products like Thirsty, a vegan eyeshadow palette, and, more recently, the four festive vegan lip scrubs.
We'll see whether these business plans will turn out to be something more substantial than a Youtube announcement.
Meanwhile, we can't help but gladly notice that plant-based burgers and veganism at large are gaining momentum across different audiences.
If we want to save our planet and ourselves from climate apocalypse, we need new policies and governmental action. We're not gonna save the Earth changing our household light bulbs.
Extinction Rebellion – a burgeoning social movement to fight climate change that is taking hold in the United Kingdom – is asking for just this: governments must tell the truth about the ecological emergency and enact legally binding measures to reduce carbon emissions to zero by 2025.
There are no other ways out of this mess: structural change is needed.
However, this doesn’t mean that as individual citizens we can go on a carbon spree without consequences. Or that all the ways to reduce our personal carbon footprints are equally ineffective.
Different studies highlight that there are four effective ways to cut on your individual carbon emissions. And no, changing light bulbs is not one of them.
While we should keep asking for top-down changes, it’s also good to remember that we can start making an impact on the environment right now by adapting our lifestyle.
1) Eat a plant-based diet
I enjoy the flavour of meat a lot and I’d find it difficult to go 100 percent vegetarian (let alone vegan) right now. Nevertheless, I can considerably decrease my meat consumption. This is already highly beneficial for the environment.
Moreover, I can advocate for meat alternatives like plant-based or clean meat.
2) Avoid air travel
Flights are a notorious source of gas emissions. Unfortunately, it’s not always possible to avoid flying. Many jobs require travelling on a regular basis and even though in many cases a virtual meeting will do just fine, there are still some occasions in which your physical presence is needed.
How to solve this ethical dilemma? One solution might be to donate some money to carbon offsetting schemes. These projects can go a long way in fighting carbon emissions.
3) Live car-free
Research shows that living car-free saves about 2.4 tonnes of CO2 equivalent per year (while a plant-based diet saves 0.8 tonnes of CO2 equivalent every year).
I’m lucky enough to live in the Netherlands, a country where it's easy to move around without a car. This is possible thanks to an efficient public transportation system and the omnipresent cycle lanes.
In this case, it’s interesting to notice how my personal decision to live car-free is supported by environmentally friendly public policies.
4) Have a small family
If someone doesn’t exist, she doesn’t have a carbon footprint. This reasoning might seem at the same time cynical and stupidly obvious. But it’s also true.
According to Population Matters, having one fewer child is 25 more effective in cutting carbon emissions than living without a car.
What else could I do to reduce my carbon footprint?
Support Cool Earth, a highly effective organization that we thoroughly vetted.
Cool Earth is not only an offset scheme. It provides grant funding to rainforest communities, supporting community work in rainforest protection and ensures their voice is heard in agreements about the future of the rainforests. At the time of writing, 234,436,540 tonnes of CO2 has been stored as a result of their projects. Their Asháninka project shields millions of acres of forest from loggers, with 901,679 acres saved to date.
You too can help to save our planet. A more liveable Earth is just a click away 👇
It’s known that many celebrities support noble causes. After all, if you’re a celeb, you supposedly got the visibility and the money. So, you’re particularly well-suited to help other people.
Some VIPs go the extra mile and found their own charitable organization.
But are these celebrity-powered charities effective? Or even: are they doing any good?
To answer these questions, we picked five charities founded by celebrities and ran them through our Kinder Vetting Framework. Let’s see what came out.
Our selection of charities below isn't based on any scientific criteria. We browsed lists of celebrity founded charities and tried to pick out a balanced list
These are the charities that we picked:
The Lopez Family Foundation. Co-founded by journalist Lynda Lopez and her sister singer Jennifer Lopez, the Lopez Family Foundation “advocates and invests in policies and programs that make a positive, measurable impact on communities and makes quality healthcare and health education available for underserved mothers and their children.”
Born This Way Foundation. A charitable organization created in 2012 by Lady Gaga and her mother Cynthia Germanotta “with the goal of creating a kinder and braver world” (we can’t help but sympathize with such aim).
The Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation. Created in 1998, the foundation was established with the mission of protecting the world’s last wild places.
The Maddox Jolie-Pitt Foundation was founded in 2003 by Angelina Jolie as a “conservation and community development program in the Samlout Protected Area” (Cambodia).
The Kinder Vetting Framework
At Kinder, we developed a vetting framework to assess the performance of charitable organizations. At the moment, it’s made of two steps but we’re working to add another two in the near future.
The first step is called Initial Screening. With it, we examine the transparency and accountability of charitable organizations by evaluating their official websites.
In particular, we evaluate the charities on five parameters.
This is a fairly low initial threshold. To pass the Initial Screening, you need a score of 95.
The second step is called Organizational Competence. With it, we try to determine whether a charitable organization is competent and well-suited to solve the problems it’s addressing.
If an organization fails the Initial Screening, we usually don’t vet it on its Organizational Competence. Our aim in the next months is to start reaching out to all the organizations that fail the Initial Screening, share our results with them, and ask if they’re willing to improve their score.
So, to start with, we just wanted to see whether the five celebrity-run charities passed the Initial Screening.
I asked our in-house research team to have a look. This is the screenshot that they shared with me:
Again, to pass the Initial Screening you need to score at least 95. None of them did.
Quite discouraged, I read the notes the research team attached to the screenshot.
All charities with the exception of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation lack relevant information about their strategic plans. At the same time, DiCaprio’s organization needs to improve on other parameters like publishing its financial statements.
The Born This Way Foundation’s website was deemed “quite minimalist” by the research team, lacking information about key staff members and financial statements. Similarly, the Lopez Family Foundation should expand its website to include financial statements, strategic plans, relevant information about key staff members, and contact information (they don’t even have a contact form).
Obviously, the fact these five charities don’t pass the Initial Screening doesn’t mean that they’re inherently inefficient. It just suggests that they should work more on their online transparency and accountability.
In general, Kinder is not in the business of bashing charities and we would never share an organization’s poor results without discussing them with the relevant stakeholders beforehand. In this case, we made an exception since these five charities are exceptionally well-backed.
And if you’re Lady Gaga, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lopez, Oprah Winfrey, or Angelina Jolie and want to improve the Initial Screening score of your foundation don’t hesitate to drop us a line at email@example.com
Header Image: The Wolf of Wall Street © Paramount Pictures