Toronto, ON, January 29, 2020 – Crossroads International is marking the 30th annual International Development Week from February 2nd – 8th by celebrating Canadian volunteers who #GoForTheGoals. The Goals refer to the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and includes ambitious targets to end global poverty, advance gender equality, and food security, among others, and explicitly recognizes volunteer groups as stakeholders to achieve the 17 SDGs. Crossroads volunteers are stepping up to the challenge working with local partners to advancing women’s rights and reduce global poverty.
“The UN Sustainable Development Goals are aspirational, and they are attainable,” said Heather Shapter, Executive Director of Crossroads International. “But it is going to take each one of us to make a bold commitment to be the change. Crossroads volunteers are choosing to go for the goals with everything they’ve got.”
Crossroads International volunteers work with local organizations across Africa in partnership for the UN Sustainable Development Goals, including — ending poverty; gender equality; climate action; decent work; peace, access to justice, and stronger institutions. These places include Burkina Faso, where the child marriage rate is a staggering 52%; eSwatini, where one in three girls experience sexual abuse by the time they turn 18, and Tanzania, where domestic violence legislation is eclipsed by the lack of resources, and therefore access, to justice, to name a few.
Among the volunteers helping Canada do its part toward reaching the goals are:
- Beth Lafay, a social worker from Belleville, ON, who spent three months recently working with the Tanzania Gender Networking Programme in Dar es Salaam on the young feminist forum, an initiative that supports young women to set up gender hubs in university so they may talk about issues affecting their current lives and futures – from the risks of sexual abuse to contesting for political leadership. In a short time, she noticed the young women become more confident and persistent in their advocacy for their rights and was in awe of how the various organizations and students worked together, epitomizing grassroots advocacy.
- Fatou Seck, of Winnipeg, is committed to advancing women’s rights by reducing poverty and empowering women through entrepreneurship. Ms. Feck is leveraging her extensive financial and project management background, including a stint at the World Bank, to support the empowerment of women. Currently in Senegal, Ms. Seck has had multiple assignments working on entrepreneurialism and food security.
- Atinuke (Tinu) Chineme, an engineer from Calgary, spent three months supporting the Tanzania Gender Networking Programme as a strategic planning advisor. In this role, Ms. Chineme helped the organization develop its 2020 business strategy by reviewing current approaches, interviewing staff and stakeholders, and identifying achievable outcomes and making recommendations. Ms. Chineme returned to pursuing her Masters’ research in non-profit needs assessment with a new perspective on life and community and encourages other Canadians with specific experience and expertise to volunteer overseas “at least once in your lifetime because it is worth it”.
- Stephen Bates is Head Risk Reporting and Portfolio Management with a financial institution in Toronto. He also has an educational background specializing in agriculture economics. Mr. Bates spent two months in eSwatini supporting the Woman Farmer Foundation by providing training and mentoring to help women farmers move from gardeners to commercial farming, and developing a new training curriculum that is being expanded and translated to the local language. Recent legal changes make owning property easier for women, and successful women farmers are being asked to engage in leadership roles among the broader society. From his own observations, Mr. Bates notes that these farmers are contributing to the march towards greater gender equality in eSwatini.
International Development Week is a national initiative that engages and celebrates Canadians’ efforts to improve living conditions for people around the world. Throughout the week there will be opportunities to learn about the Goals, underlying issues, and how Canadians can get involved. More information is available at: https://www.international.gc.ca/world-monde/issues_development-enjeux_developpement/idw-sdi-social.aspx?lang=eng.
Over the course of the week, Crossroads and its colleague organizations in the development sector will be hosting information events for the public, specifically in Toronto and Montreal, with more information available here: https://cintl.org/news/events/. Canadians are encouraged to learn more about work being done in the development sector, become involved, and hold governments accountable for their proposals and actions on the Goals.
About Crossroads International
Crossroads International is a leader in international cooperation and has been fighting inequality for almost 60 years. Crossroads works in some of the world’s poorest nations in Africa. with local partner organizations to create decent jobs and to empower women to become leaders and live free from violence. Every year, we engage experienced volunteers and staff North and South who apply their expertise locally to address global issues. Together we are leveraging knowledge, expertise, and dollars to create a more just and equitable world.
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