WITADA’s Year in Review 2014 – Top 10 Stories

WITADA year in review 2014In 2015 WITADA will launch WITADA’s Weekly Top 10: News, stories and ideas to make the world a better place. As a first step we thought it might be interesting to do a year in review for 2014 and pick out some of the stories and reviews that are circulating around the human rights / social change field at the moment. Many organisations are publishing reviews of their work over the year, and many include information that has previously not been widely publicised.
In keeping with our approach at WITADA, we always include some stories of inspiration to keep our social change batteries charged!
We hope you enjoy this reflection on 2014 and invite you to visit our web page to subscribe and receive our future blogs, and to go to our Facebook page to make some comments.


1. Because South Sudan is the world’s newest nation, it is important to highlight the ongoing desperate situation there. The UNHCR reports that 2.5 million people are facing food insecurity, 2 million people have been displaced from their homes, there are almost 500,000 refuges and 330,000 of these are children; 1 in 2 children in Syria lack adequate nutrition, less than 50% are in school. The UNHCR raise the disturbing point that it is estimated that 12,000 children have been recruited or used by armed groups. And this is the world’s newest nation – founded  in 2011!
There are also some beautiful stories from South Sudanese people on the UNICEF South Sudan Facebook page that are very moving and inspirational.


2.  The UN Development Program in Bangladesh has been working in Bangladesh to strengthen the management of free and fair elections. A great deal has been accomplished since the program began in 2011 with more than 7 million new voters registered and the redevelopment of the Bangladeshi Electoral Commission.
It’s news items such as these that often get overlooked and yet they seem very important and worthwhile.
And that’s not all the UNDP has been working on this year. Have a look at this beautiful Photo Essay: A Glimpse Around the World in 2014


3. UN Peacekeeping has done a year in review which is just wonderful to read, so full of positive statements and pictures. There is something really wonderful about the UN when it works well and many countries are working together for peace throughout the world. This really is quite inspirational.


4. In October 2014 the UN Development Program (along with UNCESCO, the Council of Europe and the UN Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth) convened the Global Forum on Youth Policies involving 700 young people from 165 countries in Azerbaijan.


5. Amnesty International has a very interesting and well presented article on the Five Human Rights Crises in 2014. They include – the Syrian refugee crisis; Australia’s asylum seeker and refugee policies; Gaza, Ferguson; Ebola.


6. One of the interesting developments of 2014 has been the role of the new Pope specifically in relation to issues of social justice and human rights. In some ways this is not surprising given Pope Francis’ history as a Jesuit priest. He clearly indicated his commitment to those in poverty when he chose the name Francis, in recognition of Saint Francis of Assisi.
Pope Francis was named Time magazine man of the year, he has stood up for human rights in a variety of contexts, he has challenged capitalism and championed the cause for those in poverty and now he has stated that he intends to lobby the nations of the world for a sustainable response to climate change – and that he will do this in person at the UN in September and then in Paris later this year.  Many are saying that this Pope is actually ‘walking the talk’.
And he even said that just maybe, animals might make it to heaven – which is a great news for me and my dogs!
The Guardian has a great coverage of these issues and a recent comic addition from First Dog on the Moon really sets the scene!


7. The Elders is an organisation that was created in 2007 when Nelson Mandela brought together some of the leaders of the world who were committed to working together for peace and human rights. Since that time the group of Elders has expanded to include 13 people including Ela Bhatt, Jimmy Carter, Mary Robinson and Desmond Tutu. The Elders is currently chaired by Kofi Anan. Some of the work areas include issues such as climate change, equality for girls and women, issues in Iran, Israel-Palestine and Myanmar.
There are some particularly interesting parts of their web site:
Global Village: This part of the site is all about participation from us through inviting our comments and discussion on these important issues. There are some excellent posts by people in affected areas that provide even greater insight into these issues. And check our their Strategic Framework for 2014 – 2017: the goals included a just and inclusive community, freedom from fear and freedom from want. Throughout the web page they report on their progress on each goal and the ways that they have actioned them.


8. It doesn’t seem right to have a review of 2014 without mentioning the Winners of the Nobel Peace Prize for 2104 – even though we all know the story!

In October the prize was awarded to Malala Yousafzai and Kallash Satyarthi jointly “for their struggle against the suppression of children and young people and for the right of all children to education”. Malala is the youngest person to ever win the award and the first Pakistani.
Both Malala and Kallash’s speeches are moving and inspirational and I strongly encourage you to take the time to have a read.
I would like to quote a little passage from Kallash’s speech where he tells a story from his childhood:
“A terrible fire had broken out in the forest. All the animals were running away, including the lion, king of the forest. Suddenly, the lion saw a tiny bird rushing towards the fire. He asked the bird, “what are you doing?” To the lion’s surprise, the bird replied, “I am on my way to extinguish the fire.” He laughed and said, “how can you kill the fire with just one drop of water in your beak?” The bird was adamant, and said, “But I am doing my bit.”


9. The huge power of music and all art forms to influence social change has motivated me to offer this clip of a song that, although it’s been around for a few years now, says everything possible about the world I would like to see one day!
It’s a song by the artist Matisyahu called One Day.


10. And finally, WITADA has just published a New Year Reflection 2015 blog on our web page.


I wish you all a peaceful, prosperous and purposeful year in 2015 and hope that our paths may continue to cross as the year progresses.