Election Day: Let's Bring Civic Participation to Every Community
My Facebook feed is currently going crazy with friends' hopes, fears and dreams for today's local and national elections. Hundreds of declarative "I Voted" and imperative "Vote XX!" images and status updates show the passion that this day brings every four years. And tonight, I'm certain many of us will be glued to our (multiple) screens to watch the minute-by-minute updates on the presidential nomination. You likely recognize how critically important civic participation is for a healthy, functioning democracy, even if you're as tired of the candidates' campaign commercials as this little girl is:
The Challenge for Marginalized, Rural Communities
Not everyone around the world has the same access to participate in their civic life, however. Even in countries with democratically-elected governments, poverty, language barriers and a lack of education and resources can severely hinder entire populations' ability to participate in the decisions of their local and national governments.
Many marginalized community members do not fully understand their rights to demand accountability from their local officials, nor how to exercise these rights. Many of them have limited access to decision making processes, lacking official documents like birth records, identity cards, or other documents that would allow them to vote. Government registry offices and other institutions are often located far from rural areas, and are under-equipped to provide effective services to rural populations.
So today, in honor of the United States' Election Day, I want to share some stories of how Lutheran World Relief is helping marginalized people and communities fully engage in the civic aspect of their daily lives. Below are four stories from our blog:
Imagine losing your wallet, passport or social security card. The pain of having to stand in line at the DMV or other government office seems horribly annoying. Now imagine that office is 12 hours away, you have to purchase a 300 dollar plane ticket to get there and take 5 days off work (unpaid) to [...]
In 2007 Lutheran World Relief partnered with Fundación Tierra (The Land Foundation) to help nearly 30,000 rural Bolivians officially register with the state, allowing them to gain access to better health services, obtain jobs and secure land to farm. Here’s one woman’s story: Margarita Flores lives in the small town of Potrero. She and her [...]
In 2007 Lutheran World Relief partnered with Fundación Tierra (The Land Foundation) to help nearly 30,000 rural Bolivians officially register with the state, allowing them to gain access to better health services, obtain jobs and secure land to farm. Here’s the story of some of the people affected: Manuel Flores, a Quechua-speaking farmer has just [...]
“The Philippines ranks eight among 135 countries with least gender gap.” 2011 Global Gender Gap rankings from the Geneva-based World Economic Forum. This statistic caught me by surprise—it is rare to find anything positive about the Philippines in the news these days without mention of corruption or natural disasters. Learning of the shrinking gender gap [...]