Fatou is a 27-year-old housewife. At 15 years old, she decided to quit her education to get married to the love of her life, a man 8 years older than her, who had promised her a wealthy life in which she wouldn’t worry about a thing.
A few years into her marriage, her husband wasn’t doing well financially, and she found herself financially abused by him. All the promises went into vain and she was there begging for a penny to get the most basic goods she needed. Looking at herself, she found herself with no knowledge or skills to help her stand on her feet. With no education to support her, she felt like all the doors were shut, and her only salvation was her husband, who in turn belittled her for always being dependent on him, noting that it had been himself who stopped her from being an achiever.
This is not only the story of Fatou, but also that of millions of women living in disparity because they couldn’t be self-sufficient and independent. This story is yet another example of what the SDGs tackle, like Reduced Inequalities, among others as Quality Education and Gender Equality.
The contribution of women in the society decreases early marriage, and early marriage is linked to low education.
The graph shows the countries with the highest number of women who were first married by age of 15.
The top 3 countries with the highest number of women who were early married are Niger with 37.37% , Bangladesh with 32% and Chad with 29.25%.
Moreover, 76% of girls in Niger are married before their 18th birthday and 28% are married before the age of 15. Niger has the highest prevalence of child marriage in the world and the 13th highest absolute number of women married or in a union before the age of 18 globally – 745,000.
As a result, Awareness campaigns must be done to limit early marriage, and impose laws on marriage before 18.
In the time it has taken to read this article 39 girls under the age of 18 have been married
Each year, 12 million girls are married before the age of 18
Team: Ibrahim Al Jaifi, Zahraa Jassar, Rami Haidar, Ali Hachem, Rim Zeaiter, Fatima Ayoub
“ We don’t go to school; we work in the daytime to support our families and spend the rest of our day playing in the streets.”
Said Omar and Yazan, two inspiring kids in Burj Al Barajneh, a refugee camp in the suburbs of Beirut. Under 10 years old, both already carrying the responsibility of working to provide for their families instead of being enrolled in education.
According to ILO, it is estimated that 160million children are involved in child labor, 79 million of which are in Hazardous Work that is likely to harm children’s health, safety or morals. All these children, including young Omar and Yazan, are at an age when they are supposed to be provided for, educated and protected. Having to spend most of their time working in jobs that are unsafe and exhausting, their chances of leading healthy and thriving lives diminish with each dollar they earn.
Child Labor in Lebanon
The emergence of the Lebanese economic crisis in 2019 brought with it an increase in percentage of families with children engaged in child labor from 29% to 38% between 2019 and 2021 according to IRC.
GDP, as an indicator of the economic performance of a country, noticed a 65% decrease from $52B to $18B during the period of 2019 to 2021. With this drastic drop in GDP, the unemployment rate rose from 11% to 15% while the CPI more than doubled, leaving thousands of families under the poverty line with no sources of income.
With these dramatic and sudden changes in the economic situation, 3 out of 5 children in Lebanon dropped-out of school and most of the rest switched to public education. Education has become less of a priority for both the government and families.
From a social perspective, 44% of parents who have taken part in a study by the World Vision Organization believed that involving their children in paid labor enhances their life skills and assures a source of income for their households. Meanwhile, the responsible government agencies have no clear and applicable laws in place to prohibit children’s exploitation or ensure they are enrolled in education.
Child labor has destructive impacts on the health of the child, exposing millions of children to physical, mental and emotional abuse. As a result, their mental and intellectual development face significant disruptions. Considering the increasing crime rates in the country and the exposure of children to illegal work activities, the forecasted 30% increase in crime rate in 2025 would involve criminal acts by juveniles.
Mr. Aws Al Kadasi, senior research analyst at Merci Corps, commented on the topic during an interview for this project:
“According to the UNICEF, one in 5 children in the least developed countries are engaged in child labor. A problem that was aggravated by COVID-19 and global economic decline that it takes a walk in Beirut to believe these numbers. Children require different systems of protection that starts with parents and extends to every office, business, institution, organization and agency, local and international, governmental or otherwise. Everyone, who is not a child, is responsible”
Both 8 and 16 Sustainable Development Goals highlights the need for international efforts to tackle the issue of child labor:
Target 8.7: Take immediate and effective measures to eradicate forced labor, end modern slavery and human trafficking and secure the prohibition and elimination of the worst forms of child labor, including recruitment and use of child soldiers, and by 2025 end child labor in all its forms.
Target 16.2: End abuse, exploitation, trafficking and all forms of violence against and torture of children.
Inspired by these goals as well as social responsibility towards the community, our project team designed an initiative to capitalize on the work of international aid organizations and local organizations and projects working to fight child labor and illiteracy.
Future4Kids (F4K) initiative aims to establish a cooperative relationship between NGOs that provides cash assistance to families and campaigns against child labor. F4K initiative will work on partnering with cash aid organizations and NGOs working in child education. Receiving cash assistance would be conditionally linked to the enrollment of beneficiaries’ children in education with families being required to show evidence of child enrollment in education periodically.
The initiative platform will allow these two parties to join efforts to encourage families to enroll their children in education. F4K platform will also allow for receiving public donations for child education campaigns carried out by our partners.
“Hiring and promoting talented women is the right thing to do for society, and its economic imperatives.” Carlos Ghosn
Despite the economic and technological development, gender equality remains a topic of debate and the patriarchy still poses obstacles against women development and leadership. What if we can prove that promoting and sustaining an equality between genders results in high return on investment and creates an opportunity of economic expansion especially in developed as well as emergent nations?
The united nations created the Women Business and Law Index that assesses the performance of each country in tightening the gender gap through businesses, laws, and female integration.
Canada ranks first globally with an overall score of 97.8% indicating the successful effort the country is making towards gender parity and the high degree of female contribution to the business world. On the other hand, 4 Arab countries rank last, with United Arab Emirates interestingly being one of them with an overall score of 33.8%.
To understand the implications of the difference of gender gap on the country’s development, we will compare Canada to the UAE on different levels.
Canada, with the higher WBL index, has a higher economic growth compared to UAE. However, UAE, which ranks last, has much more developed infrastructure and better investment performance than Canada. Thus, there must be some other factors affecting the GDP Growth.
Between 2003 and 2016, UAE’s GDP had a noticeable increase of 170% parallel to an increase in female employment percentage of 14%.
Similarly, between 2010 and 2019, Canada’s GDP also had increased remarkably, parallel to a 10% increase in the proportion of female leaders in the parliament.
On the level of the population, Canada has a higher and healthier population growth compared to UAE, as well as Human Capital Index.
Thus, gender parity is more than giving rights to women; it is a critical factor to a healthy and sustainable economic growth. It is crucial to focus the efforts towards equality in order reach a holistic success especially for the underdeveloped countries.
To achieve gender parity, nations should:
Relax the restrictions on women’s time and schedule
Eliminate the legal and organizational barriers (Glass Ceiling) to women’s economic and political leadership
Promote the entrepreneurship and self-employment among young females
Wassim, Nathalie, and Imad; three individuals who were pushed out of work by the deteriorating economic conditions in Lebanon. Tens of thousands of people like them have been suffering daily for the past 3 years living from paycheck to paycheck up until they were forced out of it (work). Lebanon has witnessed what no other country has. Unemployment rates doubled in only a decade, COVID-19 took out thousands, and inflation bankrupted hundreds of businesses.
According to Okun, a very low or negative growth in GDP leads to a rise in unemployment. By observing this visual, we can see how unemployment skyrocketed while GDP growth took a deep dive. Comparing the years 2008 and 2009, GDP growth increased 10.23 percentage points while unemployment rates decreased by 6.35 percentage points. We can conclude an inverse correlation between GDP growth and unemployment. Another observation is that between years 2020 and 2021, GDP growth increased by almost 15 percentage points. Despite this growth, unemployment remains significantly high at 14.49 percentage points. Importantly, this project is action-oriented in that it shows the nexus between unemployment and GDP growth #SDG8, which are intrinsic to an economy, from more “policy-driven” factors that can be addressed, improved or mitigated.
Here, a question rises? What is the cause for the disproportionality between GDP growth and unemployment rates? There are 3 possible causes for its inverse relation:
• The decrease of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) which reached 3.98 percentage points in 2019 due to the lack of security and political tension
• Another possible cause is the low diversification in economic sectors due to scarcity of resources. Looking at this visual, we can see the focus of employment shift mainly to the service industry which witnessed an increase by 65.10 percentage points while the agricultural and industrial sectors are left behind increasing by under 30 percentage points in 2019.
• The third and final possible cause is the over-dependence on food and fuel imports. Lebanon possesses the second highest food and energy imports in 2019.
What should be done?
Drawing upon decades of empirical literature on drivers and predictors of lack of growth, this project proves Okun’s law using visualizations for the case of Lebanon. According to International Labor Organization (ILO), not just growth, but quality of growth is the key anchor in the SDGs 2030 agenda. Sustainable economic growth will require societies to create the conditions that allow people to have quality jobs that stimulate the economy while not harming the environment.
1. Creating greater opportunities for women and men to secure decent employment and income. Closing the employment gap is at the heart of the decent work agenda, this can be through promoting voluntary private initiatives and corporate social responsibility.
2. Instating policies to enhance knowledge, skills and employability for men and women since gender remains a source of labor market inequalities and inadequately utilized human resources. Women continue to be employed in a narrower range of occupations than men and to be concentrated in lower-paid, insecure, and unprotected jobs.
3. Promoting employment through reconstruction and employment-intensive investment.
4. Increasing access to financial services to manage incomes, accumulate assets and make productive investments.
Findings and Recommendations
A shift in economic thinking and planning towards economic structural transformation is necessary for the Arab region to develop on SDG 8 (ESCWA, 2021). The post-pandemic SDG agenda must leverage the lessons learnt to reinforce national social safety nets and employment policies. This strengthens economic resilience and allows developing countries to absorb shocks. A continued lack of decent job opportunities, insufficient investments, and under-consumption slows down economic growth. The average growth rate GDP is increasing after the pandemic; however, it still did not reach pre-pandemic levels of growth and developing countries such as Lebanon are moving farther from the 7% growth rate set for 2030. Therefore, as labor productivity decreases driven by low productivity and unemployment rate rises, standards of living decreases and overall economic growth decreases.
Governments must join forces and formulate policies to promote better job opportunities through active labor market programs, corresponding to important SDGs: Economic Growth and Decent Work, as well as Partnerships to Achieve the Goals.
Sustainable economic growth will require societies to create the conditions that allow people to have quality jobs that stimulate the economy while not harming the environment. Job opportunities and decent working conditions are also required for the whole working age population. There needs to be increased access to financial services to manage incomes, accumulate assets and make productive investments. Increased commitments to trade, banking and agriculture infrastructure will also help increase productivity and reduce unemployment levels in the world’s most vulnerable regions.#SDG8 #SDG16
Electricity is essential for reducing poverty, boosting the economy, and raising living standards. Therefore, a crucial social and economic indicator is the proportion of the population who have access to electricity.
Over the past few decades, the proportion of people with access to electricity has been rising gradually on a global scale. Around 71% of people worldwide had access in 1990; by 2016, 87% of people had access. This indicates that in 2016, 13% of the world’s population lacked access to electricity.
High-income nations or those considered developed by the UN are presumed to have 100% electrification as of the year they were classified as such. While most nations are on an improving trend, a few are still seriously trailing. Significant access expansion will continue to be a difficult task for several nations over the coming decades, particularly in Africa due to the poverty level.
Find below a map representing the electricity around the world.
Modern society depends on reliable and affordable energy services to function smoothly and to develop equitability. Intensive development patterns have historically relied on inexpensive and energy-dense fossil fuels such as nuclear energy which increased through the years. On comparison, the electricity from renewable energy was very low and wasn’t used effectively.
The best way to tackle the problem and to follow the SDG 7 is to use more renewable energy and this can be done through:
By making investments in neighbourhood infrastructure to create accessible energy services, you can guarantee that all workers and their families have access to a dependable and inexpensive supply of energy.
Ensure that all your operational electricity needs are met by renewable energy.
Companies have the chance to invest in and train women to become renewable energy entrepreneurs because women often consume most of the energy at the household level.