This week, World Moms Blog was invited to take part in the World Bank/IMF Civil Society Meetings in Washington, DC. I had the opportunity to be there Tuesday and Wednesday, and World Mom, Cynthia Levin, took over for Thursday and Friday.
The World Bank has a long history of lending since Breton Woods in 1944 when it was established after World War II. But, over the years it has also lended to projects that have had a negative impact on the local people in developing nations. And after years of protesting the World Bank, anthropologist and Partners in Health cofounder, Dr. Jim Kim, has been at the helm of the bank as President for the past 3 years.
The protests have now been brought off the streets and members of the public have been invited inside around the World Bank and IMF fall and spring meetings to represent the people in the countries where the bank lends. So, all is perfect now, right?
Development isn’t easy. There are still challenges when it comes to lending and looking out for the societies receiving the loans. The topics are intricate in the bank’s mission to end poverty and are reflected in over 50 different panels that are being presented at the meetings.
Here are my top 10 takeaways about the first two days of the Civil Society Meetings…
1) Not everyone here is from DC. The Civil Society Meetings attract and bring in a host of civil society members across continents to come and join in the conversations around poverty. In fact, a large portion of the meeting panels were pitched by civil society members. They are helping carve out the bank’s future practices (safeguards), providing new points of view by representing the people from their home countries and networking with their counterparts abroad to trade best practices and solutions.
2) Dr. Kim, World Bank President, says that the world can end extreme poverty by 2030. In 1993 41% of the world’s human population was living in extreme poverty (under $1.25 per day). With the help of the UN’s Millennium Development Goals (Do you remember our #Moms4MDGs campaign last year?) that percentage has been reduced to 14% in 2014 (data is still coming in to confirm this projected number). Statistics are according to the World Bank.
3) Some of the people on the planet who may be most affected by climate change know nothing about it. In the Pathway to Paris working panel on climate change, civil society members from Hoduras and Bolivia explained that when your focus is that you need to eat, climate change is not on the minds of people, but how to get food is. And they stated that when people are aware of the climate change problem, they expect that it is a problem to be dealt with by the developed world.
4) The consequences of radicalization and violent extremism in fragile societies is a popular emerging topic of interest among civil society members. There was a packed crowd (think Tokyo subway car) in the panel on the consequences of radicalization and violent extremism, and I didn’t get in! I really wanted to listen in on the conversation, but noted it was a high priority on civil society’s agenda as something that needed to be changed.
5) To reach the goal to end extreme poverty faster, the World Bank sees the importance in partnering with faith-based organizations. There were several panels on Wednesday, including a flagship event, that included members of the world’s largest religions discussing their motivations to help the poor from their faith. The key takeaway was that although the World Bank is a secular organization, there are benefits to ending poverty faster by working together with faith based organizations.
6) Human rights has not been written in as part of the World Bank’s safeguards and civil society is protesting. A man from the LBGT community, chased out of his home country of Uganda, asked the World Bank executive directors why they continue to lend to countries who do not value the rights of their people. Also, during a round table discussion with executive directors from the World Bank and the IMF, a woman from South Africa asked for a moment of silence for children who had died from the impact of a World Bank development project (I do not know the details of the project she was referring to.). Afterwards, a group of civil society members stood in unity with her wearing or holding yellow shirts demanding human rights be written into the bank’s safeguards. Civil Society members are standing up for their rights and joining the conversation to try to change bank policy.
7) The smallest member of the World Bank Group is MIGA. MIGA stands for Multilateral Investment Guarantee Agency and has only about 33 employees and lends in the the most fragile states. For example, they were lending in Afghanistan when bullets were flying!
8) The official twitter feed for the IMF/World Bank Civil Society Meetings is “SMCSO15”. This is according to the postings in the meeting rooms at the World Bank. Twitter also self-populates with another hashtag being used, “SMCSO2015.” The twitter feed picks up on the flagship panels that are broadcast live to the public, which makes the online conversation awesome around ending poverty. You can check out our post from earlier this week on those flagship panels that have live feeds.
9) The open meeting policy at the World Bank allows the bank to hear and anticipate the effects of their lending in ways they haven’t in the past. Could you imagine if every business had this type of open meeting policy where civil society could pitch panels on the way in which it lends to better society? Although born out of unfair lending practices and people protesting the streets of the past, this model is ground-breaking. And the world needs ground-breaking when it comes to getting people out of extreme poverty and achieving the sustainable development goals of 2030.
10) World Moms Blog’s panel on grassroots advocacy and social media in support of universal education is a go! On Friday, April 17th at 11am ET, World Moms Blog’s Cynthia Levin (USA & also of RESULTS), Aisha Yesefu (Nigeria) and myself, Jennifer Burden (USA), will team up with Allison Grossman of RESULTS and Kolleen Bouchane of A World at School to discuss ways in which civil society members can ignite change in getting more children into the classroom. Today, over 57 million children of primary school age on the planet are not being educated. The topic is vital and also very timely with the passing of the 1 year anniversary this week of the capturing of the Chibok Girls of Nigeria. We hope you will join us on Twitter under the hashtag #WorldMoms and #SMCSO15.
We agree that civil society should be a part of the conversation to effect change. You can join the World Bank Live Feed this week, too.
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by founder, Jennifer Burden in the USA. The World Bank has provided funding for Jennifer and Cindy to attend the meetings this week to help engage more members of civil society in the global discussions to end poverty, but has not directed our voice.
#WorldMoms at #WorldBank this week for #SMCSO15
Fantastic news! Writers from World Moms Blog will be traveling to the World Bank Spring Meetings (#SM2015) in Washington D.C. this week to help spread the word about the ongoing dialog between citizens from Civil Society Organizations (CSO). World Moms Blog founder, Jennifer Burden, and contributor, Cynthia Changyit Levin, are thrilled to be headed back to the World Bank CSO meetings to represent moms around the globe concerned about the futures of ALL children no matter where they were born.
Civil Society meetings are bi-annual events hosted by the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. Non-government organizations like UNICEFthe ONE Campaign, A World at School, and RESULTS send representatives to speak on panels to talk about development policies. Citizens from all over the world can join in and voice their opinions about the best ways to fight extreme poverty and speak out about how World Bank programs affect the lives of people in their countries for better or worse.
We’re honored to be lending our social media skills in a partnership that started at the 2014 RESULTS Conference when we met World Bank President Dr. Jim Kim and continued as we attended and blogged about the 2014 Fall CSO meetings. This spring, we’re returning to help the World Bank to engage in conversation with our audience of concerned moms on topics of importance to us as world citizens: Ebola, Education, Nutrition, and more. We’ll be live-tweeting flagship events and even hosting a panel discussion about social media and citizen activism to move the world toward education for all.
YOU can help take the meetings and the conversation about ending poverty far beyond DC! Please join the conversation by:
- Following the Twitter hashtag #SMCSO15 and the Twitter accounts of @WorldMomsBlog, @JenniferBurden, and @ccylevin so you can join in the conversation and re-tweet posts that you like using the #WorldMoms hashtag.
- Joining live-streamed webcast events (listed below) and leaving your questions/comments on the webcast page for the moderators! Each event has a hashtag so you can engage with the panel and audience through Twitter.
- Leaving a question for the World Bank in the comment section of this blog. We’ll try to ask it in the panel discussions and town hall meetings we attend or ask our contacts at the World Bank about it to get a response to you.
Here is the link to the full schedule of live-streamed webcast events. The list below calls out some of our favorites that we are most excited to attend. Pick one or more that interest you and join us virtually. You may even see us in the audience!
Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Time: 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m. ET
Join us for a live discussion where panelists will address the need for a new social contract to meet the demands of the current generation of citizens in the Middle East and North Africa.
Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Time: 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m ET.
Location: World Bank Group Headquarters, Preston Auditorium & Online
Can people of faith help build a movement to end extreme poverty? Can they seize this opportunity at a time of conflict in some regions — some of it driven by groups claiming religious justification?
Date: Wednesday, April 15, 2015
Time: 12:30 p.m. – 1:30 p.m. ET
How can Latin American governments stimulate growth while preserving social achievements? What growth levels will countries of the region achieve in 2015?
Date: Thursday, April 16, 2015
Time: 8:45 a.m. – 9:30 a.m. ET
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim will address the press during the World Bank’s 2015 Spring Meetings.
Date: Thursday, April 16, 2015
Time: 9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. ET
Join us for a panel discussion on the importance of investing in nutrition; the challenges countries are facing; and concrete steps towards scaling up high-impact programming for child nutrition.
Date: Thursday, April 16, 2015
Time: 11:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. ET
Hear from a development banker, a renowned chef, an agricultural expert, a woman farmer, a culinary professional and others about the future of food, and how we can work together to feed the world.
Date: Thursday, April 16, 2015
Time: 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. ET
Join regional policy makers, practitioners and civil society representatives for a discussion on what it will take to instill adequate accountability and motivation among public servants and service providers toward meeting citizens’ needs.
Date: Thursday, April 16, 2015
Time: 3:30 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. ET
Water security is emerging as the number one global risk in terms of development impact. An expert panel will share their experiences and solutions for addressing water scarcity challenges with a view of the social, economic, and political implications.
Date: Friday, April 17, 2015
Time: 7:30 a.m. – 9:00 a.m. ET
WBG President Jim Yong Kim chairs this high-level roundtable at which the heads of state of Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone will present their Ebola recovery plans to finance and development ministers and international partners.
It has been almost two weeks since I attended the AYA Summit in Washington DC at Google’s offices with ONE, and I still feel a flood of emotion each time I think about the experience. As I wrote on my blog last week, the words to explain such a powerful and inspiring event are hard to come by.
The AYA Summit focused on issues facing girls and women in the developing world, with a special emphasis on Sub-Saharan Africa. The name AYA comes from an African Adinkra Symbol, which means fern and symbolizes endurance, resourcefulness and growth.
I, along with fellow World Moms Blog contributors Jennifer Burden, Elizabeth Atalay, Nicole Morgan, Nicole Melancon, Kelly Pugliano and Cindy Levin, sat in a room of about 80 bloggers and listened to inspiring panel after inspiring panel. In addition to thought-provoking conversations about human trafficking, the importance of vaccinations, electrifying Africa, making change through economic opportunities and the dire need to end Ebola in West Africa, we witnessed incredible performances by a young poet named Marquesha Babers and actress Danai Gurira.
Tears were shed. We were all moved and left wanting to do more for women and girls around the globe.
Why invite only bloggers to such a powerful event? According to this article from WUSA9 who covered the event, the combined audiences of our blogs exceeds 45 million and 28 states. As it was noted, “that kind of reach is priceless.”
There was a general theme of storytelling throughout the event. As bloggers, we have the ability to tell the stories of girls and women around the globe that the mainstream media simply cannot duplicate. We use our experiences as women, mothers and global citizens to lend our voices to those who don’t have a microphone and help others join in the conversation. We personalize the stories, talk about our concerns, and amplify the issues that media may not even be fully aware of or willing to devote the time to cover.
As Ginny Wolfe, Senior Director, Strategic Relationships at ONE, said at the very start of the AYA Summit, “We’re not asking for your money, we’re asking for your voice.” If you are reading this post, you can lend your voice too.
Though it is still hard to put into words what the AYA Summit meant to me, I thought I would share the highlights and key takeaways through a series of tweets during the event:
Read what other World Moms are writing about the event:
For more on the AYA Summit and the work that is coming from the event, visit and follow the AYA Summit 2014 Flipboard.
This is an original post written for World Moms Blog by Jennifer Iacovelli who also writes at www.anotherjennifer.com.
How will you or do you use your voice to stand up for those who are unable to speak up for themselves?
In the U.S., I find myself sometimes avoiding conflict in social situations. My kids…well, not so much…
“You can’t take that, it’s mine!!!” Or…
“She is writing on the kitchen table!”, while my girls battle for a crayon. Or…
“If you knock over my blocks, I’m telling!”, while just seconds later, my little one knocks the blocks with a cheeky grin. Or…
This is the reality now with a 7 and 3 year old, but I’m predicting that when they’re teenagers that they will rebel in the same way I did. Fight with their parents for a later curfew. Disagree with their mom because they want to wear a strapless dress to the eighth grade dance. Insist that they’re dating whoever they want. I hope their outspoken fire to challenge society will grow into and beyond their teenage years. I didn’t say that I am prepared for it, but I can accept that it is coming…I think.
But, as adults, it seems many of us tend to harden and lose that fire over time. The fire that ignited our teenage passions to think in a different way. The fire that kept us learning to support our own stance, for what is right. Going with the flow just feels more comfortable sometimes, especially when big odds are not at stake.
But, at the World Bank and IMF Civil Society meetings last week, big odds — which impact the lives of the world’s people and often the most vulnerable among us — were at stake. I witnessed change-makers taking a stand for the greater good. Here are some people who are carving out the new, more responsible way forward for the World Bank, IMF and beyond…
Jessica Evans of the Human Rights Watch challenged World Bank officials on incorporating human rights into new banking safeguards. She said that in the past the World Bank didn’t touch corruption because the institution wasn’t supposed to engage in politics according to its policy of the past, but now fighting corruption is fair game and a larger part of the World Bank’s mission. She pointed out this ability for the bank to change in a positive way on corruption, but its failure to do the same considering human rights.
She (Jessica Evans of the Human Rights Watch) claimed that human rights should not fall into the ‘political’ category. They are a necessity for responsible lending practices and should be incorporated into the current safeguards as they are being rewritten now, not as an afterthought a year later when they will be completed.
Jessica Evans of the Human Rights Watch speaks about the importance of human rights on a World Bank Civil Society Meeting in Washington, DC. October 7th, 2014.
To my surprise, I also had the chance to reconnect with a fellow Villanova University alum, Joseph Robertson, now Strategic Director of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby. He questioned Dr. Kim, President of the World Bank, and Mme. Lagarde, President of the IMF, on carbon pricing during the Civil Society Town Hall. Joe is championing a coalition called Pathway to Paris, which is seeking to mount a global coalition effort “to secure an agreement to motivate carbon pricing country by country.”
Joseph Robertson of Citizens Climate Action, questions World Bank President Dr. Kim and IMF President Mme. Lagarde on carbon pricing.
I also met the bold, Faith Nwadishi, Executive Director at the Koyenum Immalah Foundation, who had come so many miles — from Nigeria — to Washington, DC to put pressure on organizations to come together in the fight against Ebola in West Africa. Faith had no qualms about later taking the spot right next to Dr. Kim during the Town Hall. I was inspired by her energy!
Faith Nwadishi came all the way from Nigeria for the World Bank’s Civil Society Meetings in Washington, DC. Pictured here with Jennifer Burden of World Moms Blog on October 8th, 2014.
And, I could have listened to Patrick from the Congo speak for days. He’s a 28-year old masters student (his second, this one in international development). Patrick is enacting change at home through an organization he founded that educates both, women and men, on rape prevention in Congo. He sees his little sister within every woman in his home country and is dedicated to making Congo a safer place for women.
World Mom and RESULTS Board Member, Cindy Levin, talks with graduate student and change maker Patrick from Congo at the reception following the World Bank and IMF Civil Society Town Hall. October 8th, 2014.
There is no doubt the World Bank and IMF’s lending practices of the past have negatively affected civil society. And there is no doubt that the organization in the past had closed their doors to the voices of those very same people.
But, the cultural shift at the World Bank Civil Society Meetings is one that encourages change makers to join them in debate, intellectualism, passion, heated discussions and a lot of heart, which are all clearly the silver lining from the bank’s closed door past.
The current bank President, Dr. Jim Yong Kim is even a former bank protester, which is an indicator on how the tide is turning.
It is time for the world to listen to the likes of Jessica Evans, Joseph Robertson, Faith Nwadishi, Patrick and many more change makers around the world. They are the kind of people that will press and lead the World Bank toward it’s goal to end poverty. You can join them, too…what are you waiting for?
This is an original post by World Moms Blog founder, Jennifer Burden in New Jersey, USA. Jennifer and Cindy Levin of Missouri, USA were invited by the World Bank to take part in the bank’s Civil Society Meetings in Washington, DC. See additional posts by Cindy Levin about their experience on her blog, Anti-Poverty Mom:
Keeping It Civil at the World Bank
A Different View of Citizen Engagement at the World Bank
A New Course for the Big Ship of the World Bank
Photo credits to the author and Cindy Levin.
World Moms, Cindy Changyit-Levin and Jennifer Burden, are in Washington, DC this week for the World Bank Civil Society Meetings.
About 10+ years ago I worked in Washington, D.C. as a financial analyst, and when the World Bank meetings were coming up nearby my office, my then employer, the Federal Reserve Board, would caution us about the protests surrounding the event.
We were told to take a different metro route or come into the office at a different time in the best interest of our safety. But this week I was invited back to Washington, D.C., in fact, for the World Bank and International Monetary Fund (IMF) meetings by the World Bank to report for World Moms Blog, and now the atmosphere is a little different…
Gone are the closed doors. The World Bank has since opened it’s doors to civil society and are taking note of the concerns of people from the countries where they are lending. This was very different from my first impression of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund — I had learned back in the late 90’s in college as a finance major that the organizations were set up to end poverty, but their lending actually made the countries worse off in the end. Hence, the angry protests of the past from people who cared.
It was time that the World Bank concentrated less on turning a profit and more on helping civil society, the very reason why it was created in the first place.
New leadership — did you know that Jim Yong Kim, the current President of the World Bank is a former anthropologist, cofounded PIH with Paul Farmer and others and was formerly the Chairman of the Department of Global Health and Social Medicine at Harvard Medical School? — has come in and the doors have been held for the angered (rightfully so) civil society members, so all should be good now, right?
But, how quickly can change occur under new leadership in an organization of over 9000 people?
The answer is that it takes time.
The World Bank is currently undergoing a reorganization, which is ruffling a lot of feathers, as there were protests just yesterday from staff members about the reorg and the payment of higher-ups, according to the Financial Times. And, yesterday at the civil society meetings we heard complaints about corruption and lack of adequate safeguards. Safeguards are precautionary or counter measures that are put into place to protect against the infringement of an agreement.
We heard concerns about human rights issues including gender equality and LGBT rights. And, we saw World Bank employees and officials taking notes and saying that they’d get questions to the bank leadership.
In fact, the bank fielded questions from people who flew in from Morocco, Albania, Egypt, Madagascar, Congo and more places for a “Civil Society Town Hall” with Dr. Kim and the managing director of the IMF, Christine Lagarde that will take place tomorrow.
The World Bank has invited its most stringent critics into their doors from the streets and is listening.
How can you make change if you don’t know what the problems are?
This process of listening is a big step from the bank of the past. How can money be lended to developing countries and provide the intended result, to end poverty?
Who will be on the ground policing the programs and seeing them out as intended?
This is a pivotal time in World Bank history, and I look forward to watching it unfold in the right direction to help, as is stamped on the pavement outside and in all the elevators to…”END POVERTY”.
Follow World Moms Blog contributors Jennifer Burden and Cindy Changyit-Levin as they report from the World Bank Civil Society meetings this week. They will be live tweeting from @WorldMomsBlog, @JenniferBurden and @ccylevin. Also, follow the hashtag for the event: #acso14.
See the article on World Moms Blog by Cindy Changyit-Levin that got us invited to the meetings this week.
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Founder and CEO, Jennifer Burden of New Jersey, USA.
Photo credit to Rashika Weerasena.
What is the World Bank and what does it do? If you ask an average American, you’ll likely get a blank stare or a wild guess. “Is it like when we played Monopoly as kids and one person got to hand out all the money?” quipped Mackenzie Astin on Vox Populi Radio recently when host Sean Astin tried to explain it to him. “It’s probably where all the countries keep their money,” said my 8-year-old to her sister. Whatever the answer, you’ll usually not hear “they fight poverty” as a first guess, but that’s exactly the key to what an everyday person should know about the World Bank.
While attending the 2014 RESULTS International Conference in June, my daughters and I had a chance to meet World Bank President Dr. Jim Yong Kim moments before he took the stage for an interview in front of hundreds of RESULTS volunteer activists who work every day to end poverty. While we awaited his arrival, I had time to reflect on the role of this man and the World Bank on what kind of world my kids will inherit from my generation.
The World Bank is a United Nations financial institution that provides loans to developing countries. Yet it’s not a bank in the ordinary sense. It’s a partnership that exists to reduce poverty and support development of impoverished nations. Imagine that…a bank with a mission to fight poverty! It provides low-interest loans, interest-free credits, and grants to developing countries to fund programs like education, health, agriculture, and environmental resource management. Where does the money come from? Donor countries, banks, multilateral institutions, and private sector investors all contribute to this vital source of financial and technical assistance to developing countries around the world.
Dr. Kim’s audience cheered wildly that day, holding signs saying “We love the World Bank” because they knew he was going to re-assert the World Bank’s mission end extreme poverty by the year 2030. In fact, the World Bank has set two goals for the world to achieve in that time:
1. End extreme poverty by decreasing the percentage of people living on less than $1.25 a day to no more than 3%
2. Promote shared prosperity by fostering the income growth of the bottom 40% for every country
Wow. That’s only 14 years from now. In 2030, my 10-year-old will be 26 years old. Is it possible that in their adulthood, my children could live in a world without extreme poverty? Will they actually have to explain to their children what it was like when millions of people struggled to live on less than $1.25 a day because that kind of suffering won’t be found on the news?
Dr. Kim spoke of his belief that we should focus on the moral imperative to end poverty and shoot for big goals even before we precisely know how to get there. He said our attitude should be “balancing between moral reasoning and the humility that we may not have everything together…but going for it anyway because it’s the right thing to do.” Helping to save lives and educate children is a goal in itself. Plus, evidence for economic benefit of poverty elimination has now caught up with the ethics. For instance, 24% of economic growth is due to better health outcomes. We also now have evidence to show that education is not just nice to have…it’s necessary for growth. So, we should not be afraid to set the incredible goal and then work backward and say, “To achieve our goal, what kind of organization do we need to be to meet that?”
Is Dr. Kim an idealist? Yes, I do think so, but he’s an idealist in the very best way. He has a grand vision of what is possible coupled with a practical leadership style revealed in his insistence on “results based financing.” He wants the World Bank to focus on impact on the ground rather than getting money. When we can report incredible results like a neo-natal mortality drop in Argentina of 74%, donors witness what is possible and invest more.
The path Dr. Kim describes toward the end of extreme poverty is in no way easy. For one thing, it requires confronting the status quo and our assumptions about what works. We need to ask tough questions of organizations providing services, like, “Are you where the poor people are? Are your clinics convenient for you or for the people in poverty who you serve?” The World Bank has a critical role to measure and release regular data about poverty using sophisticated techniques so that we can make great decisions, inspire more funding, and get great results.
In summary, he concluded for us,
“We are not a hard-hearted organization just focused on increased GDP. We are dedicated to ending poverty and making sure that everyone participates.”
All in all, I feel extremely lucky. I feel lucky that I had a chance to meet a man of such vision. I feel lucky that as an advocate for global health and education in this era, I – personally – have a role in bringing about the end of extreme poverty. But most of all, I feel very hopeful and fortunate that if we work together with leaders like Dr. Kim, my daughters will see the end of extreme poverty within their lifetimes and millions more mothers will see their babies grow to be as strong and healthy as mine.
This is an original post written by Cindy Levin for World Moms Blog.