Nelson Mandela’s recent passing late last year brought an end to a lifetime of unyielding courage and commitment to social justice, peace and equality. Adopted in 2009 by the United Nations, Nelson Mandela Day enters its fifth year this week on July 18th.
Nelson Mandela’s work is so intertwined with the Human Rights movement over the past century, that it is impossible to speak about “freedom, justice and democracy” without recognizing his contributions. The effects of his work in South Africa were not only a catalyst for change nationally, but also globally inspired generations to come.
Mandela famously stated, “Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do.” What will your legacy be? How can you become involved today, in order to improve the livelihood of those in the future? As we come to the end of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and approach a new development era, we are provided with a fresh opportunity for renewed commitment, insight and especially, participation.
The MDGs set out in 2000 have achieved considerable success in many sectors. Importantly, they have laid the foundations for our work in years to come. Drawing on the inspiration of Mandela, the importance of belief and especially ongoing dedication, cannot be overstated. The MDGs include:
1. To eradicate extreme poverty and hunger
2. To achieve universal primary education
3. To promote gender equality and empower women
4. To reduce child mortality
5. To improve maternal health
6. To combat HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases
7. To ensure environmental sustainability
8. To develop a global partnership for development
These goals are still especially relevant to our existence here in Canada. Some issues of particular importance that come to mind include the Enbridge Pipeline proposal and its potential harmful effects on Canada’s environment and our Aboriginal Communities (#7), the insufficient efforts to find our missing Aboriginal women as reported by the United Nations (#3) and specifically, the continuation of poverty and homelessness in Vancouver’s downtown core (#1). Although the context for the MDGs are broad in scope, their application can be applied to our local circumstances. Once we can recognize this applicability our immediate potential for contributing towards their achievement becomes tangible.
With the inspiration of Nelson Mandela in mind, we encourage readers to reflect upon these goals and to remain committed and optimistic for the 2015 agenda. Further information on the upcoming Development agenda will be featured in upcoming blogs this summer/fall.
Please see the United Nations page for a timeline of Mandela’s life and further information about the day: https://www.un.org/en/events/mandeladay/
Post written by UNAC-Vancouver website writer, Brittney Potvin.