I spent last week at the Clinton Global Initiative and the UN General Assembly meetings in New York. There was much talking about issues of international development, about the rights of children to an education, about stopping children dying from preventable things like pneumonia, about making sure that the world is free from hunger. But in the midst of all this talking, I noticed that there was simply not enough of one thing—not enough shouting. We need louder voices to make changes on what really needs to be done for poor children and families around the world. Simply put, we need more people to care and speak out. Loudly.
Leaders from many countries, CEOs from big companies, and NGO leaders like me converge on New York every September for these events. We have meetings on international development issues, we make commitments to change the world, and we go to dinners honoring those who have done good works around the world. These meetings provide a great opportunity for us to highlight children’s issues on a global stage, like at the CGI panel discussion on early investment I mentioned in my last blog. They bring together international partners to brainstorm on how we can work collectively to tackle global issues. And they inspire and urge leaders to head back to their countries, business and communities and make a lasting difference.
But does the rest of the world pay much attention to what we discuss among ourselves? I don’t think so. Perhaps the most important thing for me coming out of the week is the reaffirmation that it takes something more to make real change. It takes regular people who care about the desperate reality of the world’s poor people, who want to change that reality, and who work every day to make it happen.
But making it happen is a much harder task than attending the whirlwind of CGI and UNGA, as they are affectionately called. We need to interrupt people’s lives and get them to pay attention to how the poorest people on earth live –without health, without education, without the basic dignity of a means to support themselves and their families. Most importantly, we need people to not only pay attention—but to do something.
One way Save the Children is trying to get people to take notice is to interrupt their normal lives and reach them where they spend their time. You can now download a new song called “Feel Again” on iTunes and make a difference for children dying of preventable causes. You can sign an online petition to stop the atrocities happening to children in Syria. And you can donate to the hunger crisis in the Sahel while you play online games. Will all this be enough to get people to really understand how different our lives are from the millions of poor people who survive on less than $2 every day? I’m not sure. But I do know that if we don’t shout as loud as we can to get the world to pay more attention, we’ll never make the headway we need to help millions of children survive and thrive. Unless things change, it’s just talk.
I would love to hear your thoughts on what you think it will take to get people shouting. Let me know your ideas in the comments….