On balance, however, this was not a good year for world peace. Russian aggression in Crimea and the Ukraine, and the West's response, pushed the world closer to a new Cold War. Revelations about the CIA's use of torture were enough to shake anyone's faith in the goodness of humanity. Meanwhile, the Middle East spiralled downward with greater violence in Gaza, Syria and Iraq. At home we are still not on track to meet our emissions targets. And the strongest praise environmentalists could muster for the climate change deal reached in Lima, Peru, last week was to wince and say it is "better than nothing."
The entire school in Ayr, Scotland, vibrated with anticipation. The lunchroom sounded more like a debate hall than a cafeteria. Kirsty McCahill watched the clock tick down to the closing bell. She rushed home, then to the nearby community centre to do what no Scottish 16-year-old had ever done before that day: vote on the future of her country.
The lesser known but long-fighting Satyarthi is a trailblazer for children's rights; Malala is the next generation. She is the youngest person to receive the Nobel Peace Prize, and at 17, the first teen. This is a profound and long-overdue recognition for the role of youth in changing our world for the better.
So many young Canadians are looking to make their mark on the world. Some pick up a shovel to build a school or a ladle in soup kitchens to serve the homeless. A small number choose a different way, traveling to Syria to pick up an AK-47. Where does the road diverge between the youth who choose the path of helping and those on the path of harm? And for those on the road toward extremism, are there points along their journey where they might be set on a positive path?
Although she attended primary school, Daisy's family couldn't afford the fees to send her to high school. But when Barengetuny was 19, development workers began travelling from village to village by motorcycle, including her community of Motony, introducing women to the micro-finance "merry-go-round." Now she's an established businesswoman.
What astounds us is that, despite everything he saw and endured during the apartheid years, Tutu remains one of the most joyful human beings we know. A laugh is never far from his lips. When music plays, he is the first on his feet dancing. We can only attribute this to his mastery of the art of forgiveness. Tutu's soul remains unburdened by anger and vindictiveness.
Nelson Mandela would have been 96 this week. It's the first birthday since his passing -- celebrations replaced with mourning and reflection. With the passing of Mandela, humanity lost a quiet voice of reason -- one we still sorely need in an increasingly polarized world. In honour of Mandela's birthday, here are some of our own fondest memories of "Madiba."
While much of the onus lies on individual nations to strengthen their laws and enforcement against labour exploitation, van de Glind also pointed out that Canadians can do our part, too. And if exploitation continues because it remains profitable, we as consumers can make it less so. Before checking out the half-off sale at that popular clothing chain, do your research. Check web sites to read what companies say about their sourcing. If the information isn't easily available, write the company and ask. The more pressure companies feel from customers, the more attention they will pay to ethical sourcing.
Creating a society where all men respect women starts in the home. Boys look up to the adult males in their lives. With Father's Day approaching, dads are realizing the power they have to make a difference. We can't fight the violence until all men respect women as equals. And this Father's Day, changing men's attitudes starts with dad.
The evolution -- we might even say revolution -- taking place in the field of corporate social responsibility has been fascinating to behold. For the best companies, making your employees recycle, and cutting a big cheque once a year to some lucky charity, is no longer good enough. They're making "giving back" an integral part of doing business.
In a developing community, a child willingly skipping class is nigh unthinkable; education is a resource more precious than gold. So when the students filed in to see Khady's empty seat, it was a gaping void that could not be ignored. The 12-year-old had been pulled from school by her father. She was to be married the next day.
Dig deeper into the current headlines and the sickening stories mount. The so-called "honour killing" of women by their husbands and families in Afghanistan is rising. Police in Paris allegedly raped a Canadian tourist. Rebels in the forgotten crisis in the Central African Republic rape and murder women with relative impunity. And it's not just about high profile atrocities. When was the last time media talked about the missing women of Asia?
With Mother's Day approaching, Farrow has a challenge for all of us living in comfort here, far from the struggles in central Africa. This Mother's Day, take a moment to think outside our own families. Make this Mother's Day not just about our own mothers, but about all the mothers of the world -- especially those faced with overwhelming adversity.
In addition to being the biggest with 800-million potential voters, and most expensive at $35 billion, the Indian Parliamentary election also has the world's largest youth vote; political parties that reach all the way to our shores; reserved parliamentary seats for minorities; and electoral corruption on a mind-blowing scale. Here are five things you didn't know about democracy in India.
The TIME magazine cover last May cried: "The Me Me Me Generation: Millennials are lazy, entitled narcissists who still live with their parents." For all the bashing of millennials, when it comes to spending and working, their priority is making a difference. Businesses that want to attract the best workers and remain profitable must make it their priority as well.
Since 2006, Canada alone has pumped more than $180 million into education in Afghanistan, according to the Canadian Foreign Affairs project browser. Thousands of schools have been rebuilt or rehabilitated by western nations. Afghan government statistics show more than -- up from just 5000 in 2001. So why is it that, despite this decade of massive investment, the literacy rate for women is still only 22 per cent according to UNICEF? It's the same problem we've seen so many other places: failing to realize that building a school is not the same thing as providing an education.
Last year the Canadian health care system managed to save $400 million. Sounds great, right? Now what if we told you that Canada did it by poaching trained doctors from the poorest and most vulnerable communities in the world? To prosper, Africa must keep her brilliant children home. And developed nations like Canada have a role to play here, too. For a start, we must address the issues in our own health care system that requires us to draw so many health professionals from developing countries where they are needed more.
We've all seen the ads. A white person -- often a celebrity -- strolls through a dilapidated village of mud huts, stooping to pick up one of the strategically-placed children who sit listlessly, their bellies bloated with hunger. The problem with these ads is they reinforce negative stereotypes about people in Africa and other developing countries -- that they are helpless victims who need to be saved. The goal of the ads is to tug heartstrings and create an emotional connection between you, the potential donor, and the people in need. Numerous studies have shown that donors respond better to appeals that include an "identifiable victim"-- putting a name and face to the cause -- than they do to a statistic.
Canadians are frantically scrambling to knock those last few items off of their Christmas shopping lists. Traffic is impossible, free parking spaces are non-existent, and stores are jammed to the rafters; last-minute stress abounds. Come Boxing Day, many will survey the carnage -- the mounds of packaging and torn wrapping paper -- and lament the waste and excess of holiday consumerism. It's a good time to stop and think that, just maybe, the best gifts don't come in a box.