"School for Iqbal" campaign leader, Elizabeth Bloomer, age 15, of Quincy,
Massachusetts, is speaking in the General Assembly of the United Nations
in New York City on Friday, March 2, 2001, at the 25th Anniversary United
Nations International School Conference...
UNIS will be hosting its 25th Annual UNIS-UN Conference on Thursday and Friday, March 1st and 2nd 2001. This very special event is held in the United Nations General Assembly Hall. This year the conference will focus on four areas: Communications and technology: Disarmament and war: Human rights: Ethnic struggles. These are issues of international significance which have been discussed at previous UNIS-UN conferences and which UNIS students have decided they would like to "revisit". We are taking the opportunity of our 25th anniversary to assess the current global situation and attempt to discover whether progress has been made in these areas. We hope you will join us in learning more about these topical issues and in discussing them with your fellow high school students from around the world.
Since its beginning, twenty-five years ago, participation in the conference has grown to include student representatives from over thirty national and international schools.
Elizabeth will explain ways she and her teen peers have become activists using consumer power, education, lobbying and microcredit loans to fight child labor.
Harry Belafonte will also be speaking. Previous speakers have included Kofi Anan among others
Elizabeth will address the conference's theme of Human Rights: the Struggles of Poor Women and Children. Elizabeth will outline three youth activism campaigns she helped lead and co-found while a student at Broad Meadows Middle School. Those student led campaigns include : The Kids Campaign : A School for Iqbal Masih ; The Kids Online March Against Child Labor ; and Operation Day's Work-USA.
Elizabeth, now in her 4th year as a crusader for children's and women's rights, has spoken out numerous times against child labor, including speeches at Harvard, at the University of Massachusetts, at Wellesley College, at Team Harmony V held at the Fleet Center in Boston, and a various child labor conferences held in Washington, DC.
Darlene Adkins, Director of the Child Labor Coalition, Washington DC, had heard Elizabeth speak several times and recommended her to the U.N. International School's Student Speaker Coordinator Rebecca Hoffman.
Background Information of the three Student Run Campaigns in Elizabeth Bloomer's Remarks :
The Kids Campaign : A School for Iqbal :
The Broad Meadows' students used the Internet to organize other students in all 50 states to fundraise over $147,000 to establish a "School for Iqbal" in Pakistan. Iqbal Masih was a former child slave who visited Broad Meadows Middle School in 1994. Iqbal told the Quincy students he dreamed of freedom and education for all children everywhere. After being freed himself, Iqbal was credited with encouraging 3,000 other child slaves to run to freedom. That action drew the attention of the Reebok Human Rights Programs. Iqbal was flown to the U.S. to be presented the 1994 Reebok Youth in Action Human Rights Award. While in the U.S. Iqbal asked to visit a U.S. school. Reebok recommended Broad Meadows because of their ongoing social justice campaigns. Five months after visiting Broad Meadows, Iqbal was back in Pakistan where he was shot and killed, probably for speaking out against child exploitation. The "School for Iqbal"opened in 1996 .
The Kids Online March Against Child Labor : http://www.globalmarch-us.org
After learning of a Global March across 5 continents to protest child labor, the Broad Meadows students created a "Virtual March" web site for those too young to actually march or those unable to march. The students collected over 4,500 email messages from all over the U.S. as well as from 34 nations. The students printed out all the messages and personally handed those messages to then-Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman. During this campaign, Elizabeth "adopted by letter" Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms. Other students adopted other members of the Senate Committee in the hope the Senate would ratify a new U.N. treaty, known as I.L.O. 182, abolishing the most severe forms of child labor. The Senate ratified that treaty and I.L.O. 182 is now U.S. law. Elizabeth and her peers pledge to continue the web site drive until all nations ratify the new international child labor treaty. So far, 59 nations have voted for ratification.
Operation Day's Work-USA : http://odw.info.usaid.gov/
Inspired by a similar program run by students in Norway and sponsored by USAID (the U.S. Agency for International Development) , 8 U.S. schools were recruited by USAID Administrator Brian Atwood to pilot this student run antiglobal poverty project. The pilot schools are in Vermont, Washington DC, North Dakota, Minnesota, Massachusetts and Wisconsin. The students involved vote each year to work one day and donate their pay to fund an educational program for poor, working children in a chosen developing country. In 1998, the pilot schools earned over $30,000 from their "Day's Work" and funded a livestock and literacy program for 2,000 Haitian youth and their families. In 1999, the students raised over $40,000 to expand an orphanage in El Salvador. This school year, participating students voted to aid child laborers in Nepal. Operation Day's Work has expanded to include schools in Colorado, Oregon, Iowa, Arkansas, New Jersey, Connecticut and Illinois.