Nohely Diaz, member of the 100 Million US National Planning Group, shares how she and other youth activists across the country have been campaigning for equal access to education nationally and globally.
The 100 Million US team launched their educational campaign, “Not Everyone is Going #BacktoSchool” in October 2022, following weeks of preparation by youth and student activists across the country. This campaign was created to highlight a series of issues impacting the access children have to education, both on a domestic and international level.
One of the central components of this campaign was to highlight issues that often don’t receive sufficient attention and would benefit from being amplified through social media networks. In order to make the campaign as informative, educational, and accessible as possible, all links and references are shared through the @100MillionUSA LinkedTree page.
The campaign team selected a series of themes to focus on over 10 weeks. We began with the Four A’s Framework, which calls for strides in education to include availability, accessibility, acceptability, and adaptability as a part of its core tenets.
The following theme was the lack of resources affecting education in which we addressed the importance of school meal programs and the impact of Global Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH) in maintaining a sanitary learning environment. In addition, problems concerning financial constraints, the lack of access to electricity, the need for additional support and training of teachers, and educational gaps regarding children with disabilities were also mentioned.
One of our biggest areas of concentration was menstrual/period poverty. Throughout the 2 weeks that covered period poverty and its prevalence in being a barrier to education, our team launched a period drive to increase access to much-needed products. We called for our network of activists to donate to local shelters and through online drives. The drive is still active on our page! Fill out this form to prove you donated and, if you are based in the US, we will send you free stickers.
Accompanying this drive was content that addressed measures children are forced to take to manage menstruation such as the use of materials that increase the likelihood of infections. We also discussed the stigma surrounding periods and the impact it can have on one’s schooling and overall mental health. While our team made sure to address international instances of period poverty, we also wanted to capture the inequities being experienced in the U.S. Only 5 out of 37 states that introduced period equity bills required schools to provide menstrual products.
One exciting development during this time was the engagement and collaboration that took place with other organizations dedicated to tackling period poverty. This allowed us to uplift their work and introduce our network to organizations they may not have previously been aware of. As a result, we have some new partnerships and projects being worked on behind the scenes that we look forward to sharing soon!
Learning loss due to COVID-19 was another issue area covered during the campaign. We discussed the rise in learning poverty and the loss of potential lifetime earnings of affected children.ome of the pressing data shared addressed how many children were already out of school before COVID-19 took place.
The last few weeks of the campaign drove home the point that education is a human right. To emphasize this point further, we rallied support around The Children’s Act for Responsible Employment and Farm Safety (The C.A.R.E Act). Calls were made to legislators for additional child labor protections to be enacted for children working in the agriculture sector.
The team's Instagram page was also used to introduce our audience to concepts such as educational equity and disability justice in educational settings. Our National Campaign Group member Nohely Diaz interviewed Maggie Hatt and Lauren Proby on these topics respectively, which provided a space to cover gaps these individuals have seen, actions they have taken, and what they would like to see change. In addition, 100 Million Ambassador Shaquanna Sebastian launched a 100 Million Talks series where she discusses Education Efforts for Indigenous Youth.
The final part of the campaign brought the various topics and themes together to make one thing clear: children’s access to education is impacted by many issues, to varying degrees. While not every child encounters the same challenges as another, it is important that advocacy work covers critical gaps and makes efforts as equitable as possible. In doing so, they ensure that children, whether they are living in poverty, facing civil conflict, are disabled, or lack access to resources, have their educational journeys supported so that they can all be free, safe, and educated.