New development and humanitarian opportunities are popping up for students, starting with a campaign to close the gap between genders in the global south and across the world.

Third-year student Jimy Beltran is New Brunswick’s youth ambassador for Development and Peace, the official international development organization of the Catholic Church in Canada. He said this organization is different from other humanitarian groups.

“[Other organizations] go to [underdeveloped] places and they help these people, and most people don’t know what they’re doing,” he said.

“So, Development and Peace tries to tackle that by informing people here in Canada about ways that they can help Development and Peace so Development and Peace can contact communities in these countries and they can deliver the process of development.”

Beltran got the job after campus ministers linked to information about the position. He is based primarily in Fredericton and is tasked with going around to youth groups around the city to provide them with information about how they can contribute.

“As a person that comes from Latin America, to have this experience first-hand of these inequalities, this lack of development in these countries, the suffering of people and violations to human rights, I feel I have an important role to play to bring about progress in my communities,” he said.

“And I feel that Development and Peace is a platform for me to do that, it’s a platform for me to go and stand up and be a voice for these people – many of them that have experienced things that we have never thought about or things we never think can happen to a human being from a Canadian perspective.”

The campaign Beltran is working on right now is titled Women at the Heart of Change, and his role is to show what the organization is doing for women in the global south and how people can assist in that relief.

Development and Peace is affiliated with Charitas International which is the second largest development and humanitarian organization on a global scale, just behind the Red Cross. Beltran said the work these groups do is important, especially considering the point in history the world is currently at.

“[Gender equality] is so important for the development of communities around the world. We have reached an evolutionary point where I think it’s absurd to just ignore that women don’t have the same amount of equality when they have the same capacities as men to do good things,” he said.

Professor Joseph Masciulli teaches part-time at STU in the human rights, political science and international relations fields. He said the work of such organizations are important and the best example of positive embodiment of women’s issues is German chancellor Angela Merkel.

“She and former [United States] president Barack Obama both stress, as do I, that women’s issues are tied to socio-psychological stereotyping, lack of educational opportunities and absolute poverty,” he said.

Masciulli said people of the world need to do so much more to improve these issues inside and outside of the United Nations and other humanitarian groups.

Beltran said anyone who wants to get involved with Development and Peace can sign up to be a member for free. Those between the age of 18 to 35 automatically become student advocates, and membership permits attendance to regional assemblies where all youth members can discuss issues they want to bring forth to national councils.

He said it’s important for young people to get involved because “we’re the future.” He said examples need to be set for the next generation and mistakes need to be mended from generations before.

He said those mistakes are ones that could have lead to events like the election of U.S. president Donald Trump, an example of how desperate the need for this kind of social justice work is across the world.

“We have to stand up to people like him, people who don’t believe that we have to have respect in our societies. Our societies are mostly based on justice …  It’s the only way we can move forward,” Beltran said.

“It’s not easy, it’s not something that can be changed from one day to another, no. It’s a long process with many people. It’s our responsibility as human beings to educate others, to show through our example what we can do.”

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