The Elders was the idea generated by the entrepreneur Richard Branson and the musician Peter Gabriel when they discussed the possibility of a “village” of global leaders gathering to solve some of the more serious concerns the world faces today. Nelson Mandela, Graça Machel and Desmond Tutu supported the idea and the group was officially launched in July 2007. Today, the independent group is made up of global leaders who work for peace and human rights around the world.
The group represents an independent voice, unbounded by the interests of any nation, government or institution. The unique position of this independent group of leaders allows the group to have an influence on issues occurring in various parts of the world. Some of the on-going projects include: child marriage that is affecting millions of children in the world, post-election situation in Cote d’Ivoire, supporting efforts working for reconciliation and peace in Cyprus, Inter-Korean relations and worsening humanitarian conditions in North Korea, peace in Middle East, building Sri Lanka, challenges in Sudan and South Sudan and building Zimbabwe. The support and influence of the Elders in these pressing issues of human rights and humanity are expansive.
The global leaders representing the Elders share a common goal in promoting shared interest in humanity and fighting for human rights. Global leaders chosen to be an Elder of the group are experienced in making and building peace and creating positive social changes or are female leaders who have worked towards empowering women.
Other commitment of the global leaders include listening to everyone in a conflict while acting boldly for a cause that they believe would have a positive impact on humanity. Their belief in the power of an individual in creating positive changes in society is also vital to being a sound representative of the Elders.
Ela Bhatt is a good example to elaborate the commitments of an Elder and what an Elder stands for. She was an established woman pioneer in the grassroots movement to improve the lives of women workers in India. In 1972, she founded a trade union, Self Employed Women Association, for women workers in the informal sector giving these workers the same rights and security as women workers in the formal sector. Today 1.2 million women across the Indian nation are members of this union.
Besides forming various organizations that benefit women across India and other parts of the world where women were considered inferior, she also set up the Cooperative Bank of SEWA, assisting women to gain financial independence while alleviating their status in their families and communities.
The Elders is a community of global leaders that work towards making a positive impact on issues that are currently undermining humanity and human rights.
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