By Whitney Harder
Ryan McElhose, a University of Kentucky sociology junior, with minors in philosophy and neuroscience, recently represented the ONE Campaign, an international advocacy organization, at this year’s G7 summit in Germany.
G7, or the Group of Seven, comprises the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United Kingdom and meets annually to discuss issues such as global economic governance, international security and energy policy.
McElhose joined more than 250 young campaigners representing 10 countries this past weekend, June 5-7, to call on leaders to pledge at least 50 percent of overseas aid to the least-developed countries, put girls and women at the heart of global development and make sure this G7 summit focused on the world’s poorest countries.
The youth activists represented every G7 country — United States, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, Italy and the United Kingdom — in addition to Belgium, Ireland and The Netherlands. During the summit, they were also trained in how to organize effective campaigns and influence policy.
“These young adults will be reminding the G7 leaders of their commitments to help the world’s poorest people,” said Tom Hart, U.S. executive director of The ONE Campaign, before the summit. “This summit is an important opportunity in the fight against extreme poverty, particularly as it relates to women and girls.”
McElhose, from Hinton, Iowa, joined the UK chapter of the ONE Campaign last year and has since been exposed to a multi-faceted way of advocacy. He experienced lobbying on Capitol Hill in February and carried out an array of advocacy activities in Munich.
"ONE offers productive and effective solutions to eradicate poverty around the world," McElhose said. "I like how it is an advocacy organization. We do not ask for your dollars but rather your pen or your voice."
A sociology major, McElhose's involvement with ONE stems from his studies. He says it provides macro-level solutions to global epidemics, something he has often discussed in his sociology courses.
"I am adamant that changing social structures, and persistence, is a way to address poverty, rather than quick, easy Band-Aid solutions," he said.
photo: Ryan McElhose, second from left, representing the ONE Campaign in Munich, Germany, during the G7 summit.