The Locust Effect


Posted on LinkedIn Influencers on February 5, 2014

An estimated 4 billion people worldwide are not protected by their justice systems. Let that number sink in for a minute. 4 billion people. That is more than half the world’s population. Half of the men, women, and children on earth will find no support from the very systems that are meant to protect them. Instead, these people live in fear of every day violence such as assault, rape, slavery, theft, and abuse, and these people are almost exclusively the poorest citizens of our world. The statistics surrounding the violence these people endure on a daily basis is shocking, and when presented with the facts, I had one question: How did it get this bad?

The epidemic of systematic violence against the world’s poorest people is a complex and horrifying issue, and there are many people who are trying to address, understand, and find solutions to this problem. However, in a new book published this week, The Locust Effect, authors Gary A. Haugen and Victor Boutros argue that the simple answer is that there simply is no one to stand between these people and the violence. The justice systems have failed them, and when the only thing that can protect you and your family is money, it is the world’s poor who suffer the most.

As a resident of one of the world’s most developed countries, it is hard to comprehend the challenges these people face on a daily basis. Many of the crimes perpetrated against the world’s poor are actually illegal in their countries, but even though a crime is on the books, there is no guarantee of enforcement. Many of the justice systems in the world’s developing countries are systematically corrupt and overwhelmingly favour the wealthy, and in the face of such staggering odds it’s hard to know what to do to help. Thankfully, there are solutions, and they have been proven to work, such as the case of Project Lantern. Using funds from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the International Justice Mission (IJM) set up an office in Cebu in the Philippines to combat child trafficking by working with local law officials to better prosecute traffickers. Amazingly, the number of children available for prostitution in the area dropped an astonishing 79% over four years thanks to the efforts of this group, and IJM is now looking to expand this program worldwide. When the justice systems in these countries are strengthened, the poor are better projected, and we can all help by supporting and donating to institutions that work to do just that. All author royalties from The Locust Effect will go towards IJM, and for every book purchased this week, a generous donor has agreed to donate an additional $20 towards IJM to help fund their work. You can purchase your copy here, and you can sign a petition to the United Nations to include ending violence against children in their 2015 Millennium Development Goals here.

4 billion people live in fear of violence every day. 30 million people worldwide live in slavery. Women between the age of 15 and 44 have higher odds of experiencing physical harm or death due to gender-based violence than cancer, motor accidents, war, and malaria combined. These horrific threats to personal safety are in addition to the alarming statistics surrounding hunger, access to clean water, and health, and the fact that nearly two and a half billion people worldwide live off of less than $2.00/day, categorized by the United Nations as extreme poverty. It is a grim picture, and one that is far removed from most of our privileged realities here in the United States. The simple fact that 4 billion people are unable to fully contribute to the world because the reality of everyday violence is keeping them in poverty is unacceptable. If we can remove this barrier and protect these people from violence, imagine what the contributions of 4 billion people could do to change the world economically, socially, environmentally, and emotionally? That’s a world where everyone wins, and one that I want to see in my lifetime. Who’s with me?

International Women’s Day, 100th Anniversary!!

March 8th is the 100th anniversary of International Women’s Day, a day to celebrate women’s economic, political and social achievements. Needless to say this is a big day in the ZEHNER household! Had I not just, and I mean JUST, gotten back from a 3 day Women Moving Millions Board Retreat in San Diego, and a fabulous event for WMM today in LA, I would be hitting the streets in New York in celebration.  Instead I will put on my Wonder Woman T-shirt and post ZUMBA work on a longer blog to share with you on the topic! If you do not know the history of this special day do check it out here. Forbes published this article on “What to do on International Women’s Day”  so no excuses, do something! Search here for other International Women’s Day Events in your area!

Please visit the International Women’s Day page on Facebook and twitter. Join the conversation @womensday with hashtags #womensday #IWD2013.

New Report: “The Road to Equality for Women in the U.S.”

MFWlogo_web_281pxThis week while in New York City I attended a breakfast to launch a new report by the Ms. Foundation called “The Road to Equality for Women in the United States” As you all know I am a research on women and girls junky, and so this was like an instant shot of ‘fire me up drug.’

This new study focuses on three important areas: Economic Justice, Reproductive Justice and Safety, and proposes a benchmark for the status of women today.  It can serve as a guide to critical policy changes to help women overcome the challenges that impact us all. This study reflects the Ms. Foundation for Women’s new strategic direction, which seeks to develop a sharper focus for greater impact and to bring about change on a larger scale. This research report is more compelling and powerful evidence that (and see my  TEDxWomen talk) narrowing gender gaps is good for business, good for economic growth, good for everyone. Here are the key statistics from the report:

Economic Justice: “The world we want: An America where all women have full economic parity”

  • Over a lifetime of work, the average woman earns about $380,000 less than the average working man.
  • Of families headed by single mothers, 28.7 percent- 4 million of them- lived in poverty compared with 13 percent- or 670,000- of those headed by men.
  • Wage data indicate that African American women can expect to earn only 68 cents, and Latinas only 59 cents for every dollar earned by a man; by contrast white women earn 82 cents.
  • 43 percent of single women with families are classified as poor.
  • In 2008, the average cost of full-day care for an infant was equal to 41 percent of the median income for single mothers.
  • 94.6 percent of child care workers are female, with an average income of $20,350, or about 120 percent of the federal poverty line for a family of three.
  • According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 20 of 821 occupations reported by the agency have lower average wages than child care workers.

Reproductive Justice: “The world we want: An America where women have full decision-making authority over their bodies and unfettered access to health care.”

  • Women of color experience maternal mortality rates nearly four times those of whites.
  • The incidence of cervical cancer for Latinas is almost twice that of non-Latina white women, and black women and Latinas have the highest mortality rate from cervical cancer, a highly preventable disease (85 percent of women who die from cervical cancer never had a pap smear).
  • In families with a new baby, 12.9 percent become poor in the month the child was born; this figure increases to 24.6 percent for female-headed households.
  • 87 percent of U.S. counties, home to 35 percent of women of reproductive age, have no abortion provider.
  • The U.S. teen pregnancy rate continues to be one of the highest in the industrialized world.

Safety: “The world we want: An America that protects women and girls from child sexual abuse, rape and assault.”

  • Native American women are 2.5 times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than other women.
  • 18 to 20 percent of female students suffer rape or another form of sexual assault during their college years.
  • 90 percent of child sexual abuse cases are not reported.
  • Female managers experience 137 percent more sexual harassment than women without supervisory authority.
  • Today, a woman serving in Iraq or Afghanistan is more likely to be raped by a fellow service member than to be killed in the line of fire. Nearly on in three women is raped during her service, according to a Veterans Affairs Administration study.
  • In 2000, sexual assault among youth aged 12 to 17 was 2.3 times higher than for adults. Adult retrospective studies show that one in four women and one in six men were sexually abused before the age of 18.
  • When it comes to women and girls with developmental disabilities, as many as 83 percent are the victims of sexual assault at some point in their lifetime.


HUGE thanks to the Ms. Foundation for this incredible work.  I join you in celebrating 40 years!!!!!!! as a foundation and a leader in funding and supporting grass roots women’s organizations. I invite EVERYONE to the Gloria Awards (see video of her talking about it here) on May 13th 2013 to celebrate! With a special shout out to awardee Lauren Embrey, one of the most incredible women I am honored to know and call a friend. (and Women Moving Millions Board Member!)