A WOMAN from Oxford has taken the fight against global poverty to Europe’s corridors of power as she lobbies to guarantee the amount of aid for developing countries.
Nineteen-year-old Ellie Ratcliffe, from Jericho, has been putting pressure on British politicians since April. It is part of her role as a youth ambassador for the ONE campaign, which aims to end extreme poverty worldwide by 2030.
On September 12 the former Oxford High School for Girls pupil hopes to see her efforts pay off as a bid to secure foreign aid spending reaches a vital stage in Parliament.
Working with 24 other youth ambassadors from across the UK, Miss Ratcliffe has been trying to get 100 MPs to support a private members’ bill before it goes to committee stage in the House of Commons next month.
The MPs’ support will make the bill – to guarantee 0.7 per cent of UK national income being spent on foreign aid – more likely to be approved at committee.
Miss Ratcliffe, who studies politics and geography at Durham University, became an ambassador for ONE – an international campaigning and advocacy organisation cofounded by musician Bono – through her interest in politics and international relations.
She was inspired, she said, by her teachers at Oxford High School for Girls. She said: “I first knew what I really wanted to do in my first year of A-Levels when I was at Oxford High.
“My politics and geography teachers inspired me by the way they encouraged you to engage with the content of the subject above and beyond what was expected of you in class. They really encouraged you to follow your interest in a subject out of class.
“I guess growing up here has made it something more at the forefront of my mind because people talk about these issues a lot in Oxford.
“Being a youth ambassador has been a good opportunity to influence policy, which is something a lot of people want to do but do not have the opportunity.”
Her six-month term as a youth ambassador began in April, a month before the elections to the European Parliament.
Since the European Parliament election in May Miss Ratcliffe has continued to lobby MPs and MEPs.
She said: “We have had an active petition on the ONE website going for quite a while and we have also been working quite a lot on social media.
“I have been writing letters to MPs in my area, for example Nicola Blackwood and Andrew Smith, and have been encouraging others to do the same.
“At the moment the youth ambassadors are targetting local MPs but the next step will be to do it on a more national level.”
The UK is currently the only G7 country which contributes 0.7 per cent of national income to foreign aid, and the youth ambassadors want to see this figure enshrined in law and adopted by other countries in the G7 and EU.
After the election Miss Ratcliffe travelled to the European Parliament in Brussels to meet youth ambassadors from across Europe.
She said: “We focus on extreme poverty, which means living on under $1.25 (75p) a day.
“We look at this because it is the lowest level of human existence, where people struggle to survive.”
To sign the petition visit one.org/international/take-action
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