“Getting out of the little national bubble”

12 Jun 2023

LMU student Leandra Engelfried campaigns for global justice. Among other roles, she is a Youth Ambassador for an international initiative fighting extreme poverty.

Portrait of Leandra Engelfried

Student Leandra Engelfried is involved in several initiatives devoted to children’s rights and global justice. | © LMU

“Where a person is born should not determine how they can live their lives,” says Leandra Engelfried. The 21-year-old studies political science and history at LMU. Currently spending the final weeks of a year abroad in Tel Aviv, she is involved in several initiatives devoted to children’s rights and global justice. Leandra has been a Youth Ambassador for ONE since March of this year. “

ONE is an international movement that wants to eradicate extreme poverty and preventable diseases in the world by 2030,” she explains. “An example of a preventable disease would be AIDS. Although the disease is treatable today, it is still passed from mothers to their children in some countries. Or diseases for which there have long been vaccines at our latitudes, but which are not distributed enough internationally.” Founded 20 years ago by U2 singer Bono, the ONE campaign wants to create equal opportunities for all. “We want the countries we live in to be aware of, and live up to, their responsibility – for example, by putting enough money into development cooperation.” The organization sees itself as independent and nonpartisan and is funded almost exclusively by foundations, philanthropists, and businesses.

Lobbying politicians

Leandra Engelfried became aware of the organization through a former schoolmate who shared her passion for global justice issues. “Along with him, I became a student representative, and we carried out various initiatives – such as an event in the schoolyard to mark World AIDS Day.”

Leandra is one of 50 ONE Youth Ambassadors in Germany, three of whom live in Munich. “Apart from me, there is a fellow politics student at LMU and a film student at Macromedia University.” At a kick-off event in Berlin in March, they all got to know each other personally; and now they discuss things digitally – at a monthly online meet-up and in a WhatsApp group.

“A current focus of our work is on feminist foreign policy and particularly development policy,” says Engelfried. “We want to raise awareness for how much unpaid work women do in countries affected by poverty – from the schooling they often give their children to medical care at home. Of course, the phenomenon exists here as well. But in countries struggling with poverty, the effects of this inequality are often simply more dramatic.” In addition, the ambassadors want to show that the emancipation of women goes hand in hand with economic progress.

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In Engelfried’s view, development cooperation should not be about charity, but about working together as equals. “It’s simply a question of justice.” After all, historical dependencies are no small part of what pushed many countries into poverty, explains the politics student, alluding to colonialism. “Global justice is super important to me precisely because of my own privileged background in many respects, but also on account of my interest in history and historical connections.”

Her consciousness of political and social structures is also shaped by her studies at LMU. “In political science, we learn of course how a political system works and where pressure needs to be applied to change something.” However, she is particularly interested in international relations. “It’s about power imbalances, hegemonic structures in the global system.” Engelfried hopes to do a master’s degree where she can dive into such topics in greater detail.

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Leandra Engelfried’s social engagement goes beyond her work as a Youth Ambassador for ONE. She also heads the UNICEF University Group in Munich together with a fellow student. This group collects donations through creative campaigns, teaches in schools about the rights of children, and organizes poetry slams and benefit concerts. In addition, Engelfried volunteers with the grassroots organization Brand New Bundestag, which campaigns for progressive political ideas and the broader representation of social groups in the German parliament. Apart from her volunteering work, she is passionate about reading and writing, which comes in handy, for example, when drafting press releases for planned campaigns. “I’m generally a words person. And right now, being abroad, I love to travel. Exploring the countries of the Middle East is of course very exciting.”

Leandra Engelfried will return to Munich in May, which will allow her to carry out her work as a ONE Youth Ambassador on site. “In Munich, we can get a lot going locally: organizing info booths at festivals and street events, talking to local political representatives, making contact with Munich journalists, and taking part in demonstrations,” says Leandra Engelfried. “We simply want to make people aware of international crises – and take them out of the little national bubble in which we live here.”

For more information, see:

Initiative One: Global movement campaign to end extreme poverty and preventable disease

Unicef-Hochschulgruppe München: News und Events

Brand New Bundestag: Understanding and demands

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