Different Aspects of Poverty

October 14, 2011 • Daily Email Recap

Thanks to Jane Roberts for this piece. See (pdf): http://www.ladybugflights.com/pdf/featured.pdf

Different Aspects of Poverty

from Jane Roberts

Poverty is a relative concept. I would feel deprived if in my 70th year, I couldn’t go out and play golf twice a week at a total cost of about $70.

In Somalia suffering both from a long drought and from an Islamist insurgent movement hindering humanitarian aid, women are leaving their too weak children by the roadside as they walk for days with their stronger children to reach United Nations refugee camps. Some American families can’t put enough food on the table and others, if they put food on the table, can’t pay for music lessons for their child.

My son, his girlfriend and her 5 year old son, whom we adore, absolutely couldn’t survive without our financial support. They would be very poor even though our son has a low paying job. She is disabled with epilepsy and can’t work.

Children in India dumpster dive for a usable or saleable “anything”. Of the 7 billion people on earth 1.5 billion live in extreme poverty, (on less than $1.25 per day) as defined by the United Nations. An equal number lack access to adequate clean water and sanitation. Most of these people are hungry. Forty percent of African children are undernourished. This is POVERTY in capital letters.

In the year 2000 the United Nations adopted eight Millennium Development Goals the first of which was to cut extreme poverty and hunger in half by 2015. In support of MDG 1 there are seven others supporting education, empowering women, cutting infant, child, and maternal mortality, improving maternal health, cutting the burden of disease (malaria, AIDS, tuberculosis etc.) working toward environmental sustainability and partnering for economic development.

This is all good, but here is the catch. The world is gaining 78 more million people each year ninety-seven percent of whom live in developing countries. As of right now 82 percent of the 7 billion human beings live in developing (read “poor”) countries. By 2050 it will be 86 percent. An article in the July 29 Science Magazine warns of “cluster bombs of demographic disasters”.  Nigeria and Pakistan are cited as examples.

The world has made progress. Extreme poverty is decreasing, Fertility rates are falling from 5 children per woman worldwide in 1950 to 2.5 children today. But it is hard for me to see hopefulness on the horizon. There will be 9 billion of us by 2050 all wanting education, health, food, water, resources for our creature comforts, a job. I frankly don’t think the planet or people are up to the task.

I envision one possible solution to mitigate the worst. That solution is gender equality. This short paper can’t possibly do justice to this enormous subject. But unless girls and women are given full access to education, health, and choices for their lives and can use the power of their potential to offer and implement solutions to problems, I think we are lost.

Gender inequality is the moral challenge of the age. I believe it is one of the root causes of poverty. Gender equality is the thrust of 34 Million Friends of the United Nations Population Fund which I launched in 2002 and which is still going strong. No, you can’t by yourself solve poverty, hunger and disease on your own, but you can take a stand for the women of the world through 34 Million Friends. Please look it up at www.34millionfriends.org.

Thank you!

Cheers, Jane

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