Today is Blog Action Day with a focus on poverty, but I have to admit right up front that I’m not a big fan of these “action day” events because they mostly feel like a way to alleviate guilt rather than an avenue to really help anyone. I think having hundreds of people write about the same topic on the same day is just overwhelming, not particularly effective. Nonetheless, since there are lots of bloggers writing about poverty, I thought I’d share a little bit about the excellent work to eradicate global poverty that the United Nations has been doing for years and hopefully bring a few worthy organizations to your consciousness.
I’m going to start by quoting the UN’s Social Perspectives on Economic Development: “poverty eradication is an ethical, social, political and economic imperative of mankind and [we call] on governments to address the root causes of poverty, provide for basic needs for all and ensure that the poor have access to productive resources, including credit, education and training.”
A big task, but that’s the path out of poverty. To further illustrate…
I’d like to offer up a couple of large international groups that have been working on reducing global poverty for more years that blogs have been around, starting with The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.
In Social and Welfare Issues the organization notes “fostering individual and social development requires more than [policy changes]. A wide range of issues from employment, trade and labour standards, health, family, gender-equity to education and population ageing needs to be addressed.”
It’s the depth and complexity of poverty that I want to highlight in this blog entry: poverty isn’t about people not having money, though I imagine that’s what you thought when you first came across the topic. “Poor” translates to lack of opportunities to not be poor.
Another organization that is doing great work in this area, particularly in the so-called third world, is the International Fund for Agricultural Development. Its Rural Poverty Report states: “Although agriculture is a private enterprise, its role in providing public goods for society as a whole cannot be regulated exclusively by the market and needs to be supported by strong and proactive public policies.”
That by itself will make the pure free-market economy politicians cringe, but the IFAD analysis continues: “Rural poverty reduction is possible when and where poor rural people are empowered, and the right combinations of enabling policy and rural investments are in place. Pathways out of poverty are diverse. They are affected by global processes but depend on local conditions, institutions, initiatives and investment. More attention from policymakers, more policy space for countries and rural societies to decide their own path to development, and more innovation are needed to address this diversity.”
Again, the theme is economic empowerment as a path out of poverty. It’s not about you and I donating $10 towards helping poor people have a nice blanket or TV, but about a fundamental restructuring of society that empowers and enables everyone to attain the socio-economic level they seek, with the support — not hindrance — of their government, culture and society.
Finally, I have supported the United Nations Children’s Fund: UNICEF for many, many years, and while you may think “what does that have to do with poverty?” I will simply say that it’s a huge influence. As UNICEF says on its Poverty Project page: “Millions of children around the world miss out on their childhood as a result of poverty. Poverty deprives them of the capabilities needed to survive, develop and thrive. It prevents them from enjoying equal opportunities. It makes children more vulnerable to exploitation, abuse, violence, discrimination and stigmatization.”
Let’s end this on a positive note: Don’t just talk the talk, click and donate a few dollars towards solving the global problem of economic empowerment and you’ll help take a step towards really eradicating global poverty.
Skip your morning coffee and support UNICEF today