POSTED February 12, 2018
How is inequality undermining our fight against poverty?
What we can learn from a report that highlights divide between rich and poor
By Patrick Canagasingham, CEO
Why is poverty still such a huge global issue? I hear this question often. The answer is both complex and simple. It’s also frustrating.
There is good news. In the 20 years between 1990 and 2010, Oxfam reports that the number of people around the world living in extreme poverty has been cut in half. And, that number has continued to fall.
The problem? Two-hundred million more people could have escaped poverty if not for a surge in inequality.
Oxfam laid bare these staggering statistics in its report “Reward Work, Not Wealth.” In short, it highlights the fact that the world’s profits are rising faster than wages.
We see the gravity of the situation in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) conceived as a global catalyst to end poverty, build peace and ensure dignity for future generations.
SDG 10 calls on the world to “reduce inequality within and among countries.” So, how are we all doing our part?
It’s a loaded question, especially since inequality is big part of our fight against poverty and injustice.
Visit a Dalit community (the lowest caste or class) in India, and you will see people deeply entrenched in social exclusion, often living in segregated ‘colonies.’ They face inequality daily, taking low paying and dirty, dangerous jobs no one else wants, such as cleaning sewers.
Though there are efforts to address these issues, many accept their “position” in society despite the fact that the government technically abolished the caste system in 1950. For these people, speaking up for their rights can be a challenge. And, their children are often destined for the same fate.
So, last year when I visited Christian Children’s Fund of Canada-supported communities in India with Dr. John Dirks, our Board chair, and Belinda Bennet, our country director (pictured above), we asked the younger generation from Dalit communities what they wanted to be when they grew up. You might be surprised with what they said. Can you guess?
They have dreams of being pilots, doctors and teachers, just like their global peers. It’s our duty to make sure these children can chase those dreams (and have a chance of reaching them). Only then can they break a vicious cycle keeping their families imprisoned in poverty.
I’m the first to admit I don’t have all the answers. It will take the combined effort of various governments, civil-society organizations and the public around the world to spur global change. We will need to accomplish SDG 10 together.
Many are taking the first steps. We were pleased to hear from Ashwini Kumar Choubey, health and family welfare minister-of-state in India, about his recent motion in Lok Sabha (parliament) to ensure all children in India have comprehensive healthcare. He believes healthcare should be their right, rather than just for targeted examinations and treatments. Such efforts are necessary to mitigate the significant inequality in India.
For our part, CCFC is empowering vulnerable children, youth and families around the world to believe in themselves and advocate for access to food, health, education and other basic human rights. (See our results.)
Help us on our journey. Raise your voice with a message of love and equality. Working together is, after all, our only option to make positive, lasting change.