How Do We Combat the Devastating Effects of Poverty?
In 2020, we have to stop the nonsense of talking and start acting.
I notice a soft knock on the glass window of my car. Outside is what looks like an older sister and younger brother, both under the age of 10, holding out their hands and nodding their heads sideways; “please”, they say. By this time, I had known that these children wanted a few rupees (Indian currency). I looked towards my parents as if were to ask them, ‘what should I do?’. The traffic light was going to turn green soon. I quickly dug into my bag and pulled out a few candies, placing it onto their trembling palms. “Thank you”, they said, taking a moment to smile at me. After returning them with a smile, the two kids moved onto the next car, asking for money. The man didn’t open the window. The traffic light turned green, and the children were left behind on the road.
I hadn’t always given candies, I would be lying if I said that there weren’t any times when we ignored them. I was 13 back then. I am 15 now, asking myself why I hadn’t given more at the time.
To get closer to an idealistic society where people can afford 3 full meals a day, a shelter for safety, or even a clean glass of water, how do we ensure these basic necessities of life for the global population? We mention, discuss, and speak against the tragedies faced by many who are unable to live and pursue their dreams. We talk about the importance of spreading kindness, love, and joy, but we are too egotistical to act upon it and make it a reality. Consider these facts: UNICEF claimed that 22,000 children die each day of living in extreme poverty. The World Poverty Clock, counting the real-time estimate for poverty, depicts that 8% of the world’s population is living in poverty right now. As global citizens, we each have a responsibility to contribute and sustain an environment where everyone can live in safe conditions.
The United Nations devised a list of goals to achieve by the year 2030, in order to construct an environment that is sustainable and safe for human beings worldwide. The first goal listed is the eradication of poverty in both, developing and developed nations. The UN affirms that increasing employment and work opportunities is fundamental to ease monetary concerns that cause the inability of a family to cover the costs of daily commodities. Creating new job positions or allocating additional space for employment is extremely significant for the poor to contribute to the economy, and increase funds/services for the citizens. This would require certain skills and additional training, but it would surely suppress the cycle of poverty amongst many families. Therefore, raising awareness to enforce productive employment programs is the first step to reaching the goal for 2030. However, increasing employability is only possible if an adequate level of education is provided for children and adults to build skills such as critical thinking or communication. India, for instance, implements a compulsory right where children are allocated free education from the 1- 8th grade. Despite this law, the quality of education remains weak in rural areas due to the reduced salary and lack of experienced teachers, as well as poor infrastructure and environment of the school. In addition, children are subjected to child labor to earn money for the family, thus decreasing the reliability of the education system. Hence, the state or non-profit organizations should establish social protection services, a regulation written in Article 22 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, in order to ensure the security of an individual, mentally and physically. Social protection can be provided through the implementation of public services and social programs for those in need. This includes supplying sources of education for children, monitoring the families’ needs, providing meals, or even gifting toys during the Christmas season. Ensuring these policies will allow a child to focus on their education and live in appropriate conditions, allowing them to pursue a life without poverty in the future.
2019 marks the 28th anniversary for the annual event of the international day for the eradication of poverty, following the global campaign, #endpoverty. This year, the theme of the campaign was: ‘Acting together to empower children, their families, and communities to end poverty.’ Since poverty can heavily impact a child’s emotional and social development, it is important to help contribute to eliminating such issues, while considering the consequences that could arise as a result of poverty.
The UN has asserted that if the world does not take action now, 167 million children will be living in extreme poverty by 2030. So, why should we wait until the last minute? Raising awareness is undoubtedly significant, however, it is meaningless if we are not taking any action alongside. We often make impulsive purchases because we simply like to buy things, not because we need it. At the end of the day, we end up asking ourselves why we purchased those things. Despite being aware of these actions, we still neglect the many issues pertaining to poverty. Although we may not be in positions of power to control the legislation laws or regulate the policies to combat such issues, we are capable of giving. Even if it is to give a small piece of candy, these simple deeds can make a substantial difference to the world.
Be the change in society, help the people in need, and stop being close-minded.
World Bank. "Going Above And Beyond To End Poverty: New Ways Of Measuring Poverty Shed New Light On The Challenges Ahead." World Bank. 17 Oct. 2018. Web. 25 Dec. 2019. <https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/immersive-story/2018/10/17/going-above-and-beyond-to-end-poverty-new-ways-of-measuring-poverty-shed-new-light-on-the-challenges-ahead>
N.a. "Social Protection | Poverty Eradication." Un.org. 28 Aug. 2015. Web. 25 Dec. 2019. <https://www.un.org/development/desa/socialperspectiveondevelopment/issues/social-protection.html>
Journalists. "Ending Poverty." Un.org. 3 Dec. 2018. Web. 25 Dec. 2019. <https://www.un.org/en/sections/issues-depth/poverty/>
In, Log. "11 Facts About Global Poverty." DoSomething.org. n.d. Web. 25 Dec. 2019. <https://www.dosomething.org/us/facts/11-facts-about-global-poverty>
India Today Web Desk. "What is the rural education scenario in India and how can we change it?." India Today. 5 Aug. 2019. Web. 2 Jan. 2020. <https://www.indiatoday.in/education-today/featurephilia/story/what-is-the-rural-education-scenario-in-india-and-how-can-we-change-it-1577444-2019-08-05>
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In 2020, we have to stop the nonsense of talking and start acting.