It's not about the money

It's not about the money
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Amidst the bleak news we are getting these days, let's put the spotlight on something positive to mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. In the history of humankind, levels of extreme poverty have never been this low. There has been a lot of progress. Between 1990 and 2015 the number of people living in extreme poverty dropped by over 50% - from 1.9 billion people to 836 million. That's really good news but we are not there yet. We all need to better understand why we still have poverty around us and what we can do about it.

Poverty is not only about no money in our pocket. Although many measures of poverty focus on income, it is much more than that. This means that when you are born poor, not only are you struggling with money to buy things but everything is uphill. Getting a decent education, access to healthcare and affordable goods and services at fair prices. Did you know that the people that pay the most for clean drinking water are people living in slums? Or did you know that the people that pay the highest interest on their loans are the poorest?

When you are poor you end up living in low-income neighbourhoods where good public transport, decent schools, shops and proper internet and cell phone coverage is not a given. This translates into a series of negative economic and social consequences. School drop-outs, segregation, limited goods and services to choose from and long commutes that take away from quality family time, education or even payable working hours.

This is not a problem that we can fix with money alone. We need to build societies so that every single person on the planet has a decent chance at a good and fair life.

Every year, the UN commemorates the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. It should be a day like no other. The global fight against poverty is a collective effort that draws on our humanity. It shows our respect for human rights and human dignity. The good news is that we can all contribute. It's not just about charity or philanthropy; it is about building societies where people have the chance to reach their full potential. It's about empowering people to be able to make their own life choices and ultimately have real opportunities.

So how do we do this? Governments and institutions need to do their part but so can each and every one of us. We can donate, share, build, transform, invite, change, teach, discover, mentor, engage, rally, talk, brainstorm, research or write to build a poverty-free world. It's really up to us. And that's not all. By helping others address their poverty by empowering them, we actually help ourselves. When individuals get richer, the whole community gets richer as well!


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