Societies with greater gender equality enjoy more sustainable development and faster economic growth.
in their communities. And they are more likely to send their own daughters to school.
Yet around the world, women and girls are often drastically limited in their options and opportunities. Girls and women have all the same human rights as men and boys.
not only do women and girls suffer. Entire communities get stuck in a cycle of poverty.
are in the labour market, a figure that has barely budged in the last 25 years. In Northern Africa and Western Asia, women still spend over
With so few options available, perhaps it’s not surprising that globally, a disproportionate number of girls remain out of school, compared with boys. Or that
Imagine how things might have been different, if the mother had continued with her education – or received micro-finance support. What if the daughters had been educated? If they’d been able to access education in reproductive health and modern birth control?
5. Improve childhood nutrition
According to the World Health Organization, eliminating malnutrition is one of the most cost-effective solutions to poverty
. The developmental, economic, social and medical impacts of malnutrition are serious and lasting. It affects individuals as well as their families, communities and countries.
Nourishing babies and young children is one of the best ways to fight poverty. Doing so in this critical window can improve children’s well-being for a lifetime – not just as survivors. But as students, earners and leaders.
In Myanmar, World Vision Canada’s ENRICH program – in partnership with the Government of Canada – is working to ensure pregnant mothers, newborns and babies are nourished during the critical first 1,000 days of life. Photo: Paul Bettings
Conversely, malnourished babies and young children can become stunted for a lifetime – both physically and cognitively. In 2020, an estimated 149 million children under five were estimated to be stunted.
Here’s a sense of what can happen in a family in an impoverished region, without childhood nutrition:
- In South Sudan, extreme drought has withered a family’s crops, leaving each person with just one meal a day.
- The mother is malnourished when she becomes pregnant with a baby boy.
- Her developing fetus is deprived of key nutrients at a critical time of life – in the womb.
- The baby is born underweight, and there’s little breastmilk for him.
- The little boy grows up stunted, physically and cognitively.
- He is frequently ill and struggles to understand what’s being taught in school.
- The child is unable to complete primary school, affecting his prospects for a lifetime.
- He joins thousands of children in his region who are stunted, affecting the economic development of their community and region.
Imagine how things might have been different – had the mother received enough nutritious food in pregnancy and while breastfeeding. Her son could have benefitted immensely.
When seeking ways to reduce poverty, World Vision focuses heavily on childhood nutrition. For example, we:
6. Support environmental programs
Climate change is drastically impacting poverty
. In fact, experts agree that any viable solutions to poverty must include environmental programming
– not just in poor countries, but around the world.
Between 2030 and 2050, climate change alone is expected to cause approximately 250,000 extra deaths per year. That’s from malnutrition, malaria, diarrhea and heat stress alone, says the World Health Organization
In 2011, children Guatemala helped World Vision plant trees, to reverse the effects of deforestation due to firewood gathering. They grew up with more knowledge than their parents, about ways to protect the environment. Photo: Luis Gonzales
Seventy-five per cent of the world’s poor living in rural areas count on natural resources such as forests, lakes and oceans for their livelihoods. Extreme weather is playing havoc with these. And children in low-income countries
are suffering the most.
Here’s a sense of what might happen in a family in an impoverished region, without environmental programs:
- In Ethiopia, a family relies on wood for all their cooking.
- Each day, a young boy walks with his mother to the forest to gather fuel.
- The family uses it for cooking, heating water and selling at market.
- They are among the country’s 112 million people relying on firewood as their main fuel source.
- This contributes to deforestation and soil degradation, reducing crop yields and changing rainfall patterns.
- As the years go by, the family’s water source dries up, fuel becomes less widely available, and their income drops.
- The boy and his siblings grow up malnourished, unable to attend school because they walk longer distances each day for fuel and water.
- Without school, clean water and nourishing food, the cycle of poverty continues.
Imagine how things could have been different for this family – with different types of fuel and other income besides firewood. The forests might have been preserved. The children might have attended school, preparing for better jobs in the future.
When seeking ways to reduce poverty, World Vision often combines environmental programming with other work in a region. For example, we:
7. Reach children in conflict
The number of people globally who live near conflict
has doubled since 2007, according to The World Bank. That’s critical to know. Because in regions where conflict is prevalent, repeated cycles of violence and turbulence
often keep families trapped in poverty.
Forced displacement is a key factor in perpetuating – or even worsening – poverty. More than 82 million people are currently displaced
as a result of conflict, persecution, human rights violations and violation, according to the UNHCR.
In South Sudan, food rations distributed by groups like World Vision can make the difference between life and death for families who have fled violent conflict. Photo: Eugene Combo
When people flee their homes, they leave behind shelter, security and livelihood, creating situations of extreme poverty.
Moreover, new generations of children are starting their lives in poverty born of conflict. For example, an estimated 75,971 Rohingya babies
have entered the world in the world’s largest refugee camp since 2017.
Here’s a sense of what might happen as a result of conflict, without programs to fight poverty:
- In Syria, a family flees their town on foot during a rocket attack.
- They walk for 10 days to reach neighbouring Lebanon, where they can afford to rent just a single room.
- The parents find menial jobs that only just pay the rent, leaving nothing for food and other life necessities.
- To help make ends meet, their four children panhandle 12 hours each day.
- Two of the kids are beaten up – their proceeds stolen – and a third is sexually assaulted.
- Lebanon’s school system is overloaded – with an estimated 1.5 million Syrian refugees in the country – so the children can’t attend.
- They embark on a lifetime of destitution their parents never knew as children.
Imagine how things might have been different for this family. Had they received assistance with shelter, food, medical care and education, the children might be growing up with brighter opportunities for the future.
When seeking ways to reduce poverty, World Vision reaches into the world’s toughest places, meeting children wherever they are. For example, we:
8. Prevent child marriage
Child marriage is a fundamental violation of a girls’ inherent rights. Poverty is often a cause of child marriage but also, a life-long consequence
Because girls forced into marriage typically leave school early
and become pregnant quickly. Without education, girls can’t secure good jobs and may remain poor and unempowered for a lifetime. Without sufficient family income, their own daughters may not be able to attend school.
In India, members of the Hena Girl Power group play an instrumental role in stopping child marriages in their community. Poverty resulting from COVID-19 has prompted more families to consider the practice. Photo: Neola D’Souza
Child marriage also has a long-lasting impact on communities and societies. Experts agree the practice is an impediment to social and economic development
. Yet each year, an estimated 12 million girls marry against their will. More than 650 million women and girls worldwide
married as children.
Here’s a sense of what might happen in a family facing poverty, as a result of child marriage:
- In the Central African Republic, conflict and drought force a family to flee their community.
- After four months living rough while looking for work, their funds are about to run out.
- A man they meet expresses interest in marrying their 14-year-old daughter.
- The ‘bride price’ he offers could feed the girl’s family for the next year.
- Reluctantly, the parents agree, to ensure all their children are provided for.
- The daughter is devastated, but living far from community, has no one to appeal to for help.
- As a wife, she is expected to leave school for good – another heartbreak.
- Before turning 25 she gives birth to eight children, only five of whom survive.
- She is unable to help pay for her children’s life necessities, including education.
- Two of her daughters are married as children, perpetuating the cycle of poverty.
Imagine how things might have been different, had the daughter not been a child bride. She might have continued with her education, secured a good job and made her own decisions about marriage. She might have helped educate her own daughters, giving them more options in life.
When seeking ways to reduce poverty, World Vision works to protect girls from the dangers of child marriage by: