Gender Equality in Lithuania
Lithuania ranks ninth in the world for gender equality, according to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report for 2023. Here are seven facts about gender equality in Lithuania.

7 Facts About Gender Equality in Lithuania

  1. Women’s Day in Lithuania: Women’s Day in Lithuania is celebrated annually on November 2. It marks the day in 1918 when Lithuanian women received the right to vote. To acknowledge the momentous 100th anniversary since women gained suffrage, the capital city of Vilnius put up several female-inspired pedestrian crosswalk lights in 2018 in place of the traditional male symbol.
  2. The Effects of COVID-19: The spread of COVID-19 had a disproportionate effect on men’s and women’s involvement in household tasks. In particular, 2021 saw 57% of women in contrast to 13% of men in Lithuania holding the sole responsibility of childcare. This 44% divide exists as one of the larger gender gaps throughout the European Union (EU). Similarly, in 2021, 70% of women in comparison to a significantly lower 8% of men reported holding the responsibility of household caretaking duties. These duties were also more strenuous for women as 16% of women devoted more than four hours a day toward chores compared to 5% of men.
  3. The Gender Pay Gap: The gender pay gap still persists in Lithuania, despite the country being recognized for equality. Reports indicate that women earn approximately 14% less than men. In addition, according to the State Social Security Fund Board in 2021, women-dominated sectors still see a disparity in pay with their wages generally being lower than their male counterparts. Gender statistics provided by CreditInfo Lithuania also underscore 72 out of 81 professional fields in Lithuania where men traditionally earn more than women. While these statistics can be impacted by complex features including childcare leave and the number of men and women in an individual sector, it is evident that the country can do more to address this gap.
  4. Violence Against Women: Violence against women ranging from domestic abuse to femicide is a crucial matter to address throughout the EU with 788 women killed by a partner or relative across 17 member states in 2020, according to the European Institute for Gender Equality EIGE). Additionally, 13 women from Lithuania contributed to that total. To address violence against women, in June 2013, Lithuanian officials signed the Istanbul Convention — a human rights treaty dedicated to tackling violence against women. However, the convention remains unratified which demonstrates the need for more action to combat violence against women in Lithuania.
  5. Female Prime Minister: Lithuania elected the first female president of Lithuania in May 2009, almost a century after women had gained the right to vote. However, even the first national election in 1920 saw women alongside men occupying positions of power as parliamentarians. Currently, female politician Ingrida Šimonytė acts as the prime minister of the nation. Furthermore, female politicians Aušrinė Armonaitė and Viktorija Čmilytė-Nielsen represent the Freedom and Liberal parties respectively.
  6. Gender Equality: Among the member states in the EU, Lithuania received a score of 60.6 out of 100 in the 2022 Global Gender Equality Index. The country’s highest scores in the index lie in the fields of work, a measurement of fair access to employment and work benefits between men and women, and health, which compares gender equality in access to quality health services. For the aspects of work and health conditions, Lithuania received scores of 73.9 and 82.7 respectively. However, in other indicators such as time, which measures the sum of time between men and women dedicated to domestic tasks, Lithuania scored only 50.6.
  7. The Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men: For years, the Lithuanian government has enacted legislation to address gender equality. The Law on Equal Opportunities for Women and Men was adopted in 1998 and the Law on Equal Treatment came into place in 2005. These laws worked to “forbid any discrimination – whether direct or indirect – on the grounds of sex.” Moreover, lawmakers amended these laws in 2016 and reflected changes including a ban on the priority given on the basis of gender, a prohibition on requiring job candidates to disclose personal class and familial information and a bar on discrimination against women as a result of pregnancy, childbirth or nursing.

Looking Ahead

While Lithuania is one of the top countries for gender equality, it still has some room to improve. With the continued efforts of the Lithuanian government, women’s rights should see even further improvements in the years to come.

– Katrina Girod
Photo: Flickr

Uplifting Communities in the Philippines
Much like everywhere else in the world, poverty increased in the Philippines during the COVID-19 pandemic. As of April 2023, national poverty estimates show that poverty incidence rose from 16.7% in 2018 to 18.1% in 2021, translating to 19.9 million poor people as of 2021. Government and private groups alike are working to reduce poverty and uplift communities in some of the poorest areas in the country. Here are some efforts that are uplifting communities in the Philippines.

Kadiwa ng Pangulo

Arguably the most significant anti-poverty measure taken so far in 2023 has been the Kadiwa ng Pangulo at the end of February. The program aims to counter the country’s rapid ongoing inflation, specifically inflation affecting the rising cost of food.

Kadiwa is a government-backed market chain that works by having local producers sell their products directly to customers. This reduces the impact cost of a middleman, which results in higher income generated by selling their produce directly to consumers but also means reduced cost to the customer. There are currently more than 500 Kadiwa stores operational.

Arteche Egg Production

In Arteche, a town with a 58.66% poverty rate, organizations have collaborated with local governments to form a community-uplifting project.

During 2022, Arteche’s egg production sufficiency was only 20%. To meet the high demand in local markets, 40 egg-laying machines with 4,000 chickens have been provided to the area to further establish a basic food source for low-income citizens. The program has been estimated to double the egg production in Arteche.

An early September 2023 update reports that at least 114 farming groups with about 2,250 members in eastern parts of the Philippines will receive support as an extension of the egg production program and as a way of uplifting communities in the Philippines. The Department of Agriculture will be evaluating these farming groups to conduct quality control and any at-risk parties in need of additional support.

The department will also be using this as an opportunity to develop the local economies in the area by teaching farmers how to engage in the market more productively. This program will directly benefit 10 of the poorest areas in Eastern Visayas.

Manila Caravan Program

In Manila, the local government has established a caravan with the purpose of establishing better local housing for the poor. Specific types of citizens mentioned were students, teachers, senior citizens, persons with disabilities and informal settler families — families who live in local substandard living or are homeless.

The end goal of the caravan program is to establish self-sufficient communities with proper housing projects that include electricity and clean water provided by refurnished water pipes.

One of the most important aspects of building these communities is relocating informal settler families to housing areas; preferably close to their respective sources of income.

Impact of These Programs on Filipinos

Poverty is not about numbers on a page over an area; it is about unclean water, poor food and substandard housing. It is about living in an environment where growth is stunted. The Filipinos understand this and are working to improve the quality of life in neighborhoods.

 as well as other concurrent programs, such as the completion of 2,778 infrastructure sites, including roads, schools and health stations.

While the national inflation and significant poverty rate pose great challenges, people are working to alleviate the effects where possible and uplifting communities in the Philippines will result in a decreasing poverty rate in the next several years following the pandemic.

 – Eddie Dale
Photo: Flickr

Women Empowerment Through EducationEducation is a powerful catalyst for change, especially in countries like Nigeria, where gender disparities in access to education have long been a pressing issue. In this context, Women Empowerment Through Education (WETE) stands as a beacon of hope, striving to uplift and empower Nigerian women through education.

The Need to Increase Girls’ Education in Nigeria

Education is a fundamental human right, an agent for growth and one of the most effective means of eradicating poverty and advancing gender equality, health, peace and stability. Every additional year of education results in a 9% rise in hourly wages globally. Additionally, it promotes social cohesion and long-term economic prosperity.

Nigeria, a country with a rich cultural heritage and diverse population, has faced several socio-economic challenges, including gender inequality. Historically, women in Nigeria have had limited access to education, due to a patriarchal system, traditional preferences, gender-based violence and child marriage, resulting in restricted opportunities. 

Approximately 13.2 million Nigerian children are not enrolled in school, as President Muhammad Buhari said on January 16, 2020. Nigerian girls account for 60% of this number. This inequality perpetuates a cycle of poverty and vulnerability for many Nigerian women.

When women are educated, they are better equipped to make informed decisions about their lives, health and finances. They also have improved employment prospects, contributing to their economic independence and breaking the cycle of poverty. Recognizing this, Women Empowerment Through Education originated to address these issues head-on. 

The Work of Women Empowerment Through Education (WETE)

Women Empowerment Through Education, established in 2015 and registered with the Ministry of Gender Affairs and Social Development, started with a transformative project to change the lives of 11 young women from impoverished backgrounds. Many of them were plucked from villages where they toiled in domestic work and tended to others’ farms for insufficient wages. Under Sr. Dr. Mary Rose-Claret’s guidance, this initiative has become a beacon of hope, offering these women and many more a pathway towards empowerment and a brighter future.

Women Empowerment Through Education is now a multifaceted organization dedicated to empowering women in Nigeria. At the core of its mission, WETE provides comprehensive education and training programs designed to equip women with the knowledge and skills needed to succeed in the path of their choice. 

Through a diverse set of initiatives, WETE offers workshops that not only build essential career skills but also nurture personal growth and self-confidence. 

Beyond Education: Nurturing Holistic Empowerment

While education is undoubtedly a critical cornerstone for girls’ empowerment, its impact is maximized when joined with a holistic approach that addresses other crucial aspects of their lives. Women Empowerment Through Education recognizes that true empowerment extends beyond the classroom. This organization excels not only in providing education but also in nurturing personal growth, fostering skills development and addressing pressing social issues.

The organization’s commitment extends to a strong emphasis on addressing social issues. The organization offers scholarships to girls who face persecution for their faith, ensuring they have access to quality education by providing scholarships.

In addition, they provide crucial health care services to women in need, prioritizing their physical well-being. WETE also recognizes the pivotal role of women in agriculture and provides vital support, aiding them in becoming more self-sufficient in this sector. Furthermore, the organization extends its compassionate reach to support abandoned children, tackling the grave issue of malnutrition, reflecting its commitment to women’s empowerment and community development.

Women Empowerment Through Education embodies the transformative power of education when coupled with a holistic approach. By addressing not only academic needs but also personal growth, health care and social issues, this organization is shaping a brighter future for Nigerian girls. 

– Hannah Klifa
Photo: Unsplash

Collaborative EffortsGlobal poverty remains one of the most pressing challenges humanity is facing. Despite significant advancements in technology, economics and social systems, a considerable portion of the world’s population still lives in extreme poverty. Addressing this complex issue requires a multifaceted approach that goes beyond traditional methods. One promising approach is the power of collaborative efforts. By bringing together governments, NGOs, businesses and individuals, there is a good chance of working out a comprehensive fabric of solutions to resolve global poverty.

The Interwoven Nature of Global Poverty

Global poverty is a multi-dimensional challenge that transcends geographical and cultural boundaries. It encompasses economic hardship and social, political and environmental factors. The intricate interplay of these elements calls for a coordinated response and collaborative efforts that can address the root causes rather than just the symptoms.

The Role of Collaborative Efforts

Collaboration offers a unique advantage in tackling global poverty. It leverages the diverse strengths of different stakeholders and encourages holistic solutions. Governments can provide policy frameworks, resources and infrastructure. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) can bring grassroots knowledge, community engagement and targeted interventions. Businesses can contribute by investing in sustainable development, job creation and responsible practices. Lastly, individuals can also play a vital role through activism, philanthropy and consumer choices.

Case Studies in Collaborative Success

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs): A prime example of global collaboration, the SDGs outline 17 goals aimed at addressing various aspects of poverty, including education, health, gender equality and clean water. Governments, NGOs, businesses and individuals worldwide are working collectively to achieve these goals by 2030.

Microfinance and Social Enterprises

Collaborative efforts between financial institutions, NGOs and local communities have led to the development of microfinance initiatives and social enterprises. These empower individuals in poverty by providing access to credit, training and resources to start small businesses and improve their livelihoods.

Public-Private Partnerships

Collaborations between governments and businesses have been successful in developing essential infrastructure in underserved regions. This includes initiatives for clean energy, health care and education, which directly impact poverty reduction.

Challenges and Considerations

Collaborative efforts are not without challenges. Differences in priorities, communication barriers and unequal power dynamics can hinder progress. It is crucial to establish transparent communication channels, clear objectives and equitable distribution of resources to ensure that collaborative initiatives yield meaningful results.

Looking Ahead

Global poverty is a serious challenge, but it is not insurmountable. Collaborative efforts hold the potential to work out the required solutions. By harnessing the collective strength of governments, NGOs, businesses and individuals, there is hope for mending the gaps in the social fabric, uplifting disadvantaged communities and creating a world where every individual has the opportunity to thrive.

– Sudipta Barua Munmun
Photo: Pexels

Treat people with kindnessIn a world often marked by self-interest, few figures stand out as beacons of compassion and change. However, the British singer and songwriter Harry Styles’ commitment to making a positive impact on the world has become as notable as his musical talents. Beyond his artistry, Styles has consistently demonstrated a profound dedication to philanthropy, embodying his personal mantra: “Treat people with kindness.” While Styles has a history of charitable efforts, his recent endeavors underscore the breadth of his commitment to creating a better world.

Responding to Crisis

In April 2020, amidst the global uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Harry Styles unveiled a gesture that resonated deeply with his “Treat people with kindness” ethos. He released a t-shirt featuring the message “Stay Home. Stay Safe. Protect Each Other.” on the front and “This T-shirt fights COVID-19. Treat people with kindness.” on the back. All proceeds from the shirt sales were directed to the World Health Organization’s COVID-19 Solidarity Fund. Styles aptly reminded his fans of the power of human connection during challenging times, urging those who could, to contribute and support the fight against the pandemic.

In that same year, Styles extended his support to the Black Lives Matter Movement, advocating for change and justice. He made significant donations to help post bail for arrested organizers and shared a resounding call to action: “Look inwards, educate yourself and others. LISTEN, READ, SHARE, DONATE and VOTE. ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. BLACK LIVES MATTER.”

MusiCares Charity Relief Auctions

In a testament to his belief in the healing power of music, Styles donated a signed Gibson guitar to the MusiCares Charity Relief Auction in 2020, where it became one of the top-selling items at $28,125. MusiCares, a foundation that supports musicians in times of hardship, benefited from the proceeds. Styles’ dedication to fellow artists and the music community echoed his commitment to kindness and solidarity.

Styles continued his support through another MusiCares auction in 2022 by offering another signed guitar, along with a signed copy of his hit song ‘Watermelon Sugar’ and exclusive photos from its music video shoot. Through these contributions, Styles reinforced his dedication to fostering a resilient music industry.

Music as a Catalyst for Change

In 2022, Styles collaborated with Apple Music for a commercial. However, he agreed to participate on the condition that his payment for the ad would be entirely donated to the International Rescue Committee. This organization addresses global humanitarian crises, extending a helping hand to those affected by major conflicts and disasters. Styles’ decision exemplified his conviction that art and compassion should intertwine for the greater good.

Harry Styles’ benevolence extends to the heart of his music — his tour, “Love on Tour,” stands as both a celebration of his artistry and a platform for philanthropic action. Having raised over $6.5 million for various charitable causes, including but not limited to Save the Children, CARE and Rebuild Foundation, the tour serves as a testament to the communal spirit that Styles cultivates among his fans. At his final performance in 2023, Styles expressed gratitude for the atmosphere of togetherness his fans created, reaffirming the transformative power of music and kindness.

Harry Styles’ journey from a chart-topping artist to a champion of compassion exemplifies the potential for celebrities to wield their influence for good. His motto, “Treat people with kindness,” is more than just words — it’s a call to action that he embodies through his charitable efforts. Styles’ recent initiatives, coupled with his consistent past contributions, underscore his belief in the collective strength of humanity. In a world that often craves inspiration, Harry Styles serves as a shining example of how a simple message can spark meaningful change.

– Mari Caitlin Riggles
Photo: Flickr

Population StructureThe United Nations (U.N.) has been recording population data since 1950. Not once has another nation contested with China’s population — until this year. As of 2023, India has become the most populous nation with a population of 1.4286 billion, compared to China’s population of 1.4257 billion — a difference of 29 million. This shift in population bears the question as to whether this is a marker for a change in the global economy or whether this will only exacerbate poverty in India.

Consequences of Overpopulation

India’s vast population has been a continuous cause of poverty due to a strain on resources. More than 60% of India’s population live on less than $3.10 a day, the World Bank’s median poverty line. Furthermore, only 11.3% of children from the age of 6 to 23 live on an adequate diet, and while more than 90% of children attend primary school, less than 40% complete secondary school.

Overpopulation creates obstacles to providing adequate nutritional and medical care, high-level education and economic opportunities to the population as a whole, increasing poverty and income inequality. The population growth initially appears to increase poverty in India, only continuing the trends we have seen in the past; however, additional shifts in India’s population age structure are providing potential for new economic opportunities in India.

Shifts in Population Structure

Although India’s population is growing, fertility rates have declined by nearly 20% in the last decade. While there are more people of childbearing age, they are choosing to have fewer children than in previous decades. This is assumed to be correlated with the increase in education, urbanization, female status and family planning programs, which have been rising in the last 75 years of India’s independence. Now, working-aged people make up more than 60% of India’s population, producing a “demographic dividend,” economic growth potential that results from a shift in population structure.

Results of a Demographic Dividend

India’s new population structure provides the nation with even more human capital. To utilize this strength, India still needs to address its limitations in resources and care, which are the main causes of poverty. Investments in literacy, education and health are necessary for this larger working-age population to thrive. Additionally, the creation of jobs and increased economic opportunities is essential for the growth potential. Past developments in urbanization, increasing female status and caste system convergence could aid this effort.

The International Monetary Fund estimates a 6% medium-term economic growth in India. This estimation is mainly thanks to urbanization developments, such as road pavement, building new airports and expanding electricity and water access. While these developments are aiding in transportation and reducing obstacles to finding work, there appears to be a need to spread this investment toward rural low-income populations. Balancing urban growth with the prevention of increased income inequality could pose another challenge in addressing India’s new demographic dividend.

India continues to face the challenges of a rapidly growing population. As the nation struggles to provide the necessary resources and economic opportunities to support its population, there is a need for efforts that aim to fight poverty in India. On the bright side, India’s shifting population structure could be a catalyst for economic growth in India. With investments in job production and education in both urban and rural areas, there’s potential for India to capitalize upon its bustling population, rather than allowing it to exacerbate poverty.

– Aliya French 
Photo: Pixabay

Investing in EducationImpact investing is an investment strategy employed by individuals, companies or organizations seeking both financial returns and a positive social or environmental impact. This approach, when applied to education, could yield substantial benefits for individuals and developing countries alike. Education has the potential to enhance various facets of an economy, including health, empowerment and employment, as highlighted by EHL Insights. For instance, research suggests that achieving universal education, where every child acquires basic literacy skills, could reduce the number of individuals living in poverty by an estimated 170 million.

Reducing the Funding Gap

The private sector can significantly assist governments in developing countries in closing the funding gap and providing access to quality education for all children in these nations. This support is crucial as many developing countries face challenges in securing the financial resources required for universal basic education of high quality.

According to LEK Consulting, developing countries will need an expenditure of $3 trillion on education to provide “universal access to education” by 2030, which aligns with the sustainable development goals (SDG). This is more than double the 2020 expenditure of $1.2 trillion. The benefits of impact investing in education from the private sector can potentially fill in the gaps where government funding is absent or limited – improving issues of low access to education and low learning outcomes, both of which have implications for poverty alleviation in developing countries.

Impact Investing Improves Access to Education

Hewlett-Packard (HP) launched HP School Cloud, an open learning platform, in 2018 to help improve access to education via a $20 million investment. HP school clouds allow access to educational materials such as e-textbooks and thousands of lessons in STEM subjects like science and math without the need for the internet, allowing equitable access to education worldwide, particularly helping the most marginalized in society. The resources are aligned with an international curriculum standard set by UNESCO and OECD to name a few, with the aim of improving education for 100 million people by 2025. HP School Cloud is an important tool for accessing education. Ron Coughlin, President of Personal Systems Business at HP, states, “HP School Cloud ensures today’s aspiring students develop the skills for the jobs of tomorrow.”

Education is still the primary way for people to escape cyclical poverty in developing countries. Therefore, impact investing can help to improve access to education and help promote a better future by increasing employment status, generational wealth and income and wealth creation. The World Bank states that globally for every year of schooling, there is a “9% increase in hourly earnings.” This increase in earnings in turn contributes to the economic growth of a country. No country with adult literacy rates below 40% achieves rapid growth, demonstrating the importance of access to education for poverty alleviation.

Impact Investing Improves Learning Outcomes

The Union Bank of Switzerland (UBS) Optimus Foundation created the first Development Impact Bond (DIB) in education, Educate Girls DIB, in 2015 to increase the enrolment of marginalized girls and progress and improve literacy and numeracy among children who attended school, in the Indian State of Rajasthan. The DIB lasted three years until 2018. At the end of the program, the learning outcomes of enrollees “grew 79% more than their peers in other schools,” according to the Educate Girls Foundation. That is equivalent to an additional year of education.

Children need foundational knowledge that they learn in school to help them develop as individuals and thrive when they join the workforce. Improving low learning outcomes, particularly for women, can help build prosperous and healthy families. The benefits of impact investing in education in developing countries are likely to reduce children’s malnutrition by 50%, reduce the chances of children dying before the age of 5 and reduce their chances of turning to prostitution as a source of income, consequently reducing levels of HIV infection within a country.

Impact investing in education can help reduce poverty within developing countries by providing large amounts of funding in places where government resources are spread thin. Education is important for reducing poverty. Education increases economic growth and individual earnings, which benefit families and wider society. Furthermore, investing in education, particularly for women, leads to better health outcomes creating a healthier society.

– Kishan Patel
Photo: Flickr

2023 Women’s World CupHosted by the countries of Australia and New Zealand, the 2023 Women’s World Cup has not only impressed soccer fans worldwide with extraordinary athletic prowess, but it’s also making serious strides in the battle against global poverty. 

With its riveting mix of world-class competition and humanitarian efforts, this tournament is leaving an indelible mark on communities in need. While the world tunes in to experience marvelous goals and nail-biting matches, the Women’s World Cup is also catalyzing positive change on the global scale, channeling its influence toward uplifting vulnerable nations. 

A Winning Strategy for Poverty Alleviation

This year’s Women’s World Cup moves beyond the pitch, leveraging a massive platform to highlight one of humanity’s most pressing challenges: poverty. United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 1 targets eliminating poverty in all its forms by serving as a compass guiding the tournament’s philanthropic endeavors. By partnering with international organizations and employing innovative approaches, the event is encouraging socioeconomic transformation. 

Elevating Communities Through Grassroots Programs

At the center of the Women’s World Cup’s poverty-alleviation efforts are its grassroots initiatives. Joining forces with local organizations, the tournament is investing in community development projects that empower women and children, such as building educational facilities and health care centers and establishing vocational training programs. These initiatives are creating pathways out of poverty for marginalized populations.

Driving Economic Growth and Opportunity

The economic impact of the Women’s World Cup is a crucial force in the fight against global poverty. Countries that host, along with neighboring nations, witness a surge in tourism, investment and business development. As the tournament attracts more visitors and attention from around the globe, local economies experience a boost, resulting in increased employment opportunities and higher revenue streams. 

According to Travel Daily Media, host cities of the Women’s World Cup have seen a consistent average increase in the percentages of tourism-related activities, directly benefiting local communities. At the same time, small businesses, specifically those owned by women, are seizing the opportunity to showcase their products and services on a worldwide stage, contributing to sustainable economic growth. 

Uniting Nations for a Common Cause 

The Women’s World Cup has a unique way of fostering international collaboration and unity. As nations engage on the field, they also come together off the field to address split challenges. This year, participating countries’ teams have pledged a certain portion of their winnings to support impoverished projects. These combined offerings are projected to raise millions of dollars that are bound for channeling toward health care, education and empowerment initiatives in underserved regions. 

In a statement from tournament organizers, FIFA expressed their commitment to using the universal language of soccer to build a brighter future for those in need. The Women’s World Cup is not just a competition; it’s a movement that integrates athletes, fans and communities in the pursuit of a better world. 

A Lasting Legacy

As the final matches of the 2023 Women’s World Cup concluded, the impact of this immense event on global poverty eradication became increasingly evident. Through targeted grassroots programs, economic empowerment and international collaboration, the 2023 Women’s World Cup has proved that the spirit of competition can drive positive change beyond the realm of sports. With every goal scored along with every victory celebrated, the Women’s World Cup created a new chapter in the ongoing fight against poverty, showing that even in the face of adversity, empowering goals can change lives. 

– Nathaniel Scandore
Photo: Flickr

Early EducationEarly education is often underestimated, despite being a fundamental cornerstone of learning and development. It offers children a crucial platform to nurture their skills and knowledge from an early age. These skills can prove invaluable throughout their lives, enabling them to access higher-paying job opportunities. Education holds the potential to positively impact lives from an early stage by equipping individuals with the essential tools for success.

A Foundation for a Brighter Future

The impact of education on a child is significant. Research indicates that certain skills can be better learned at the first critical period of brain development, from age 2 to 7. At this age, kids exhibit an accelerated rate of learning. It is crucial to stimulate their minds during this period to unlock each child’s maximal potential. It is evident that further and higher education depends on the right foundation for kids to succeed at higher levels.

Some of the benefits of education at a young age include: 

  • Healthy brain development.
  • Improved social skills.
  • Independence. 
  • Problem-solving skills. 
  • A smooth transition into higher levels of education. 

Equipped with the right tools early on, children are more likely to progress and reach higher intellectual capacities. The right environment and skillset provide a solid groundwork for success — both academically and, eventually, occupationally. In the long term, early education provides the future generation with the necessary skills to acquire both high-quality jobs and higher-paying jobs.

Finally, research shows that children who spend longer in early education have improved educational outcomes in the future. It also shows that high-quality studying particularly benefits children from low-income backgrounds. Investing in children’s education leads to cost savings, as the next generation develops stronger human capital, resulting in a larger pool of productive workers. This, in turn, contributes to overall economic growth.

An End To Generational Poverty

Experiencing poverty as a child means that you are much more likely to be poor in early adulthood. This is the unfortunate truth for many children growing up in developing countries; when families struggle financially, the children feel the effects of the financial burden. With limited financial resources, education is difficult to access. Without it, potential job prospects become hard to acquire, and the cycle of generational poverty continues. 

Without early education access, many kids in poverty fall behind their counterparts. This creates a disparity in children’s capabilities, making the job of the teacher difficult to attend to each child’s level and need. The unfair disadvantage some children face is what keeps the vicious cycle going.

To break the cycle of poverty, childhood education plays a crucial role, and improving accessibility is essential. This can be achieved through various school programs and increased investments in education. Quality early education provides children with a strong foundation for learning and better prepares them for higher education, which, in turn, opens doors to higher-paying job opportunities. This process fosters generational change, where individuals who were once affected by poverty gain financial stability, ensuring that the next generation has an improved chance of avoiding poverty and breaking the cycle.

What’s Next?

Access to quality education in the early years holds significant importance for several reasons. Education, knowledge and skills serve as powerful tools in the fight against poverty. Early introduction to education creates opportunities that might otherwise remain inaccessible. Research has consistently shown that high-quality educational programs have the most profound impact on children living in impoverished conditions. By investing in the intellectual growth of our youth, there is hope for a more equitable and promising future. 

– Lewis Butcher
Photo: Unsplash

Water Security in Indonesia
On July 21, 2023, USAID announced its Indonesia Global Water Strategy High-Priority Country Plan, containing a new $50 million investment towards improving water security in Indonesia. 

This new funding will go towards the cooperative work of the governments of the U.S. and Indonesia with the aim of providing more than 1 million Indonesians access to safe drinking water and sanitation by 2027.

Unsafe Water in Indonesia

While unsafe water supplies affect people from a range of socio-economic backgrounds in Indonesia, those living in poverty suffer the most: 62% of the poorest Indonesians live on water that is not safe to drink.

Drinking from unclean water sources can lead to diarrheal diseases. This is a significant problem among young children in Indonesia, where one-quarter of all children under 5 suffer from diarrhea, and the main cause of child mortality throughout the country is diarrhea. 

These are the unfortunate effects of poor water sanitation. For this reason, the U.N. made safe sanitation management a priority in the development of its Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted in 2015. SDG 6 is dedicated to ensuring “availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all,” and is explicitly tied to UNICEF’s global Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) campaigns.


USAID’s new and ongoing work on water security in Indonesia forms part of the global WASH efforts. At the launch of the Indonesia Global Water Strategy High-Priority Country Plan during a meeting with the Regional Secretary of South Sulawesi, Andi Darmawan Bintang, USAID Assistant Administrator Michael Schiffer also announced the Indonesia Urban Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Market (IUWASH Pasar).

IUWASH Pasar is a five-year investment of $10 million, which aims to support the efforts of USAID’s existing water security strategy in Indonesia, the IUWASH Tangguh program. IUWASH Tangguh, launched in 2021, has the aim to help at least 1.5 million individuals in the country find access to water that is safe to drink and provide 1 million with safe sanitation.

With an injection of $44.1 million over five years, USAID proposes to work with not only the Indonesian government but also the private sector, NGOs, donor agencies, service utility providers and communities across the country to achieve four key aims:

  1. Increase financing for WASH and water resources management (WRM) sector governance.
  2. Widen access to safe drinking water and sanitation for the poorest urban communities.
  3. Improve the management of water-related resources, ensuring climate resilience in all seasons.
  4. Increase the number of women in leadership roles playing a part in the improvements to WASH and WRM.

Speaking on the newly announced activity and funding, Regional Secretary Darmawan Bintang praised USAID’s support in the fight for safe drinking water and sanitation in Indonesia. “We are proud to be one of the province partners for the implementation of the USAID High Priority Country Plan under the U.S. Global Water Strategy,” he said, “and we welcome the new USAID IUWASH Pasar activity.” 

As mentioned, USAID’s action contributes significantly towards global WASH efforts, headed by UNICEF. The latest UNICEF WASH Acts newsletter on Indonesia (October–December 2022) outlines some of the recent progress made by the NGO’s work in collaboration with the Government of Indonesia. This included a scale-up of the elimination of open defecation, and the advancement of safe sanitation programs in South Sulawesi, Aceh and Bekasi. 

Water Security and Vision of Indonesia 2045

In a 2021 report, the World Bank identified the importance of water security to the Vision of Indonesia 2045 plan. This goal — set by the country for its centenary — has the target of placing Indonesia in the top five global economies by 2045. Within this structured plan is the aim of transforming Indonesia into a nation with “high-income status and near-zero poverty.” 

The findings of the World Bank align with the new and existing work of USAID. Within its report, the organization laid out three key pillars for the improvement of water security in Indonesia, which it said will put Vision 2045 “firmly within reach.” These pillars are:

  1. An increase in sustainable water resource management and strengthened resilience to water security threats.
  2. An improvement to the “inclusivity, sustainability and efficiency of water services.”
  3. A strengthening of Indonesian governance for water management.

Moving Forward

USAID’s newly announced action to improve water security in Indonesia is a step in the right direction toward international aims. Following the research of the World Bank, USAID investment will help to provide safe drinking water and sanitation across Indonesia, advancing progress towards the near-zero poverty goal within Vision 2045. To ensure that water resources are made safe and secure for all Indonesians, the global aid effort must be sustained.

– Alice Weatherley
Photo: Flickr