Private Sector JobsThe private sector makes up nine out of 10 jobs in the global market and with about 735 million people living at or below the extreme poverty line, it is essential that this vulnerable population has access to private sector jobs. The private sector, also known as the citizen sector, is owned by private corporations rather than the government and companies all around the world make up the majority of the economy with private sector jobs. Companies within the private sector can greatly benefit from providing people living in poverty with jobs as an investment that will lead to global poverty reduction.

The Role of the Private Sector in Poverty Reduction

It is crucial that the private sector takes responsibility for providing jobs, even in situations that require extensive training and infrastructure, as an investment in people living in poverty will lead to competition within the market as well as exponential growth within the company. The Global Impact Sourcing Coalition (GISC) created a toolkit to provide private sector companies with the skills and knowledge necessary to reduce poverty through employment. This toolkit outlines the benefits of workplace inclusion for people living in extreme poverty, not only from an economic standpoint but as a social responsibility as well. Outlined in the toolkit is the importance of networking and creating opportunities for people to fight poverty.

Microlending as a Poverty Reduction Tool

The Foundation for Economic Education (FEE) prioritizes microlending from the private sector as a source of poverty alleviation. Microlending is the act of loaning out very small amounts of money to self-employed individuals living in developing countries by banks and institutions. The FEE highlights a famous example of this, Grameen Bank, founded by Muhammed Yunus in Bangladesh in 1983. The Grameen Bank makes loans of $30 to $200 per person and has been able to reach millions, majority of whom are females who use the money to buy supplies in order to make and distribute their products. This is just one example of private sector work being done to connect people with limited access to resources to the job market and create opportunities.

Social Impact Matters

Traditionally, poverty has been a focus of governments rather than private companies and institutions, however, recently, partnerships between these two have been sought as the U.N. Sustainable Development Goals are focused on poverty alleviation. These partnerships between governments and private organizations are focused in areas of development, education, health, agriculture and climate change, all of which prioritize private sector jobs to fight poverty. One motivation for the private sector to participate in expanding its labor force to vulnerable communities is that of reducing reputational risks and beneficial brand awareness. PYXERA Global looks into the opportunities provided by public-private partnerships through the lens of economic development and explains that customers are now more than ever likely to consider the social impact of a specific company when it comes to purchasing products.

Social Responsibilities of the Private Sector

In order for private sector jobs to fight poverty, it is essential that organizations and corporations take social responsibility to invest in vulnerable populations that will lead to long-term positive impacts for the global economy. Strategies to employ impoverished communities in the private sector workforce have already been put in place and will continue to be essential in both alleviating poverty and expanding the global economy.

– Caroline Pierce
Photo: Flickr

Disability in Palestine
Palestine has one of the highest poverty rates in the world. The country has endured decades of political and violent conflict with Israel. Palestinians must also battle increasing unemployment as well as a lack of resources. These factors are particularly detrimental for Palestinians with disabilities. Disability in Palestine is an ongoing issue and poverty exacerbates it further.

The Challenge of Disability

More than 15% of the world’s population suffers from some form of disability. These range from impairment in vision, hearing and mobility to trouble with memory and communication. However, developing countries are more vulnerable to disabilities due to their limited access to health care, education, water, sanitation and electricity.

The World Health Organization estimates that 1 billion people worldwide live with disability or impairment. About 130,000 of these individuals live in Palestine. Of the 5.4 million Palestine refugees registered with the UNRWA within Palestine, Lebanon and Syria, 795,000 of them have a disability. In Occupied Palestine, 31.2% of elderly Palestinians have one or more kinds of disability. Additionally, more males suffer from disabilities than females and about 20% of individuals with a disability in Palestine are younger than 18 years old.

Much of the disability in Palestine is a result of limited resources and an increase in violence. Insufficient prenatal and postnatal care, malnutrition and inadequate medical services all contribute to prolonged disability and impairment. This lack of proper and adequate services is a result of the Israeli blockade and occupation, which prevents Palestinians from accessing goods and services.

The increase in violence also has a direct effect on the number of disabled individuals. In particular, Palestine noted waves of violence and aggression in 2009, 2012 and 2014. As a result, large numbers of Palestinians have faced serious injuries. Out of the 11,231 Palestinians affected by these outbursts of violence, 10% experienced injuries that resulted in life-long disabilities.

The Effects of Disability

Disability can dramatically affect the livelihoods of afflicted individuals. The education and health care systems are largely operated by UNRWA and USAID-related programs through humanitarian assistance and funds. UNRWA has developed Disability Inclusion Programs, but very few of these initiatives focus on individuals with disabilities or increasing access to necessary services. In 2011, statistics showed that 42.2% of Palestinians with disabilities in Gaza and 35.5% in the West Bank had never enrolled in school. Further, 27.1% of Palestinians with disabilities dropped out of school and 56.3% struggled with illiteracy.

Acquiring access to health care and rehabilitation is very difficult, especially in Gaza, due to restricted movement and blockades. The same is true for access to medicine, supplies and staffing. Having a disability, without the proper resources to acquire treatment, education or income, can greatly increase the risk of poverty for an individual and their family. If an individual with a disability is already below the poverty line, their chances of escaping poverty are greatly reduced.

Having a disability in Palestine also hinders employment. The poverty rate in Palestine is 25% and unemployment reached about 29% across the board. More than 90% of individuals with disabilities in Gaza do not engage in employment. This is mostly because of the lack of accessible infrastructure, transport, toilet and assistive devices and services in these workplaces. The presence of disability, especially an insufficiently treated disability, prevents individuals from completing education and finding employment, which lends itself to poverty.

Wrap Up

Disability is a challenge in every country. Palestine, in particular, is not unfamiliar with the hurdles that individuals with disabilities face. From the lack of adequate health care services to the lack of education and employment accessibility, individuals with disabilities in Palestine are continuously vulnerable. Employers, educators, governmental organizations and NGOs should work together to create a more inclusive environment. The nation needs to see improvements in infrastructure and the provision of more resources all while increasing accessibility for Palestinians with disabilities.

Nada Abuasi
Photo: Flickr

Manufacturing in Ethiopia
Ethiopia has cultivated a substantial amount of progress in transforming its economy in the last decade due to a sharp focus on government policies and development strategies to advance its budding manufacturing industry. The country notes a thriving working-age population (workers aged 15 to 29) and a large portion of these eager workers are women.

As the country’s priorities shift from agriculture to industry as its most dominant source of employment and profit, the role of women and manufacturing has become fundamental to actualizing Ethiopia’s goal of becoming a middle-income country by 2025.

Women take up about 80-90% of jobs created in manufacturing, and as much of a progressive hurdle that is for Ethiopia’s labor force, there is still much work that needs to occur to make the manufacturing industry all-inclusive. Addressing these issues is crucial to achieving sustainable growth and transformation in Ethiopia and government leaders are beginning to recognize faults and mobilize toward ensuring the representation of women in the workplace.

The Role of Women in an Expanding Industry

On average, around 62% of women have migrated from rural regions to work in the manufacturing industry. With women being the core reason why industrialization in Ethiopia has boosted the economy, there comes a question as to why women are dominating the scene in jobs such as agro-processing, textile and apparel, and leather goods sub-sectors. An improving economy is a relevant reason why women are seeking more work, but another factor is that the majority of women working in the industry have less education, are younger and are working with lower pay than men. This widens the faction of who can work and is a cheaper asset for industries.

Companies also tend to prefer women over men because they perceive them as more quality-oriented, dependable, committed, stable and obedient to leadership. For 89% of women, these industry jobs provide them with a steady income for the first time in their lives. A reported 78% said that their income has improved and 63% stated that their family’s standard of living has also improved since working in the manufacturing industry. As positive as this sounds, there is data that contradicts these points. On average, about 40% of workers’ wages go to housing payments and data shows that earnings are barely covering basic living costs.

Continual Challenges Women Endure at Work

The Ethiopian Constitution (1995), Labor Proclamation No.377 (2003) and other laws have provided protections for female workers’ rights. However, the lack of enforcement of these laws delays any real progress.

In the manufacturing workplace, women are experiencing discrimination and harassment as well as oppressive risks when traveling to and from work. A United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) report stated that women are only earning 77% of what men make even with proper education and experience. Opportunities to earn higher wages prove to be scarce due to gender segregation in the Ethiopian industry. This stems from a gross misconception that women are incapable of working in high-level positions, resulting in women having a difficult time obtaining leadership positions, with 60% of women in the garment production cutting stage, 95% in the sewing stage and only 15% in the finishing stages.

When women do reach managerial or ownership positions, they frequently face restrictions on resources, markets, materials and general information that is critical for a profitable business.

Breaking Barriers to Manifest an Economic Dream

Women and manufacturing in Ethiopia are two dynamic elements that have the potential to generate a level of economic prosperity that Ethiopia has dreamed of. But, in order to fulfill these goals, major improvements need to occur on the ground level as well as the policy level to make labor in the industry more gender-inclusive. The Government of Ethiopia, in cooperation with development partners, has already launched proposals that target the standing issues.

For instance, the Ethiopian Investment Commission (EIC) has worked in partnership with the Department for International Development’s (DFID) Enterprise Partners Programme in establishing and delivering gender relations training packages for women workers and their, often male, managers in the industry. The training for women focuses on reproductive health, personal and menstrual hygiene, nutrition, sexual harassment, communications skills and confidence-building.

The Ministry of Industry (MoI) is also contributing to strategies and objectives for women and manufacturing in Ethiopia by setting up a gender coordination unit at each industrial park, especially at factories with more than 1,000 women workers. A 30% minimum quota is also in development for women in leadership and high-skill job employment that focuses on recruitment and promotions with annual rewards to those who perform best.

Visualizing an End to a Misogynistic System

The recognition of a woman’s value in the workplace is emanant, especially the role of women and manufacturing in Ethiopia. Although there is still much that Ethiopia needs to do, the country is making strides in ensuring women receive representation and equal treatment. On a political level, Prime Minister Abiy has appointed more women leaders in government, giving them as equal an opportunity as men. If businesses follow by example, Ethiopia will reach an economic transformation that could inspire other countries to do the same.

– Alyssa McGrail
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Eradication in Tanzania
Poverty eradication in Tanzania has seen success with the country’s poverty rate falling from 34.4% in 2007 to 26.4% in 2018. The country requires more renewable energies including solar, biomass, hydro and wind in order to create jobs and lower unemployment. Agriculture is the main part of Tanzania’s economy today and is a significant consideration when thinking about renewable energies. Here is some information about poverty eradication in Tanzania.

Poverty in Tanzania

The 2019 Tanzania Mainland Poverty Assessment of overall poverty eradication efforts in Tanzania shows that the country has made steady gains in lowering the overall poverty rates between 2011 and the present. In fact, poverty decreased by 8% in 10 years, down from 34.4% in 2007 to 26.4% in 2018. Most of the reduction in poverty was in rural areas and outside urban Dar es Salaam. However, the eradication of poverty in Tanzania has slowed down since 2012. For example, the economic growth on poverty reduction went from a 1% decline annually to 0.3% yearly since 2012-18. As a result, for every four Tanzanians who rose above poverty levels, three more Tanzanians fell into poverty. One reason for this is that families have a large number of dependents and less access to resources that would assist with basic needs, limiting their ability to access employment.

Poverty eradication in Tanzania has been successful based on the measures to eradicate poverty. For example, many in the country are using solar power now. While poverty and living conditions, in general, have experienced steady improvement, only 29% of Tanzania has access to electricity with 10% going to rural Tanzania and only 7% going to poorer families.

Facts About Energy and Energy Poverty in Tanzania

  1. Tanzania’s Energy: Tanzania generates its energy mostly from natural gas (48%), hydro (31%), petrol (18%), biofuels (1%) and solar (1%). Solar implementation would be beneficial to Tanzania region-wide, considering that its current sunshine hours range between 2,800 and 3,500 per year. The global radiation is 4-7kWh per m2 per day.
  2. Untapped Renewable Energy Sources: Tanzania still has a vast amount of untapped renewable energy sources that include biomass, hydropower and wind sources, as well as ample sunlight. Some of the country’s efforts to implement the use of solar power has been paying off greatly. For example, in rural areas, people are using 33% solar energy in contrast to urban areas that are only using 14% solar power. Meanwhile, the World Bank stated that “Despite some improvements, about 45 percent of households still rely on such inefficient lighting sources as torches and kerosene. Tanzania energy situation – Solar efficient energy sources for cooking has also improved slightly, but over 80 percent of all households, and more than 90 percent of rural and poor households, continue to rely on firewood and charcoal.”
  3. Biomass, Hydro and Wind: Biomass challenges facing the population include limited technical knowledge, lack of financial facilities for investment purposes into renewable energy and limited knowledge of the population’s different energy options to calculate cycle cost and make the best use of biomass renewable energy. Hydro is also a highly dependable source of renewable energy for Tanzanians, however, there is an area for growth and opportunity to utilize a different renewable source such as wind power. If, for example, the country does not have much rain, it might choose to depend on another source for energy, such as wind, although wind power has been slow to evolve.

Amplifying Employment Through Agriculture

A World Bank article looked at how Tanzania has reduced poverty and improved its economy over the last decade. However, it also uncovered that a large number of the population is still at risk of falling into poverty. Without sufficient job growth, the Tanzanian population, which is only growing larger, could experience trouble. The unemployment rate went down to 9.7% in 2020, showing considerable improvement in comparison to the unemployment rate of 10.3% in 2014. Urban areas show less stability regarding consumption inequality and inequality opportunities than rural areas. The need for increased education and general awareness to the entire population is why it is prudent to understand the renewable energy options available and get the population of Tanzania up to speed on the technology available to them, along with real resources.

The Tanzanian government’s Tanzania Development Vision 2025 and the Five-Year Development Plan (FYDP II) aim to eliminate poverty and sustainably industrialize with the goal of Tanzania becoming a middle-income country by 2025. As a result, the Tanzanian government is turning its attention to agriculture in order to increase the country’s socio-economic development, as outlined in the Second Agriculture Sector Development Program (ASDP II). Some of ASDP II’s goals are to increase commercialization, prioritize commodity value chains and mobilize capital by giving the formal private sector a growing role in agriculture. Agriculture drives about two-thirds of jobs in Tanzania and three-quarters for those in poverty meaning that the improvement of the sector is necessary to the creation of more and higher-quality jobs in order to reduce poverty.

Agriculture is and has been one of the mainstays economically. It also accounts for about a quarter of Tanzania’s GDP and makes up two-thirds of the jobs. It is prudent that Tanzania takes enhanced measures to improve the strategy and ensure the creation of more jobs according to The World Bank. Plenty of room exists for innovation and increased job creation to meet the acceleration of population growth. The focus goes back to the need to help Tanzanians understand and gain awareness of how to implement “commercialization, prioritizing high-potential commodity value chains, and mobilizing capital by giving the formal private sector a growing role in agriculture.”

Looking Ahead

As the world progresses globally in technology and trade, the question becomes, will the Tanzania population keep up? Many in rural areas still have employment in agriculture. Agriculture employment opportunities will continue to exist, but with more advanced equipment, thereby, creating more production opportunities to increase employment opportunities.

– Kathleen M. Hellem
Photo: Pixabay

Gen Z ActivismGeneration Z, born between the mid to late 90s and 2010, has proven to be highly outspoken and diverse. Succeeding the millennials, this group is at the front lines of activism advocating for key issues including equality, global health and mental awareness. Listed below are three ways Gen Z activism is changing the world.

Period Poverty

Periods can be uncomfortable to talk about, but they are a daily occurrence for women all over the world. Furthermore, many women are unable to access period products; homeless and disabled women, in particular, are often unable to obtain menstrual products. This sheds a light on a broader issue: according to UNICEF, 2.3 billion people live without access to basic sanitation services. In developing countries, only 27% of people have adequate hand washing facilities at home. This makes menstruation even more challenging to manage safely.

Period products can be inaccessible for a variety of reasons. For example, “pink tax,” the tax placed on female hygiene products, stands as a significant obstacle to obtaining essential period products. Unfortunately, even with some countries lifting “pink tax” on menstrual products, many period products are still needlessly expensive. According to UNICEF, many Bangladeshi families cannot afford menstrual supplies and use old clothing as alternatives. In India, only 12% of menstruators have access to sanitary products, pushing many to resort to unsafe materials as alternatives, such as rags or sawdust.

The nonprofit youth-powered organization, PERIOD, exemplifies one way Gen Z activism is changing the world. PERIOD has been able to set up chapters in 30 countries, push public schools to provide free menstrual products and expose unfair state taxes. Additionally, PERIOD donates menstrual products to prisons, shelters and schools.

Global Health

Generation Z is going to make up about 20% of the world’s workforce by 2020. The use of technology is more prominent with each coming year; a trend that will likely continue as Generation Z enters the workforce. Technology is here to assist the health care industry. Convenience is the word of the new generation and the theme of the future health care industry. For example, this means more efficient and more accessible diagnoses and treatments. The use of technology gives doctors the ability to classify more illnesses and access more avenues for research.

Health information technology provides a bridge between the developing and the developed world. Health IT makes it possible to diagnose, treat and inform people in rural and impoverished areas. SMS text messages can provide reminders for self-examinations and preventative care; people are able to receive health information via SMS messages as long as they have signal.

Employment

This new generation is also entering the workforce with new expectations. Generation Z activists are calling for a diverse and inclusive work environment. Generation Z is not loyal to any brand or store, more importantly, Gen Z shops for what is affordable and most impactful to communities or countries. Gen Z looks to serve, share and impact others rather than serve themselves. This gives them the power to shape the success or downfall of businesses and drive corporate change.

Gen Z will be the biggest consumer segment worldwide until 2030. Therefore, companies will attract employees by improving their social, environmental and economic standings. H&M, the Swedish fast-fashion house has launched a new website tool that lists details of their products’ suppliers and their factories. McDonald’s has also committed to cage-free eggs and more vegan menu items on its global menus. These simple changes show the efforts of Gen Z in the workforce and the progress that is still to come.

Gen Z is changing the way the world, shops, votes, works and plays. The world is evolving rapidly and Gen Z is ready for all it has to offer. Right at the front lines, Gen Z activism is making progress toward the future.

Sienna Bahr
Photo: Flickr

Dalit Poverty
The Indian caste system is a hierarchical social system that Hindu Indians are born into. India adopted the caste system over 3,000 years ago. The system consists of four main categories including Brahmins, Kshatriyas, Vaishyas and the Shudras. Meanwhile, each group possesses hundreds of castes and subcastes. The Brahmins are at the top of the caste system and consist of intellectuals and teachers. The warrior and ruler class, the Kshatriyas, are next in the hierarchy. Below the Kshatriyas are the Vaishyas who are traders. Lastly, the Shudras are at the bottom of the caste system. These people do unfavorable jobs. However, a group exists outside the caste system that is below the rank of Shudras. These people are known as Dalits or the untouchables. Here is some information about Dalit poverty in India.

The Dalits

While the government officially banned the caste system in India in 1950, its remnants still remain socially. To this day, the caste in which one is born determines their social status, job and marriage under unofficial social guidelines that Hindu Indians follow. Dalits still experience segregation from other castes in many aspects of society including education, healthcare and worship.

Dalits are severely disadvantaged when it comes to education. In fact, only 10-20% of Dalits can read or write and only 2-3% of Dalit women are literate. With over 50% of the general Indian population being illiterate, the education disparity between Dalits and other castes is apparent. Dalit children especially struggle with inequality when it comes to their education. Segregated from the rest of the classroom, other students often bully or ridicule Dalit students because of their caste. Female Dalit students must also perform certain tasks around the school that other students do not have to do like cleaning the bathroom for instance.

Poverty disproportionately affects the Dalits, or untouchables, in comparison to the other castes even though India has disbanded the caste system. About half of the Dalit caste are living in poverty and 60% of Dalit children are chronically malnourished. Most of the Dalit caste work in low-paying jobs that other castes do not look highly upon. Since their jobs do not receive respect, employers underpay the Dalits for the work they do, thus causing the high poverty rate.

Violence, Poverty and COVID-19

Hate crime and violence against Dalit women is very high in contrast to violence towards women of other castes. A woman suffers rape in India every 20 minutes and a large majority of these cases are against Dalit women. In India, people often see Dalit women as inferior and weak in comparison to women of other castes. As a result, men of other castes who see Dalit women as inferior specifically target these women for these violent crimes.

Recently, the women of the Dalit community have been the victims of a surge of rape and murder in India. Authorities make little to no arrests regarding crimes against the Dalit people and the government has not addressed or made any attempts to help end this crisis of violence.

The untouchables are struggling with poverty and inequality, especially in the wake of COVID-19. The untouchables must perform certain jobs that put them at an increased risk of contracting COVID-19. Also, the untouchables have very little access to protective equipment while performing these high-risk jobs. The Dalits live on the outskirts of villages where they have limited access to healthcare resources, making the untouchables more likely to have complications or die from COVID-19.

The Dalit Foundation

Many NGOs are attempting to help the discrimination and poverty-stricken Dalit caste including the Dalit Foundation. Established in 2003, the Dalit Foundation’s main objective is to secure equality for the Dalit caste. The Dalit Foundation provides education, scholarships and empowerment to members of the Dalit caste. This foundation, among many others, strives to help end this discrimination against Dalits until the Indian government can provide equal rights for their Dalit community.

The enforcement and security of equal rights of all Indian citizens are crucial to helping the Dalits end their oppression and poverty. The Indian government has yet to enforce equal rights for the Dalits so they continue to experience violence and segregation. Once the Indian government protects the Dalit people, gives them equal rights and ends segregation, Dalit poverty should reduce and the Dalit people should be able to receive equal pay, work in jobs they desire, marry outside their caste and get a quality education.

– Hannah Drzewiecki
Photo: Flickr

Skills Training for African Youth
Africa is no stranger to the challenges of an underdeveloped workforce. Africa has a history of economic crisis paired with harsh conditions to yield ample commodities. The trend for unemployment in Africa’s younger generations is trending upward. The rate at which African youths enroll in job-specific training is also rising slightly. As of 2012, 20.4% of young African students had enrollment in training that would benefit them in the workforce. Projections have determined that this number will be approximately 20.8% in 2021; a small but encouraging increase. Here is additional information about employment in Africa and how some are providing skills training to African youth.

The Situation

Unfortunately for young African women in job training, the numbers have dropped from 26.3% in 2012 to 25.8% in 2020. Cultural belief systems continue to be a barrier for young women in Africa entering the workforce.

Since 2012, the youth unemployment rate has declined from 11.8% in 2012 to 11% in 2020, and expectations have determined that it will remain at 11% in 2021. While Africa’s youth unemployment rate is lower than the global average, this is not a good indicator of economic success and a great need exists for skills training in Africa. About 37.6% of Africans in the workforce are living in extreme poverty and earning less than $1.90 USD per day which exceeds the global average of 35.4% in 2020. Research shows that the poverty rates link to the quality of work available in Africa.

Africa comprises 54 countries and is home to 1.2 billion people. Many industries exist that hold the promise of growth for the younger generation in Africa if they receive the proper skills training. Many of the jobs in Africa relate to farming. Projections state that Africa’s agricultural business will grow to $1 trillion USD in the next 10 years. About 50% of all of Africa’s usable farmland has not undergone cultivation yet. With the expansion of agriculture comes the need for jobs in advisory positions, veterinary medicine, management and more. Additionally, a greater need for professional services such as banks, communication companies, construction and technology will emerge.

Currently, African youth earn less than $150 USD per month on average. This statistic is true for youths who have been out of school for as long as five years and is largely due to a lack of skills training in Africa.

International Consultants for Education and Fairs (ICEF)

International Consultants for Education and Fairs (ICEF) recognizes the unique challenges that the younger generations in Africa face and seeks to respond by providing skills training to African youth. About 250 million youths in Africa are preparing to enter the workforce. Projections have determined that that number will rise to 321 million by 2030. Though students do graduate from secondary school, they often find themselves in what the U.S. would consider entry-level or lower careers such as driving a cab.

Even after paying university tuition while studying subjects such as math and science, youths in Africa still frequently lack the skills necessary to secure middle-class jobs. ICEF recognizes the need
for skills training in Africa to include vocational training and apprenticeships as a part of a degree program. Not only would these apprenticeships be beneficial to companies’ labor costs but they would also give students the hands-on experience they need to enter the workforce.

Beginning in 2021, ICEF will be returning to Africa virtually to help increase educational content to institutions in Africa that lack up-to-date academic plans and provide a network for educators in countries such as Rwanda, Nigeria, Kenya, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Ghana.

The last event occurred in Africa in 2019 and was a success at helping those who educate Africa’s younger generation and assist with skills training. About 241 individuals residing in 43 countries participated in the event. Thirteen African markets received representation and many made connections across the international education plane to help bring skills training to Africa and help lift more people out of poverty.

Meeting the job skills training needs of young people in Africa can offer a long-term solution to some of the tragedies that young people on the continent are facing today. With the collaboration of more developed countries sharing their approach and resources, Africa can make progress by providing skills training to African youth.

– Carolyn Lancour
Photo: Flickr

The Growing Concern of Elderly Poverty in France
Since the early 1970s, the mean standard of living for senior citizens above 65 years old in France has significantly improved. Complying with the guidelines that the second U.N. World Assembly on Aging (WAA) in 2002 and the Madrid International Plan of Action on Aging (MIPAA) brought up, France keeps implementing aging policies that focus on the health and well-being of elderly people, their participation and benefits in the social development and a more enabling and supportive environment. However, elderly poverty in France remains a socioeconomic issue. As of 2012, 17.5% of French people are over 65 years old, whereas working-age people between 15 and 64 take up 63.8% of the total population. A 2019 study reported that around one out of 10 elderly people in France lives in poverty, which is to say, there are now more than one million French people of old age living below the poverty threshold.

Wealthier than the Younger Population

Although elderly poverty in France is a significant issue, senior French citizens are not the most susceptible group to poverty. The elderly population is far behind young adults, females and immigrants in terms of one’s risk of poverty. The French National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies (INSEE) reported that in 2015, elderly people more than 65 years old are not only half as likely to fall into the lowest-earning 10% as their counterparts between the ages of 25 and 64, but their proportion among the lowest-earning 20% also decreases in the 21st century.

Such situations are the comprehensive outcome of a more continuous career and higher wages, higher retirement pensions, mandatory supplementary schemes and so on. They also have more time and opportunity for inheritance and savings, and their forms of resources are less sensitive to economic fluctuations. As such, it is not too hard to understand why the mean standard of living for elderly people is 3% higher than that for the younger generations in France.

Health Status

Yet, despite accumulated wealth, health status deteriorates remarkably with age, which may cause extra expenses that Social Security does not cover and lead to elderly poverty in France. In 2015, 43% of French people more than 65 years old endured at least one long-term illness, and the percentage keeps rising over the years.

When the deterioration in health causes a partial loss of autonomy and home care is no longer suitable, the elderly people have to live in an institutional setting such as a nursing home, and this would be another large expense that many are not able or not willing to afford. Only fewer than 2% of people aged below 75 live in a nursing institution, and for those more than 85 years old, the number climbs to 10 times higher.

The Incoming Challenge of Population Aging

As the problem of population aging is becoming increasingly serious in Europe, it is too early for the elderly to be too optimistic. In 2012, there were 15 million French people aged more than 60 years old, and this number could reach 24 million in 50 years, alongside the extended life expectancy. Over the last decade, more people went into retirement, and there were 5% of elderly people aged between 65 and 74 still in employment, many of whom were part-time employees with low qualifications, shopkeepers and older farmers.

The French government has to adjust the retirement pension and health care policies to ensure the well-being of old age. So far, various actions are underway, but the results are far from satisfying. For instance, a large national strike began in December 2019 to protest against President Macron’s pension system reform. The government must take into consideration the growing elderly poverty in France and actively work to alleviate poverty rates with policies and financial support.

Jingyan Zhang
Photo: Flickr

Southeast Asia has been reducing its poverty level as a whole for the past decade. However, the rise of automation has now put the population back at risk. One of the largest industries in terms of employment in Southeast Asia is the production and manufacturing industry. The most common type of work found in this region is in small factories. These jobs are some of the most vulnerable to the effects of automation in Southeast Asia.

Affected Industries

Automation is the process by which labor or a job that is performed by a human switches to being done by a machine. In many cases, a robot is able to work faster and more efficiently than a person with the added bonus of not having a salary and never needing time off. Thus, the prospect of a workforce full of machines is very appealing to those looking to lower their labor costs.

Automation in Southeast Asia stands to put a large number of laborers out of work. The International Labor Organization reported that 73% of Thailand’s manufacturing workforce are at high risk of having their jobs automated. On a whole, the ASEAN-5 (Cambodia, Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam) faces a 56% risk for employment being automated in the next two decades. The majority of workers affected will be those with both lower wages and lower levels of education. These are the types of jobs easiest to automate, which renders these workers as the most severely impacted demographic.

Further, the types of jobs created through automation, like machine operation and maintenance, require skills the lesser educated workers replaced by automation lack. In Vietnam, those with only a primary school education are three times more likely to have their job automated than someone with a secondary degree.

The Transition

These countries face an interesting problem. Through automation, they stand to gain much in the way of foreign investments and business. Southeast Asia has become a hub of global production, which provides many economic benefits. On the other hand, automation puts the lives of the working-class people in these countries in serious danger. Several countries in Southeast Asia have proposed new ideas to try and navigate through this transition.

The Indonesian Minister of Finance has proposed the implementation of a universal basic income. This has the possibility of alleviating the stress caused by job loss. The Government of Thailand has approved a tax incentive to boost automation within the country. The proposition aims to bring in foreign investors that would train Thai workers and create employment opportunities.

Conclusion

A smooth transition to automation will be crucial in keeping much of the population of Southeast Asia above the poverty line. It is fundamental to support workers in the age of automation in Southeast Asia. Most importantly, they need access to higher levels of education. Hopefully this issue will encourage these governments to provide more opportunities and training to their citizens. People can continue to work in meaningful ways in the age of automation through adequate aid.

Jackson Bramhall
Photo: Flickr

The United Kingdom is known for being a popular city for tourists with sites, such as Big Ben, the London Eye and Buckingham Palace. However, what may not be as well-known is the fact that the UK struggles with a significant class difference. It has an ever-widening gap between the poor and the affluent, which leads to high rates of poverty in the UK, specifically for children.

Child Poverty

Child poverty is one of the most notable effects of overall poverty in the UK. This poverty crisis struck Britain hard in 1999. Its child poverty proportion became the highest out of all of the western European countries.

In 2016-17, poverty impacted nearly 30% of children — 4.1 million — in the UK. In the following year — 2018-19, the number of children in poverty in the UK increased by 100,000. The trend is on an upward spike rather than its 2003 downward rate when child poverty was made a priority. Poverty in the UK needs to be addressed, especially among the youth. It leads to increased hardships in life from education to mental and physical health to employment and so much more.

Use of the Film Industry

Films produce major results in ending poverty. The film industry has positively impacted poverty in the UK in many ways. For one, the film industry creates many job opportunities. In 2009, the core UK film industry created or impacted nearly 100,000 jobs relating to film production, sales and tourism. Furthermore, portrayals of the UK in films contribute heavily to tourism and yearly account for about £1.9 billion. That brings the total UK film industry contribution in 2009 to raising the GDP by more than £4.5 billion.

The improved economy can be a promising solution for aiding the UK’s children out of poverty. The country can use the funds to help out the struggling citizens, focusing specifically on the poor. In this way, films pose as a promising solution for poverty aid in other countries as well.

“Poor Kids”

The amount of money and the impact the film industry has on the UK is astounding and a promising solution for poverty. However, the impact one film made for children in poverty is even more remarkable.

The film, “Poor Kids,” has made great strides toward improving the lives of impoverished UK children. The film illustrates the living situations of three families in poverty through the lens of the children. Courtney (age 8), Paige (age 10) and Sam (age 11) give detailed and heart-wrenching accounts of their experiences growing up in poverty. The film received much acclaim. It was a Broadcast Best Documentary Nominee, a Learning on Screen Nominee, a Televisual Bulldog Best Documentary Nominee and received the Chicago Film Festival Gold Plaque for Social and Political Documentary in 2012.

Films awards aside, “Poor Kids” sparked change in the community. Make Lunch is a program that began after Poor Kids debuted as a direct result of the film. The program contributes free meals to children during the times when school is not in session and when children could potentially go for a long period without food. In the summer of 2012, as many as 13 lunch kitchens were providing the free lunches.

And That’s A Wrap

The effects of poverty in the UK are prevalent, notably in the large number of impoverished children. The worsening situation provides a sense of sorrow to the country, but a solution presents itself. Films not only contribute to the wealth of a country, but they provide jobs as well. Both of these aspects could be potential resources to utilize when fighting poverty.

Additionally, films bring about emotion, and that creates change. The inspiration that “Poor Kids” ignited contributed to a charity that helps the children in poverty. With results, such as the Make Lunch program, films can yield great benefits for poverty in the UK and the world.

Hailee Shores
Photo: Flickr