Movies About Poverty
Movies have always been a medium for conveying social messages and the reality of present times, increasing awareness while delivering entertainment. Over the years, there have been many such movies that have focused on bringing global poverty to mainstream media, showing the condition of poverty in different parts of the world and among different communities. Out of these, a few movies about poverty are more accurate and more popular than the others. Here are 10 movies about poverty.

10 Movies About Poverty

  1. “Parasite:” Awarded the Oscar for Best Picture in 2020, “Parasite” is a chilling movie that throws its audience right into the reality of poverty. Bong Joon-ho directed this masterpiece of social commentary, which poses as a horror flick and includes dark themes and symbolism throughout.
  2. “Bicycle Thieves:” Vittorio De Sica directed “Bicycle Thieves,” which is an Italian movie that came out in 1948. Based on the novel of the same name by Luigi Bartolini, the movie portrays the mundane in poverty. This movie takes place in the post-World War II period and shows the importance of small things in the life of the poor and how much of a difference these things can make.
  3. “Slumdog Millionaire:” Showcasing a character from the biggest slum in the world — that is, the slums of Mumbai — this movie by Danny Boyle and Loveleen Tandan went on to receive high acclaim. Introducing its audience to the hardships of the poor in India, the movie becomes a small window for the audience to get a glimpse of poverty in the country.
  4. “The Pursuit of Happyness:” “The Pursuit of Happyness” is a movie that portrays both hardships and strength of courage, hopelessness and optimism. Gabriele Muccino directed this movie, which is a biographical drama starring Will Smith. Showing the multi-faceted struggle that Smith’s character faces, the movie pulls at its audience’s heartstrings.
  5. “Les Misérables:” “Les Misérables” is a 2012 movie directed by Tom Hooper and is based on the novel (and the stage musical) by the same name. The movie addresses the themes of poverty with a large part of the movie taking place against the backdrops of prostitution and prison in 19th-century France.
  6. “Precious:” Lee Daniels directed this movie in 2009, which shows how poverty is not just an economic problem, but one which reaches into every aspect of an individual’s life and affects them in multiple ways. An adaptation of the 1996 novel “Push” by Sapphire, the movie is a bold portrayal of poverty in the U.S
  7. “Oliver Twist:” Roman Polanski directed “Oliver Twist” in 2005 and is adapted from the very famous novel of the same name by Charles Dickens. Exposing the condition of poverty in Britain during the Victorian era, the movie follows the story of a poor orphan, Oliver.
  8. “The Florida Project:” A 2017 movie that Sean Baker directed, “The Florida Project” is a unique movie, told from the perspective of a 6-year-old named Moonee. Filled with amazing cinematography, the movie is an accurate commentary on poverty in the U.S.
  9. “Capernaum:” Awarded the Jury Prize in the Cannes Film Festival, 2018 and nominated for an Oscar, “Capernaum” is a Lebanese film directed by Nadine Labaki. Acclaimed for its “documentary-like realism,” the movie is told through the perspective of 12-year-old Zain. The movie depicts the plight of the poor and mixes it with the hardships of the refugees, creating a film that strikes an emotional chord with its audience.
  10. “The Grapes of Wrath:” A 1940 movie, John Ford directed “The Grapes of Wrath” and is based on the Pulitzer-Prize winning novel of the same name by John Steinbeck. The movie is set against the backdrop of the Great Depression of the 1930s and tells the story of a family of sharecroppers who lost their farm and became migrant workers in the U.S.

Concluding Thoughts

Although cinema and poverty might seem worlds apart, these 10 movies are a good place to start if one wants to understand poverty in an emotional way, a way that allows one to sympathize with the challenges impoverished individuals face.

– Manasvi Kadian
Photo: Flickr

Gender Inequality in TaiwanLocated in East Asia, Taiwan is a part of the Republic of China. The government has taken steps to improve gender inequality in Taiwan, but like other countries, it has made slow progress in increasing women’s participation in the labor force. From 1978 to 2015, the percentage of working women over the age of 15 increased from 38% to 51%. According to recent research, digital media has the power to fuel efforts to close the gap between men and women.

Gender Inequality in Taiwan

Historically, women in Taiwan were taught that they must obey their fathers, husbands and sons and depend on men. This traditional view incited women to form organizations that promoted gender equality. After World War II, the “Civil Code of the Republic of China” was applied to Taiwan. This code gave women the right to work, participate in politics and vote. Unfortunately, the gender pay gap remains an issue. In 2016, female workers in Taiwan made 14.6% less than their male co-workers.

The country has made progress, however. Today, Taiwan’s government has taken pride in increasing gender equality with a female head of state, President Tsai Ing-wen. Additionally, in the 2016 election, women made up 38% of the lawmakers voted into government positions. Voting in a significant percentage of female lawmakers opens opportunities for the Taiwanese government to fight against gender-based violence and discrimination. Some other ways to decrease gender inequality in Taiwan include supporting working mothers, establishing equal worker rights and offering fair access to education, business training and loans.

How Media Empowers Women

“Digital Media: Empowerment and Equality” is a study on how digital platforms empower female users and reduce gender inequality in Taiwan. The research discovered that digital technology gives women the power to spread awareness, as well as market and network. While the platforms offer opportunities, women would benefit even more if they have access to education to help them be successful on social media. For example, the Taiwan Women Up program has helped middle-aged and older women learn information and communication technology to support their organizations and empower themselves.

Furthermore, social media has the power to increase female empowerment through political involvement. Hashtag activism gives women the ability to make a public issue a global issue and pressure lawmakers. Social media also offers a platform for gendered violence stories and holds communities in multiple countries accountable for gender equality. Unfortunately, women sometimes have barriers to using this powerful tool, including limited access to technology, language barriers and censorship.

Need For Digital Education

Accenture found that digital fluency helps countries grow closer to equality in the workplace. The Digital Fluency Model reveals that countries with better digital fluency rates among women have higher rates of gender equality in the workplace. Women with better digital fluency also have more employment opportunities and flexibility. They can work from home and use technology to access more job opportunities.

Achieving gender equality is a challenge around the world, but Taiwan’s efforts to close the gap between men and women push the country in the right direction while adapting to the digital world.

Nyelah Mitchell
Photo: Flickr

Podcasts Bringing Attention to Foreign Policy
Over the years, there has been a shift in popularity from traditional media to mass media outlets—specifically podcasts. Whether for entertainment or education, podcasts help leave listeners with engaging and insightful information. Here are five podcasts bringing attention to foreign policy and international relations in the United States.

5 Podcasts Bringing Attention to Foreign Policy

  1. Fault Lines: The National Security Institute’s (NSI) “Fault Lines” explores hard-hitting national security and foreign policy issues with guests representing both sides of the political spectrum. This foreign policy podcast features four recurring hosts; NSI Founder and Executive Director Jamil N. Jaffer, NSI Senior Fellow and former Staff Director of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Lester Munson, Former Staff Director of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Jod Herman and Former Senior Democratic Staffer for the Middle East on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Dana Stroul. With over 40 episodes, the podcast covers topics some topics including attempted coups and virus crackdowns in Latin America; the United States’ approach to international agreements and treaties; and U.S.-Iran relations. Some episodes to check out related to foreign aid are episode 14, “Can the U.S. solve foreign crises before they start?” and episode 19, “Aid in the time of COVID.”
  2. Global Dispatches: One of the podcasts bringing attention to foreign policy is “Global Dispatches.” This show is hosted by Mark Leon Goldberg. He is the editor of the United Nations global affairs blog “UN Dispatch.” He invites guests ranging from journalists to Nobel Peace Prize winners to discuss minimally covered global issues. This foreign policy podcast is committed to having an equal number and men and women appear as guests. Examples of guests include journalist Robin Wright, political policymaker U.S. Senator Chris Murphy and scholar Joseph Nye. This podcast features episodes dating back to 2013. It covers topics like the “girl effect” in international development. It also talks about the impact of energy poverty on job growth in the developing world and the consequences of others excluding women from peace talks. An episode to listen to related to foreign aid and global poverty is episode 235, “How better data can fight global hunger.” One could also listen to episode 283, “New trends in global trade are changing how women work in developing countries.”
  3. Pod Save the World: “Pod Save the World” is another one of the podcasts bringing attention to foreign policy. This weekly podcast breaks down the latest developments in international news and foreign policy. Former member of President Obama’s National Security Council Tommy Vietor and former Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes host “Pod Save the World,” interviewing experts on foreign policy issues as well as witnesses of major political decisions. With weekly episodes airing since January 2017, this podcast has covered a variety of topics with numerous guests. One notable episode addressing women’s involvement in foreign affairs is episode six, titled “Running the state department with Heather Higginbottom.” This talk discusses Higginbottom’s journey to becoming the first woman to serve as Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources. It also contains topics like refugee vetting, pandemic response and current women in foreign policy.
  4. The President’s Inbox: Sponsored by the Council on Foreign Relations, host James M. Lindsay delves into a variety of foreign policy challenges facing U.S. President Donald J. Trump during his time in office. Each week, Lindsay invites two experts on a specific foreign policy issue to discuss their opinions on how to solve it. This foreign policy podcast is recorded and uploaded until the week of the Iowa caucuses. Topics covered include the effects of the coronavirus in the Middle East, the challenging landscape of domestic terrorism and the impact of women in political power. A few episodes to check out relating to the United States’ involvement with developing countries include episode five, “Should the United States do Less Overseas?” and episode 27, “U.S. Global Leadership Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic.”
  5. Foreign Podicy: Host Cliff May discusses U.S. national security and foreign policy on his podcast “Foreign Podicy.” May is also the founder and president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a nonpartisan policy institute created after 9/11 dedicated to national security. This podcast offers over 60 episodes covering regions like the Middle East, South America and Central Asia as well as issues such as the use of military power, extremism and socialism. A few episodes related to developing countries include episode 28, “The Uses of Military Power,” episode 39, “Syria’s Sorrow and Pity,” and episode 59, “The Failing State of Lebanon.”

With the popularity of podcasts continually rising, the topics they cover are endless. With the help of these podcasts bringing attention to foreign policy, listeners gain unique perspectives on issues all over the world.

– Sara Holm
Photo: Pixabay

Media Coverage of Global Poverty
Many U.S. citizens have misconceptions about the extent of global poverty and how the government is acting to remedy the issue. However, this may not be at the fault of the general public. Media coverage of global poverty largely contributes to the information gaps in the minds of many Americans.

A survey done by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that Americans assume more than 20% of the federal budget is spent on foreign aid. In reality, non-military assistance composes just about 0.2% of the federal budget. This assumption is especially pertinent, as it may give Americans the impression that global poverty is constantly decreasing. For the first time since 1998, that is no longer true. COVID-19 is pushing millions into extreme poverty, counteracting years of progress.

Limited Media Coverage

In 2014, another study found that three major network newscasts devoted just 0.2% of their programming to poverty in 14 months. Recently, with politics and public health consuming the majority of airtime, this number has fallen. Media coverage of global poverty is taking a back seat to other topics. Consequently, it is no surprise that many Americans have warped perceptions of poverty overseas.

General, mainstream media outlets tend to shy away from discussing global poverty in great depth. This is because the topic may not test well with viewers. As a result, when there are reports on these issues, they often take the form of stories or opinion pieces rather than formal news stories. While these pieces still spread awareness, they do not relay to Americans, the facts of what occurs overseas. In turn, this limits the opportunity for readers to develop sufficiently informed opinions of their own.

Mainstream Media Coverage?

Even The New York Times, a reputable news outlet, is not immune to this phenomenon. A Google search for “global poverty New York Times” yields an opinion piece before any formal article on the subject. These results may deter readers from trusting information in the opinion article (first search result) as opinion pieces outwardly inform readers of bias. The second article, titled “Millions Have Risen Out of Poverty. Coronavirus is Pulling them Back” begins with a narrative of a woman in Bangladesh escaping poverty, then falling back into its grasp due to the side effects of COVID-19. Using devices like storytelling to convey facts can be effective, but it does not always present the most detailed information. Just three articles on the Google search results page are from 2020. This represents  only 30% of the initial search results. Any other non-opinion pieces are from 2015 or earlier (at the time of this article’s publication).

However, it may not even be the news outlets that are at fault for the sporadic nature of their reports on poverty. Censorship proves to be its own problem. Many impoverished countries tend to withhold the information for which journalists may be looking. The extra steps or inability to access these kinds of facts may prove difficult for some news outlets.

Other Outlets

The irregular nature of the reports on poverty explains why the issue is not on the radar of many Americans. Yet, still, the information does exist. News outlets such as Borgen Magazine and Global Citizen consistently release articles in the interests of the world’s poor — simultaneously educating Americans on foreign affairs. However, this does not make up for mainstream news outlets’ lack of coverage.

There have been efforts to remedy the lack of media coverage of global poverty, including publications and initiatives dedicated to aiding the world’s poor. For instance, the Global Investigative Journalism Network released tips on covering poverty back in 2014. However, knowledge of poverty and how to combat it cannot spread unless two things occur. First, citizens must take the initiative to seek it out themselves. Alternatively (and arguably more beneficially), mainstream media outlets can find a way to integrate it into their news releases on a more regular basis.

Ava Roberts
Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Journalism and Global Wellbeing
Since the media boom of the 1990s, journalism has entered an academic discussion that questions a writer’s role in their community and beyond. There are core objectives of journalism that have always remained true: providing readers with unbiased information, holding those in power accountable, and educating and advocating for the people. What these objectives do not address, however, is the relationship between journalism and global wellbeing.

Researchers assert that the media today holds a “social responsibility” to the public. Journalists must reach out past their nuclear community and consider the impact good and insightful reporting can provide. Foreign correspondents are essential to society; these journalists uncover conflict and tragedy happening on the other side of the world and explain to readers why they should care by offering insight and finding the humanity in every story. Most countries and communities are willing to lend a hand, and they just need to know where to look. That’s where the relationship between journalism and global wellbeing in terms of poverty, health, safety and equality becomes imperative.

A Conversation with Mallory Saleson

Global communications and media specialist Mallory Saleson has been on the scene at all the right times. Working as a broadcast journalist and radio correspondent for Voices of America (VOA), Saleson spent a lot of time covering South Africa’s post-apartheid elections and other instances of conflict within the region. Saleson sat down with The Borgen Project to discuss her role as a journalist during a time of humanitarian crisis and social upheaval and the connection between journalism and global wellbeing.

Looking back over her nearly twenty-year career in Africa, Saleson says that what she remembers most is the people. She states, “Journalists don’t write about issues, we write about people, we write about circumstances, we write about humanity.” As a broadcast journalist working under VOA, she witnessed war, civil unrest, disease and poverty.

Although it was her job to interview and report, Saleson strove to understand the people she spoke with—most of all, she listened. Yes, there are breaking news stories that must be short and laden with urgent information, but “that’s not why you become a journalist … if you can’t write about people then you don’t really have a story,” says Saleson.

In terms of media coverage on global poverty, Saleson believes the United States could do more. This is not an unpopular sentiment among members in the field. Media ethicists are looking to broaden the conceptual base of global journalism and asking writers to consider their audience as an international public. In other words, journalism and global wellbeing are inherently connected.

What Is Media Ethics?

So what is media ethics? This theory urges journalists to remove themselves from the borders of their home country and report using a multifaceted approach. Researchers suggest that articles should be written with diversity in mind and a keen perspective on every angle. Due to the general globalization of technology and access to information, do journalists now hold a higher responsibility to citizens across the world?

Media ethicists argue that the answer is yes. If all reporting were to become completely universal with no previous bias, diversity would be normalized. This would create a connection between cultures as well as unity and a global identity.  It also creates a direct link between journalism and global wellbeing. Saleson suggests that journalists who write locally but relate their coverage internationally can help readers understand and empathize with people and their struggles, despite living thousands of miles apart.

Beyond a Free Press

In broad terms, a free press allows journalists in the region to report freely without censorship from governmental officials. A free press paves the way for policy change by alerting stakeholders to issue they may be unfamiliar with. From this transparency, journalists can hold governments accountable on finances, legislation and international affairs. Free press also opens a forum for debate where opinions can be expressed without fear of punishment. While a free press is the baseline of journalistic values, the idea of globalizing the field takes the job description much further.

A free press brings awareness, but a dedication to a diverse population and common humanity brings something more: empathy. If journalists can diminish all distance between the reader and the coverage of conflict, researchers believe it could create tremendous change. This intimately connects journalism and global wellbeing. Saleson suggests that American media focuses on an international issue only once it has begun to affect the U.S. directly. She states, “You need to go to those countries and understand these people, their struggles.” Emphasizing the humanity in every story can make people removed from the circumstance care and offer resources to those affected by global poverty.

It is important to note that invoking the sentiments of empathy and compassion are all grounded in facts that elaborate on the circumstances, future developments and possible solutions. Writers must draw a line between sympathy and empathy. To feel sympathy is to feel helpless remorse, but to feel empathy is to understand and acknowledge another’s daily struggles. That kind of strong reporting can do more than inform: it can create emotional stakeholders.

The Future of Journalism and Global Wellbeing

This modern view of a journalist as an employee to the global population with a social obligation to inform and unify could be a newfound push for international aid. If a journalist can make two readers on opposite sides of the world feel like neighbors with the same struggles and needs, international aid will become much easier. This focus on journalism and global wellbeing proves promising because to change people is to change the world.

– Alexa Tironi
Photo: Flickr

Media Shift
There’s a classic tale in journalism about a reporter who asks her editor why their journal didn’t publish more pieces about domestic or global poverty. Her editor’s response: “Nobody wants to hear another story about how poor people are going to die in Africa. It’s depressing.” Opinions such as these have been common among nearly all media organizations for a good period of time. Now, however, a shift is occurring in poverty journalism; this shift is crucial to drawing attention to the important issue of extreme poverty.

The Problem With Traditional Media Methodology

Before this media shift, any focus on poverty was in its worst form. Of course, this is practical: news outlets need the audience to see what poverty looks like, and they’re more likely to pay attention to a drastic report. However, the problem with solely highlighting the depression and hopelessness of extreme poverty is that those emotions become the only messages portrayed in media depictions of underdevelopment. It doesn’t give audiences or influential individuals a chance to connect to those in need. It simply serves as an episodic report of foreign tragedy.

Moreover, an influx of these types of reports eventually becomes unappealing to audiences. They don’t want to see another situation they can do nothing about. Why should people care about an Asian village they’ve never seen or heard of and have no influence over? Before the media shift, poverty seemed like a perpetual problem that had nothing to do with the audience.

The effect that traditional media has had on audiences’ reactions to poverty reports is apparent; according to reports, less than 1% of stories from 52 major media outlets covered poverty as a result of declining interest and donations from viewership. Journalists and media organizations realized that there had to be a shift in the media portrayal of poverty if it was to get its fair share in the limelight.

The Shift

So what is changing in the media, and how is it helping to bring attention back to poverty? The answer: connection. Eschewing depressing messages in favor of hope and progress creates a connection between audiences and those in poverty. This media shift is creating a new age of poverty observation and understanding. According to Jurg Meyer, the problem with traditional media and its depictions of poverty was that it created caricatures of the less fortunate, leading to fear and aversion rather than a desire to help.

By redirecting focus toward facts and current events, this began to become less common. Rather than exclusively tragic stories, journalists now report facts and histories as well as practical solutions. This has helped to create a new wave of poverty journalism. The message of this new style of journalism attempts to convey that there are people living in the world who have no way to improve their own well-being or protect their rights. More importantly, this shift in journalism tells audiences they are more capable of helping than they realize.

Is The Shift Helping?

Perceptions of the media portrayal of poverty will always be divided. Before the 2008 financial crisis, many Americans held a negative opinion of the world’s poor, believing that it was a matter of personal responsibility. But after many Americans experienced sudden poverty firsthand in 2008, they became more sympathetic to the plight of the world’s poor. A media shift in tone and content led people to involve themselves in relief efforts. Keeping up the momentum of this shift in journalism can lead to a better future for millions in poverty worldwide.

Donovan McDonald
Photo: Unsplash

Top 5 Commercials Taking on Poverty

Advertising, a multibillion-dollar industry, is one of the most prominent ways to spread information. The average American watches 16 minutes of commercials in every hour of television watched. When commercials shine a light on global poverty, more viewers will aspire to help the cause. Here are 5 commercials taking on poverty:

Unsung Hero by Thai Life Insurance

Thailand requires all children within the country to enroll in school. However,  14% of secondary school-aged children are not enrolled in school. The story begins with a benevolent man who lives a humble life giving back. He donates money daily to a family begging for money to send their daughter to school and does random kind deeds for several members of his community. As the community’s happiness grows, the man realizes that the daughter of the family has gone. He soon comes to realize that, with his donations, she now can attend school. Thai Life Insurance is a Christian insurance company dedicated to making people happier.

Giving by TrueMove

The commercial follows the life of an owner of a street food stand. In the beginning, a poor boy gets caught stealing medicine from a neighboring stall. The street stand owner pays for his stolen goods and gives him a bag of soup for his sick mother. Decades later, the man passes out and is extremely ill. The hospital fee comes back and the family isn’t able to afford it. A few days later, the family finds out that the little boy from the beginning is now a neurosurgeon and paid all the hospital bills. Although Thailand provides its citizens with universal healthcare, low-income families still cannot afford some hospital treatment fees. TrueMove is one of the leading mobile providers in Thailand, spreading the message, “Giving is the best communication.”

If London Were Syria by Save the Children

Among the 70.8 million displaced people, 31 million are children. Conflicts force children out of their homes and into international waters in search of safety. With war, terrorists, human trafficking and the additional threat of racism, Syrians and other displaced people face many humanitarian issues everywhere. The award-winning advertisement by Save The Children has almost 65 million views on YouTube, spreading empathy into millions of hearts. The film follows a young girl throughout the span of a year, from comfortable living to displaced. She undergoes near-death experiences and the loss of members of her family, spotlighting the hardships of a refugee.

Make a Change by Hyundai Philippines

This commercial by Hyundai Philippines overviewed the life of a blind beggar. At first, the beggar did not receive many donations, and every passerby ignored him. A man came along and reworded the sign, raising the number of donations. After a while, the beggar asked the man what he changed to the board. The new quote said, “It’s a beautiful day, but I can’t see it.” The touching story raises awareness about 19.8% of people living under the poverty line in the Philippines.

You Can Save Her by Magic Bus

This commercial begins with one high-class girl seeing a girl in poverty. The poor girl was in worn-out clothes and barefoot, working intensive labor for her abusive father. She strolls around her village, introducing facts about Indian children in poverty. Although child marriage has been illegal since 1929, a quarter of girls in India are married off before the age of 18. India houses 30% of the world’s children living in extreme poverty. Magic Bus is an Indian organization sponsoring Indian children throughout their lives. They send children to school and help them integrate into society, preventing immoral marriages and abuse.

Through these commercials taking on poverty, viewers realize the impact of global poverty on the world, encouraging them to act on their emotions. With donations from millions of viewers, organizations can reduce the number of people in poverty.

 – Zoe Chao
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Big DataIt is impossible to remedy the causes of poverty without enough data to make accurate assessments for formulating solutions. There is little infrastructure in fragile countries and developing nations, making data collection difficult. Gaps in data can exist that are a decade wide. Infrequent studies conducted with only a single method of surveyal are inadequate. If there are not multiple methods of gathering data, the data will be skewed, because there will be no means of comparison for bias.

New methods have been developed to gather data remotely. These methods rely on finding signs of poverty in big data. Big data is a term for the massive amounts of data collected by computers. Poverty in big data can be detected by using self-learning artificial intelligence known as machine learning programs.

Cell Phone Data

While smartphones often remain out of reach for the impoverished, basic cell phones are a staple of life even for those living in developing nations. In fact, the greater part of sub-Saharan African countries own mobile phones. For example, in Tanzania, the country with the lowest reported number of phones, 75 percent of the population still owns a mobile device. In South Africa, the country with the highest reported number of phones, only nine percent of the population lives without a mobile phone. Another study on Rwandan households also found that mobile phones were more common than televisions or computers, ubiquitous items to the American household.
Because of these factors, there is an abundance of cell phone data (CPD) even in regions that typically lack data on poverty. According to a study done by the World Bank Group in Guatemala, CPD interpreted through machine learning can yield sufficiently accurate data of urban areas. CPD can be used to determine the location of a person’s home and how far they typically travel. With this data, researchers can see who is likely to travel to a location and who has a means of transportation for getting there.

Satellite Imagery

Civil unrest and harsh conditions can make it dangerous to gather data on poverty in some regions. These factors can disincentive data collection and cause years of gaps in survey data. A new remote method of analyzing public data on physical regions has helped demystify treacherous terrain. Satellite images of the Earth’s terrain, also known as Earth observations, display signals of wealth in a region. By measuring the luminosity of man-made light at night, researchers can make estimates of the economic status of an area. A proven correlation between illuminated areas, electric power consumption, and a country’s GDP justify these estimates. This is a fast and efficient method of obtaining data from a country that has seen natural disasters or civil war.

Social Media

The digital footprint of social media users, or lack thereof, can be useful in estimating data on the development of areas. According to the Pew Research Center, 53 percent of those in emerging nations use social media. Internet use correlates with the GDP per capita of a country, so the rising numbers of users are promising. However, sub-Saharan Africa and India are falling behind the rest of the world.

Finding poverty in big data through machine learning has proven to be informative and safe for researchers. The relatively unobtrusive nature of conducting studies in this manner makes sure that locals do not feel disturbed or angered. Remote and impersonal studies such as these also avoid issues such as under-reported poverty in illiterate households and over-reported poverty from those asked to recall their consumption.

– Nicholas Pirhalla
Photo: Flickr

Documentaries About PovertyDocumentaries are a form of film or television which take advantage of the entertainment platform to inform audiences of important issues through a more gripping means. They range in topics from technological innovation to the controversial beauty industry. Many documentaries have also focused on another major issue of today: global poverty. Below is a list of the top five documentaries about poverty as of 2019 and where to find them.

Top 5 Documentaries About Poverty and Where to Find Them

  1. The End of Poverty?: Directed by Philippe Diaz, who is well known within the genre, the documentary debuted in 2008 and became notorious for its unique historical perspective on global poverty. It highlighted the ways poverty has amassed through the years, beginning as early as the 16th century and concluding with present day. The film describes how poverty thrives in today’s world through interviews with historians, economists and impoverished families from around the world. This documentary can be viewed on Amazon Prime.
  2. Dilli: This 2011 documentary about the slums of Delhi focuses on the hardships of individuals in the area. Though relatively short, coming in just longer than 30 minutes, the film has a firm impact on the audience. Through interviews with citizens, ranging from old to young, directors Sushmit Ghosh and Rintu Thomas depict these daily trials. The film received critical acclaim, winning 1st place in the Short Documentary category of the Los Angeles Movie Awards. This documentary about poverty can be viewed now on Youtube.
  3. Poor No More: This 2010 documentary focuses on the poverty of Canada’s working-class by following the journey of native citizens. It puts Canada under a lens in comparison with Ireland and Sweden in terms of their respective job markets. The documentary takes a moment to focus on poverty within a different context—within the context of a country which is generally presumed as wealthy and well structured. The documentary can be viewed on Youtube.
  4. Hauling: This documentary, which premiered in 2010, follows the daily life of the Claudine family, a household of 27 children, whose income is dependent on the recycling system of Sao Paulo, Brazil. Every day, they collect the leftover wood, plastic and cardboard of the city in exchange for meager payment from the local recycling plant. The film brings forth the discussion of poverty in Brazil and the ways which their citizens persevere. The film can be viewed on Amazon Prime.
  5. The True Cost: This 2015 documentary focuses on the fashion industry and the way it uses impoverished nations to obtain cheap labor and goods. The film highlights the controversy of the fashion industry and the way it abuses the environment and ignores basic human rights. This documentary about poverty can be found on Netflix.

Art and media can become a platform for the voiceless. In these five documentaries about poverty, the lives of the underprivileged are documented for the rest of the world to face. If people want to help, but they don’t quite know where to start, then they must take the first step to get informed. Any of these documentaries could be a place to start.

– Eleanora Kamerow
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts About Corruption in Hungary

After several subsequent electoral successes, Prime Minister Viktor Orbán and his Fidesz party have been accused of corrupt activity by the European Union and opposition parties in Hungary. Today, Hungary is ranked as 64 out of 180 countries in terms of corruption, ranking it “among the most corrupt Member States” in the EU. In the text below are 10 facts about corruption in Hungary.

10 Facts About Corruption in Hungary

  1. Orbán, along with the Christian Democratic People’s Party, holds a super-majority of 66 percent in Parliament, which allows them to amend the country’s constitution. To date, several amendments have passed that cement the power of Fidesz. Most notably, changes made to the electoral process reduce the chances of opposition parties winning seats. A new amendment modified the process so that 93 of the 199 seats are awarded proportionally based on the percentage of votes a party receives in the national election. The remaining 106 seats are won by receiving a plurality of votes in a local election, meaning that Fidesz can get 40 percent of the vote and still win the seat. Because opposition parties are divided, it is difficult for them to win these local elections.
  2. In March, the European People’s Party discussed suspending the Fidesz party from its bloc in the European Parliament amidst corruption allegations. This is not the first time that Orbán has been threatened with expulsion. However, no actions were taken at that time.
  3. Hungary regularly engages in unannounced “negotiated procedures,” which allow the government to strike a deal without going through an open competition. This has led some to accuse the government of mishandling EU funds. The 2014-2020 EU budget allocates €28 billion to Hungary, but critics worry that much of it will end up in the hands of Orbán’s family, friends and party loyalists. Adding to their concern, the prime minister’s office has sole authority in determining disbursement of funds. Elios Innovatív, owned by Orbán’s son-in-law István Tiborcz, had won a €40 million contract with the government in 2015. Lőrinc Mészáros, a longtime political ally of Orbán’s, has seen his wealth triple since Orbán’s election. He has become the second richest man in Hungary, owning 203 companies and receiving 83 percent of his companies’ profits from EU funds.
  4. From 2013 to 2019, Hungary’s ranking in the World Press Freedom Index dropped from 56 to 87 in the world. The dramatic shift occurred when 476 private media companies simultaneously transferred ownership, without compensation, to the Central European Press and Media Foundation. Allies of the Prime Minister head the company, including István Varga, a former Fidesz member of Parliament, and István Bajkai, Orbán’s personal lawyer.
  5. The Fidesz Party declined to sign an agreement that would allow Central European University (CEU) to remain in Budapest. The university will now be forced to move its campus to Austria. CEU has several anti-corruption research arms, including the Anti-Corruption Research Group and the Center for Integrity in Business and Government. At multiple points, their reports were critical of the Fidesz government and accused it of corrupt activity. For example, one CEU research report wrote that the party engaged in “a constitutional coup d’état against an established democracy.”
  6. Through gerrymandering, Fidesz effectively limits opposition party participation. Gerrymandering ensures victory in what would otherwise be competitive districts. One study found that an opposition party needs to receive around 300,000 more votes than the Fidesz party needs in order to win a majority in the parliament.
  7. A 2016 poll reported that two-thirds of Hungarians regard their government as corrupt with 60 percent believing that corruption in Hungary goes to the top levels of government, including Orbán. This reflects a strong need for change, but the power accumulated through corruption has allowed Fidesz to continue to govern.
  8. Amid growing corruption concerns, an opposition politician named Akos Hadhazy gathered 680,000 signatures demanding that Hungary join the EU’s new anti-corruption arm, the European Public Prosecutor’s Office. Hadhazy specifies many of these 10 facts about corruption in Hungary, but he is especially concerned about the use of EU funds. Thus far, Fidesz refuses to join, citing concerns about overreach from Brussels. Hadhazy said, “Now it’s up to EU institutions to increase pressure on the Hungarian government unless they want European taxpayers to finance a regime that openly works against the EU.”
  9. Transparency International Hungary (TIH), an anti-corruption NGO, considers young people to be essential to combating corruption. According to TIH, 90 percent of Hungarians ages 15-29 believe that corruption is present in their politics. However, they also find that only 25 percent of young people believe that reporting government corruption will be taken seriously. TIH hopes to mobilize the youth in their fight against corruption.
  10. The Hungarian Helsinki Committee provides free legal assistance to detainees, victims of police brutality and jailed protestors or activists. The group helped more than 1,400 people in 2018. From 2008 to 2018, it trained more than 4,000 lawyers, judges and states officers. The NGO describes itself as “one of the few remaining voices that publicly oppose attacks on civil society and the further democratic backsliding of Hungary.” Hungarian tax laws allow its citizens to donate 1 percent of their income tax to a nonprofit of their choosing. NGOs, including the Hungarian Helsinki Committee, encourage donations in order to continue their work. Through this, Hungarians may express their support for organizations working to combat corruption in their country.

According to the World Bank, Hungary has a poverty rate of about 15 percent, meaning almost 1.5 million Hungarians live in poverty. These 10 facts about corruption in Hungary threaten academia, the media, NGOs and several democratic institutions. This, in turn, threatens the well-being of Hungarian civil society, which is trying its best to create a more equitable and just Hungary.

– Kyle Linder
Photo: Flickr