Posts

Top 10 Facts About Girls Education in South Sudan
South Sudan has experienced widespread political conflict and insecurity in recent years. Working towards a more peaceful and inclusive future, the South Sudanese government has set out to completely restructure its education sector. Despite some growth in this area, education remains inaccessible for women and girls due to the nation’s dedication to maintaining traditional gender roles. This has grossly affected girls’ livelihood, quality of life and educational opportunities. Below are the top 10 facts about girls’ education in South Sudan.

Closing the Gender and Socio-Economic Gap in Education

  1. South Sudanese women and girls are less likely to complete primary and secondary education than boys. According to the World Bank, it is estimated that seven girls per ten boys attend primary school. Meanwhile, only five girls per ten boys enroll in secondary education.
  2. Although some girls do manage to make it to secondary school, not many of them are able to
    finish. In 2013, only 500 girls in the entire country were in their graduating year of
    secondary school.
  3. Gender inequity in the South Sudanese education remains an issue. Females make up only 12 percent of the country’s teaching population.
  4. According to Fiona Mavhinga of Zimbabwe, “extreme poverty and gender inequity drive the injustice” preventing girls’ education in countries like South Sudan. Fiona was one of the first girls supported by Camfed, an international educational charity.
  5. Cultural notions that women are child-bearers and homemakers drive inequity. Meanwhile, men dominate the educational, business, and political sectors of society. In fact, South Sudanese women and girls are more likely to die during childbirth than complete primary education.
  6. South Sudan partnered with UNICEF in 2007 to help more children get to school. The initiative also created alternate forms of education for women and girls unable to travel to school every day.
  7. In the northern states, almost five percent of students travel more than one and a half miles to and from school each day. In southern states, educational sites average from one for every five communities to one for every 15 communities.
  8. The student to teacher ratio in South Sudanese schools is overwhelming. Urban classes often exceed 100 students under the direction of just one teacher.
  9. While education is technically free for South Sudanese students, there are many expenses that the system does not cover. Families are expected to pay additional fees if they want their children to have an education. This includes charges for textbooks, uniforms, school fees and more. Thus, socio-economic status plays a major factor in access to education.
  10. South Sudan is working with global partners such as UNICEF and Plan International to restructure the education system and expand girls’ access to education. Organizations based within South Sudan like Girls’ Education South Sudan (GESS), work to remove those barriers that block women and girls from study.

While organizations such as UNICEF, Plan International, and GESS are working to open access to education for girls, South Sudan is still struggling to close the gender gap in education. Regardless, the top 10 facts about girls’ education in South Sudan show that the movement to support girls’ education is more prosperous than ever.

– Morgan Everman
Photo: Flickr

Facts About Poverty in Sierra Leone

The nation of Sierra Leone is located on the western coast of Africa with a population of approximately 7,076,641. Since gaining independence from the British Empire on April 27, 1961, Sierra Leone has faced serious challenges in the social, economic and political spheres. Stemming from these challenges, the following are 10 facts about poverty in Sierra Leone.

10 Facts About Poverty in Sierra Leone

  1. In Sierra Leone, the life expectancy is 39 years for men and 42 for women. These premature deaths are due to limited access to safe drinking water, inadequate sanitation and hygiene and food insecurity. Malnutrition also remains an important contributor to infant morbidity and mortality with 34.1 percent of children under the age of five stunted and 18.7 percent underweight due to food insecurity.
  2. Sierra Leone has a Gender Inequality Index value of 0.662, ranking it 137 out of 146 countries in 2011. Significant gender-based inequality exists in all aspects of life including reproductive health, emotional empowerment, economic activity and governmental representation. Only 9.5 percent of adult women reach secondary or higher level education compared to 20 percent of their male counterparts.

    In 2007, the government introduced three gender laws aimed at reducing gender inequality. These acts show progress but enacting and implementing practices of gender equality remain minimal. The president has also given his support to the national campaign for a minimum quota of 30 percent of women in political decision making positions, but the number remains low at only 13.2 percent.
  3. Around 70 percent of youth are unemployed or underemployed. The youth population, aged 15 to 35, makes up one-third of the population of Sierra Leone. This challenge was a major root cause of the outbreak of civil conflict within Sierra Leone. One of the leading reasons for these high rates of unemployment is the persistence of illiteracy and the lack of formal education to provide skills to compete for the limited jobs available.
  4. Approximately 60 percent of Sierra Leoneans live below the national poverty line. Remaining among the world’s poorest nations, ranking 180 out of 187 countries in the Human Development Index, more than 60 percent of Sierra Leoneans live on less than $1.25 a day.
  5. Sierra Leone has one of the world’s highest maternal mortality rates, at an estimated 1,165 deaths per 100,000. According to a report released by the country’s Ministry of Health and Sanitation with support from partners, the main causes of maternal deaths were largely bleeding, pregnancy-induced hypertension, infection and unsafe abortions. Almost 20 percent of maternal deaths were among teenagers 15 to 19 years of age.
  6. Sierra Leone holds only a 41 percent adult literacy rate. Many of the schools in Sierra Leone were built shortly after gaining independence and have had little expansion since, leading to inadequate facilities. Government funding for education is extremely limited, making improvements difficult. A lack of education not only diminishes the availability of contemporarily trained skilled laborers and professionals but also negatively affects the agriculture industry where poor farming practices compound with climate change in a cycle of degradation.
  7. Sierra Leone was ravaged from 1991 to 2002 by civil war. Civil war erupted in 1991 after a rebel group called the Revolutionary United Front attempted to overthrow the country’s Joseph Momoh Government. The war lasted until 2002, by which time over 50,000 people had died and over two million had been displaced.But, even in the face of these 10 facts about poverty in Sierra Leone, peace has been fostered within the nation. Since the enactment of a U.N. Peacekeeping intervention on January 18, 2002, Sierra Leone remains firmly on the path toward further consolidation of peace, democracy and long-term sustainable development.
  8. Sierra Leone remains heavily dependent on foreign aid. Although positive economic growth has steadily occurred over the past decade since the end of the civil war, Sierra Leone continues to rely on foreign aid. About 50 percent of public investment programs are financed by external resources.
  9. Recovery and development are being threatened by climate change. Employment in agriculture remains the backbone for citizens’ income in Sierra Leone. Climate change leads to low yields of critical crops and a potential annual loss of between $600 million and $1.1 billion in crop revenues by the end of the century. Resources such as water, soil and forests are being threatened by the ever-growing population, increasing energy consumption, mining activities, the pollution of rivers and massive deforestation related to agricultural practices.
  10. A largely unchanged economic structure with low levels of productivity and major reliance on agriculture hold back further economic recovery. Agriculture provides employment for about 75 percent of the rapidly growing population, but its continuation is threatened by unproductive farming techniques and climate degradation. The country’s infrastructure remains poorly maintained and because of business climate shortcomings stemming from economic instability, there is only a small private sector to spur further economic growth.

These 10 facts about poverty in Sierra Leone are far from the whole story. The country has made tremendous strides since the cessation of conflict to establish stable governance and to facilitate peace and security. Sierra Leone should be cited as a success story in peacebuilding.

– Carolina Sherwood Bigelow
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Bosnia and Herzegovina
Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH) signed the Dayton Accords twenty-three years ago to ensure peace throughout the country. However, Bosnians were left picking up the pieces from the war and many still deal with the mental, emotional and economic effects today. According to The World Bank, as of 2015,
16.9 percent of Bosnia and Herzegovina’s population lives below the poverty line.

Complicated Government

The Dayton agreement split Bosnia and Herzegovina into two parts: the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, and Republika Srpska. The Dayton Accords ended conflict but put a hold on ethnic disputes within the country, thereby leaving a complex system of governance.

According to an article by The Guardian, “Since the end of the war, political allegiance has been usually based on ethnic identity.” Many people throughout Bosnia and Herzegovina want an end to corrupt politicians and want their leaders to focus on the country’s economic stagnation and unemployment.

Why is Unemployment So High?

As stated above, the political system of Bosnia and Herzegovina is anything but simple. Due to ethnic and political divides, the country still deals with constant tension.

Many companies and investors were hurt by the war; therefore, investors are hesitant to invest in the country. This absence leaves Bosnia and Herzegovina to rely on its domestic companies. The government’s partition widely affects the security of the job market, placing a major hindrance on the people.

Inequality

One major cause of poverty in Bosnia and Herzegovina is inequality in the workforce between men and women. Not only do women have unequal opportunities in the workforce, but there are a lack of women who participate in the workforce in the first place. In addition, women’s incomes are usually less than their male counterparts.

However, the country’s efforts to transform its workforce cannot be ignored. The country has implemented laws to increase women’s participation in the labor market, and have even enforced laws to ensure representation in politics. According to a report by the World Bank, “The Election Law of BiH stresses that election candidates’ list must include both male and female candidates. The number of candidates of the less represented sex must be at least equal to a third of the total number of candidates on the list.”

Further Progress

There have been numerous programs implemented towards addressing poverty in Bosnia and Herzegovina — for instance, the 2017 Bosnia and Herzegovina Support Employment Program. The goal of this program is to “increase formal private sector employment among targeted groups of registered job seekers.”

In this way, the program will reach out to help the government improve the effectiveness of labor market programs and implement an effective communication strategy to help job seekers. Several non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have also made efforts to help alleviate poverty, such as through a program run by UNICEF. UNICEF’s program helps Roma, one of the largest minorities in BiH), mothers by holding classes on nutrition, breastfeeding and raising healthy children in hopes of breaking the cycle of child poverty throughout the country.

Although efforts have been made, it is crucial that the country continues to work to end corruption, ensure gender equality in the workforce, work towards improving ethnic divides in order to address poverty in Bosnia and Herzegovina and secure a better quality of life for all its people.

– Emma Martin
Photo: Flickr

news anchors in the middle east
Increasing support for women who experience suppression from gender inequality in many aspects of society has been a focus of many aid organizations and support groups across the globe. According to USAID, “More than half a billion women have joined the world’s work force over the past 30 years, and they make up 40 percent of the agriculture labor force.”

Although some of these groups and organizations focus on specific issues, gender equality aid has been instrumental in reducing the gender equality gap that suppress so many women.

News and Aid Organizations

Various programs (not limited to those helping news anchors in the Middle East) have been extremely important in supporting young women as well as promoting education. In 2016, approximately $253 million in gender equality aid was used to assist Afghanistan with leveling the gender equality gap that limited capable women.

In addition to aid organizations, news organizations that support women help reduce the gender equality gap as well as confront the numerous challenges faced by female reporters.

Challenges for Women in the Workplace

Debroah Amos, a reporter for ABC 2000, discussed some of the difficulties she faced as a reporter and news anchor in the Middle East:

“I faced a lot of challenges in my work: lack of training on how to deal with violence during field coverage, we work without personal protective equipment. Also, the Egyptian journalism syndicate didn’t give us legal protection. Also for me as a female, it was hard to deal with some Salafis during their demonstrations, as they believe it’s not permitted to talk with women,” she said.

News organizations promoting successful female newscasters and aid organizations supporting women via global funding projects is a powerful and influential combination. As a result of such efforts, women and news anchors in the Middle East are beginning to see changes in their work opportunities. As women advocate for themselves and use these resources to their advantage, true and revolutionary change continues to materialize.

Five News Organizations Supporting Female News Anchors in the Middle East

  1. ZANTV: The first female news station in Afghanistan gives women interested in news a chance to exercise their reporting skills and work in a field they are interested in.
  2. Al JAZEERA: This organization focuses on news in the Middle East, U.S. and Canada. The organization welcomes female reporters to cover topics on the ground.
  3. AL MONITOR: “The Pulse of the Middle East”– This news organization covers topics in Egypt, The Gulf, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Lebanon, North Africa, Palestine, Syria and Turkey.
  4. TIME: The organization covers political topics across the world. One woman, identified by Al Monitor as one of “16 Women Journalists to Watch in the Middle East,” reports for TIME as well as several other publications about numerous topics in the Middle East.
  5. NPR: Debroah Amos reported on several topics in the Middle East and won a group award in 2004 for coverage in Iraq.

There are several organizations and programs across the world working to reduce the gender inequality gap. A few of these include USAID, Canada’s Feminist International Assistance Policy, The “Gender Equality and Women’s Empowerment Strategy” in Australia, The Global Fund for Women and the National Organization for Women. In addition to these organizations, the International Women’s Media Fund (IWMF) also recognizes influential women in media.

With such powerful advocates in their corner, the push for increased gender equity and the presence of female news anchors in the Middle East is a feasible, opportunistic and exemplary reality.

– Gabriella Evans

Photo: Flickr

How Gender Inequality Hurts Countries
From religion to social norms, there are many different reasons why gender inequality and the suppression of women’s voices occurs in various communities; however, none of these reasons account for how gender inequality hurts countries financially, socially and politically.

According to the World Economic Forum’s 2017 Global Gender Gap Report, the gender gap in countries across the world has risen to 32 percent — a figure up one percent from last year’s 31 percent. This trend means that the average economic gap between women and men, whether in personal finances or in political representation and commerce, generally results in a substantial difference in the amount of money and support women receive in their communities.

Women in Yemen

For instance, Yemen was ranked the worst country for gender equality since 2006, not only because it’s economic stability is practically nonexistent, but also because they possess significant education issues. Yemen has an overall literacy rate of 96 percent among males, however their female literacy rate of 76 percent leaves a gap that causes a good portion of the female disenfranchisement in the region.

For these women, the lack of educational sustainability is one of the biggest inhibitors of their economic success. It’s evident how gender inequality hurts countries such as Yemen because without academic access and the capability to further learning, women are extremely inhibited in their opportunities for economic independence.

Women and Education

According to a study published by Frontiers in Psychology Journal, women in academic situations have a higher chance of success than men do. When put in learning groups, girls tended to be more capable of task-accomplishing, self-regulation and focusing by deciding on a goal and completing it. Males, on the other hand, tended to focus on avoidance activities in order to make the task seem less daunting.

The female’s method is much more successful in most academic and work-related situations, and is a strong indicator of a woman’s capability in educational settings and the workplace; however, in countries such as Yemen where the academic retention rate is much lower for females, the opportunity to demonstrate these self-regulation skills becomes short-changed when a woman drops out of education. 

Social Norms

The reason for dropout rates, and another example of how gender inequality hurts countries in Yemen, refers mainly to the social norms placed on women by their community: most women are expected to be educated enough to read and write, and once this criteria is met, they are taken back to their home to prepare for the household duties that will serve as their main vocation upon marriage and for the rest of their lives. An article published by the World Bank states that even one more year of schooling could benefit a woman’s health, safety and decrease the amount of child marriages in countries across the world.

For places like Yemen, which tend to lean heavily on societal norms to dictate their country’s success, gender inequality hurts the country’s economic stability, limits growth for communities and families and causes women to be more likely to be subjugated to child marriages, dangerously young pregnancies and a more rapid spread of STIs such as HIV/AIDS. Not only does this display exactly how gender inequality hurts countries, it also shows how gender inequality hurts the women who lack financial and social freedoms. 

The process made thus far incites hope that countries’ across the globe will continue to work on solutions to stop gender inequality, once and for all.

– Molly Atchison

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in St. Vincent and the Grenadines

Saint Vincent and the Grenadines is a small island nation in the Caribbean that has faced a number of challenges in the past decade. The nation has a population growth rate of negative 0.31 percent and approximately 15 percent of the total population was unemployed in 2008. There are several causes of poverty in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, but most are related to its failing economy and poor education system.

The failure of the banana industry around 2008 pushed much of the population into unemployment or poverty, and the sudden rise of the construction industry has created an income gap. There were very low wages across the country and few job opportunities, leading to a poverty rate of 30.2 percent. The nation needs to focus on better integration into the global economy and on creating a more competitive national economy.

Low education levels has also been one of the larger causes of poverty in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. While there are programs in place, such as the School Meals and Textbooks program, to help low income families educate their children, many poor children still do not attend school everyday. Literacy rates were at 84 percent in 2008, but younger generations did have higher levels than older generations.

Gender inequality with relation to access to education is another of the causes of poverty in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. In 2008, it was reported that nearly 50 percent of women had their first pregnancy between the ages of fifteen and nineteen. It was also noted that the labor market was inherently biased and women needed much higher levels of education to be able to compete with men. Households with a female head tended to be much poorer, and there was no formal legislation to deal with gender discrimination in the workplace.

Strides have been made, however, toward reducing poverty in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. In terms of the economy, tourism has become a larger sector and has created more jobs. With increased tourism has come increased construction, and that has also created the need for more labor. In terms of education, in 2000 the government set a number of goals that were to be achieved by 2015. These goals focused on providing good quality and compulsory primary education to all children, but particularly girls and ethnic minorities, and improving literacy rates and access to higher education for both boys and girls.

While there is not a lot of recent data about poverty in the nation, these goals are quite progressive and have shown solid attempts to reduce the causes of poverty in Saint Vincent and the Grenadines. With continued effort from the government, the small island nation should be able to develop further and improve the quality of life for its citizens.

Liyanga De Silva

Photo: Flickr

end child marriageIt is entirely possible to end child marriage in the coming decades. Ending child marriage will also lead to more prosperous and responsible communities that are capable of overcoming global challenges, such as poverty.

Adolescence is a critical time that should allow girls opportunities to learn, grow, and decide their futures. However, that will not be the fate of more than 700 million girls who are alive today that were forced into marriage before they were 18.

For these girls, their marriage effectively ended their potential to contribute to their community, interrupted their schooling, and placed them at increased risk of severe domestic violence.

Every day, 37,000 girls under the age of 18 are forced into child marriage worldwide. One in three are in India. There have been many efforts to end child marriage in India, and the country has seen quality achievements. Government programs have been able to reduce child marriage from 47 percent in 2006 to 27 percent in 2016. This number is still alarmingly high.

The national and state governments, along with United Nations agencies and civil society organizations, are implementing new initiatives to right the social evils of child marriage and gender inequality. In Bihar, the chief minister himself is steering the launch of a statewide campaign against the deep-rooted harmful practices of child marriage.

In support of Bihar’s upcoming campaign, Gender Alliance— a network of 234 like-minded civil society organizations in the state—launched a high-tech tool to end child marriage in the form of a mobile application called Bandhan Tod, which means “break your shackles.”

Bandhan Tod launched in September 2017 and is available on the Google Playstore. The app has many unique features that will help girls stand up against child marriage. Bandhan Tod is a holistic solution for addressing the interlinked issues that perpetuate child marriage. The app offers free education on child marriage and the laws against it, inspirational messages to boost confidence and information on government programs that provide support and opportunities for gender empowerment.

The app also features an SOS button that instantly notifies the entire network of Gender Alliance members when a girl needs urgent help to stop a child marriage.

In order to evaluate the app’s success, Bandhan Tod’s design includes features to measure outreach, impact and changes in knowledge through automatic mapping of geographical location, age, and gender. This feature does not compromise confidentiality and will ultimately advance the ability of the app to contribute in large part to the programs working to end child marriage.

Bandhan Tod received a little over 1,000 downloads in the first week after its launch. Engagement within the app is also a huge success: “the average time spent on the app from people is generally around 7 minutes per session with an average of 100 sessions daily,” Nadeem Noor, head of United Nations Population Fund in Bihar, told The Borgen Project. “The data from the initial few days indicate that the app can be used successfully to reach end users and spread the required message.”

This app has the potential to be an indispensable tool in the struggle for gender equality and in ending all forms of discrimination against women. As part of a larger initiative, the Gender Alliance will “embark upon taking this app to front line functionaries of government departments who have a primary role in addressing the issue” Noor said.

Additionally, the Gender Alliance is working to connect the SOS function directly to the Women Police set-up in Bihar to increase their capacities on counseling the families and implementing the laws against child marriage.

Bandhan Tod was created with the needs of adolescent girls in mind. Providing young girls with basic awareness on women issues and the effects of child marriage is absolutely imperative.

In addition to offering rational, effective and quick systems that are responsive to citizens in their times of need, the initiative is working to make institutions of governance more responsive and accountable. The strides that Bandhan Tod has made thus far towards the fight to end child marriage is astounding.

Jamie Enright

Photo: Flickr

Timor Leste Poverty Rate

Over the past decade, the Timor Leste poverty rate has dropped significantly. In 2007, more than 50 percent of citizens lived under the poverty line, and by 2014, that number had dropped to 41 percent. This kind of improvement is rarely seen in the modern day, and it puts the country of Timor Leste well on its way towards building a strong and successful economy.

The high Timor Leste poverty rate should come as little surprise: the country is one of the youngest in the world, and both its creation and development have been marred by conflict. After Timor Leste declared independence from Indonesia, violence became so far-reaching that nearly 70 percent of the country’s infrastructure was destroyed. In 2006, the opposing factions of the national police and the armed forces came to a head, throwing the country into yet another conflict, one that would not be resolved until 2012.

Such conflict has contributed to the continuation of poverty in Timor Leste, and has influenced many of the factors behind it. The education system in the country is poor, with only half of all adults able to both read and write. Though there has been steady improvement in this department since the independence of Timor Leste, the fact that half of the adult population remains illiterate is one which must be remedied soon.

In order to counter the high Timor Leste poverty rate, the country has begun a series of industrial projects. With the help of CARE Australia, the country is building a series of roads linking outlying villages to larger towns and cities. This project has also been begun with the empowerment of women in mind, as more than 60 percent of the workers are female.

Additionally, the Asian Development Bank is providing training to public service workers in Timor Leste that focuses on leadership, problem solving and management. Again, this activism is happening with a focus on improving the situation for women, as 24 percent of public servants in Timor Leste are female.

Many steps have been taken to alleviate the Timor Leste poverty rate, and success has certainly been had. However, to address the systemic issues of gender inequality and poor education, the country will have to come together and continue the solid work it has already done well into the future.

Connor S. Keowen

Photo: Flickr

Causes of Poverty in Swaziland
As 63 percent of Swazis continue to live below the national poverty line, it is clear that there is an urgent call for change. While the causes of poverty in Swaziland are many, gender inequality serves as one of the primary factors — an issue that needs to be addressed in order to aid in poverty reduction efforts throughout the nation.

Among the many causes of poverty in Swaziland, a lack of effective health care is one of the largest concerns. The nation holds the highest rate of HIV prevalence in the world, with 28.8 percent of the adult population living with this life-threatening disease.

As the key driving factors of Swaziland’s HIV epidemic include low and inconsistent condom use, transactional sex, gender inequalities and gender based violence, it is clear that the cycle of poverty supported by this disease disproportionately affects women.

With 120,000 of the 220,000 people living with HIV in Swaziland being women, studies reveal that 31 percent of all women within the country live with HIV, while only 20 percent of men are affected.

Many driving factors contribute to women’s increased risk of contracting HIV, including a lack of access to proper reproductive education and health care. While 14 percent of women between the ages of 15 and 24 have been involved in intergenerational sex with older men, their adolescent age and lack of reproductive education cause them to be at more of a risk to the spread of the disease, often without their knowledge.

According to AVERT, one in three women in Swaziland also report experiencing some form of sexual abuse by the time they were 18. These and other significant gender disparities have ranked Swaziland 137 out of 159 countries in the Gender Inequality Index.

The inequalities women face in Swaziland not only leave them in a more vulnerable position to disease but also serve as the major causes of poverty in Swaziland. As women are the primary caretakers and providers for children worldwide, those disadvantages that women face create a ripple effect of a detriment for the next generation as well.

For every 100,000 live births in Swaziland, 389 women die from pregnancy-related causes, leaving 24 percent of children aged zero to 17 as orphans and 45 percent as either orphans or vulnerable.

These high maternal mortality rates reveal the reality that women’s disproportionate access to health care in Swaziland serves as one of the direct causes of poverty in Swaziland, as it not only affects the mother but also leaves almost half of Swaziland’s adolescent population at an increased risk for poverty.

Through analyzing the direct effects of gender inequality on the next generation’s vulnerability to the cycle of poverty, it is clear that a greater focus needs to be placed on addressing gender disparities within the nation — especially those of female’s access to education and reproductive health care — so as to encourage a significant drop in the poverty rates in Swaziland.

Kendra Richardson

Photo: Flickr

Why is Nigeria Poor
Nigeria is poor. OXFAM, an international NGO, released an index this July that listed 152 nations from best to worst in terms of efforts to end economic inequality; Nigeria was named at the bottom of that list.

Nigeria is overflowing with oil wealth. It is the sixth-largest exporter of petroleum in the world. However, almost 100 million out of 180 million are living in poverty. Wealth is so concentrated among the rich in Nigeria that the top five richest people own enough capital to completely end extreme poverty in their country.

So why is Nigeria poor? There are several factors. Firstly, as indicated by OXFAM’s index, the country’s government and economic elite have shown little effort to end poverty. Education and health spending make up a dismal five and three percent of the national budget, respectively, despite the government’s oil revenue.

Years of poor funding and neglect have caused illiteracy rates to be as high as 66 percent. Moreover, according to UNICEF, more than 10 million children are out of school in the country.

The public healthcare system in Nigeria is unable to cover the Nigerian populace. In Nigeria, 3,000 women and children die each day because they lack access to basic healthcare. The infant and under five mortality rates remain especially high. HIV/AIDS, in particular, is a major problem, with a prevalence of 4.4 percent; approximately 2.9 million Nigerians live with the virus. The virus has already increased the orphan population in the country to seven million.

Labor laws in Nigeria are largely ineffective. The country’s minimum wage is extremely low and there is a significant gender wage gap. Nigeria was ranked as one of the worst in Oxfam DFI’s Global Gender Gap Report. The average female Nigerian worker makes $3,000 less annually than her male counterpart.

Finally, according to Ventures Africa, Nigeria’s taxation system benefits the rich and burdens the middle class. Arbitrary and multiple taxes on the use of commodities like radios and TVs hurt not only the middle class but also small businesses. Meanwhile, big business and wealthy individuals benefit from tax waivers and concessions. A 2014 report cited in Newsweek found that $2.5 billion was given out in tax breaks for the rich between 2011 and 2013.

All these factors intensify in the northern part of the country, where the poverty rate ranges from 76 to 86 percent. Why is Nigeria poor? Economic inequality, poor healthcare and lack of access to education have all contributed. For economic inequality to no longer be a problem, the world needs to step forward to improve health, economic conditions and education in the country. The people of Nigeria are poor, but we have the means to improve their lives.

Bruce Edwin Ayres Truax

 

Photo: Pixabay