Gender Wage Gap in LuxembourgDespite centuries of movements, protests and advocacy, gender inequality continues to be one of the world’s oldest and most pervasive forms of inequality. The gender wage gap is a telling indicator of gender inequality. There is a link between these inequalities and poverty, and the gender wage gap in Luxembourg serves to illustrate this.

Global Gender Inequality

Issues regarding the gender wage gap go further than just compensation. In developing regions, 75% of women work in the informal sector. Informal jobs are often not properly regulated, with informal workers lacking legal rights, protections and employment contracts while earning insufficient living wages. Issues regarding gender inequalities are more pressing than ever. The COVID-19 pandemic both accentuated and exacerbated persistent gender issues. During the pandemic, domestic violence — physical, sexual and psychological — increased drastically across the globe. Furthermore, women make up 70% of health and social workers, making the majority of essential frontline workers female.

The Link Between Gender Inequality and Poverty

According to the World Bank, the world loses $160 trillion in wealth due to the gender wage gap. Increasing economic empowerment for women will improve the economy for everyone. Furthermore, more spending power for women will cause a massive boost to the economy as a whole. When women’s employment rises, absolute poverty rates decline. In contrast, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries saw increases in poverty where trends in gender equality were “uneven and stalled.”

Quentin Wodon, a lead economist at the World Bank, states, “Human capital wealth accounts for two-thirds of the global changing wealth of nations, well ahead of natural and other forms of capital.” Wodon says further, “Because women earn less than men, human capital wealth worldwide is about 20% lower than it could be.”

Luxembourg’s Gender Wage Gap

The gender wage gap in Luxembourg stands at only 1.4%. In recent years, addressing the gender wage gap and all other forms of gender inequality have become a priority for the public policy agenda. In 2015, Luxembourg established the Ministry of Equality between Women and Men. Unlike any other ministry in the EU, its sole focus surrounds gender equality. The Luxembourg Law of December 15, 2016, makes any discrepancies in compensation for men and women completing the same task or work of equal value illegal.

Although Luxembourg boasts the narrowest gender wage gap in Europe, there is still room for improvement. The 2016 law protects the legal rights of women in the workplace, but it does not necessarily empower them to become involved. The amount of women in Luxembourg’s workforce has risen in recent years; however, there are still far fewer women in the workforce than men.

Out of every 100 employed Luxembourgers, there are only 38 women for every 62 men. A study in 2018 showed that female workers were often more qualified than their male counterparts. About 44% of women had college degrees, while only 35% of men have the same credentials. In addition to closing the remaining gap, Luxembourg also needs to focus on empowering women to participate in the economy. True gender equality will not be met until more women join the workforce.

The digital sector has significant room for improvement regarding female participation. Taina Bofferding, the minister of equality in Luxembourg, is currently focusing on reducing the gender gap in the digital sector. As the world moves toward a digital future, Bofferding believes that female presence in the digital professional field is crucial to closing the remaining gender wage gap in Luxembourg.

Luxembourg’s government believes that concrete measures and targeted action are the reason for the nation’s narrow gender wage gap. There are more than 120 equal opportunity representatives in the public sector specifically tasked with protecting both women and men in the workplace. Along with the smallest gender wage gap in Europe, Luxembourg also enjoys some of the highest living standards in the world. With a GDP per capita of $124,591 in 2020, Luxembourg is the wealthiest EU country per capita.

Looking to the Future

The progress of the gender wage gap in Luxembourg does not reflect the progress of the rest of the world. Globally, women earn 24% less than their male counterparts, and at the current level of advancement, the world will not see equality until 2191.

The wealth surrounding the small gender wage gap in Luxembourg is one example of the direct relationship between gender inequality and poverty. Gender inequalities and poverty tend to diminish together. Luxembourg’s success emphasizes the importance of laws that can “enforce pay equity and can effectively root out wage discrepancies and ensure better frameworks are in place to achieve greater equality in the workplace.”

– Ella LeRoy
Photo: Unsplash

Italy's Foreign Aid
On October 30, 2021, Italy will host the G20 summit, the annual economic forum on international cooperation and financial stability. In addition to policy coordination between the world’s major, advanced and emerging economies in efforts to achieve global economic growth, the summit also focuses on development programs in impoverished countries. A closer look at Italy’s foreign aid shows the extent to which Italy helps the world’s most vulnerable people.

Italy’s Foreign Aid

According to U.N. standards, Italy is not contributing enough to foreign aid. Italy is the 10th-largest Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) donor for the Development Assistance Committee (DAC). The country spent $4.2 billion on official development assistance in 2020. However, this represents only 0.22% of the country’s gross national income. It falls below the U.N. target of 0.7% as well as the DAC average of 0.32%.

Current Fund Allocation

Bilateral aid consists of grants that go to countries without a multilateral intermediary. Italy dedicates 31.1% of its bilateral aid to hosting refugees in donor countries. The country was on track to reach the U.N.’s official development assistance (ODA) target up until 2017. It then started to decrease funding as in-country refugee costs decreased by 76% from 2017 to 2019.

Furthermore, along with many other countries in the European Union, much of Italy’s foreign aid has gone toward border control instead of basic services such as water, food and education. These services are key elements that help fight poverty and decrease the likelihood of forced migration or the need for border control. A June 2019 Instituto Affari Internazionali (IAI) report found that the country lacks a consistent strategy surrounding development cooperation, largely due to Italy’s fixation on migration and its opportunistic and transactional approach to foreign policy.

Bilateral vs. Multilateral

Although it seems Italy could be doing more to help the world’s impoverished, it is important to note that most of its official development assistance (62%) goes to multilateral institutions. This means that the government authorizes non-governmental organizations (NGOs), think tanks and multilateral institutions such as the World Bank Group to allocate foreign aid accordingly. While some multilateral groups can have political leanings, NGOs and think tanks tend to operate apolitically. This minimizes the risk that Italy’s foreign aid only serves to reinforce political ambitions or national security through distribution.

For example, through Italy’s earmarked contribution of more than $82 million to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the UNDP considers Italy a “vital partner in their mission to end extreme poverty” and is helping the country operationalize its G7 commitments through the Africa Centre for Sustainable Development in Rome. Once established, the goal of the Centre is to accelerate the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in Africa by advocating the best practices regarding food security, access to water and clean energy.

Italy in the G20

As host of the G20 economic forum, Italy has an important position among other members in leading discussions on development and poverty. In fact, in a telephone conversation with the European commissioner for international partnerships, Emanuela Del Re, the Italian vice minister of foreign affairs, asserted that the G20 could be “the relevant international forum to define measures to ensure that vulnerable countries are part of the socio-economic recovery.”

While Italy should be contributing more toward its foreign aid as a whole, its commitment to multilateral cooperation is a promising step in alienating aid from internal politics. Furthermore, by prioritizing the management of the pandemic in economically developing countries in the G20, Italy could reevaluate its interest in migration as a central development issue and create the opportunity for a more balanced allocation of foreign aid.

– Annarosa Zampaglione
Photo: Flickr

Foreign Aid AssistanceThe United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a Middle Eastern country made up of seven emirates. Each emirate has a unique ruler, but one of those rulers acts as the president of the entire UAE. The population of the UAE is 9.2 million and their GDP was $421.14 billion in 2019. This makes them one of the richest countries in the Middle East. Thankfully, over the years, the UAE has been utilizing a portion of its GDP to provide foreign aid assistance.

The Goal of the UAE’s Foreign Aid Assistance

The UAE aims to be unbiased in its humanitarian assistance, not focusing on politics or beliefs. This is a byproduct of the UAE’s mission for tolerance. The UAE has made multiple initiatives in recent years to promote tolerance not only in their foreign affairs but also in their domestic affairs. At the end of 2018, President H. H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed declared 2019 the Year of Tolerance. To push this goal forward, the UAE began teaching tolerance in schools, focused on promoting more tolerant policy, and created a number of organizations to promote tolerant objectives. In order to carry out these aims internationally, the UAE’s Cabinet formed the UAE Humanitarian Committee. The committee brings together experts in the field to ensure that their foreign aid is efficient and moral.


According to the UAE’s website, the UAE provided more than 47 billion AED in foreign aid assistance from 1971 to 2014. Africa is the largest recipient of the UAE’s foreign aid. However, the UAE also provided assistance to those in their neighboring communities. In 2015, the UAE was named the World’s Top Humanitarian Donor as a percentage of its GDP for the year 2013. The Development Assistance Committee of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development gave this award. In 2013 the UAE provided roughly 5.89 billion U.S. dollars in foreign aid, equal to about 1.33% of their GDP. More than 140 countries received this aid, and it focused on issues such as health, education and social services.

Present Day

The year 2020 has been tumultuous for every country due to COVID-19, causing many nations to focus solely on domestic affairs. The UAE has remained dedicated to its mission regarding foreign aid assistance. It has also been making strides to ensure that both their people and other countries have the tools they need to combat this global pandemic.

A major factory was repurposed to produce only N95 masks in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE. This factory has the capacity to produce more than 90,000 masks per day. To date, the UAE has provided more than 1,000 metric tons of foreign aid assistance in response to COVID-19. Additionally, $10 million was donated by the UAE via the World Health Organization. The donation went toward COVID-19 testing kits.

In addition to their COVID-19 foreign aid response, the UAE has been a major player in foreign aid assistance to those affected by the Beirut Port explosion. On August 4, 2020, two explosions caused the death of close to 200 people. They also destroyed the homes of many more in Lebanon. The UAE has utilized its organization, the Emirates Red Crescent (ERC), to provide foreign aid assistance in Lebanon after this tragedy. This aid focuses on providing medical supplies and medical support.


The UAE has set an example not only of the degree in which countries should engage in foreign humanitarian assistance but also in the way they should do so. Humanitarian assistance is not about a country’s beliefs, geography or affairs. Instead, humanitarian assistance is about facilitating a more equal society where everyone is able to fulfill their basic needs.

Danielle Forrey
Photo: The National

Corruption in Kyrgyzstan
In November of 2019, approximately 500 protestors assembled in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan to express their dissatisfaction with the corruption in their country. The protestors demanded that law enforcement further investigate a $700 million money-laundering scheme, first discovered by the media. This incident of corruption is nothing new in the country of Kyrgyzstan.

Corruption is a common occurrence in the everyday life of Kyrgyzstan. The issue is especially common among businesses and in the government. Across the country’s judiciary and police forces, along with other sectors, corruption prevails. While many efforts to reduce fraud in Kyrgyzstan have had little effect, there are still routes the country can take to combat the large amounts of corruption within the country.


Corruption in Kyrgyzstan’s judiciary is extremely troublesome. This means that any anti-corruption legislation is implemented inadequately by the judiciary itself. Because of this, many efforts to reduce corruption in Kyrgyzstan have been largely unsuccessful. Attorneys in Kyrgyzstan’s legal system have often reported that giving bribes to judges is a regular occurrence. Many attorneys make the complaint that no matter how well organized their arguments might be, they know that ultimately it is these bribes that determine the decision of the case. In 2010 there was an attempt to reform the judiciary in order to eliminate corruption within it. However, the attempt failed because the government politicized the reform. Specifically, the president and parliament sought to use it as a way to assign judges that suited their political preferences.


Corruption in Kyrgyzstan also extends to the police force. Unprofessional behavior among police officers is a regular occurrence, and as a result, law enforcement is much less effective in performing its duties. Some evidence has also shown that local law enforcement units answer directly to local government officials rather than serve the citizens. This type of behavior is especially common amongst police forces in Southern Kyrgyzstan. There are also reports that police will arrest people and threaten prosecutions in order to extort money from these “suspects”. Foreigners in Kyrgyzstan are especially at risk. The cars that foreign people drive in Kyrgyzstan have specialized license plates, making it easier for police officers to target them.


Despite the pervasive amount of corruption in Kyrgyzstan and the ineffective reforms that have passed, various institutions studying the corruption within Kyrgyzstan have made suggestions. One such institution is the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. After conducting extensive research on the issue, the OECD concluded that the best way for Kyrgyzstan to proceed is to not rely on the judiciary and prosecution service. The OECD recognizes that the judiciary stands in the way of truly preventing and eliminating corruption in Kyrgyzstan. Another possible solution is that Kyrgyzstan uses specialized law enforcement that deals specifically with corruption cases.

While not the sole cause of poverty, corruption definitely can have an effect on it. This is especially the case when corruption affects businesses, which can negatively impact business owners and thus their employees. The best way for Kyrgyzstan to proceed in preventing corruption is by making some changes in the judiciary as the OECD recommends.

Jacob Lee
Photo: Flickr

The Security of Foreign Aid in a Radical Right Shift
Across the globe, and particularly in Europe, there has been a rise in nationalism and radical right-wing political parties have gained momentum and government positions. For many, this is concerning as their rhetoric tends to me anti-Semitic, xenophobic and anti-immigrant.

Those dependent on foreign aid may also fear that aid will decrease as these parties gain power; however, the good news is that the security of foreign aid has yet to be affected by this radically rightward shift.

Recent Developments

The success of the Alternative for Germany, or AfD, party upset the predictions of many political pundits. In the September German elections, the radical right-wing party easily did better than any other party in the election, advancing from zero to 94 seats in the Bundestag.

According to Dr. Erica Edwards, a political science professor at Miami University of Ohio who specializes in nationalism and European political parties, this was not the expected outcome — due to their history with the Nazi party, the German political system has buffers in place to prevent such a party from gaining power; yet, the AfD still prospered.

Germany has been an incredibly significant contributor to foreign aid within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and is the third largest contributor within the Development Assistance Committee providing $17.8 billion in 2015. A drop in aid from the country would have significant impacts, but if Germany follows suit with other increasingly nationalized countries, the security of foreign aid will remain intact.

Security So Far

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development, or OECD, has members all over the world, including the major European powers, and works “to promote policies that will improve the economic and social well-being of people around the world.” The organization measures net ODA, Official Development Assistance, for each of its members along with other measures of foreign aid output.

Hungary, a member of the OECD along with Germany, has faced a resurgence of radical right-wing sentiment in recent years. Viktor Orbán has been Prime Minister since 2010 and has made some radical and nationalist remarks exacerbated by the growing popularity of Jobbik, the second most popular and most radical right-wing party in the country.

Foreign Aid

Despite being ahead of Germany in radical right popularity, Hungary experienced a 13 percent increase in net ODA in 2014 and allocated up to $152 million in development aid in 2015.

Hungary has not been the most substantial contributor to the Development Assistance Committee, particularly in comparison to Germany, but the nation still continues to increase its foreign aid and has secured it up to 2020, despite popular nationalist rhetoric. Poland, another increasingly nationalist country and member of the OEDC, has also kept their foreign aid output fairly steady.

Maintaining a Watchful Eye

Although the rhetoric of these radical right parties can be problematic and oppressive to many, it does not appear to affect the security of foreign aid. However, Dr. Edwards believe it is important to keep an eye on these parties and the countries they govern as the situation is still unpredictable.

If citizens remain engaged and vigilant, then they have the power to maintain the security of foreign aid for those who depend on it.

– Megan Burtis

Photo: Flickr

Poverty Rate in Seychelles

Located in the Indian Ocean just northeast of Madagascar, Seychelles is an archipelago nation of 115 islands and home to approximately 120,000 people. With an economy focused mainly on tourism and fishing, Seychelles boasts the highest gross domestic product (GDP) per capita in Africa at $13,250.5 in 2022.

Poverty in Seychelles

According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) 2023 Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) report, 0.9% of the Seychelles population is multidimensionally poor. Additionally, 0.4% are reported to be at risk of experiencing acute poverty. This poverty rate puts Seychelles among the lowest in the world among nations that are not part of the 35-member Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

While these numbers are very low, the poverty rate in Seychelles, as reported by the government, is vastly different from the MPI data. A 2013 study by the Seychelles National Bureau of Statistics put the poverty rate at 39.3%. The large difference is due to using a national basic needs poverty line. This poverty line is SCR 3,945 per month, equivalent to roughly $300 per month or $10 per day.

Structural Challenges

Other structural challenges also exist for the country. While unemployment is low, at 3% as of 2017, high-quality job creation is hindered by skill mismatches. Youth poverty rates run three times higher than the reported, with male youth poverty two times higher than female youth poverty. Economic inequality is also a major concern in Seychelles.

After an outcry in the country regarding poverty statistics, the National Bureau of Statistics completed a poverty survey on the country’s main island in May and June 2017. The survey focused on four central districts which have the highest poverty rates in the country. The survey revealed housing issues, including a lack of running water, electricity and toilet facilities in some houses. Overcrowding, unemployment and drug abuse were also identified as major issues in the survey area.

The Seychellois Secretary of State for Poverty Alleviation, Dick Esparon, laid out a short-term intervention plan for the members of the study. This plan includes access to electricity, water, food and hygiene, as well as employment opportunities and social work support.

Moving Forward

Moving forward, in 2017, Esparon announced a targeted policy approach to fighting poverty that will be specific to different household situations. In addition, a second phase of the poverty survey will cover five more districts on the main island, with the rest of the country being covered by the end of 2018. Results from the surveys will be combined with the targeted policy approach to create a national anti-poverty strategy, which will be used to fight the poverty rate in Seychelles.

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is also working to reduce poverty in Seychelles. It aims to improve the lives of those living in rural Seychelles through initiatives that support income generation and food security. Since its inception in Seychelles in 1991, the nonprofit has completed two projects, impacting more than 5,000 households.

Erik Beck

Photo: Flickr
Updated: May 29, 2024

Australia's Foreign Aid Program
Australia’s foreign aid program has seen many changes since it first became a single government agency in the 1970s. Besides the name, changes have taken place within the program’s administration, its focus, the countries that receive aid and the type of aid provided.

Australia provided aid to other countries well before there was an official government program. In the 1950s, Australia granted aid to Papua New Guinea in the form of grants and to South and Southeast Asia by way of educational scholarships and assistance with employment.

In 1974, under Prime Minister Whitlam, Australia established the Australian Development Assistance Agency (ADAA) as a single government entity that would administer the country’s aid. Since that time, the name of the program has changed several times, first to the Australian Development Assistance Bureau (ADAB), then to the Australian International Development Assistance Bureau (AIDAB), then to the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID) and finally to its current name, Australian Aid.

In 2010, Australia established AusAID as an executive agency within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. In Australia, an executive agency is separate from its department for staffing, accountability and reporting purposes. However, the 2013 change to the country’s current program, Australian Aid, integrated the executive agency into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade so that it was no longer a stand-alone agency.

In a 2014 press release, the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Julie Bishop, introduced Australian Aid: “The Australian Government’s new approach to overseas development assistance will focus on ways to drive economic growth in developing nations and create pathways out of poverty. Strict performance benchmarks will ensure aid spending is accountable to taxpayers and achieve results.”

The program incorporated a new development policy that focused on promoting prosperity, reducing poverty and enhancing stability. A new performance framework, Making Performance Count, enhanced the accountability and effectiveness of Australian aid by establishing performance benchmarks and impact assessments in targeted aid areas.

Australia’s foreign aid program will also have a new focus on the Indian Ocean and Asia-Pacific regions. In 2014, Minister Bishop gave a speech in which she further explained the reason for the change in focus. “In the past, [our aid program] has been spread far too thinly across the globe…We must direct our aid to where we can make the biggest difference and align it with our national interest.”

According to preliminary data from the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), Australia’s official development assistance (ODA) was $3.22 billion in 2015, which was 0.27 percent of their gross national income (GNI). The United Nations adopted a resolution in 1970 stating that ODA spending in developed countries should be at least 0.7 percent of GNI. Preliminary data from the OECD shows that only Sweden, Norway, Luxembourg, Denmark and the United Kingdom met that target in 2015.

Kristin Westad

Photo: Flickr

Internet Use
Long considered the means by which the democratization of information would be achieved, the internet is increasingly becoming a platform where wealth disparities are made evident. According to a report released in July 2016 by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the quality of internet use among students seems to be influenced by socioeconomic status.

The OECD report, which studied teenage students’ time spent online, highlighted the so-called “digital divide” that exists between their respective, qualitative internet use. In addition to this, the report found that despite having equal access, which theoretically should imply equal opportunity and success, poor students were less likely to know about or take advantage of the myriad benefits internet access affords.

Interestingly, in 21 out of the 42 countries from which data was collected, poor students actually spent more time online than wealthier students. Wealthy students, according to the study, spend their time online reading the news and learning. “But disadvantaged students may not be aware of how technology can offer opportunities to learn about the world, practice new skills or develop [professional plans or internet-based communication opportunities],” according to the OECD report.

The report noted that internet use among rich and poor students is strongly correlated with more general academic performance measures. It appears that the problem of ignorance about internet benefits both perpetuates and is perpetuated by lack of education.

A separate, unrelated study by the London School of Economics, published in February 2016, showed that people of the “higher social status” (wealthier and more educated people) benefited from their time spent online. “To some extent, the findings suggest that access to and use of the internet might exacerbate existing inequalities offline,” the study’s author remarked.

The OECD report noted that work aimed at ending these disparities is underway but that far more needs to be accomplished in order to make a difference.

One related effort attempting to tackle the issue of internet access is the Digital Global Access Policy (GAP) Act, which is currently making its way through Congress. This legislation is designed to bring internet access to the 60 percent of the world that is currently offline.

Though not directly related to efforts to leveling the playing field among people who are already online, the Digital GAP Act should have indirect but related benefits, as its passing will mean wider dissemination of internet education.

James Collins

Photo: Flickr

Important to Vote
Exercising one’s right to vote is about as American as one can get. The U.S. is a country that was founded with the intention of providing freedom and allowing one’s opinions to shape policy. As it follows, it is important to vote. However, the Pew Research Center found that compared to other democratic countries, the U.S. pales in comparison regarding voter turnout.

In fact, after the 2012 election, the U.S. had the ninth lowest voting rate out of 35 other countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The country with the highest voter turnout rate was Belgium during its 2014 election, with over 89 percent of their registered voters exercising their democratic right. In comparison, less than 54 percent of registered voters in the U.S. voted in the 2012 election.

There is a myth in the U.S. that one’s vote does not matter. While it is the Electoral College that ultimately determines the outcome of the election, the vote of the public is still crucial. The popular vote often influences the electoral vote. Though the popular vote does not directly determine the presidential outcome, it does dictate which of the elected officials in each state get to vote in the Electoral College.

The popular vote can also help determine policy long after the election is over, especially if the winning candidate’s margin of victory is low or high. If the former, the candidate will likely push for more moderate policy and if the latter, the candidate will listen to the majority. Thus, if more people vote, the more representative the democracy will likely become.

It is important to vote not only because it helps determine the political outcome, but because it is a right that was fought for by a majority of people in the U.S. and is still being fought for in other democratic countries around the world.

When the U.S. was founded, only white men of a certain faith who owned property could vote. In 1870, the right was extended to former slaves. In 1920, the women’s suffrage movement prevailed.

It was not until 1965 that discriminatory voting practices of any kind were outlawed on a federal level with the Voting Rights Act of 1965. However, many voters still experience prejudice at the polls.

Women in Saudi Arabia just recently gained the right to vote in 2011. Currently, the only democratic country that does not allow women to vote is Vatican City. Not even all men can vote — only cardinals can vote in Vatican City. This is because only cardinals can vote for the Pope, who presides over the country, and as of now, only men can become cardinals.

The suffrage of citizens is a key component of political efficacy. When one has the ability to vote, they feel that they are involved in their government and can potentially create change.

Extending the right to vote to all citizens not only creates a more representative democracy but also creates a sense of community because everyone’s voice is heard — not just those in power.

Laura Cassin

Photo: Flickr

When fighting poverty, reaching the most people possible with the least amount of resources is the goal of many organizations providing direct help, but this may not be a sustainable relief method.

Most international groups provide relief through vast shipments of medical supplies, food and clean water. Such large-scale approaches do their best to relieve the pressures of malnourishment and poor sanitation, but they are temporary solutions that require constant replenishment.

More sustainable relief methods are being used which empower an individual or a group of individuals to create solutions that are self-sufficient. When one person can resolve their own situation, the group benefits from that individual’s new income, access to food or other general life improvements.

An example of this is the empowerment of Edith, an urban farmer in Zimbabwe. A food shortage in the country has caused many communities to experience stunting in the growth rates of the youth and adults. According to ONE, an organization working to end preventable disease and extreme poverty in Africa, “less than a fifth of children [in Zimbabwe] under two receive the recommended minimum acceptable diet for adequate nutrition.” The result has been that “28 percent [of children in Zimbabwe] are stunted or have heights too low for their age.”

Directly providing the proper nutrients to the individuals that need them is a big challenge. Instead of large-scale international shipments, local projects financed by the U.N. are empowering individual farmers in the community, like Edith, to provide the necessary food to her peers. Without the financial aid of the U.N., “we cannot afford to water our home gardens as the municipality imposes stiff penalties on excessive water use,” she says.

Edith is part of a program that provides small community farmers with the appropriate seeds and tools like a solar-powered borehole. With the new machinery, she and a handful of other farmers have successfully reduced the level of malnutrition in her village. “This is certainly boosting not only our purses but most importantly nutrition,” reports Edith.

The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has endorsed this bottom-up approach as an essential way to reduce poverty. In a paper produced by the organization, individual empowerment is heralded as the key to achieving sustainable development goals. More specifically, these four good donor practices are highlighted by the research:

  • Donors should support “poor people’s rights and access to natural resources.”
  • Donors should support “participatory and accountable knowledge and advisory processes.”
  • Donors should enhance “the participation of poor rural producers in agricultural and related markets.”
  • Donors should support “poor rural people’s participation in policy and governance processes.”

All of these points stress the importance of an individual’s political and economic freedom, allowing them to rise out of poverty on their own. Edith’s story exemplifies the ability of financial empowerment to expand the potential of the individual, ultimately benefiting his or her community as a whole.

– Jacob Hess

Photo: Public Domain Image