Social and Political Stability
Poverty plays a primary role in many of the social and political issues visible around the world. Considering this, global poverty reduction stands as the solution to strengthening social and political stability worldwide.

The Connection between Poverty and Instability in Nepal

Nepal, a country in South Asia, stands as a strong example of how poverty connects to social and political instability. For much of its modern existence, Nepal has seen a steady stream of political instability and violence, visible in tragic events such as the Nepalese Civil War that lasted from 1996 to 2006 and many other political uprisings. While some of this instability links to Nepal’s historically weak governance, studies show a strong correlation between the nation’s poverty and political violence.

According to a research article by Lauren C. Griffin published in 2015, about 25% of people in Nepal survived on less than $2 per day. The history of extreme poverty in the nation opened the door for instability and violence in many ways. For instance, the Maoist insurgency beginning in 1996 led to Maoists taking over the education system to perpetuate their terror and recruiting impoverished people with grievances against the government to join the cause.

Because many of the Nepalese are trapped in this cycle of poverty with their basic needs going unmet, it is easier for political instability and radical terrorism to take hold. By helping to raise the quality of life and access to decent wages and education in Nepal, not only would residents be able to rise out of poverty but the country’s ever-present political and social chaos would be curtailed as well, says Griffin.

There is a broader consensus that helping to promote political stability and to solve social and political issues like those found in Nepal is one important way to fight poverty. “Regions that are afflicted with problems of poverty are more likely to experience crises and instability, and the reverse is also true,” said Dr. Ritu Lauter, a professor of International Studies and Political Science at Peninsula College in an interview with The Borgen Project. “When poverty rates are low, you are likely to experience more political stability… People in free and open societies are likely to fare better in life on all sorts of indicators of human security and well-being. Consequently, there is less likelihood of social and political upheaval and unrest.”

Women’s Rights and Access to Education

The prevalence of poverty typically impacts issues such as women’s rights and opportunities and access to education. Without regard for women’s rights and educational opportunities, cycles of generational poverty only continue. Dr. Lauer understands the importance of ending global poverty in order to find solutions to these issues. “Global poverty is associated with negative outcomes in all areas of life, be they social, economic or political,” she said in her interview with The Borgen Project.

“With more access to wealth come more opportunities to have a higher standard of living and a more comfortable lifestyle. When survival is not the only goal and societies have more resources available, investments in human development are more likely, thus supporting higher literacy rates and gender equality.”

According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), “If all students in low-income countries had just basic reading skills (nothing else), an estimated 171 million people could escape extreme poverty. If all adults completed secondary education, we could cut the global poverty rate by more than half. ” Recognizing the importance of education in reducing poverty, the U.N. declared high-quality education one of its 17 Sustainable Development Goals for 2030, with the overall objective of reaching zero poverty.

The Potential Impact of Support

According to Oxfam, a significant majority of the global adult population living in poverty are women. These women face numerous obstacles in their efforts to escape poverty, including low wages and precarious working conditions. Providing these women with access to resources that can uplift them out of poverty not only benefits them individually but also contributes to the overall development of their impoverished nations.

For instance, women represent 45% of the agricultural workforce in developing countries. When women are given more opportunities, such as improved access to education and other resources to support their careers, it leads to better community nutrition outcomes and more efficient management and preservation of local natural resources, as stated by Global Citizen. Additionally, safeguarding women from violence and political oppression plays a crucial role in reducing poverty rates in any given region, fostering social stability, and promoting community growth.

Action to Address Social Issues

Work is already underway to end global poverty by addressing social issues like these. For example, a U.K.-based charity called the Nepal Education Foundation (NEF) is focusing on improving primary education in Northern Nepal. Not only does the NEF work to provide educators and schools with the resources and support needed but it also works with local communities in Nepal to “construct classrooms, toilets and playgrounds.” The NEF also helps with curriculum development.

Dress for Success, established in 1997, is a large nonprofit that works in more than 20 countries to empower women with resources and skills to attain economic self-sufficiency, enabling them to rise out of poverty. Dress for Success provides this support for impoverished women in several ways, including helping poorer women find outfits for job interviews and hosting programs that teach women leadership skills that will help them thrive in their employment endeavors and in life.

So far, the organization has helped more than 1.3 million women move toward self-sufficiency and independence. The efforts of Dress for Success not only help individual women prosper economically but trickles out into broader prosperity for whole communities and countries as a whole.

As the fight against global poverty continues, it is important to remember how improving political stability and social issues benefits not only individuals and their countries but the peace and prosperity of the world as a whole. Be it by promoting political peace, or by providing educational access to children and protecting women’s rights, the whole world benefits from global poverty reduction.

– Elijah Beglyakov
Photo: Flickr