Although the United Kingdom (U.K.) is one of the largest economies in the world, the persistent battle with poverty is one that has plagued the nation for decades. Both the need for work and the average income level are nearly stagnant with little room for growth.

Persistent poverty is defined as experiencing low income continually for three or more years. For solutions to become clearer, the general public must become acquainted with the top 10 facts about poverty in the U.K.

Top 10 Facts About Poverty in the U.K.

  1. Britain has a lower proportion of its population living in relative poverty than most other European countries. Relative poverty is defined as a household with a disposable income rate of less than 60 percent, often referred to as “at risk” poverty.
  2. This means that most impoverished people living the in U.K. fall under the term “persistent poverty,” pointing to more households having an even smaller disposable income as well as experiencing poverty for an extended period of time.
  3. There are 13.3 million people in poverty in the U.K., and about 4.1 million of that population are children under the age of 18. Couples with children are five times more likely to raise them in an impoverished household than childless couples.
  4. Children in large families are at a far greater risk of poverty – 42 percent of children living in families with three or more children live in poverty. When accounted for childcare costs, an extra 130,000 children and their parents fall below the poverty line.
  5. Last year, around two-thirds of U.K. citizens took on jobs that paid less than a living wage, which resulted in more part-time work and more citizens needing to take multiple jobs. In recent years, there has been an economic push to increase the rate of pay for low-income workers, but progress is slow. In addition, once a family member is in a low-income job, it can be very difficult to move out.
  6. At least half of the U.K.’s impoverished population is working full-time and another 30 percent take part-time work. In Scotland alone, ten percent of working adults live in severe poverty.
  7. Many of the households on or near the poverty line (making less than £15,000 per year) spend more than a quarter of their income on housing. In fact, the poorest private renters and homeowners spend more than half of their income on housing. Around 5.8 million in the U.K. rent private housing — double since the last decade.
  8. Of the nine million people aged 14-24 living in the U.K., 2.7 million (30 percent) live in poverty — an amount higher than any other collective age group. Part of the reason that the rate among young people is higher is that they are more likely to live in privately-rented housing and spend a greater share of their income on housing costs.
  9. A higher proportion of women were persistently poor when compared to that of men — 8.2 percent compared to 6.3 percent, respectively.
  10. Women are 14 percent more likely to live in households with income levels that fall below the poverty line. As a result, single-parent homes lead by women are less likely to receive better healthcare, education and options to private housing.

A Bright Future

The United Kingdom continues to struggle in the terms of its poverty, but understanding these top 10 facts about poverty in the U.K. creates stepping-stones to a brighter future and helps alleviate people out of poverty.

– Tresa Rentler
Photo: Flickr

women in poverty
Economic inequality is an issue that has existed for years around the world, especially in developing countries. Sometimes dubbed “global capitalism,” this inequality can be argued to have, in turn, created social classes that have ultimately influenced women in poverty around the world.

Such women often find themselves in situations of informalization, flexibilization and feminization as capitalism causes a high discrepancy between earning wages and living affordability in certain countries. Developed countries could arguably do more to help those in developing countries so that women in poverty do not find themselves relying on the informal sphere to survive and make a living.

What is Informalization?

Any economic activity that isn’t regulated, legal or outside of the formal sphere is considered work in the informal economy. This work usually isn’t ideal as it is not monitored, regulated or taxed by the government; it is considered a labor activity lacking authority where cash is barely exchanged. This work ranges from household child- and elder-care, to domestic labor and community projects, which are often seen as examples of “invisible” informal work.

Interestingly, it can be irregular activities where payment is expected that legal regulation is difficult to enforce. These activities can range from street vending, petty trade, home-based industries, sex work, drug dealing and arms trade — most of which are seen as illegal informal work. Since it’s usually dangerous or precarious work, these scenarios lack major benefits to the employee other than an income. Women working in this sphere lack protection, labor laws or even social benefits. In fact, they often work in unsafe working conditions with risk of sexual harassment.

This type of work environment also has long-term effects on women — if workers don’t have pensions globally, many find themselves in situations of poverty in their old-age as well; in other words, this system creates a never-ending cycle for women in poverty. In fact, “today researchers estimate that informal activities constitute more than one-half of all economic outputs, and equal 75 percent of the GDP of some countries.” According to U.N. Women, 95 percent of women in South Asia, 89 percent of Sub Saharan Africa and 59 percent of women in Latin America and the Caribbean work in the informal sphere.

How Does Informalization Lead to Flexibilization and Feminization?

Flexibilization and feminization are sources of inequality that derive from informalization. Flexibilization is usually non-permanent or part-time work that ends up feminizing the workforce. People in these situations tend to be women, which is where feminization comes into play.

These minimum wage jobs require docile but reliable workers who are available for part-time/temporary work and willing to labor for low wages. Although women generally aren’t most of these qualifications, gender stereotypes depict women as perfect candidates for these informal jobs, especially in developing countries.

How Can the Women in Poverty be Alleviated From These Situations?

When women in poverty aren’t getting paid enough for their labor, they aren’t able to support themselves and their families. Consequently, these women then need to get second jobs or find themselves in situations of informalization, flexibilization and feminization. Thankfully, many are finding ways to help women out of these jobs through news outlets, organizations or simply word of mouth.

Often, developed countries are viewed as not doing enough to help developing countries. Increases in the wealth gap lead to an increase of women in these precarious jobs. Therefore, organizations like the U.N. Women, Me to We, The Borgen Project and numerous others try to address this inequality and help women around the world.

U.N. Women started a project towards this goal that trains women and families to become entrepreneurs by creating their own businesses. This is an example of just one organization and project working towards improving the lives of women in poverty working in the informal sphere.

– Negin Nia
Photo: Flickr


If you have paid attention to any type of news recently, you likely know that women’s rights and equality have been a hot topic in the United States. These issues that women face—violence, employment issues, malnutrition and more—only multiple in developing and impoverished areas around the globe.

Among the tribulations women face are violence, malnutrition, lack of education, unemployment, less access to healthcare and family stress. All of these come in different forms, but with more than 3 billion people in the world living in poverty and 60 percent of those being women according to The Hunger Project, these factors influence billions of women and children every day.

Like in most poverty-based situations, there are positive aspects occurring as well as unpleasant and disturbing news.

The Ugly: Violence.

Domestic abuse, sex trafficking, childhood marriage and sexual exploitation all fall into the category of violence but are not limited to those forms of violence. Violence is one of the ugliest problems women around the world face, especially impoverished women.

UN Women reported that female children who are poor are “2.5 times more likely to marry in childhood than those living the wealthiest quintile.” If married as a child, girls’ likelihood to experience some form of sexual exploitation increases due to sexual encounters too early in life that are often forced relations.

On top of early marriage, sex trafficking is a widespread problem around the entire world. Sex trafficking occurs in places from the Mid-West of the United States to Central Europe, to highly impoverished areas of Africa.

This disheartening yet growing epidemic targets impoverished women and children specifically. UN Women classified them as being much more vulnerable to become victims of sex trafficking.

For these women and families living in poverty, changing their abusive reality is rarely an option. “Due to their lack of resources and income,” abusive households can provide some forms of security.

The Bad: Though just as ugly, there are numerous additonal troubles that women face while in poverty.

Malnutrition and a lack of healthcare are two of the largest and most threatening problems that women face. The Hunger Project found that “50 percent of pregnant women in developing countries lack proper maternal care,” which results in at least 240,000 deaths annually from pregnancies and childbirth.

The Hunger Project also reported that “1 out of 6 infants are born with a low birth weight in developing countries,” which is due to malnutrition and uncared for health issues in women.

In developing and impoverished areas, healthcare is scarce enough at it is. When healthcare is provided, males are often treated first because of their presumed ability to work more and hold more worth.

This often leaves women and children sickly and untreated. In most situations, men perform agricultural work to sell while women grow food for the family and tend to the children. If unwell, providing for and taking care of the family can become near impossible for these women.

Being uncared for and underfeed trickles down through the families. Nearly 45 percent of deaths in children the age of 5 are due to poor nutrition. With more than 3 million child deaths each year, an average of 8,500 children are dying each day due to malnutrition and a lack of healthcare. Most of these children, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, are under the age of 5.

The difficulties of finding work and education as a women, can be added stressors. Again, work and education are luxuries in most developing countries, which when provided, often go to male prospects before women.

With such a disadvantage at hand, women face more obstacles in becoming educated and able to find a superior job that will allow them to take better care of their families.

The Good: Finally, there is good news for women in developing and impoverished areas.

More and more people around the globe are becoming informed about poverty and its difficulties especially for women and children. Poverty for any gender is a constant struggle, but the added stress for women is becoming increasingly apparent.

Through news outlets and by word of mouth, talk about poverty and ways to end it is spreading. Because of the work of organizations like The Hunger Project, UN Women, The Borgen Project and countless more, support and assistance is being sent to the most impoverished corners of the world.

A UN Women-supported project has begun to train families and women on how to become entrepreneurs of their own businesses and the economic ins and outs of it. The program has provided training for “more than 5,000 families in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan” so far and is equipping them with needed resources.

This is one example of the many organizations and projects that are working to improve the livelihood of people around the world and for women in poverty. Continuing to raise awareness regarding the overwhelming and frightening facts of our world is the first step to ending poverty for all genders and all ages.

– Katherine Wyant

Sources: UN Women, FAO, The Hunger Project
Photo: Grameen Foundation

“We Can Do It!” Rosie the Riveter’s confident call to action and iconic pose continues to empower women. The ONE campaign, a poverty advocacy group, has adopted this traditional pose to fight for equality in a new way. Grinning girls bare their biceps appear across the site, using the hashtag #WithStrongGirls to demonstrate support for the women in poverty. Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai joins the ranks of women and girls posting these “strengthies” worldwide. The social media campaign works alongside a petition calling upon world leaders to prioritize the advancement of women in efforts to end global poverty.

As the campaign explains, “poverty is sexist.” ONE’s 2015 data report explains the significant disparity in quality of life based on gender, citing maternal morality, domestic violence, gaps in wages and education and poor representation in government. These are among the many disadvantages women, particularly women in poverty, face. Each day, 39,000 girls become child brides, 1 in every 217 childbirths leads to the mother’s death in least developed countries (LDCs) and 45 percent of worldwide maternal mortality occurs within the world’s poorest 13 percent of women living in LDCs. Life in extreme poverty is horrifying. For women, these horrors multiply.

While poverty affects women more severely than men, relief for women does not exclude men. Efforts in health and education will allow progress not only for women and girls, but also for the broader movement to end global poverty. As the report explains, educating the world’s poor, including often-excluded women, could reduce extreme poverty by 12 percent, and increasing efforts for the health of women and children “could yield a nine times return in economic and social benefits.” Introducing educated women to the workforce and reducing the current 10-30 percent wage gap in many poor nations can increase agricultural yield and create more consumers and participating members of society. According to ONE’s report, “Over the coming decade 1 billion women are poised to enter the global economy.” This kind of growth does not merely benefit women; the broader economy will see vast advancements.

These significant improvements are far from unattainable; ONE is not the only campaign to realize that the dialogue about extreme poverty needs to focus on women. The social media campaign and report anticipate a new set of Sustainable Development Goals to replace the Millennial Development Goals. The United Nations announced in March 2015 that women must be a focus of humanitarian efforts. The UN called for a focus on gender-based statistics, citing a need to better incorporate gender inequality into economic discussion.

The World Bank echoes this sentiment. A $65 million loan to Zambia’s Girls’ Educations and Women’s Empowerment and Livelihoods Project will aid 75,000 women and 14,000 adolescent girls in pursuing secondary education and gaining economic independence. It will also aid governmental systems to further these efforts. With fewer than 10 percent of poor rural girls in Africa currently finishing secondary school, such programs hope to improve both the quality of life of girls who otherwise would not have access to education, and also the broader infrastructures responsible.

By extending this issue from the realm of non-profits and governmental organizations to Facebook and Twitter, ONE is helping to catch the attention of people worldwide. Isolating issues of sexism in health and education is impossible; women in poverty must be a primary focus. Likewise, poverty is not a conversation exclusive to conference rooms and offices. Poverty is sexist, but merely by including women worldwide in the dialogue, progress towards equality and the end of global poverty is underway. By standing #WithStrongGirls, women (and men) can also help stand for those who do not yet have the opportunity to do so for themselves.

– Zoey Dorman

Sources: Poverty Is Sexist Report, ONE, World Bank, UN Women
Photo: Brit+Co

Founded in 1952, Caterpillar Foundation dedicates itself to transforming lives within the international communities where Caterpillar works.  It has been the champion for programs that support education, environment and emergency relief.

The program has donated over 550 million dollars to organizations that put poverty onto the path of prosperity “by investing in those proven to yield the best results – women and girls.”  Last year the foundation committed itself to a three year 29.2 million dollar commitment. Partnering with Opportunity International the joint venture looks to service 16.7 million people across Asia, Africa and Latin America.

The Caterpillar Foundation’s commitments will be leveraged through Opportunity International via microfinance loans, savings and financial training.  Due to Caterpillar’s strong commitment to women and girls, most of the money will be financed to women, or groups of women, looking to form working relationships.

As of August 2014, Caterpillar Foundation announced the allocation of an additional 11 million dollars to help with Africa’s water and energy needs. Five million dollars have been distributed to help programs that address public policy needs and lack of access to energy. Five million dollars will be used to extend an already existing water line in Tanzania and Ethiopia. The last million will help teach women and girls about the dangers of traditional cookstoves and the benefits of adopting clean cooking solutions.

Most recently Caterpillar has committed itself to another generous contribution of 2.5 million dollars to The Poverty Project.  This nonprofit organization has received wide acclaim since the implementation of its new strategy unveiled in 2012. Global Citizen is an online platform that serves as the basis for all the work performed by the registered Global Citizens. There are more than 250,000 global citizens that have partaken in 1.75 million actions that have contributed to more than 35 campaign victories and announcements.

The Poverty Project has since released a new strategy as of January 1 of this year. The strategy focuses on ending extreme poverty by 2030.  With its announcement of a new vision, The Poverty Project has also put forth a new theory of change and an updated framework. These proposals are all designed to create a movement of unstoppable Global Citizens.

This dynamic and effective strategy is what caught the eye of the Caterpillar Foundation.  Since the three main goals of this foundation are education, environment and emergency relief, the money given to The Global Poverty Project has all been earmarked for specific projects.

The Global Poverty Project has determined that universal sanitation brought into impoverished areas will increase the chances for women to receive an education, get a job or run a small business.  This is where the bulk of the money will go.  It will also be used to put restrooms inside homes and provide them with running water. The remainder of the money will be used to help educate the 31 million girls who currently do not attend school around the world.

– Frederick Wood II

Sources: Peoria Public Radio, Caterpillar, Global Poverty, Peoria Public Radio 2
Photo: Urban Times

Progress in the fight against poverty has demonstrated the importance of focusing poverty alleviation efforts on women and children. Despite the great gains that have been made, gender inequality and violence against women still exist in every country in the world. Poverty reduction efforts should focus on women because women are vital to sustainable development. The empowerment of women leads to economic growth and increased social stability.

Poverty reduction efforts should focus on women because women have fewer opportunities for equal and meaningful education, jobs, and health care. Access to these human rights is essential in order to escape from poverty. Currently, women own only one percent of all property and earn just 10 percent of all income, yet they produce half of the world’s food.

Over 70 percent of the world’s poor, those living on less than $1.25 USD per day, are women. Because women compose the majority of those living in poverty, and because they face additional hurdles in achieving economic and social equality and success, poverty reduction efforts should focus on women across the globe, especially among the most disadvantaged and marginalized populations.

Most of the world’s poor women spend the majority of their time performing household chores, including cooking, cleaning, growing or obtaining food, collecting fuel and water, and caring for family members. Women do not receive monetary compensation for these tasks, yet they compose up to 63 percent of the gross domestic product in countries like India and Tanzania. Time and energy spent on these essential tasks result in fewer opportunities for advancement, such as education or economic pursuits.

A 2000 study by the International Food Policy Research Institute found that the majority of the reduction in global hunger between 1970 and 1995 could be attributed to the improvement of women’s social status. Progress in women’s education, food availability, and health care all played major roles in the reduction of hunger.

Because women play a major role in the world’s food production, poverty reduction efforts should focus on women farmers in order to help them earn a viable income and rise above poverty. Programs have been instituted in China, Bangladesh, and the Philippines that subsidize women farmers in order to allow them to grow food while earning extra income from selling vegetables or raising animals. Access to adequate sanitation facilities, health care, and children’s education are also priorities for bringing more women out of poverty.

– Kat Henrichs

Sources: Center for American Progress, NY Times
Photo: Muslimah Source