The World Bank needs to understand what poverty means

The World Bank claims poverty is decreasing around the world but UN research shows it depends on what you measure. If we are serious about reducing poverty, we need to start by properly identifying it.

The World Bank has repeatedly claimed that extreme poverty is on the decline. In its Poverty and Shared Prosperity Report, it states that ’the world has made tremendous progress in reducing extreme poverty. The percentage of people living in extreme poverty globally fell to a new low of 10 percent in 2015 — the latest number available — down from 11 percent in 2013, reflecting continued but slowing progress. The number of people living on less than $1.90 a day fell during this period by 68 million to 736 million.

The World Bank’s extreme poverty line of US$1.90 a day is in fact not based on real estimates of people’s cost of living within countries. This explains why it fails to capture the desperation experienced by so many.

by Sharon Burrow/ITUC

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What’s wrong with inequality?

“What’s wrong with inequality? Should all people be the same?” someone asked me once. Maybe this person was confusing inequality with diversity. Diversity does not necessarily imply exclusion or marginalization. Inequality does.

by Dr Luise Steinwachs

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Unveiling the Hidden Dimensions of Poverty

The research report, The Hidden Dimensions of Poverty, fundamentally challenges global conceptions of the nature of poverty. This participatory research, led by ATD-Fourth World and the University of Oxford, has sought to refine the understanding and measurement of poverty by engaging with people directly experiencing poverty, practitioners and academics.

The 2030 Agenda recognizes that poverty is multidimensional. However, apart from income poverty, hitherto these dimensions have not been well-specified, several of them have gone unrecognized, and the ways in which they all interact to shape the experience of poverty has not been properly understood.

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The Role of public services in integrating refugees and asylum seekers

Following the influx of over three million asylum seekers into the European Union in the three-year period 2015–2017, Member States faced a number of challenges related to integrating the newly arrived into their country. This report explores the role of public services – specifically housing, social services, health and education services – in the social and economic integration of refugees and asylum seekers. It aims to identify the factors that hinder this process and the elements that contribute to successful integration. The overall focus is on destination countries, particularly the three countries most affected by the inflow of refugees and asylum seekers: Austria, Germany and Sweden.

New publication of Eurofound

Responses to migration must remain firmly rooted in social justice

In May 2019, the 72nd World Health Assembly acknowledged the health of refugees and migrants as a global priority through the acceptance of the World Health Organization’s global action plan to promote their health.1 Since then, however, the discrepancy between policy rhetoric and global reality has continued to be painfully apparent, with high profile media coverage of deaths of migrant children, separation of children from parents, and detention in appalling conditions on the US border2 and direct targeting of migrant detention centres3 and indefinite detention in overcrowded conditions without drinking water or sanitation in Libya.4

The global action plan is intended to guide WHO, partner agencies, and governments in meeting the health related objectives identified in the 2018 global compacts on migration and refugees56 and strengthen international cooperation to protect people on the move. The action plan acknowledges that to prevent inequities, public health considerations for refugees and migrants cannot be separated from those of their host populations, or from tackling the broader determinants of health. It therefore retains a health system strengthening and multisectoral approach at its core and builds on a declared commitment to strong collaboration between all UN agencies, led by WHO, the International Organisation for Migration, the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), the International Labour Organisation, and others, to bring the health of refugees and migrants to the fore of global policies.

(People’s Health Movement)

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Lessons to learn and to give …

Summer is that period of the year when everything is quiet and somehow everything seems to go a bit slower. Whether you are on holiday, you go and travel around the world or just stay home and enjoy the simple things of life, there is time to reflect. It is the ideal period of the year to think back on what has happened in the past year, and on things to come. It is the ideal period of the year to question everything, to let your mind run free, to rein in your certainties and develop your doubts, to ask yourself when old becomes too old, in short, because that is what it will probably be all about: to decide you cannot stop, you have to go on, work better and more efficiently…

I have been cleaning up old notebooks from the past decade. What to keep, what to get rid of? I was reading my notes from meetings on the financial crisis of 2008, the last European Social Forum in Istanbul, the first joint social conferences and the emerging Alter-Summit, the heated debates in the International Council of the World Social Forum, the first meetings in Tunis after the Arab Spring, the Transform!Europe meetings on the future of European policies.

And the question inevitably is: what have we learned? Where did we make progress? Do we know better now than ten years ago how to organize, how to develop a strategy, well, how to change the world? Lees verder

ITUC Global Rights Index

The systematic dismantling of the foundations of workplace democracy and the violent repression of strikes and protests put peace and stability at risk, according to the annual ITUC Global Rights Index. Extreme violence against the defenders of workplace rights saw large scale arrests and detentions in India, Turkey and Vietnam.

Sharan Burrow, General Secretary, International Trade Union Confederation said, “From Hong Kong to Mauritania, the Philippines to Turkey, governments are attempting to silence the age of anger by constraining freedom of speech and assembly. In 72% of countries, workers had no or restricted access to justice, with severe cases reported in Cambodia, China, Iran and Zimbabwe.

“The breakdown of the social contract between workers, governments and business has seen the number of countries which exclude workers from the right to establish or join a trade union increase from 92 in 2018 to 107 in 2019. The greatest increase took place in Europe where 50% of countries now exclude groups of workers from the law, up from 20% in 2018. Decent work is being affected and rights are being denied by companies avoiding rules and regulations.”

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Remittances: more than investments

The money workers send home to their families from abroad has become a critical part of many economies around the world. Based on the most recent data, remittances, as this money is called, will only grow in importance. Officially recorded remittances amounted to a record $529 billion in 2018, and are on track to reach $550 billion in 2019.

This money is flowing at about the same levels as foreign direct investment (FDI), but if China is excluded, they are the largest source of foreign exchange earnings in low- and middle-income countries, according to Migration and Remittances Brief 31, published by the World Bank Group and KNOMAD, the Global Knowledge Partnership on Migration and Development. In other words, if China is excluded from the analysis, remittances have already overtaken FDI as the biggest source of external financing.

Today, remittances equal or surpass 25% of GDP in five countries: Tonga, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Haiti, and Nepal.

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Social Protection and Human Rights

The 2030 Agenda and its 17 interrelated goals are grounded in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, international human rights treaties, the Millennium Declaration and the 2005 World Summit Outcome Document. The Agenda recognizes that economic growth alone misses those left furthest behind, and its transformative vision is to reach the furthest first, to leave no one behind, to empower the disadvantaged and to end poverty in all its forms everywhere by 2030.

Social protection is key to accomplishing this vision and is mandated in SDG 1, target 1.3. When properly designed, social protection effectively prevents and reduces poverty and inequality. Guaranteed social protection supports improved nutrition and access to essential services and can therefore interrupt the vicious cycle of poverty and its intergenerational transfer.

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(Global Coalition for Social Protection Floors)

New data challenge traditional notions of rich and poor

The traditional concept of poverty is outdated, according to a new report released today by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative (OPHI). New data demonstrate more clearly than ever that labeling countries – or even households – as rich and poor is an oversimplification.

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