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127 posts categorized "Assets for the Poor"
Gender bias is a principal cause of hunger. Women produce well over half of the global food supply and are more likely to spend additional income on food. We won’t be able to end extreme poverty by 2030 without tackling gender inequality around the world. This is why women’s empowerment will be the focus of Bread for the World Institute’s (@breadinstitute) upcoming 2015 Hunger Report, currently being developed.
Join Bread for the World Institute Senior Policy Analyst Faustine Wabwire (@fwabwire) for a Twitter chat on the linkages between hunger, poverty, and women’s empowerment this Friday, March 7—the eve of International Women's Day. We want to hear your recommendations and stories to help answer the question:
What can we absolutely not leave out of the 2015 Hunger Report on women's economic empowerment to end hunger?
Be sure to include the hashtag #IWD2014 in your tweets. Here are the details:
What: Twitter Chat on Women’s Empowerment to end Hunger and Poverty
When: Friday, March 7, 2014
Time: 12 p.m. - 1 p.m. EST
Chat Hashtag: #IWD2014
Primary Twitter Accounts:
@asmalateef (Asma Lateef, director of Bread for the World Institute)
Faustine and the Institute will start the conversation with a few questions—but we hope to do a lot of listening. We look forward to hearing from you!
Posted by Bread on March 05, 2014 in Africa, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Gender, Global Hunger, Hunger Report, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Religion and Hunger, U.S. Hunger, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
Nadine poses for a portrait. Click this image to view a video of Nadine's story. (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)
Nadine is a registered nurse, low-vision therapist, and former school teacher in Philadelphia who lost her job as a health service administrator when a debilitating medical condition struck without warning. Left with no job, drained savings, and limited assistance, the safety net is the only thing keeping Nadine from homelessness.
Food insecurity in the United States is much more common among members of society who have faced social exclusion, either due to a vulnerability like age or disability, or to discrimination by race, gender, or some other characteristic (see the chart below). Unfortunately Nadine has endured exclusion for all of these reasons.
As an African American woman, even in her healthiest years, Nadine fought to hurdle serious barriers to the educational and employment opportunities that more men, and more women of other racial groups, enjoyed—opportunities that helped provide her with a steady, well paying job. But now, as a disabled senior, her physical inability to work, has left her teatering on the edge of poverty, homelessness, and food insecuirty.
African American females are least likely to earn a high school or college degree, yet most vulnerable to fatal health conditions like hypertension and various forms of cancer. African American women also have higher rates of unemployment than white women and continue to have lower amounts of weekly usual earnings and median wealth compared to their male counterparts and white women. In 2010, African American women earned, on average, 64 cents for every one dollar earned by a white, non-Hispanic male. White women made 78.1 cents to the same dollar.
We can get close to ending hunger in America by making improvements in economic policies as regularly discussed on Institute Notes. But we cannot end hunger altogether without confronting knottier social issues that beleaguer people like Nadine. Ending hunger requires ending discrimination so that all people can have access to the educational and job opportunities that allow an individual to earn enough money to keep her family out of poverty. But it also requires a strong federal safety safety net--made up of programs like Social Security, SNAP (food stamps) and disability insurance--so that physical inability to work does not remain a condemnation to chronic homelessness and hunger.
This blog was submitted by Pirbhu Satyani, who is an intern in Bread for the World Institute. He has a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship through American University and comes from Tharparkar/Sindh, Pakistan.
Pakistan, a middle-income country, has taken the significant step of becoming the 46th member country of the SUN (Scaling Up Nutrition) Movement. An important role of SUN member countries is to collaborate with each other in making the issue of nutrition a top priority. SUN helps member countries design nutrition-focused policies and use resources efficiently to achieve improved nutrition, especially among women and children.
In my country, malnutrition is a serious issue with many causes, including ineffective government policies, a poor health infrastructure system, food insecurity, and widespread poverty. In terms of Millennium Development Goal 4 (MDG 4), Pakistan is still far behind in reducing its under-5 child mortality rate. Every year, 800,000 children die in Pakistan -- 35 percent due to malnutrition. The risk of death is nine times higher for a child suffering from malnutrition than for a child with a balanced diet. Pakistan’s National Nutrition Survey in 2011 indicated that 58.1 percent of households were food insecure. The government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) are working on small projects, but there is no comprehensive and focused long-term plan or strategy to address the situation, to scale up successful programs with a goal of reducing the child mortality rate. The provincial governments (there are four) have been trying to make changes in policies and practices to improve the health and nutrition system since the 2010 introduction of the 18th Amendment to Pakistan’s Constitution, which empowered provinces to take action.
Malnutrition arises when people have little access to food and limited health services. In Pakistan, the majority of the population (around 63 percent) lives in rural areas, where health services are very limited. The main livelihood of most people is agriculture – even though it would seem that being a farmer and being malnourished contradict each other. In Pakistan it is lack of access to a diversified diet that causes malnutrition. An unprecedented natural disaster (flood) in 2010-2011 made poor communities even more vulnerable. An estimated 20 million people were displaced, millions of acres of land were damaged, and there was widespread damage to crops, mostly wheat and rice. Farmers were unable to feed their families and malnutrition increased rapidly.
Malnutrition in Pakistan can only be addressed through collaborative efforts -- by engaging the international donor community and by initiating long–term, sustainable programs such as food security, women’s empowerment, agricultural safety nets, early childhood development programs, and quality health service at the grassroots level (meaning reaching to rural communities). Pakistan hopes that best practices and effective government policies around the world can be shared with and imitated in Pakistan as it seeks ways to scale up successful nutrition actions via the platform the SUN movement has provided.
The commitment of Pakistan’s government to join the SUN movement may open more opportunities for technical support and may mobilize resources by engaging international donors to invest more in improving policies and strategies in the health and agriculture sectors, and in building the capacity of human resources and systems. If that is achieved, effective implementation of services can be ensured at all levels to improve health and nutrition for all in my country.
Posted by Scott Bleggi on February 26, 2014 in Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Gender, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Inequality, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
This graph from the CBO’s minimum wage report shows the estimated broadly shared income gains that a $10.10 minimum wage would bring. (Congressional Budget Office)
Last week, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a federal nonpartisan agency, heralded good news for America’s working poor families with the release of a report confirming the net positive economic impact of raising the federal minimum wage to the president’s proposed $10.10 per hour.
News agencies and opponents of raising the minimum wage, however, mostly ignored the good news of positive outcomes not only for working poor people, but for the vast majority of Americans. That’s why I’ve decided to recap them here:
If the minimum wage is raised to the proposed $10.10 an hour by 2016, the CBO estimates that…
- 16.5 million low-wage workers would earn higher wages.
- A net 900,000 people (i.e., factoring in potential job losses) would no longer be working full-time yet living in poverty.
- The American workforce would see a $31 billion increase in income — the majority of it going to families earning at or below twice the poverty threshold.
- Families with earnings below the poverty threshold would have an average 3 percent increase in income.
- Only America’s top earners (with incomes six or more times the poverty threshold) would see a decrease in their income, and this decrease would be small.
Opponents of a higher minimum wage trumpeted the only statistic in the entire report that suggested a potentially harmful effect on low-wage earners – an estimate that there is a two-thirds chance that raising the minimum wage would lead to a loss of about 500,000 jobs (0.3 percent of total U.S. employment).
But the benefits I’ve just listed, for millions of low-wage workers and for the entire economy, overwhelmingly outweigh the possible loss of 500,000 jobs that pay poverty-level wages.
The idea that higher wages necessarily result in fewer jobs is simplistic and short-sighted. Higher wages do not operate in a vacuum. Raising the minimum wage produces many other positive results — most obviously, a rise in people’s earnings. And as people make more money, they spend more, they pay more in taxes, the economy grows, and more good jobs are created.
Thanks to the Congressional Budget Office, U.S. policymakers have a small mountain of evidence that raising the federal minimum wage is the right course of action — for the nation's economy, and especially for its most vulnerable families.
The 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America, recommends a $12 minimum wage — what it takes for a single breadwinner in a family of four, working full-time, year-round, to pull her or his family just over the federal poverty line. Read more about the rationale behind that recommendation at hungerreport.org.
The Millenium Development Goals (MDGs) are an unprecedented global effort to achieve human development goals that are identified collectively, achievable, and measurable. Globally, substantial progress has been made toward many MDG targets- including cutting in half the proportion of people living in poverty. Every region of the world has made progress.
MDG target 3A aims to eliminate gender disparity in primary and secondary education level by 2005, and at all levels by 2015. While MDG3 has helped boost political will, and encourage more development groups to invest in resources to promote women's equality, broad progress toward gender equality has wavered, with persistent gender-based inequalities in health, education and politics around the world.
With just two years left to the MDG deadline of December 2015, now is the time for an intensive effort to articulate a goal on gender in the ongoing process to develop a post-2015 global development framework.
Last week, February 3-7, the eighth session of the UN general assembly Open Working Group on sustainable development goals (SDGs) was held in New York to discuss gender equality and women's empowerment. These discussions will be included in the UN general assembly report later in 2014, with a proposal for the new 'sustainable development goal' framework.
A summary of the meeting highlights these points:
- Gender equality was affirmed as an end in itself and as an essential means for sustainable development and poverty eradication. There can be no sustainable development without gender equality and the full participation of women and girls. Gender inequality is the most pervasive form of inequality in the world.
- There was widespread support for a stand-alone goal on gender equality, supplemented by cross-cutting targets under other goals.
- Gender equality, women’s rights, and women’s empowerment in the SDGs must be aligned with the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), the Beijing Platform for Action, the International Conference on Population and Development (ICPD), and the Rio+20 outcome document.
- Many expressed broad support for a number of priority actions, including: preventing and eliminating all forms of violence against women and girls; empowering women legally and economically; and strengthening women’s voice, participation in decision-making and leadership in all areas of life.
- The recognition, reduction, and redistribution of unpaid care and domestic work, disproportionately borne by women and girls, was also recognized as an area for action.
The question is-- what will guarantee that structural constraints to gender equality—whether social, economical or political —are overcome?
"The problem is not a lack of practical ways to address gender inequality but rather a lack of change on a large and deep enough scale to bring about a transformation in the way societies conceive of and organise men’s and women’s roles, responsibilities, and control over resources." UN Millennium Task Force on Education and Gender Equality
The United Nations Children’s Fund, known as UNICEF, released an important report that reminds us of progress being made and challenges still before us as we work to see every child grow to his or her full potential.
The State of the World’s Children 2014 in Numbers is appropriately subtitled “Every Child Counts,” and is an impressive accumulation of data, information and published tables updating this report that was first published 30 years ago.
There are 2.2 billion children in the world, and while much has changed in those three decades, the need for credible data about their situation is more important than ever. It is being used by governments, donors, program implementers and policy makers across the globe as the basis for making decisions about investments and taking actions that are directed to children, especially those who are most vulnerable.
By itself, data changes nothing. But when it is accurate, transparent and widely available it can help decision makers identify needs, support advocacy efforts and measure progress toward stated goals.
What this data enables is a visit to the lives of children in any country you choose, behind the numbers. In an easy-to-view manner, the report provides info graphics that reveal the circumstances under which a child is born, their lives growing up, and the quality of their lives as they enter adulthood.
- About 90 million children have beaten the odds against them according to 1990 predictions, and have in fact reached their fifth birthday
- Improvements in nutrition have led to a 37% drop in stunting since 1990
- Primary school enrollment has increased from 53% in 1990 to 81% in 2011.
But many challenges remain. Eleven percent of girls are married before their 15th birthday. Fifteen percent of children are engaged in labor practices that compromise their rights to protection from economic exploitation and their right to learn and play. And, some 6.6 million children under age 5 died in 2012, mostly from preventable causes.
Whether you are a policy analyst, a data geek who loves infographics, interested in international development, or just someone who wishes to see all children grow to their full potential, I suggest a look through this very interesting report by UNICEF.
Posted by Scott Bleggi on January 30, 2014 in Africa, Agriculture, Asia, Assets for the Poor, Climate Change, Development Assistance, Economic Development, Food Aid, Food Prices, Foreign Aid Reform, Gender, Global Hunger, Good Governance, Hunger Hotspots, Hunger Report, Inequality, Latin America, Malnutrition, Maternal and Child Nutrition, Millennium Development Goals, Weblogs | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)
We can get very close to ending hunger in America by pursuing full employment and a fair deal for workers. But we cannot end hunger altogether without confronting knottier social issues. Hunger is often a by-product of social exclusion, which can appear in many forms of discrimination.
Ending hunger means ending discrimination and having a safety net wide enough to protect those who are prevented from working, and their families. That means fortifying front-line nutrition programs like SNAP (food stamps) that help people get back on their feet sooner when they can’t find work, and supplement basic needs for people like the elderly and disabled who simply can’t work.
SNAP is the most effective policy tool at our disposal capable of ensuring that the most vulnerable members of our society can still eat. As the infographic below shows, SNAP is neither designed nor implemented for permanent use--the average new SNAP participant stays on the program for 10 months.
Congress could pass a renewed farm bill as early as next week. But the pending compromise is expected to cut at least $8 billion from the SNAP program at a time when record numbers of Americans are out of work. This cut will deal a second weakening blow to the nation’s already beleaguered safety net, following an estimated $5 billion cut two months ago that sapped 16 meals from the monthly food budgets of participating three person families.
The safety net exists to help the unemployed get back to work sooner following an economic downturn. Is this really the right time for Congress to be pulling it out from under them?
Read more about the role of federal safety net programs like SNAP in ending hunger in chapter three of the 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America.
Last week, Rhode Island joined a small, but growing, group of states that have made paid parental leave a right for working parents. New Jersey and California are currently the only other states that have implemented laws mandating paid family leave. Washington is set to enact paid-leave legislation next year, and both New York and Massachusetts have bills pending. Several other states—including Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire, North Carolina, Colorado, and Oregon—are also investigating similar measures. More state-level action on paid leave demonstrates waning patience with Congress’ prolonged inaction on the issue.
The United States remains the only advanced economy in the world that doesn’t guarantee paid parental leave (see infographic below). What is now a societal given for families in other developed nations is still a luxury in the United States—mostly available to the wealthiest Americans. In fact, about 40 percent of U.S. workers are not even guaranteed job-protected family leave that is unpaid.
We know that creating abundant, better-paying jobs is the first step to ending hunger in America. But wage rates are just one component of the economy that is out of balance. The changes in society over the past half-century—most prominently, the new norm that most women are in the paid workforce—have not been accompanied by policies that adequately reflect these realities and ensure that workers have the support they need to meet their responsibilities.
Too many jobs do not pay enough, do not enable parents to balance work and family responsibilities, and do not provide workers with any bargaining power to negotiate higher pay or more flexible schedules. Government policies currently in place do not go far enough in addressing these problems. In the United States, where the expectation is that parents work outside the home, government has a role in protecting the welfare of children, elderly people, and people with disabilities by setting standards to ensure that all workers can fulfill their job and family commitments.
The absence of a federal provision for paid parental leave is an anachronism, but it’s sadly not the only one. “In virtually every area of work-family policy, provisions in the United States tend to be less well-developed and less equitably distributed than those in most peer countries,” write Jane Waldfogel and Sarah McLanahan in the journal The Future of Children,published by Princeton University and the Brookings Institution. More than four in 10 private sector workers—and more than 80 percent of low-wage workers—do not have paid sick days. In other high-income countries, the law specifically permits workers to request flexible scheduling, while in the United States, many workers worry that even giving the impression of any sort of work-family conflict could get them fired.
The stark economic conditions (especially high unemployment rates) facing many families today are aggravated by the inadequate response of policymakers. States like Rhode Island, New Jersey, and California have set a good example by choosing fair national labor standards that foster supportive work environments and a more stable economy—which will result in lower rates of hunger and poverty.
Read more about the role of work-family policy in ending hunger in chapter two of the 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America.
Minimum wage increases are coming to 14 states in the New Year. Together they are expected to improve the livelihoods of more than 4.5 million people, according to a recent report by the Economic Policy Institute. Last year, legislators in Connecticut, New York, Rhode Island, and California, and voters in New Jersey, all acted to raise their respective state minimum wage rates to between $8.00 and $9.00 per hour, to take effect in 2014. In addition, minimum wages in nine other states – Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Missouri, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington – increased automatically because they are indexed to inflation rates, a policy that ensures that the minimum wage keeps pace with the rising cost of living.
The current minimum wage, $7.25 an hour, is far from enough to ensure food security for a family of four. As the infographic below illustrates, wage rates since the 1970s have not kept up with growing productivity in the U.S. economy:
Despite wage improvements in 14 states this year, the minimum wage in every state remains insufficient to keep a family out of poverty. A family of four with a full-time minimum-wage worker who is eligible for both the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit still has 13 percent less than a poverty-level income. The 2014 Hunger Report proposes raising the federal minimum wage to $12 an hour because it is the minimum hourly wage at which a single breadwinner in a family of four, working full-time, year-round, can pull her or his family just over the federal poverty line. Currently, about a third of all workers earn less than $12 per hour.
There is no schedule for indexing the federal minimum wage to inflation as it is in the nine states mentioned above; it is subject to the whims of the president and Congress. If the minimum wage had kept pace with inflation since 1968, it would be $10.60 instead of $7.25. Had it kept pace with productivity growth, the minimum wage today would be $18.67. That sounds incredibly high, but the reason it sounds so extravagant is simply that wages have not kept pace with productivity for all these years. Poverty-level wages have become the new normal in America.
Like the 14 states that took action last year, Congress should raise the minimum wage so that a full-time, year-round worker in every state can support a family of four above the poverty line.
Last month, Hunger Report Senior Editor Todd Post responded point by point to the most commonly-heard arguments against raising the minimum wage. For more information on the minimum wage and its impact on people facing hunger, read his post and chapter one of the 2014 Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America.
A fresh Hunger Report always comes with a new weekly blog series to break it down -- a space to examine the recommendations more closely and consider their ramifications in the context of recent events. This is that space. Welcome to week one.
To start the 2014 Hunger Report Monday series, we're recapping -- through visuals -- the report's central recommendation: to put an end to hunger in the United States by 2030. Our research confirms that: 1) hunger is a significant, long-ignored problem in America; 2) the U.S. government and population are fully capable of solving the problem; and 3), ending hunger will take decisive leadership, firm political will, and a clear national plan. This infographic sums up our vision of what that plan should look like in four steps:
We will not achieve a lasting end to hunger without a commitment to all four parts of this plan. Because problems like hunger are multifaceted, their solutions must be as well. Policies tend to address social problems in isolation from each other. Instead we should be thinking holistically, which makes it possible to see the relationships between various causes of the problem.
Right now, Bread for the World members around the country are urging the president and Congress to recognize the reality of America's broken social contract and set a clear course for solutions by adopting a plan to end hunger. President Obama took a promising first step last week with his speech on the problem of widening income and wealth inequality in the United States, with mentions of such contributing factors as the stagnant minimum wage, which continues to hold low-wage workers and their families below the poverty line. Inequality and the policies that perpetuate it are top concerns of this year’s Hunger Report.
You can sift through the specifics of the four-step plan to end hunger by starting with the 2014 Hunger Report Executive Summary, available for download in PDF or ebook formats in both English and Spanish. Next week, we'll continue our visual survey of the report's top messages with other new infographics.
Get updates on issues and actions to take on behalf of hungry people.