Global Poverty

The World Bank estimates that 1.2 billion people live on less than $1.25 a day1.  Of those living in extreme poverty, approximately 70 percent live in rural areas and about 70 percent are women1.

During The Millennium Summit in September, 2000, the UN adopted eight Millennium Developmental Goals (MDGs), with the goal of halving extreme poverty rates by the year 2015.  Many of the targets have been met already or are on track to be reached, but there is still a lot of work to be done2.

  • About 870 million people are estimated to be undernourished.  More than 100 million children under age five are still undernourished and underweight.
  • Children born into poverty are almost twice as likely to die before the age of five as those from wealthier families.
  • In 2011, 57 million children of primary-school age were not receiving any formal education.
  • Poverty is a major barrier to secondary education, especially among older girls.  Globally, 123 million youth aged 15 to 24 lack basic reading and writing skills.  Of those, 61 percent are young women.
  • Every two minutes, somewhere in the world, a woman dies due to complications during pregnancy.
  • Violence against women continues to undermine efforts to reach all Millennium Developmental Goals.

Feminization of Poverty

“Feminization of poverty” is the term given to the phenomenon in which women experience poverty at far higher rates than men3. It encompasses far more than simply matters of income or individual suffering of women; it also includes the denial of access to fundamental human rights, including health, education, nutritious food, property, and representation.  When allowed to perpetuate, it ensnares generation after generation in a vicious cycle of poverty and hopelessness, threatening the health and well-being of women and their families all over the world.

In many countries, gender inequality persists and women continue to face discrimination in access to education, work and economic assets, and participation in government.  Women tend to do more work for less pay, and they are the primary caregivers in virtually all rural societies.  Women are relegated to more informal employment opportunities which offer low pay and lack of social protection, making women vulnerable and open to exploitation.

Why Get HOPE Global Targets Women and At-Risk Girls

Achieving gender equality is crucial to address interlocking deprivations which result in poverty – not only for women, but poverty more broadly.  Women’s access to better-paid, more-secure jobs is beneficial not only to them and their families, but also to the growth of the wider economy1.  Education impacts many areas of life, including lowering childhood-mortality rates, reducing child poverty, and promoting gender equality.  Children of educated mothers, even mothers with only primary schooling, are more likely to survive than children of mothers with no education2.

When women have equal access to education and go on to participate fully in business and economic decision-making, they are a key driving force against poverty4. Get HOPE Global increases women’s access to basic business education and offers them the chance to secure a microloan to fuel their own businesses. By providing education and supporting economic participation, Get HOPE Global helps empower women to lift themselves and their families out of poverty.   By enhancing women’s control over decision-making in the household, gender equality also translates into better prospects for and greater well-being of children, reducing poverty of future generations.

Dr. Helene Gayle, president and CEO of CARE USA says, “To tackle poverty at its roots, our most vital investments should be in women.  The backbone of many communities, they represent an untapped resource.  Their efforts as farmers, wage earners, and caregivers can assure the well-being of families and the success of future generations. Given tools, education, and opportunities, they will transform many lives5.”

1 Global Issues. “Poverty Facts and Stats” 2013. <http://www.globalissues.org/article/26/poverty-facts-and-stats>

2United Nations. “Millennium Development Goals and Beyond 2015” <http://www.un.org/millenniumgoals/>

3 Mount Holyoke College. “The Feminization of Poverty” 2010. <http://www.mtholyoke.edu/~abbat22l/classweb/feminizationofpoverty/>

4 United Nations Development Program. “Gender and Poverty Reduction” 2014. <http://www.undp.org/content/undp/en/home/ourwork/povertyreduction/focus_areas/focus_gender_and_poverty.html>

Global Women.  “Global Issues Affecting Women:  Poverty” <http://www.globalwomengo.org/uploadedFiles/File/GlobalIssuesAffectingWomenPoverty.pdf>