International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

On Sunday October 17, the United Nations observed the 24th annual International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. This day is as an essential reminder that, in times of economic downturn, it is especially important to reflect on how we can help people who are less fortunate than us.

During this year alone, the percentage of Americans living in poverty hit a 15-year high: one in seven, or 44 million. This astounding number of Americans living in poverty has given scholars and politicians new material for an old argument. In today’s New York Times, Patricia Cohen writes about the contentious term, “The Culture of Poverty”.

Cohen writes that unlike the sociologists of the 1960’s, social scientists today have “rejected the notion of a monolithic and unchanging culture of poverty”. Instead of attributing destructive attitudes and behavior to an inherent “bad” moral character, sociologists are finally recognizing the impact of sustained racism and isolation. This shift in thought is important beyond academia. Much of the research on the “culture of poverty” intersects policy debates and can ultimately influence social welfare laws.

While lawmakers and academia continue to focus on large scale solutions for combating sustained racism and isolationism, individuals and groups like WPIG can support the fight to eradicate poverty in small but powerful ways. The U.N. has suggested that groups, as well as individuals, focus on supporting organizations and ideas that lead to sustainable models for economic stability through job creation.

http://www.idealist.org/ blogged that a great place to start helping people living in poverty is through organizations that facilitate microlending. Over the last few years, WPIG members have supported microcredit organizations like www.kiva.org. Microcredit programs provide small loans to individuals living in poverty. This innovative method of empowering people, effectively breaks the cycle of poverty. Check out www.kiva.org today.

“The campaign to make poverty history-a central moral challenge of our age-cannot remain a task for the few, it must become a calling for the many. On this International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, I urge everyone to join this struggle. Together, we can make real and sufficient progress towards the end of poverty.” -Kofi Annan

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