Poverty – Armoede: Blog Action Day

I’m stuck here. The theme of today’s Blog Action Day is Poverty.

But that is such a huge issue that I feel overwhelmed by it which doesn’t make blogging easy….

Children from La Villa de San Antonio, Honduras

Children from La Villa de San Antonio, Honduras

OK, let’s start simple. According to the Dutch Wikipedia:

Armoede = het hebben van te weinig bestaansmiddelen om aan de wezenlijke menselijke levensbehoeften te voldoen. De meest wezenlijke levensbehoeften zijn onder andere voedsel, kleren en huisvesting.

Now the English Wikipedia definition is slightly different:

Poverty = deprivation of common necessities that determine the quality of life, including food, clothing, shelter and safe drinking watre, and may also include the deprivation of opportunities to learn, to obtain better employment to escape poverty, and/or to enjoy the respect of fellow citizens.

So, in the English version it links poverty to other people and society.

I’d like to add another definition. This is from the “Eradicating Poverty: moving forward as one” statement (14 February 2008) by the Baha’i International Community (BIC):

Poverty can be described as the absence of those ethical, social and material resources needed to develop the moral, intellectual and social capacities of individuals, communities and institutions.

I must say, I like this last definition much more because it links individuals and their physical needs with the social and spiritual needs of themselves and their communities.

The BIC statement is just great. As an agroforester, I’m especially attracted to p. 11 :

A core element of a strategy of sustainable development is the reform of agricultural policies and processes. Food production and agriculture is the world’s single largest source of employment; nearly 70% of the poor in developing countries live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Although farming has been devalued by manufacturing and a rapidly expanding urban population, agriculture still represents the fundamental basis of economic and community life: malnourishment and food insecurity suffocate all attempts at development and progress. Despite this pivot al role, poverty is often concentrated in rural areas. Damage to natural resources, poor information and infrastructure often result in food insecurity, premature deaths and mass migration to urban areas in search of a better life. The farmer must be accorded his or her rightful place in the processes of development and civilization building: as the villages are reconstructed, the cities will follow.

It also reminded me very much of what the Women’s Major Group was trying to do at the 16th session of the Commission on Sustainable Development (CSD-16) in May 2008. If you’d like to read more about the Baha’i representation and the events the BIC organised during CSD-16, please click here.

In the daily meetings of the Women’s Major Group, organised by represenatives of WOCAN (women organising for change in agriculture & natural resource management) and 2 other organisations, we tried to get the point across that ‘The face of a farmer is a female face’. All our activities, statements & discussions focused on this aspect. In today’s global society close to 70% of farmers are female. We might not notice this in Europe, but if you look with a global eye, you’ll see it’s true.

As a Major Group we emphasized the need for education & training of women and girls; the facilitation of access to credit & resources for female farmers; inheritance & legal rights to land, water and trees; access to markets and processing chains etc. And as the BIC statement says on p. 7:

In areas where women have gained access to education, employment, and ownership opportunities, dramatic effects have been observed at many levels: at the level of the family, more equitable division of food, resources, and health care among girls and boys; higher rates of literacy among children; lower rates of fertility leading to better economic conditions and maternal health; and the injection of new concerns into public discourse.

Maize field in Honduras

Maize field in Honduras

Well, what are we, as a world community, waiting for….?

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