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Poverty may not actually mean what you think

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Join the fight against extreme poverty

Around the world, there are over 9 million people who are united by the same cause. From different walks of life, across ages and nations, careers and faiths, these 9 million people are all ONE members. Each of them working towards the same goal: ending extreme poverty.

There’s no question, this is an important cause. But if we asked some people to explain poverty, chances are they would say different things. That’s because poverty is complicated. It looks different depending on where you are, and there are lots of reasons why it happens.

We’ve put together a quick explainer on poverty, why it matters, and what you can do to help eradicate it.

The Definitions

Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines poverty as “the state of one who lacks a usual or socially acceptable amount of money or material possessions.” On definition alone, the concept of poverty is pretty vague. That’s why there are different ways of measuring poverty.

Two of the most frequent ways of defining poverty are absolute and relative. Absolute poverty means that you don’t have enough money for basic needs, like food and housing. Relative poverty compares your circumstances to other people. Since this measurement is based on societal norms, being in relative poverty can lead to social exclusion

Then, there’s extreme poverty, which is ONE’s focus. This is defined as living on less than US$1.90 a day. As of 2015, about 10% of the world’s population was experiencing extreme poverty. Of these people, more than half were in sub-Saharan Africa.

These are some of the most common ways of defining poverty, but this isn’t all of them. It’s important to be aware of which measurements a source is using.

The Causes

Just as there are a ton of different definitions of poverty, there are a ton of different causes.

There’s an obvious cause that comes to mind: income. Food, shelter, health, and education are all affected by a person’s wages. However, poverty is about a lot more than just income. Access to land, financial services, medical services, social participation, and safe living conditions are all contributing factors.

These causes affect some people more than others, meaning that discrimination plays a role. That’s why we say poverty is sexist. There is nowhere in the world where women have the same opportunities as men (and here are 25 facts to prove it). But for girls living in extreme poverty, sexism can be a death sentence. This is unacceptable.

Future Potential

Behind the definitions and causes of poverty, we must remember that we’re talking about people. We’re talking about girls who are forced into marriage, children who can’t get an education, sick people who can’t get better, and countless others facing difficult situations because of poverty.

Even though defining poverty can be difficult, there’s a simple truth: it doesn’t have to be this way. The first Sustainable Development Goal is to end poverty in all its forms by 2030. If we achieve this, people all over the world will be free to reach their potential.

Ending poverty is not only possible, but necessary. Together, we can all create an equal, poverty-free world.

Are you ready to join the fight against extreme poverty? Become a ONE member today!

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