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  • Dora Ollivier Alarcon

Inequality for all or for no one!

"The opposite of poverty isn’t wealth. The opposite of poverty is justice." Poverty and wealth can be found in every country. The poor and the rich have always been separated and treated differently. Now is the time to change this!

Poverty can be differentiated in two groups: the absolute poverty, which is when a person’s yearly income averages 450 Euro; and the relative poverty, where a person’s income is less than half of the average of the country, they are living in.

Many people still believe that everyone in Mexico, India and Africa is poor, even though that is not true. Some of the richest people in the world come exactly from those regions. The problem is that there is a contrasting difference between the social classes. This can be seen especially in India. A country, considered to be one of the poorest worldwide. Overall, one third of the 1,3 billion inhabitants live under the poverty line. One person out of five leads a middle-class life, which means, that they own a comfortable appartement, they can offer their children a good education, and have all the necessary amenities.

The biggest question is, how is it possible to measure the development status of a country?

The UNO (United Nations Organization) decided to take a deeper look at the following questions:

- How high are the life expectancies in a country? - How long is the average education time from children and adolescents? - How high is the economic performance (economic performance refers to the efficiency with which a country or firm achieves its intended purposes) per person in a country?

From this data, scientist have created a statistical composite index of life expectancy and education. It is used to rank countries into four categories of development and is called Human Development Index (HDI). The higher the HDI is, the higher the development status.

Influences on the development status can be things like health opportunities. While people living in wealthier places get medical attention even if they are poor, in other, still progressing places, if you are sick, you must walk 20 km to reach the next health post. This happens e.g., in Nepal, Botsuana or Thailand. Frequently there is a lack of doctors, medicine, and electricity, resulting in many people not being able to receive the medical attention they require. Millions of poor people die of common sicknesses, which have known treatments and cures, like diarrhea or the flu.

This is one of the aftermaths of poverty. In case of illness, the high cost of medical visits and medicine, blocks the necessary attention. Even if the country provides health insurance coverage, it is often too costly for the poor.

It is not only the poverty of one person that causes the problem. Often the root cause is that the government itself doesn’t have enough money to finance hospitals and doctors. In general, the lack of education can also empower many sicknesses. This leads to the next point.

Education is another important impact on the results of the HDI. Worldwide, 120 million children and adolescents don’t have the basic right of going to school. Although some improvements have been made, they are not yet sufficient to change the course of inequality. Similar to the health crisis, inhabitants living in less developed countries find it difficult to pay for education, since it isn’t without charge. This lack of qualification leads to less economic and social development. The taxation revenues will be lower, which will reinforce the fact that less schools will be constructed and the schools won’t be free and the education good quality.

Even If the parents have the sufficient money, in the less advanced countries their children will only learn the basics like reading and writing. Furthermore ethnical and religious countires often don't allow girls to receive an education.

If the students are lucky, they might get a scholarship and will be able to move on to a more professional life. On the other hand, for people in Europe it is a matter of course to attend school and mostly a professional formation. The more educated a person is, the more that person will be able to achieve.

Though, if a person isn’t well fed, he/she won’t be able to achieve anything in the first place. So, alimentation is the base. The UNO talks of hunger when an adult human eats less than 2100 Kilocalories a day. When specific nutrients are deprived from someone’s diet, it is called undernourishment. With the worldwide production of food, approximately 12 billion People could be fed, but since the difference between poverty and wealth is so high, not everybody receives the same amount of food.

A middle-class family of four people in the USA can basically buy anything they need. On the other hand, a poor family in Chad of six people, can’t even buy a third of what the family in the USA does. It is extremely contrasting to see this. The british scientist Armatya Sen studied the huger crisis of the last 200 years in West Afrika and India. He found out, that when it came to droughts and unsuccessful harvests, the prices of the products raised. Hence the poorer population couldn’t buy the products, but the wealthier did.

Until 2015 the UNO had reached an agreement (Millenium development goals) to improve the situation of poverty. Many of them have been fulfilled, but others haven’t. So, the new ‘Global Goals’ have been chosen, lasting until 2030. These Goals show a realistic version of how the world should be. Every country must make an effort, not only the wealthy.

We are on the right track...

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