Concerted efforts needed to fight poverty
Concerted efforts needed to fight poverty
As the world leaders and the elite met in Davos, Switzerland, from the 23rd -26th January 2018 for the World Economic Forum, ordinary citizens who could not afford to be there managed to host local events in response to the Davos meetings. In Harare, Zimbabwe, ordinary citizens convened on the 24th of January 2018 at ZIMCODD Offices to push for their Agenda of Action Against Inequality which ran under the theme ‘End the Age of Greed’.
The meeting was organised by ZIMCODD in collaboration with Fight Inequality to bring together activists and organisations to come up with possible solutions to tackle inequality worldwide. This came after the realisation that inequality explosion (in both developing and developed countries) is one of the biggest crises which is threatening human development; hence the urgent need to address this structural anomaly.
According to an Official from OXFAM, Ms. Fadzai Traquino, in 2017, 82% of wealth created worldwide was owned by 1% of the world population. Ironically, the wealth of this 1% is built through exploitation of low paid workers whose wages are below the poverty datum line in the countries they are operating in, especially China, where there are gross violations of labour rights.
The inequitable distribution of resources has compelled organisations such as Fight Inequality to fight the age of greed in a mission to have an equal society where workers enjoy decent working conditions and wages and a society where the richest companies pay their fair share of taxes instead of evading it.
In her research titled Reward Work, Not Wealth: To end the inequality crisis, we must build an economy for ordinary work, OXFAM notes that, there is lack of political will by some Governments to close the inequality gap. The research quotes the words of the Nigerian President Buhari speech during the 2017 UN General Assembly where he said, “We must be mindful, and focus on the widening inequalities within societies and the gap between the rich and poor nations. These inequalities and gaps are part of the underlying root causes of competition for resources, frustration and anger leading to spiralling inequality”. What is perhaps disappointing to note is that in Nigeria, the proceeds of recent economic growth have gone exclusively to the top 10% of the rich, while poverty and inequality have increased. 10 million children are not in school and one in 10 women die in child birth.
One participant who attended the public meeting bemoaned the Government’s venture into Public Private Partnerships especially on healthcare provision which has made access to affordable health care a preserve of the few. Mrs Chikwanha an ardent HIV/AIDS activist highlighted that the limited stock of medicine (e.g. ARV) and other essentials such as syringes, limitation of viral load machines for people living with and affected by HIV was indeed a cause of concern.
Prince Mupindu who was representing the youth cluster expressed the grave concern on the increasing unemployment rate in the country especially among the 18-35years age group, a situation which has created desperation among young people with some resorting to drug and alcohol abuse. A student at a local university spoke about the harrowing experiences in tertiary institutions where some women suffer sexual exploitation. The presenter noted that, due to poverty most young women end up engaging in commercial sex work to eke a living.
Poverty Reduction Forum Trust’s Director Mrs Judith Kaulem noted that inequality is a global problem that needs global solutions while highlighting that the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are aimed at addressing global inequalities with SDGs four and ten emphasizing on the need for member states to ensure that every human being does not live in poverty and is not deprived of basic needs. Kaulem also noted that governments have a responsibility of reducing inequalities through formulating and implementing deliberate policies that protect all marginalized groups.
Participants went on to outline a society they envision where they noted that there has to be fair taxation and eradication of tax havens. They also called upon Government to subsidise sectors such as health, education and other sectors delivering essential social services.
Each year in January, global political leaders and business elites meet in Davos at the World Economic Forum, to look for alternatives in addressing global economic challenges. However, the ordinary citizens are not represented there, thus a new movement called the Fight Inequality Alliance has been formed to tell the lived experience of the poor as a way of trying to redress the current socio-economic inequalities around the world.