What Can We Do About World Poverty?

There is no question that the single most important factor preventing the developing world from moving forward is a lack of education. This is particularly true for girls and women who are marginalized in most developing countries and have limited educational opportunities. A fantastic book addressing this and other issues facing women in the developing world that all women in the “first world” should read is “Half the Sky” by Nicholas Kristoff.

Investing in education for the millions of girls and women worldwide who are paralyzed by lack of opportunity will no doubt be the driving factor leading to lasting improvement in the economy, health and welfare of the next generation in the developing world. We know that girls and women in developing countries need education to provide opportunity for work and also to expose them to better ways to live in other parts of the world. Learning about the developed world will allow poor and oppressed women to see a path to improvement.

But another, related fact is equally important. We in the developed world need a different type of education just as badly. We are the richest people in the history of the earth but most of us live as if there is nothing wrong with the world. We attend to our families and pursue our careers while almost half of the world’s inhabitants struggle to eat every day. News about the suffering in the developing world is conspicuously absent in the American media, and a good portion of us could not even identify the major problems facing those less fortunate in other countries.

If we knew, we would be moved to help. More of us would wake up in the morning striving to make the world a better place for everyone, not just those who are culturally or geographically close to us. We may not be lacking in formal education but the majority of us are as paralyzed by ignorance about the needs of the developing world as millions of rural Africans are paralyzed by illiteracy. Read some books, travel to a poor country, do something to open your eyes to poverty. We can’t fix the problem if we don’t know what the problem is.