On October 8, President Mohamed Morsi issued a decree pardoning all ‘Arab Spring’ political prisoners. While the decree, if implemented, marks a milestone in Egypt’s hard-fought 21-month-long revolution, the quotient of inequality that contributed to setting it off still remains.
From the Arab Spring to Occupy Wall Street, inequality has risen to the top of social agenda. However, our measures of inequality are often limited to final outcomes, such as income, wealth, and educational achievement, which do not distinguish between the impact on inequality of personal responsibility and that stemming from factors beyond the scope of individual responsibility.
World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim laid out his vision October 12 for transforming the institution into a “solutions bank” that uses evidence and experience to solve problems and listens more closely to the people coping with economic and social challenges in their daily life.
“… It is time to move from dreaming of a world free of poverty to achieving it,” Dr. Kim said at the opening plenary session of the 2012 Annual Meetings in Tokyo. The meeting was attended by representatives from the Bank’s 188 member countries and Japanese Crown Prince Naruhito.
“It is time to bend the arc of history. With global solidarity underpinned by a relentless drive for results, we can, we must, and we will build shared prosperity and end poverty,” Dr. Kim said.
A few weeks ago, World Bank President Jim Yong Kim started a global conversation on what it will take to end poverty, and invited the public to send him feedback. On the opening day of the 2012 Annual Meetings in Tokyo, he shared some of his own ideas for tackling the problem during a live interview with the Wall Street Journal.
Dr. Kim sat down with Jacob Schlesinger, Tokyo bureau chief for the Wall Street Journal and Dow Jones Newswires., to discuss a variety of concerns--from the need to create jobs and find solutions to climate change, to Dr. Kim’s pledge to ramp up efforts to achieve the Bank’s longstanding goal of eliminating extreme poverty.
On the latter topic, a woman from Ghana asked, “What will happen if poverty ends? What next?”
At the World Bank Group, we want to help create a social movement to end poverty and to enhance shared prosperity. But how do you do that? More broadly, how do you start any social movement?
It's not easy. The world is littered with failed attempts. The roadblocks are numerous - including skeptics casting doubt, saying the task is impossible and that others have tried and failed. Why spend time on a futile endeavor? Even if Albert Camus thought he was happy, Sisyphus never did get the boulder to the top of the mountain.
But in nearly three decades of working to fight poverty, I have come to conclude that optimism in the face of seemingly intractable problems is a choice. If your cause is just and you are working in an institution with the means to truly make a difference in the lives of the poor, optimism of the spirit is a moral responsibility.
What inspires change? What has impact on policy? What really motivates us to do social good?
Here’s one story from my past that I’ll never forget.
In 1987, Dr. Paul Farmer and I and a few others helped start a group called Partners in Health to provide access to quality health care to the poor. In the beginning, the majority of our work was centered in Haiti. Seven years later, in 1994, we set up a program in Carabayllo, a settlement on the outskirts of Lima, Peru.
We began our program in Peru because a good friend of ours -- Father Jack Roussin – said we must. He said the area needed a much stronger primary health system, and so we helped build a cadre of community health workers. Our organization there, Socios en Salud, worked to improve the health care of people in the community, employed 20 local young people, built a pharmacy, and then conducted a health assessment for the town.
Then Father Jack became ill. He started losing weight. I urged him to return to his home in Boston. When he finally did, tests revealed that his lungs were full of tuberculosis (TB). And it wasn’t any TB. It was multi drug-resistant TB (MDR-TB). His disease was resistant to the four major drugs used to treat TB. Soon after, Father Jack died.
We went back to Carabayllo and investigated. Why did he have drug-resistant TB? We found an alarming number of cases of MDR-TB. We did two things: First, we immediately started looking for supplies of the drugs that could treat TB cases we discovered. We gave those to patients, and to our great relief we were able to cure most of them. Second, we started to push for a global program to treat poor people everywhere suffering from drug-resistant TB.
As the 2015 deadline to meet all the MDGS draws near, many are asking what comes next, including a recently appointed 26 member panel of development and political big-shots. The high-level panel, which met last Tuesday for the first time, faces huge pressure working on a post-2015 “development vision.” 'Stakes are high,' says Paige McClanahan in an insightful post on the Poverty Matters blog.&
This week, the World Bank launched a global conversation on social media centered around a question: what it will take to end poverty? People from around the world have begun responding using the hashtags #whatwillittake and #ittakes.
These are some of the views and reports relevant to our readers that caught our attention this week.
“Brutal attacks against bloggers, politically motivated surveillance, proactive manipulation of web content, and restrictive laws regulating speech online are among the diverse threats to internet freedom emerging over the past two years, according to a new study released today by Freedom House. Despite these threats,Freedom on the Net 2012: A Global Assessment of Internet and Digital Media found that increased pushback by civil society, technology companies, and independent courts resulted in several notable victories.
"The findings clearly show that threats to internet freedom are becoming more diverse. As authoritarian rulers see that blocked websites and high-profile arrests draw local and international condemnation, they are turning to murkier - but no less dangerous - methods for controlling online conversations," said Sanja Kelly, project director for Freedom on the Net at Freedom House.” READ MORE