AUSTIN, Texas — While children make up 30% of the world’s population, a whopping 50% of the world’s extreme poor comprise children. Research has shown that helping families out of poverty can have major positive effects on their young children’s futures. Since 1990, the amount of children under the age of 5 dying from issues due to poverty has dropped from 34,200 to 14,200 per day and the children have better health and wellbeing. Luckily, a notable organization is working to alleviate poverty among children. Here is some information about EMpower’s impact on poverty among young people.
The Emerging Markets Foundation (EMpower) is an international organization working to enable the success of young people by increasing their economic well-being, helping them lead safe and healthy lives as well as bringing attention to inclusive learning. Its mission is to provide financial grants and support to local organizations in emerging market countries. EMpower’s impact on poverty is significant because it supports grantee partners in 15 countries and channels resources towards investing in young people.
Dr. Nisha Dhawan, Country Director of EMpower India, says that youth empowerment means recognizing the voice, choice and wisdom of young people as well as seeking input from them across the lifecycle. One of the organization’s projects is the Adolescent Girls Learning Community which works with young girls in India to address issues in their own lives. Dhawan stated that “They conceive of a program, they budget for their program, they design and operationalize their intervention within the community, and then they actually go in and they measure the impact.”
Economic well-being is the ability of individuals to meet their most basic needs and have an adequate income to prosper. Worldwide, 129 million girls are not in school and millions of others are in school while not learning. Getting a good education is crucial to reducing poverty and approximately 171 million individuals could escape extreme poverty if every child left school with reading skills.
EMpower recognizes the importance of inclusive learning for young children of all backgrounds. For this reason, EMpower’s impact on poverty has extended to working to support local solutions that provide training for teachers, academic support, digital literacy and knowledge of international languages. EMpower’s grantee program has provided a grant to United Through Sport South Africa, an organization working to provide children with the necessary skills to succeed in secondary school and raise the country’s quality of education ranking.
Safe and Healthy Lives
One must take physical, as well as mental health, into account when leading a healthy life. Globally, one in seven individuals ages 10-19 deals with a mental condition. Dhawan stated that “We found that over 90 percent of all girls that we surveyed said that they are experiencing some form of mental health difficulty.” However, these issues usually go untreated. Adolescence is a crucial period in developing skills important for one’s mental and physical health such as developing healthy sleeping patterns, problem-solving skills and effective ways of coping. Half of HIV infections occur in individuals aged 15 to 24 and the infection rate of girls is 1.6 times higher than that of boys. Dhawan said that “Of the girls that were surveyed, 42 percent of them said that pressure to get married has increased [since COVID].”
EMpower aims to make sure that young and adolescent girls all over the world receive protection from domestic, sexual and community violence such as sex trafficking and early marriages. The Galaxy Fund is a Russian organization that began in 2010 to change the lives of at-risk children such as orphans and victims of commercial sexual exploitation. EMpower supports the Galaxy Fund while it works to develop safeguarding policies as well as a commercial arm to help with fundraising.
An inclusive learning environment recognizes diversity and works to allow all students to achieve their fullest potential. The world’s average per capita income is $10,298 as of 2018 according to the World Bank. Furthermore, 85 million young people do not have employment which is almost half of the worldwide amount. Children are more vulnerable to the negative effects of poverty than adults. One of these negative effects is quality of education, which is what sets up a child’s future. Children living under the poverty line are more likely to attend schools with poor resources, less government funding and less parent involvement due to longer, lower-wage working hours for parents in poverty.
EMpower supports organizations that help children develop skills to improve their own economic wellbeing such as entrepreneurship and asset building skills. The organization provided a grant to the Vietnamese organization, Know One, Teach One, which encourages at-risk street children to join a two-year training program that helps them develop professional skills and gives them work opportunities. Know One, Teach One even runs two restaurants and catering services that these children work at to develop skills and experience.
Poverty in young children is a pressing issue across the world. Factors such as access to education, mental and physical health and economic wellbeing have the capability of turning young lives around. EMpower’s work with grantees has helped fund local initiatives around the globe. The organization’s past 20 years of work with young individuals across the globe has increased hope in young girls and the organization continues to showcase the greatness within these children and adolescents. “82 percent of the young people we spoke to were hopeful about their future,” said Dhawan, “so who am I, or who are any of us to not feel hopeful?”
– Katelyn Rogers