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Women washing clothes in buckets
Politics and Economy:
Rich World, Poor Women
More on This Story:
Women and Poverty

It is a common saying that "the poor are always with us." And often, the poor are women and children. In many places, women and girls are the last to eat when food is scarce. Studies show that education has a trickle-down effect on poverty and hunger. A recent study of 63 countries showed that gains made in education for women was "the single largest contributor" to declines in malnutrition among children. Educated women are also more likely to earn more and have better health.

The effect of the globalization on the status of women and children is being hotly debated in think tanks and at development organizations worldwide. Regardless of whether its effects are ill, mixed or positive for women, the numbers of women in poverty is still large. The World Bank estimates that the total number of people living in poverty declined slightly from about 1.3 billion to 1.2 billion in the 1990s. There is much to be done to achieve the Millennium Summit goal of reducing the number of people living in extreme poverty by 100 million by 2015.

See how many people are living a dollar a day.


The poorest 10 percent of the world's people have only 1.6 percent of the income of the richest 10 percent, and the richest 1 percent received as much income as the poorest 57 percent....

Poverty and Hunger Statistics

Number of people in developing regions chronically undernourished:  800 million
Rate top 20% richest of world population versus the poorest 20%, in 1960:  30 times
Rate top 20% richest of world population versus the poorest 20%, 1997:  74 times
Rate of consumption of child born in developed world compared to undeveloped world:  30 to 50 times
Percentage of world population under 25:  almost 50%
Number of refugees who have fled their countries:  11.7 million
Number of people who have internally displaced persons:  20 - 25 million
Sources: UNIFEM, Promoting Women's Economic Security and Rights; World Bank Millennium Development Goals; United Nations Population Fund

Sources: International Labour Organization; UNESCO: The Education of Girls and Women; Millennium Goals: Gender Equality; UNIFEM (United Nations Development Fund for Women)

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