Poverty Awareness Month – January 2023

Poverty Awareness Month is observed in January every year. This important endeavor is observed in America all month long. Did you know that the U.S. ranks second highest in poverty rates among its peer countries? Poverty Awareness Month is about taking an opportunity to learn more about this social ill, raise awareness among others, and understand how everyone can help.

History of Poverty Awareness Month

We’re assuming that poverty has existed in some way, shape, or form since the dawn of time. Multiple records and studies document the plight of the poverty-stricken populace across ages. Poverty was common, the idea that it was a social ill was not.
Over time, multiple governments and institutions recognized that people needed help, and measures were put in place across the world. These were as yet individual undertakings. There was no united effort or definition as to what poverty meant.
Poverty came into global focus after the Second World War and measures have been taken on a world stage ever since.

Today, poverty is a global problem, exists in pretty much every country, and is measured slightly differently depending on the nation (even as global bodies like the U.N. and the World Bank have created common definitions).

The official criterion for assessing poverty in the U. S. was established in the 1960s and has stayed largely unchanged since then. Mollie Orshansky, an economist who worked as a statistician for the Social Security Administration, was the one who devised this metric. The Department of Agriculture had devised a low-cost food plan for less fortunate households at the time. Orshansky created a detailed matrix for families of all types and sizes using the above data as the basis for her own poverty index.

People have suggested revisions to Orshansky’s measurements, pointing out that old approaches do not apply to today’s families (or economy), but no changes have been officially approved.

Poverty Awareness Month timeline

1950s
Highest Poverty Rate

The U.S. records a poverty rate of 22%, the highest it has ever been.

1965
Medicare Is Here

The U.S. begins a special national health insurance program under the Social Security Administration; it is partly responsible for successfully (and dramatically) lowering poverty among the 65+ age group.

2019
Lowest Poverty Rate

The U.S. now records the lowest poverty rate ever — 10.5.%

2020 — 2021
Global Poverty Numbers Rise

While poverty has been declining globally, records indicate 150 million more people are living in poverty worldwide; this is the first such global increase in 20 years.

Poverty Awareness Month FAQs

What causes poverty?

Poverty has several causes, including a lack of access to basic essentials such as water, food, shelter, education, and healthcare. Poverty is also caused by inequities such as gender or ethnic discrimination, bad governance, conflict, exploitation, and domestic violence.

Why is it important to raise awareness about poverty?

Awareness — of any cause and not just poverty — helps people connect with the issue at hand. They are more inclined to participate in efforts to end such issues, and while their efforts alone might not be enough for complete eradication, awareness is an important first step.

What is called poverty?

Poverty, according to the World Bank, is not having a job and fearing for the future, and living one day at a time. It has also been called the inability to meet the basic needs of food, clothing, and shelter.

How to Observe Poverty Awareness Month

  1. Brush up on your knowledge of poverty

    Poverty is not only about financial limitations but also includes a host of other factors. Learn why this is a global problem and how various countries measure poverty among their population.

  2. See how you can help

    Learn how organizations, local governments, and even non-profits are trying to reduce poverty in your community. Lend a helping hand in any way you can — whether it is by donations or volunteer work.

  3. Put your knowledge to good use

    How do you raise awareness about poverty? Use your newfound insight into poverty to talk to people and be active in your local community. Simply sharing your resources (and thoughts) can spread information about poverty to a lot of people.

5 Fascinating Facts About Poverty

  1. The cost of coffee

    The average cost of one Frappuccino at popular coffee outlets — approximately $3 — is more than the median income of people in the developing world.

  2. A suggestion to reduce poverty

    A 2012 Oxfam report mentioned that as per their calculations, if the world's 100 richest people would have pooled their collective earnings, they could eradicate extreme poverty four times over.

  3. Why poverty awareness is so important

    According to a survey, eight in 10 Americans had no idea that global poverty levels were declining gradually before 2020; they assumed it was the opposite.

  4. One billion children live in poverty

    That makes it almost half the number of children in the world, since official records show there are approximately 2.2 billion children in the world.

  5. Children should complete secondary education

    At least according to UNESCO, who state that global poverty could be cut by 55% if all children completed their secondary education.

Why Poverty Awareness Month is Important

  1. It brings attention to poverty

    Poverty Awareness Month demands that we all take a longer, harder look at the disparities in our society and change the situation any way we can.

  2. It influences lasting change

    People across sectors and backgrounds come together for a shared goal — awareness of poverty and its effects, which could result in people’s lasting commitment towards poverty alleviation.

  3. We change how poverty is viewed

    As we begin to understand more about poverty and what causes it, we are slowly opening our minds and changing our attitudes towards people affected by poverty. We're slowly bringing about another social change.

Poverty Awareness Month dates

YearDateDay
2022January 1Saturday
2023January 1Sunday
2024January 1Monday
2025January 1Wednesday
2026January 1Thursday
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