Seeing the Path out of Poverty More Clearly
I joined up with RESULTS Chicago as a summer intern about three days before the International Conference (IC), so when I hopped on a plane bound for Washington, I really didn’t know what to expect. What I found was a series of workshops, presentations and conversations that at once helped me understand the enormity of the problems we face with regards to poverty, and the important ways we can step up and help to solve them. For me, this dichotomy was never more difficult to wrap my head around than during an issues session about the education of girls. I learned there that even as the United States pours money into global education and benchmarks of enrollment are reached, women still lack opportunities to education and are not equally able to receive quality educated in the developing world. The gap between male and female enrollment in school remains a barrier to equity in education. Also, girls are often forced to drop out of school after their first few years of schooling to care for children. These problems are often caused by both cultural mores and lack of opportunity.
Such problems seemed insurmountable, until I heard people all around me jumping up with ideas about how to improve the process of funding global education, and how to make sure women are being properly educated. I was stunned by the enthusiastic response, and the fact that no one in the room was throwing up their hands in hopeless resignation.
In her speech to the RESULTS’ conference participants on Monday, Marian Wright Edelman invoked Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. many times as a symbol of hope and progress. After the passage of civil rights legislation in 1964 and 1965, Dr. King began to realize that the problem of inequality and discrimination he sought to address was more than just a southern problem, it was an American problem. What Dr. King found was a disconnect between the fundamental goodness he believed was in every person, and the inaction, apathy and even animosity he found across America towards issues of poverty.
It is forty years later, and too many Americans still sit on the sidelines while issues of poverty persist. But, at the RESULTS IC, I experienced a harmony between goodness of thought and goodness of action that I had never seen before. The work is far from complete; but thanks to RESULTS, I see the path more clearly now.