Bill and Melinda Gates released their second annual Goalkeepers Data Report yesterday, and raised new alarms about the future of the work to end hunger, poverty, inequality, and increase global health.
Their opening essay asks, “Is Poverty Inevitable?”
“We usually express our optimism by highlighting some of the recent mind-blowing improvements in the human condition—like the fact that advances in medicine have saved 50 million lives just since we started our foundation in 2000. We believe it’s worth repeating that until we’re blue in the face,” they begin.
Then they ripped the needle from the record.
“To put it bluntly,” they say, “decades of stunning progress in the fight against poverty and disease may be on the verge of stalling — the poorest parts of the world are growing faster than everywhere else; more babies are being born in the places where it’s hardest to lead a healthy and productive life. If current trends continue, the number of poor people in the world will stop falling—and could even start to rise.”
The report tracks eighteen data points that are part of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted in 2015, and designed to offer an annual snapshot of the progress to meet specific goals by 2030. The report is the kickoff to a now annual Goalkeepers event, which the Gateses will host in New York on September 25 and 26.
You can download it here. It is in many ways, a short course in sustainable development.
While extreme poverty has decreased overall, it is becoming concentrated in sub-Saharan Africa, which suffers further from an underinvestment in the health and education of the younger population – which includes, pointedly, investments in the status of women and their reproductive health.
On page 15, you’ll find an inspiring report from Kenyan writer Abigail Arunga on Future Fab, a three-year pilot program designed to de-stigmatize conversations about teen sexual health. “Adolescents in Nairobi have little to no information about sex because everyone pretends they’re not having it,” she writes. The answer was to create a lifestyle brand, complete with a magazine and events, that helps teen girls envision a bright future for themselves while explaining how unplanned pregnancies will derail their dreams. Contraceptive use among participants increased by 50 percent.
But as was the case last year, a shifting political landscape threatens to slow the work.
“For example, President Trump’s budget released last May would shrink U.S. commitments to funding overseas HIV programs, among other efforts important to the Gates Foundation,” says Julian Wyllie in The Chronicle on Philanthropy, who called the report, “sobering.”
And then there is politics as usual.
In a call with reporters, Bill Gates pointed out that all governments have a role to play. “In Nigeria, the overall level of government tax collection is the lowest in the world, and so the resources that are available to invest look to be much lower than you need across the various functions of government,” he said. “You have to both raise the revenue and raise the quality to get the impact.”
Throw in global conflict, climate change, and the rise of movements hellbent on rolling back progressive policies, and it paints a picture of progress in real peril.
But they end on the kind of positive note that’s become the drumbeat for so many business executives re-thinking how they impact the world: Focus on the power of innovation. Vaccines and bed nets are widely available, they say by example, and thanks to technology that didn’t exist a decade ago, some 1.2 billion people now have access to a bank account.
If it’s hard to picture young people, properly supported, lifting themselves out of poverty, they say,“…the weakness is in our imagination, not the young people.”
|Here’s a gender gap you may not have considered|
|There’s a gap in the cap table, or the sacred document that tracks who has equity in a startup. A new and fairly comprehensive survey of 6,000 companies with more than $45 billion in equity value found that while women make up 33% of the founder and employee workforce, they hold just 9% of equity value. #ANGELS is a group of investor/advocates hoping to fix the #GapTable, click through for the groundbreaking (and still incomplete) analysis and their call to action.|
|South Korea’s answer to bullying|
|Free markets have provided an answer. In South Korea, a company offering a new solution known as “Uncle Service” allows beleaguered parents to hire out “mean looking uncles” to protect their bullied children. The packages come with various levels of support, including showing up at a child’s school and reprimanding the bullies personally. If you pay up, you can get the premium package, which includes Uncle Thug publicly calling out the parents of bullies outside their place of work.|
|All K Pop|
|Rice University announces free tuition for students from low and middle income families|
|This is terrific news, and I hope it is a sign of things to come. The new tuition scheme will cut some costs for other families as well, and goes into effect for the 2019 school year. Students whose families make between $65,000 and $130,000 per year could receive full-tuition scholarships. And those whose families earn between $130,000 and $200,000 could see their tuition bills cut in half. Tuition is $46,000 per year, so that’s real savings. “Talent deserves opportunity,” said Rice President David Leebron in a statement.|
The Woke Leader
|Do experts really care about inequality?|
|This is the central question of this piece from The Nation, which notes that while income inequality has been a subject of passionate debate since 2008, there is little real energy behind addressing it. Atossa Araxia Abrahamian gives a great review of the history of the economic community’s thinking about poverty and the wealth gap – the concept isn’t new, but addressing the gap has mostly been about helping people be slightly less poor. But with the economic crash of 2007/8, a new language around inequality took hold, generating a ton of grants and white papers, but little actual policy change. “Are the new inequality activists interested in achieving equality, or just fighting inequality?” she asks.|
|Eleven year old Naomi Wadler takes on domestic violence|
|The young activist burst onto the national stage with her extraordinary speech on gun violence at the March for Our Lives rally last March. Now, she’s taking on issues closer to home. She’s recently joined the Kids Board of Directors at KIDBOX, a fashion company which also advocates for kids and families. Wadler will be working with Safe Shores, a safe space for victims of interpersonal violence. “If domestic violence, or violence victims in general, aren’t in a safe space, they may feel left behind,” Wadler said. Click through for more about how she plans to help and how the Kids Board works.|
|Botham Jean, dehumanizing victims, and sin|
|Botham Jean was killed in his home by a Dallas police officer who has claimed to have entered his apartment by mistake and believed he was an intruder. The story could not be more clear: He was unarmed. He was in his own home. He did nothing wrong. And yet, says Kevin Garcia in Faithfully, he cannot simply be a victim. News reports saying that police found marijuana in Jean’s home was the start to the type of smear campaign that justified the deaths of Mike Brown, Eric Garner and others. “Most people understand internally that these deaths were not justifiable, but if there is the slightest blemish then, somehow, the victims must have been responsible for their own demise,” he writes. This type of dehumanization of others runs deep in human culture, he says, and it must be addressed, citing commentary from comics, historians and social scientists, and ultimately, Apostle Paul.|