SWO Needs to Redefine Poverty

SWO Needs to Redefine PovertySWO Needs to Redefine Poverty

Poverty is a state for the world’s majority. But why is this so? Are poor people to blame for their plight? Have they made poor decisions or are they indolent? What about their governments? Have they adopted policies that harm sustainable development? Poverty and inequality come in all shapes and sizes and are without doubt a reality.

An executive official at the State Welfare Organization (SWO) recently stated that a citizen with a job is not poor, and is less likely to be exposed to social harm.

However, veteran economist and scholar of poverty and social justice Hossein Raghfar, believes that since the SWO is dealing with the most impoverished and deprived groups of the society, individuals with a slightly better social status are not of high priority to them.

“While the SWO support extends to those suffering from social, mental, and psychological problems, that does not necessarily mean that people who are not in the organization’s targeted groups, are not poor,” ILNA quoted him as saying. “Any human being who is deprived of basic human needs and a life bereft of health benefits is poor.”

Access to minimum education and social welfare is a globally accepted precondition to a healthy life; and its paucity will leave adverse effects on one’s living conditions and life expectancy.

Raghfar, who is also a faculty member at the prestigious Alzahra University of Tehran, maintained that each individual must have access to a certain level of social welfare that ensures sufficient nourishment to thwart nutritional deficiencies that in turn hamper physical and mental growth. A decent shelter or a safe and secure home is another contributing factor to social welfare and equality.

 Vicious Cycle

Although a job secures certain benefits as also protection from the repercussions of unemployment, people are still “poor” if they work for low wages or are exploited by an employer.

The intergenerational transfer of poverty is the main factor that perpetuates the vicious cycle of poverty, since children raised in poor families tend to miss proper education, and thus get low-wage jobs and continue to live under the poverty line.

Statistics show that in 20% of poor families in Iran, there are two working people, but their meager total income simply cannot provide enough food or pull the family above the poverty line. This vulnerability increases in families with fewer breadwinners.

Having a job gives meaning to one’s life and triggers the feeling of worthiness and productivity in society. Lack of identity is a grave impact of unemployment and results in psychological damages such as depression and suicidal tendencies. That is why even well-off families where children are financially supported are not immune to such trauma, he noted.

To solve these issues it is fundamental to have a more detailed and in-depth vision of the poverty cycle.