While not everyone experiences poverty in the same way, there is at least one global similarity. The poor are most often female. In Canada, more than half of all single mothers and their children live in poverty. Seventy per cent of the 1.3 billion people in the developing world who live on less than $1 a day are women.
As women are the primary care givers for their children, the impoverishment of women also means poverty for their children. In Canada, for example, a country that prides itself on its high standard of living, one out of every five children lives in poverty.
People seem to realize that a “decent life” cannot be truly lived by any of us while so many exist in poverty.
Canadians care about this growing divide. In a 1997 year-end attitudinal poll, two thirds of Canadians contacted said they are increasingly concerned about the growing gap between the rich and the poor.
Globally the figures are even more startling. In 1970, the average income of the richest fifth of the world’s population was 32 times that of the poorest fifth. By 1995, it was 78 times greater! For every dollar of income that the poorest 20 per cent received, the richest 20% received $78.