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75 Minutes of Conversation: Rethinking Poverty

June 8, 2020.


During the COVID -19 crisis I was able to attend, from the comfort of my surroundings, an online dialogue on the topic “75 Minutes of Conversation: Rethinking Poverty” organised by United Nations Academic Impact (UNAI) as the UN marks it’s 75 years.

It brought together academics, educators, researchers and students from around the world, to discuss their priorities for the future, obstacles in achieving them, and the role of global cooperation in managing global issues.

Sharing on the panel, Ambassador Narinder Kakar, Permanent Observer of the University for Peace to the United Nations, highlighted that “people with higher education have a better capacity to pull themselves and their families out of poverty.”  He pointed the importance of education for the girl child: “Education has the potential to help achieve greater gender equality and break the cycle of early marriages and child labour.”

Dr. Dimitrios Mavrakis, Director of the Energy Policy and Development Centre, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece shared that the university also initiated a project that seeks to reduce energy poverty by working closely with local communities to educate energy consumers about sustainable practices, cover the needs of households with renewable energy sources, develop smart financing and “smart buildings” that will bring energy savings.

Dr. Balghis Badri, Director of the Regional Institute for Gender, Diversity, Peace and Rights, Ahfad University for Women, Sudan said “the bottom-up participatory research has given resource-constrained households a voice and created community-based partnerships.” She concluded that “We encourage our students to have debates and dialogues with underprivileged families and advocate for access to education and health, while discouraging practices like early marriage and dropping out of school.”

Dr. Faisal Ahmad Khan, Pro Vice Chancellor, Balochistan University of Information Technology, Engineering and Management Sciences, Pakistan, believes that faculty members and professors who contribute to economic development by supporting underprivileged social groups should be recognized and rewarded. He further called for a strong linkage between governments and institutions of higher education so that policy recommendations from these institutions can influence decision and policy making processes.

The panel concluded with interactions with youths and a Q & A session. Hearing different perspectives and plans, I concluded that financial stability is necessary for any change maker. No initiative is small or less if it can get 100’s of people together and have an impact. It’s important to integrate theoretical ideas to practical actions. We can rethink poverty and approach it in a new light of education for all and especially for women.

Kinnari Murthy



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