Global Challenges and Opportunities Facing Children, Youth and Families

June 03, 2013

The Huffington Post

Tahmina Akhter Sadia started working in a Bangladesh garment factory at just 11 years of age. She didn't want to go to work the morning of April 24, 2013, fearing that the growing cracks in the factory walls would soon cause a collapse, according to her interview with CBS News. Unfortunately, her fears became reality on that day. The walls gave way, trapping Tahmina for hours and killing more than 1,000 of her co-workers.

The disaster at the Rana Plaza in Bangladesh has focused much needed attention on the desperate working and living conditions many around the world are forced to accept. It begs us to consider and address the full consequences of globalization and global inequalities. Distant communities are more connected to one another than ever before due to technological developments. We can communicate, share knowledge and work together to solve crises. Globalization truly allows us to speak of a global society.

But with this advancement comes great responsibility. Workers at the Ran Plaza were stitching clothes for markets in the West, earning around $60 a month. This is not globalization. It is subordination. Indeed, the average income in the world's wealthiest regions was three times greater than the average income in the poorest regions 200 years ago, nine times greater 100 years ago and 20 times greater in 1998. As a result of this widening inequality gap:

  • An estimated 780 million people in the world lack access to clean water and 3.4 million people--nearly all of them in the developing world--die annually from water related disease.
  • Despite progress in treatment, HIV/AIDS disproportionally impacts poorer communities and countries. Of the 3.34 million children living with HIV, most (about 97 percent) live in sub-Saharan Africa and were infected by their HIV-positive mothers during pregnancy, childbirth, or breastfeeding.
  • Children of mothers with no education in developing nations are more than twice as likely as children of secondary-educated mothers to die before their 5th birthdays.

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