The Power of Language

It’s time we move beyond the damaging language of aid, charity and so called “international development”

The current story we hear about poverty, inequality and poor health in the Minority World (or Global North) is that aid, charity and so called “international development” are the solution. It is one that tells us that poverty can be overcome simply by “us” giving to “others”.

While charity, aid and development – in their various forms – are important, the story that they are the primary solution to poverty is limited and damaging. They distract us from the real issues that create and maintain poverty, such as a lack of public services, climate change and the so-called “war on drugs”. They also present citizens of the Minority World as the generous saviours of the Majority, undermining global solidarity and making countries in the Majority World seem poor and reliant on our help.

This is not a new conversation. Majority World solidarity groups and people of colour in Europe and the US  have long been critical of terms such as “developing” and “development”.

The way we talk about the issues we work on impacts how people, think, feel and act on them. This is why we need a more conscious approach to how we communicate – one that moves beyond this damaging narrative, to instead, one that tackles the root causes of poverty and builds a global movement for change.

At Health Poverty Action, we have been working with our allies to develop the tools and principles to we all need to achieve this.
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