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Over the last 30 years over 1 billion people have come out of poverty. While tremendous strides have been made towards reaching the Global Goal of ending poverty entirely by 2030; 736 million men, women and children are still classified as living in extreme poverty- surviving on less than $1.90 a day. 

WHY POVERTY? takes an in depth look at global inequality, asking how poverty can still exist in a world with so much wealth? The Peabody Award-winning series was shown by an unprecedented 69 broadcasters in over 180 countries when it launched in 2012. This was also accompanied by 34 short films, an online engagement platform and community screenings.

Over the last 30 years over 1 billion people have come out of poverty. While tremendous strides have been made towards reaching the Global Goal of ending poverty entirely by 2030; 736 million men, women and children are still classified as living in extreme poverty- surviving on less than $1.90 a day. 

WHY POVERTY? takes an in depth look at global inequality, asking how poverty can still exist in a world with so much wealth? The Peabody Award-winning series was shown by an unprecedented 69 broadcasters in over 180 countries when it launched in 2012. This was also accompanied by 34 short films, an online engagement platform and community screenings.

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

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Films and media

Education, Education

Weijun Chen

2012

Can a good education provide an escape from poverty?

“In China, the most lucrative Industry is Education.” Wang Zhenxiang, Tutor, Hongbo Education. There is a worldwide economic crisis, but everywhere parents are told that their children may escape the worst if they are educated, and everywhere children are pressured to climb the rungs of the ladder and acquire the totem of middle class life – a university education. But does education secure what it is supposed to? Can a degree really get you out of poverty? Weijun Chen’s film, set in Wuhan in central China, looks at the realities of Chinese education through the lives of Wang Zhenxiang, a tutor at the private Hongbo Education college, Wang Pan, high school graduate and would be student, and Wan Chao, graduate job seeker who goes from one unpromising interview to another.

Give us the Money

Bosse Lindquist

2012

Can glitz and celebrity save the world?

Thirty years ago, rock stars Bob Geldof and Bono set out on a journey to fight poverty in Africa. They tried to convince some of the wiliest and mightiest politicians on earth to change the world. Give us the Money tracks their journey through famines and palaces, and world-wide TV-audiences. But how successful have they really been? Did they manage to make the world a better place? Bosse Lindquist's film tracks the history of this idea. "A band of musicians set out to change the world" he says "and now the time has come to ask: What did they achieve, and is celebrity politics is the right way of combating world poverty?"'

Land Rush

Hugo Berkley & Osvalde Lewat

2012

Can Mali's farmers combat food shortages and escape poverty on their own terms?

75% of Mali's population are farmers, but rich, land-hungry nations like China and Saudi Arabia are leasing Mali's land in order to turn large areas into agribusiness farms. Many Malian peasants do not welcome these efforts, seeing them as yet another manifestation of imperialism. As Mali experiences a military coup, the developers are scared off - but can Mali's farmers combat food shortages and escape poverty on their own terms?

Park Avenue

Alex Gibney

2012

How much inequality is too much?

The documentary compares the access to opportunities of residents of Park Avenue both on the Upper East Side and in the South Bronx. It draws upon Michael Gross's book "740 Park: The Story of the World’s Richest Apartment Building", which showed that many billionaires live in that building. It goes on to explain that billionaire heir David Koch made significant donations to Paul Ryan in the same way that banker Steven Schwartzman lobbied Charles Schumer—for their own gain. The documentary includes interviews with a doorman at 740 Park Avenue, journalist Jane Mayer, Yale University Professor Jacob Hacker, University of California, Berkeley Professor Paul Piff, and Republican advisor Bruce Bartlett

Poor Us: An Animated History of Poverty

Ben Lewis

2012

How have attitudes to poverty changed over the ages?

The poor may always have been with us, but attitudes towards them have changed. Beginning in the Neolithic Age Ben Lewis’ film takes us through the changing world of poverty. You go to sleep, you dream, you become poor through the ages. And when you awake, what can you say about poverty now? There are still very poor people, to be sure, but the new poverty has more to do with inequality…

Solar Mamas

Mona Eldaief & Jehane Noujaim

2012

Will an educaiton in solar engineering prove to be a route out of poverty for women in Jordan?

Rafea is a Bedouin woman who lives with her four daughters in one of Jordan's poorest desert villages on the Iraqi border. She is given a chance to travel to India to attend the Barefoot College, where illiterate grandmothers from around the world are trained in 6 months to be solar engineers. If Rafea succeeds, she will be able to electrify her village, train more engineers, and provide for her daughters. Even when she returns as the first female solar engineer in the country, her real challenge will have just begun. Will she find support for her new venture? Will she be able to inspire the other women in the village to join her and change their lives? And most importantly, will she be able to re-wire the traditional minds of the Bedouin community that stand in her way?

Stealing Africa

Christoffer Guldbrandsen

2012

How do multinational companies avoid paying tax in the developing countries where they operate?

Rüschlikon is a village in Switzerland with a very low tax rate and very wealthy residents. But it receives more tax revenue than it can use. This is largely thanks to one resident - Ivan Glasenberg, CEO of Glencore, whose copper mines in Zambia are not generating a large bounty tax revenue for the Zambians. Zambia has the 3rd largest copper reserves in the world, but 60% of the population live on less than $1 a day and 80% are unemployed. Based on original research into public documents, the film describes the tax system employed by multinational companies in Africa.

Welcome to the World

Brian Hill

2012

Is it worse to be born poor than to die poor?

130 million babies are born each year, and not one of them decides where they’ll be born or how they’ll live. In Cambodia, you’re likely to be born to a family living on less than $1/day. In Sierra Leone chances of surviving the first year are half those of the worldwide average. We go around the world to meet the newest generation.

Colours in the Dust

Jonathan Stack, Massena "Bougon" Cesar, Huguens Saintil, Jean Peirre Belony & Nicolas Cuellar

2012

Can creativity help Haiti rebuild after the earthquake?

Ten-year-old Jouvens Latour survives Haiti's earthquake, but amidst the suffering, poverty turns into possibility. The young artist believes creativity is the way forward for his country.

Finding Josephine

Tomas Sheridan

2012

Who really benefits from charitable donations?

A family has been supporting a child in Uganda via a charity for three years. The father and small daughter travel from UK to Uganda to see if their charity makes any difference: to them or to the child they are supporting.

Holiday from Poverty

Jez Lewis

2012

What does it mean to take take a holiday - when you've never had one?

Poor families might not be starving in the UK, but in a culture where most people have more than you, being poor is isolating and shaming, "People look down on you for being poor." This personal film looks at the huge difference just having a holiday can make to a family living in poverty. "They don't want money, they just want their dignity back."

In Your Hands

Lucas Nieto

2012

If you lived in the 11th most violent city in the world, what path would your life take?

Cali in Colombia is the 11th most violent city in the world. Homicide levels are high and more than 40% of the city's murders take place in the district of Aguablanca. In a place where violence is so rife and where gang membership is a way of defending your neighbourhood, what path would you take if you lived there? Good? Bad? Indifferent? As Yahir travels around Aguablanca and stops to talk to his neighbours, can you guess what path he decided to take?

Miseducation

Nadine Cloete

2012

What's is like to walk to school in one of the poorest neighbourhood's in South Africa?

What's your walk to school like when, every day, you have to cross one of the poorest parts of South Africa to get to class? Kelina, aged 11, is getting an education in a township in Cape Town, riddled with guns, drugs and violence. How does she see the world on her daily trip to school?

The Crisis and the Sunglasses

Sean McAllister

2012

Is anyone safe from poverty?

As the European dream fades, the economic crisis brings new poverty to the people of Athens. How will they survive as their society crumbles? A man's life is destroyed by the crisis: "I don't exist anymore" he says. But a small gift makes all the difference to him and his family...

The Thread

Alicia Cano

2012

How can microcredit schemes allow young women their 'coming of age' party they deserve?

Throughout Latin America, a girl's 15th birthday marks her coming of age and is celebrated in style. It's a celebration that many poor rural families can ill-afford - the cost of the girl's dress alone is often prohibitive. Meet Blanca, a seamstress in Uruguay, who took advantage of a micro-credit scheme to invest in a sewing machine. Today she runs a business that makes and rents out affordable dresses. Now all the girls in her village can enjoy their coming of age.

Waste

Valentin Thurn

2012

Why does the West waste so much food?

1/3 of food heads for the trash. The food thrown away in Europe and North America would be enough to feed all the hungry people in the world three times over. 3 million tones of bread are thrown away in the European Union each year.

BBC World Debate: WHY POVERTY?

2012

Why does poverty persist in today's world of extreme wealth?

The BBC World Debate is part of a global event hosted by the BBC and 50 other broadcasters around the world. The debate explores the causes of and cures for the enduring problem of severe poverty which still affects many people in the world. The panel is made up of: Tony Blair, former UK Prime Minister; Oby Ezekwesili from the Open Society Foundation in Africa and a former Nigerian government minister; Moeltesi Mbeki, South African author and Chair of SA Institute of International Affairs; and Vandana Shiva, Indian activist, environmentalist and scientist. The debate was chaired by Zeinab Badawi.

DR Debate: WHY POVERTY?

2012

Does foreign aid help or hinder the eradication of poverty?

WHY POVERTY? Series Trailer

2012

Why Poverty? is a ground breaking, global media event, online and on TV, using films to get people talking about poverty, wealth and inequality. Together with 70 broadcasaters this campaign created the first ever global dialogue on poverty.

Documentaries

Our preeminent documentary strand is curated annually and distributed through BBC World News and to over 70 local broadcast partners. These films are not available to watch online, but you can read more about each of the films in our series here:

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6 DOCUMENTARY FILMS /
70+ BROADCASTERS / 700 MILLION VIEWERS / LAUNCHING OCTOBER 2018

Using the power of strong storytelling as the foundation of the campaign, six compelling and informative documentary films will uncover the lives of men, women and children living as slaves in all corners of the world. Whether it is the deeply flawed Kafala System in the Middle East or the prolific number of children bought and sold in India, the WHY SLAVERY? series will shine a light on the millions of lives lived in the shadow of enslavement.Following the unprecedented success of Why Democracy? and Why Poverty? THE WHY is creating a ground-breaking new cross-media project that asks why slavery remains so endemic in the 21st Century.We aim to create the largest ever public media campaign about modern slavery reaching an unprecedented number of people through broadcast partners, online engagement, and in public spaces like schools, libraries, museums factories, and even football stadiums.

What’s a Rich Text element?

The rich text element allows you to create and format headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, images, and video all in one place instead of having to add and format them individually. Just double-click and easily create content.

Static and dynamic content editing

A rich text element can be used with static or dynamic content. For static content, just drop it into any page and begin editing. For dynamic content, add a rich text field to any collection and then connect a rich text element to that field in the settings panel. Voila!

How to customize formatting for each rich text

Headings, paragraphs, blockquotes, figures, images, and figure captions can all be styled after a class is added to the rich text element using the "When inside of" nested selector system.

Impact

WHY POVERTY? is an ambitious project that is often credited with popularising a global discourse on poverty and inequality when it launched in 2012. Eight films were shown by an unprecedented 69 broadcasters in over 180 countries.

TELEVISED DEBATE

WHY POVERTY? prompted live televised debates on BBC World News & DR. The films were used to engage high profile speakers from former British Prime Minister Tony Blair to discuss the issue.

ONLINE

Our YouTube Channel reached an estimated 34 500 000 just 6 months after the launch of WHY POVERTY? This was complemented by an online platform connected to social media channels which provided a space for audiences to debate the issues raised in the films.

EVENTS

THE WHY embedded films into educational and social change programming by partnering with organisations around the world; including NGOs, educational arms of broadcast networks, educational institutions, civil society organisations and think-tanks.

To find out more about our impact download the individual impact reports under materials

COLLABORATION

Are you interested in becoming part of WHY STORIES?
Join us

As a Broadcaster

Show WHY STORIES? and become part of a global network of broadcasters. We operate with sliding-scale fees dependent on ability to pay. We donate WHY STORIES free of charge to most broadcasters in low and middle-income countries. 

As a Filmmaker

Tell your story to a global audience: we are constantly on the lookout for good films. If you have film you think could be part of WHY STORIES? let us know. WHY STORIES films are paid a standard license fee to cover worldwide distribution.

As a Supporter

Support us to extend access to independent factual films about the key global issues facing the world today. We work with a wide range of partners to extend access to independent factual films to audiences around the world.

Outreach

In addition to the broadcast of Why Slavery? films we are working with schools, universities, non-profit organizations and film festivals around the world to ensure the films reach a broad and diverse audience.

upcoming Events

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Want to be part of the WHY SLAVERY? campaign & put on your own event?

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Collaboration

Are you interested in taking part in the ASK WHY? FILM CLUB?
Join us

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As a Student

As a Partner

Materials

ADVISORY BOARD

Broadcasters

Partners