We cannot agree more with James Baldwin, an American novelist and activist, who- with a touch of irony- said that “anyone who has ever struggled with poverty knows how extremely expensive it is to be poor.” Our selection of poverty quotes highlights the injustice of poverty, defined as a condition in which people are deprived of necessities. Poverty has continued to increase, even as the world creates more and more wealth.
Most people have not spent considerable time understanding what poverty means or the saddening quality of life of those in poverty. These poverty quotes shed some light on this prevalent issue, which society keeps trying to ignore for the most part.
Related: 36 Poverty Facts & Statistics
Ann Cotton is the founder of Camfed, also known as Campaign for Female Education. The latter’s mission is to eradicate poverty in Africa through the education of girls and the empowerment of young women. A passionate entrepreneur and a philanthropist, she earned an Order of the British Empire (OBE) award in the Queen’s New Year Honours List.
Ann Cotton succinctly highlights one of the harmful effects of poverty on people: it diminishes confidence. Beggars indeed can't be choosers as they accept whatever others offer to them because half a loaf is better than none.
Mother Teresa was an Albanian-Indian Roman Catholic nun and missionary. She founded the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, a Roman Catholic congregation of women dedicated to helping the poor. Many consider her to be one of the 20th Century's greatest humanitarians. She was canonized as Saint Teresa of Calcutta in 2016.
With her poverty quote, Mother Theresa provides some insight into what poverty can be. Since poverty arises from deprivation, society can deprive people of love and care. Mother Theresa submits that it is the greatest form of poverty, and we cannot but agree with her because every human wants to love and care for others. It's the reason most of us are still living.
Nicholas Kristof is an American journalist and political commentator. A winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, he is a columnist for the Times. His columns have often focused on global health, poverty, and gender issues in developing countries. Other prizes he has won include the George Polk Award, the Overseas Press Club award, the Michael Kelly award, the Online News Association award, and the American Society of Newspaper Editors award.
Nicholas Kristof’s poverty quote pinpoints another adverse effect of poverty on humanity: it hinders poor people from planning for their future. Thoughts of survival already occupy most parts of their minds. Nicholas concludes by saying poverty imposes a mental tax which is not far-fetched.
Randi Weingarten is an American labour leader, attorney, and educator. The daughter of a teacher, she developed an interest in labour unions and politics as a teenager. Weingarten is president of the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and former president of the United Federation of Teachers (UFT). She has made remarkable impacts in the education sector, fighting for better working conditions for teachers and providing all students with access to the education and services they need.
Many have recognized education as the solution to some of the significant socio-economic problems the world battles with today. Randi Weingarten, an educator herself, knows the importance of a well-resourced uninhibited public education in confronting poverty. In her quote, she reflects that when people receive an adequate education, they begin to recognize the opportunities for prosperity that surround them.
José Andrés is a Spanish-American humanitarian and founder of World Central Kitchen (WCK), aimed at providing food disaster relief in the wake of emergencies around the globe. Many recognize him for both his culinary and his humanitarian work.
He is the first chef to receive the Hispanic Heritage Award in the history of the awards by the Hispanic Heritage Foundation. He also won the James Beard Award for outstanding US chef, one of the most prestigious awards a chef based in the United States can receive. He is one of the DC Central Kitchen foundation managers, which offers culinary job training to homeless and low-income people.
José Andrés captures one disheartening fact about poverty in his quote. Undoubtedly, poverty occurs due to uneven distribution of resources wherein some people get rich at the expense of others. Until we bridge the impassable gap between the rich and the poor with equal chances at quality living, poverty will continue to fester in our society.
Recognized by Inc. Magazine in 2009 as one of "America's Coolest Young Entrepreneurs" in their 30s, Elliot Bisnow started his first venture with his dad, Mark, out of his college dorm room. He is the founder of Summit, a family of companies, including Summit Series, an organization best known for hosting events for young entrepreneurs, artists, and activists.
Entrepreneurship has become one of the veritable means to achieve financial independence. Elliot Bisnow reminds us of the trifecta benefits entrepreneurship offers job creation, poverty alleviation, and innovation in his poverty quote.
Benjamin Franklin was an American polymath, inventor, scientist, printer, politician, freemason and diplomat, and one of the United States’ founding fathers. Franklin assisted in drafting the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution, and he negotiated the 1783 Treaty of Paris, ending the Revolutionary War. He was a major figure in the American Enlightenment and the history of physics for his discoveries and theories regarding electricity.
Benjamin Franklin teaches us a lesson with this poverty quote. Known as a great thinker, Franklin proposes a better way to fight poverty; total eradication. Rather than making life easier for poor people by providing relief supplies, we should help them get out of the precarious situation by empowering them.
Overcoming poverty is not a gesture of charity. It is the protection of a fundamental human right, the right to dignity and a decent life.
~ Nelson Mandela
Ban Ki-moon is a South Korean politician and diplomat who served as the eighth Secretary-General of the United Nations. He has spent his tenure mobilizing world leaders around new global challenges such as climate change and economic upheaval, pandemics, and increasing pressures involving food, energy, and water. Also, he has given voice to the world’s poorest and most vulnerable people.
Amid the various political, environmental, and socioeconomic problems, Ban Ki-Moon says in his poverty quote that a solution for one is a solution for all. This could be true because we can find interrelations within these problems. Therefore, solving one will have a significant impact on the other
Nelson Mandela was a South African anti-apartheid revolutionary, politician, and philanthropist who became South Africa's first black president. His government focused on dismantling the legacy of apartheid by tackling institutionalized racism and fostering racial reconciliation. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1993.
Nelson Mandela points out that poverty affects everyone, whether directly or indirectly. Nobody can have peace of mind in a world that is rife with poverty, injustice, and gross inequality. If we desire to rest, we should work to proffer solutions and implement them.
Listed among the World's 100 Most Powerful Women by Forbes, Priyanka Chopra is an Indian actress and singer. She won the Miss World 2000 pageant and is one of India's highest-paid and most popular entertainers. She has received numerous accolades, including a National Film Award and five Filmfare Awards.
Priyanka’s poverty quote is an allusion to being our neighbor’s keeper. We can all fight poverty, in our little capacity, by endeavoring to meet the needs of the poor in our surroundings.
A pioneering woman in Louisiana politics, Kathleen Blanco was an American politician who served as the 54th Governor of Louisiana. She was a member of the Democratic Party. She was also the first and, to date, only woman elected as the state's governor.
Blanco opined in her poverty quote that we should not depend on the government to do the work alone. In her view of things, we can only achieve poverty alleviation through collective effort.
Best known for his epic work, The Rosales Saga– five novels encompassing a hundred years of Philippine history, painting a vivid documentary of Filipino life, Francisco Sionil José is one of the most widely-read Filipino writers in the English language.
Sionil José questions our morality as a society in his poverty quote. He argues that poverty is not a political or economic issue but a moral one. We can find some overt elements of truth in this concise statement. Why should some people enjoy prosperity while some wallow in abject poverty? Why do you deserve more than the next person? This is a big challenge to our morality.
Americans are blessed with great plenty; we are a generous people and we have a moral obligation to assist those who are suffering from poverty, disease, war and famine.
~ Adam Schiff
Poverty does not belong in civilized human society. Its proper place is in a museum.”
~ Muhammad Yunus
Whether you live in a first-world country or a third-world country, there are people in your society who do not have the same access to resources that others do. Small, poor areas are forgotten by their government, while affluent areas drive their poor into the dark to preserve an image of abundance.
While structural changes are needed to address global poverty, we can all start making a difference by simply sharing what we have. Look around you. There are opportunities to help someone living in poverty. We should all work to be the change we want to see and towards overcoming poverty.
Once poverty is gone, we'll need to build museums to display its horrors to future generations. They'll wonder why poverty continued so long in human society - how a few people could live in luxury while billions dwelt in misery, deprivation and despair.
~ Muhammad Yunus
In a country well governed, poverty is something to be ashamed of. In a country badly governed, wealth is something to be ashamed of.
People…were poor not because they were stupid or lazy. They worked all day long, doing complex physical tasks. They were poor because the financial institution in the country did not help them widen their economic base.
~ Muhammad Yunus