UW Geography Professor Vicky Lawson is featured in an in-depth interview in the current issue of Borgen Magazine, a publication of the Borgen Project, an NGO dedicated to addressing issues of global poverty. In the interview, Professor Lawson explains how she first got interested in global poverty, talks about her travel in various countries most impacted by poverty, analyzes which development strategies seem to be working on the ground, and addresses the role of foreign investment in alleviating poverty. When asked what she would do with a billion dollars to put to work fighting global poverty, she responds:
I would begin with the stance that poverty is a much more complex problem than simply lack of money (although it is also that in a market economy.) Poverty is also about lack of political voice, it is about being defined by others who frame poverty as individual flaws and faults, rather than a systematic and structural issue for the entire society (national and global.) Solving poverty requires building robust democracies, inclusive democracies that take participation of the poorest seriously. I would support a value shift in how we frame and think about development. For me, development begins from building caring infrastructures and this is where we should invest, in infrastructures that ensure health, a healthy food supply and robust livelihoods for entire populations. This caring approach would involve recognizing the contributions of all people, including those who do the invisible caring work in our societies. I would invest in values discussions that lead to new priorities, identified from the ground up and I would then invest in local priorities.