(by Susan Jones, CNSNews.com) – A man who’s trying to eliminate poverty won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize on Friday.
The winner, announced at 5 a.m. EDT, is a Bangladeshi professor named Mohammed Yunus and his Grameen Bank, which — through a process called microcredit — has advanced the cause of economic and social development in Bangladesh and beyond, the Nobel Committee said.
“Lasting peace cannot be achieved unless large population groups find ways in which to break out of poverty. Microcredit is one such means. Development from below also serves to advance democracy and human rights,” the committee said.
Microcredit describes the process of giving small loans to poor people without any collateral or financial security. The loan recipients are not eligible for traditional loans.
It appeared to be an “impossible idea,” the Nobel Committee said, but it’s working. “Yunus, though his bank, has developed microcredit into an ever-more important instrument in the struggle against poverty.”
Everyone has the potential to live a decent life, the Nobel Committee said, and Yunus and his bank have shown that “even the poorest of the poor can work to bring about their own development.”
The Nobel Committee described Microcredit as an important liberating force, particularly in societies where women are repressed.
“Economic growth and political democracy cannot achieve their full potential unless the female half of humanity participates on an equal footing with a male,” the Committee said.
The United Nations, which declared 2005 the international year of microcredit, has described it as a “weapon against poverty and hunger,” and called it a means of reaching the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals. (The eight goals range from reducing extreme poverty to halting the spread of HIV/AIDS and providing universal primary education, all by the target date of 2015.)
“Microfinance is not charity,” U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in November 2004. “It is a way to extend the same rights and services to low-income households that are available to everyone else. It is recognition that poor people are the solution, not the problem. It is a way to build on their ideas, energy, and vision. It is a way to grow productive enterprises, and so allow communities to prosper.
“Where businesses cannot develop, countries cannot flourish,” Annan said.
Reprinted here with permission from Cybercast News Service. Visit the website at CNSNews.com.
1. Who won the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize?
2. List the countries that border Bangladesh. (For a map and background on Bangladesh, go to CIA World FactBook.)
3. For what reason was the winner chosen this year?
4. What is microcredit? Who is eligible for the loans?
5. How does microcredit help poor women who live in repressive countries?
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