Sabina Alkire and the Boris Mints Institute Prize

Alkire was recognized for her exceptional contribution to the understanding of the dynamics and implications of poverty.

PROF. SABINA ALKIRE, director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative at Oxford University. (photo credit: BRIGHTLENSUK (WWW.BRIGHTLENS.ORG) FOR BSG AND OPHI)
PROF. SABINA ALKIRE, director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative at Oxford University.
(photo credit: BRIGHTLENSUK (WWW.BRIGHTLENS.ORG) FOR BSG AND OPHI)

I had the honor on May 14 – 72 years after David Ben-Gurion’s declaration of the State of Israel – to moderate the first Zoom webinar award ceremony for the presentation of Tel Aviv University’s Boris Mints Institute (BMI) Prize for Research of Strategic Policy Solutions to Global Challenges. The 2020 laureate was Prof. Sabina Alkire, director of the Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative “for her exceptional contribution to the understanding of the dynamics and implications of poverty.”
Although the COVID-19 pandemic is causing an upsurge in global poverty, Alkire argued that it presented an opportunity for all governments to consider wiser policies that could produce a historic change.
“I’m so grateful to receive this prize from the Boris Mints Institute and to hopefully learn with you and interact with you in the years to come,” Alkire said. “The hope here is that we can find a way to articulate how concepts and measures of multidimensial poverty can be strategic tools to address global poverty in all its forms, including during this pandemic and recession, and try to think of some concrete next steps that we can take in this particular time and era. We might be able to enable multiple actors to work towards a common goal and to see how they’re doing along the way.”
Together with Prof. James Foster, Alkire developed the Multidimensional Poverty Index (MPI) to provide accurate, actionable data, and in cooperation with the United Nations and the World Bank, she has led an effort to employ the MPI as a tool to identify and reduce poverty in more than 100 developing countries, from India to Costa Rica.
The $100,000 BMI prize is awarded to an exceptional individual who has made a transformative impact on global policy formation and contributed to the welfare of a significant number of communities worldwide. In accordance with BMI protocol, Alkire will contribute 20% of her prize for scholarships to research students.
BMI, which is headed by Prof. Itai Sened and is part of Tel Aviv University’s School of Social and Policy Studies, was founded by Dr. Boris Mints in 2015 to encourage research, planning and innovative thinking that would promote positive change across the globe.
“It is quite symbolic that Prof. Alkire was chosen to be the laureate at the very early stages of the coronavirus,” Sened said. “As the coronavirus spread, the connection between the epidemic and poverty became clearer, and just two weeks ago, the World Health Organization announced its estimate that the number of poor people will grow by 200 million and probably surpass one billion people.”
Mints, a Russian Jewish billionaire, said “the pandemic will dramatically aggravate the problem of poverty, and not only in the less developed countries.”
“The MPI, the so-called Alkire-Foster method, has made a huge contribution to our understanding of the dynamics and consequences of poverty, and the fight against poverty throughout the world,” Mints said.
Among those participating in the ceremony, livestreamed on JPost.com, were TAU President Ariel Porat, Hebrew University Prof. John Gal, who headed the 2020 prize committee, Prof. Armen Darbinian, rector of the Russian-Armenian University in Yerevan and a former prime minister of Armenia, Igor Lukšić, a former prime minister of Montenegro, and Harvard Prof. Michael Kremer, the 2018 BMI laureate who went on to win the Nobel Prize in Economics the following year.
Alkire made a point of stressing that poverty measures are no panacea. “We don’t want to wake up and measure poverty. We want to end poverty.” Asked if a better future for the world’s poor can emerge from the corona crisis, she said, “That’s the deepest hope of my heart.”