Saturday, 18 November 2017

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Moving from humiliation and exclusion to participation

UN Poverty Day
Children in Nobouday housing slum close to Old Dhaka, 11 June 2010, Dhaka, Bangladesh. UN Photo/Kibae Park

17.10.2016 - The observance of International Day for the Eradication of Poverty can be traced back to 17 October 1987. On that day, over a hundred thousand people gathered at the Trocadéro in Paris, where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948, to honour the victims of extreme poverty, violence and hunger.

They proclaimed that poverty is a violation of human rights and affirmed the need to come together to ensure that these rights are respected. Since then, people of all backgrounds, beliefs and social origins have gathered every year on October 17th to renew their commitment and show their solidarity with the poor.

The United Nations Sustainable Development Goal number one ‒ end poverty in all its forms everywhere ‒ of Agenda 2030 explicitly recognizes that poverty results not from the lack of just one thing but from many different interrelated factors that affect the lives of people living in poverty.

This means we must go beyond seeing poverty merely as the lack of income or what is necessary for material well-being — such as food, housing, land, and other assets – in order to fully understand poverty in its multiple dimensions.

UN Poverty Day 2
A health worker measures a baby’s arm during the launch of the joint nutrition response plan in Aweil, Northern Bahr el Ghazal State, 09 September 2015, Aweil, South Sudan. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine.

17 October presents an opportunity to acknowledge the effort and struggle of people living in poverty, a chance for them to make their concerns heard, and a moment to recognize that poor people are the first ones to fight against poverty. It also reflects the willingness of people living in poverty to use their expertise to contribute to the eradication of poverty: participation of the poor themselves has been at the centre of the Day's celebration since its very beginning.

The theme this year – selected in consultation with activists, civil society and non-governmental organizations – highlights how important it is to recognize and address the humiliation and exclusion endured by many people living in poverty.

In 2015, around 119 million people, or 23.7% of the population, in the European Union (EU) were at risk of poverty or social exclusion. This means that they were in at least one of the following three conditions: at-risk-of-poverty after social transfers (income poverty), severely materially deprived or living in households with very low work intensity. Poverty reduction is a key policy component of the Europe 2020 strategy

“Humiliation and exclusion are powerful drivers of social unrest and, in extreme cases, the violent extremism that is troubling so many parts of our world.  But, in most instances, people living in poverty respond to these societal ills with stoic resilience as they work to escape the degrading reality of their daily lives”, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon reminded in his message ahead of the International Day.

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