Every attitude, every gesture has to fight poverty and exclusion. There are many ways to act, regardless of our skills and availability. These messages, these testimonials reflect. Feel free to contribute.

Testimonies are published under the responsibility of the author. They are subject to validation: these will be published only if they comply, in form and substance the spirit of this day as defined in the International Charter for October 17.



Message from Mr Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations

Secretary-General's Message for 2015

This year’s observance of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty falls as the world embarks on a bold new path towards a future of dignity for all guided by the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

This year’s theme -- “Building a sustainable future: Coming together to end poverty and discrimination” -- highlights the need to focus greater attention on the excluded and marginalized members of the human family.

Spurred on by the global mobilization behind the Millennium Development Goals, the world has made extraordinary progress in reducing extreme poverty. Over the past 25 years, more than one billion people have been lifted above the poverty threshold.

Yet these gains have not reached everyone.  More than 800 million people continue to live in extreme poverty, and many more are at risk.  Climate change, violent conflict and other disasters threaten to undo many of our gains.

In adopting the 2030 Agenda, world leaders made a time-bound commitment to end poverty in all its forms, everywhere.  Our ability to meet this call requires us to address discrimination in all its forms.

Leaving no one behind means ending the discrimination and abuse targeted at one half of humankind – the world’s women and girls.  It means combatting overt discrimination against minorities, migrants and others – as well as the more insidious neglect of the disadvantaged, especially children.   And it means ensuring access to the rule of law and protecting the human rights of all. 

The 2030 Agenda emerged from the most inclusive process in United Nations history.  Member states, millions of young people and thousands of non-governmental organizations, business-people and others were part of the discussions.  As we look now to translate the 17 Sustainable Development Goals into meaningful action on the ground, we must sustain this spirit.

Ours can be the first generation to witness a world without extreme poverty, where all people – not only the powerful and the privileged -- can participate and contribute equally, free of discrimination and want. 


M. Ban Ki-moon, Secretary General of the United Nations

Pope backs International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

(Vatican Radio)

During his general audience on Wednesday, Pope Francis reminded us of the United Nation’s forthcoming International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, to be celebrated on Saturday October 17th. The Holy Father underlined the importance of the day, most notably its aim to encourage the international community to “eliminate extreme poverty and discrimination”, and to ensure that all global citizens are able to “fully exercise their fundamental rights”.

This year’s observance is particularly significant as it follows the recent adoption of the UN’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. The Agenda, entitled ‘Transforming our world’, lists 17 new goals which aim to eradicate poverty throughout the world.

Neva Frecheville is the Lead Analyst on Post-2015 at CAFOD, the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development. She attended the opening of the UN Summit for the adoption of the post-2015 development agenda and was on hand as Pope Francis addressed members of the UN General Assembly in New York. She tells Bramble Badenach-Nicolson just how much it means to have the Pope’s support, especially during this critical stage in the migrant crisis.




The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty has been observed since 1993, when the UN General Assembly chose this day to promote awareness of the need to eradicate global poverty. 

Radio Vatican

Message from Isabelle Pypaert Perrin, Director General, International Movement ATD Fourth World

World Day for Overcoming Poverty – 17 October, 2015

Coming Together So That No One Is Left Behind

In the incredibly blue sky of October 17, 1987, ATD Fourth World founder Fr. Joseph Wresinski bore witness to the “poor of all times […] fleeing from place to place, despised and disgraced”. Today, who are these “millions and millions of children, women and fathers”? They are the ones always and forever forced to leave: seeking to make a life elsewhere, walking for weeks or months with their only wealth being what they can carry, which may mean only their children.

They are the ones refused entry, yet who shake the barriers, thereby questioning our humanity and how we want to live together. They are the ones condemned to live apart: in so-called temporary centres or camps, asylums, unused barracks, and dilapidated housing. They are herded together — as has always been the case for those with no place of their own — in the gray areas of our cities, along rivers banks, at the edge of forests. They are pushed out of sight, out of mind, and at the mercy of a generosity that sometimes forgets its promises.

Today, who are the “millions of men, women, and children whose hearts are still pounding strong to the beat of the struggle”? They are the Malagasy mother whose home for years has been a plastic tarp too low to stand beneath. It is she who, in one of our gatherings and after everyone had spoken, raised her hand to say, “Above all, we must not forget that there are still people who are all alone and who do not know us. It is for them that we are together.” They are the fathers and mothers of Great Britain, whose daily struggle for life and dignity is completely ignored. Systematically demeaned — from government billboards to mainstream media — they are labelled as scroungers and freeloaders, considered a drain on resources.

To counter such disdain, these families affirm — through a multi-media exhibition of which they are the authors – the roles they play to support the most vulnerable in their communities and defend human rights for all. They are young people of the Central African Republic who saw the country's flood of violence rip through their own families. They resisted hatred and revenge, instead joining on the tarmac of the Bangui airport refugee camp thousands of children shut out of school. Today these young people continue to facilitate street libraries in the most abandoned places by bringing knowledge and beauty, the tools for finding peace.

Today who are the “millions of men, women, and children […] whose courage demands the right to priceless dignity”? They are the families in a Beirut neighbourhood in Lebanon where thousands of refugees, mostly Syrian, have been taken in. For families already living in this under-resourced neighborhood, this influx worsens the struggles of daily life. However, those who have had so much difficulty — even finding a place for their own children at school — tell us, “We went through the same despair, the same sleepless nights as they're experiencing. We cannot close the door on them. Even if it's difficult, we can only keep trying to live together peacefully."

“I would like to be an ambassador for ATD Fourth World,” said an Eritrean woman welcomed by ATD members in Great Britain. Her words remind us that we gather together because what we want, wherever we may be, and elsewhere as well, is for no human being to be excluded. May we truly leave no one behind.

We come together precisely in order to learn from those who, because of their suffering as well as their hope, want most that the world become a better place. It is with them that we can achieve the peace that the world so needs — because, beyond bitterness, they draw hope and strength from solidarity.

Download the message for the World Day to Overcome Extreme Poverty in pdf format

Message from Isabelle Pypaert Perrin, Director General, International Movement ATD Fourth World

Message from Councillor Críona Ní Dhálaigh - Lady Mayoress of Dublin

Speech on UN Day for the Eradication of Poverty

Custom House Quay

Tá fáilte roimh uilig anseo inniu chuig an comoradh fior tabhachtach seo – Comoradh na Naisiun Aontaithe le deireadh a chur leis an mbochtaineacht

Last year marked the hundredth anniversary of the outbreak of the first world war.

Next year, we will mark the centenary of the Easter Rising. Next year is an important year for Ireland. In 2016 we celebrate the 100th anniversary of an event that give birth to an Independent Ireland. That event was the 1916 Rising, when in the middle of the First World War, idealistic patriots who were frustrated by the refusal of the British Parliament to grant even limited independence, rose in revolt. The rebellion failed but it seeded the events that led to our War of Independence. More particularly on that Easter Sunday of 1916 the leaders in announcing the Irish Republic published the Proclamation of Independence. That Proclamation set down ideals that have yet to be fully achieved..ideals of equality, of justice, of access to opportunity and of real freedom.

But today, on International Day for the Elimination of Poverty, I would like to remember a more recent anniversary.

This year marks the tenth anniversary of the Make Poverty History march that took place in Dublin on the 30th of June.

I was just one of more than 20,000 people who marched through the streets of Dublin that day.

I remember a sense of being part of a global movement, of marching alongside those who had mobilised in cities across the world to send a message to the G8, to demand debt cancellation and trade justice.

We gathered at the Spire in O’Connell Street and we marched to Merrion Square. The centre of Dublin was a sea of white and black and I have no doubt that many of you here marched as well.

Perhaps you too remember Des Geraghty taking to the stage and telling us that a child would die because of preventable poverty every three seconds? He told us that it was the challenge of our generation to make poverty history.

Every three seconds.

Last night, while preparing for this speech I wondered what the figure was for today.

Ten years on from the 30th of June 2005, was a child still dying every three seconds?

According to the most recent report I could find, from the World Health Organisation in September, the number of children who die under the age of five is 16,000.

Every day.

That works out at one child every five and a half seconds.

I didn’t really know how to feel when I figured that out.

Part of me wanted to take some satisfaction, some hope or solace that, if nothing else, the figure was improving, that less children will die this year than died when we marched ten years ago.

But another part of me remembered that Nelson Mandela had once said that, “‘Like slavery and apartheid, poverty is not natural. It is man-made and it can be overcome and eradicated by the actions of human beings.”

A life in poverty is a life where the fundamental human rights, the essence of what makes us human, are denied and refused.

The natural and man-made resources of our planet are enough, more than enough, to feed, clothe and house every man, woman and child.

We choose not to.

We, as a society, as a culture, choose not to do so.

We balk at higher taxes.

We wonder whether the money spent on overseas development aid could be spent on something closer to home

We consume more and more every year and using up more and more of our dwindling natural resources.

We struggle with our first world problems while others struggle to survive or, knowing that they will lose that battle, struggle to give their children a better chance.

We look at pictures of people in countries far away that do not look like us and we see them as something other, something different to us, and as somehow culpable in their poverty.

Some say that charity begins at home, that we have to look after our own first. But in a country where residents blockade roads rather than offer sanctuary to the shattered remains of burned-out families, one must wonder whether, for some people, their charity begins anywhere.

Poverty is not history because we have not chosen to make it so. That can be the only honest judgement of us as a people, of us as a species.

So where do we begin? We begin by working together, and so I want to particularly welcome the delegations here from Limerick, from Drogheda, from London and from all of the other cities and towns marking this day.

We do it by working together to ensure that the Sustainable Development Goals, adopted last month, are living, real, targets and are not ignored by governments and corporations. WE must not leave anyone behind.

But as well as working together on a global scale, we must also change ourselves.

Eleanor Roosevelt, one of the authors of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, once said that human rights begin “in small places…so close and small that they cannot be seen on any maps of the world”.

The frontline in the global struggle against poverty is in the poorest countries of the world like Malawi, Liberia and Ethiopia.

And it is in the poorest parts of one of the wealthiest countries of the world, like Dublin’s inner city, Moyross in Limerick and Knocknaheeny in Cork, Ireland’s small places.

If we are serious about making poverty history, then we must join together, as one movement, as we did in 2005. We must cooperate and share and we must never forget that if poverty is unnatural and manmade, then we have it within ourselves to end it.

But while we support the global struggle against poverty, when we sign petitions and write letters to politicians and tell them on the doorsteps in the spring that Ireland must do more, and spend more, to end poverty, we must also fight our individual struggles, alongside our neighbours, family and friends, in our own small places. I commend the speakers here today who will honour this event by sharing their personal testimonies. They will tell us the ways in which they contribute to the life of their communities and to the fight against poverty they will challenge society's negative perceptions of people living on low incomes or supported by the welfare system.

One month ago, I recieved a letter from Donald Lee, the President of the International Committee for October 17th. Donald Lee ask me if the City of Dublin could be part in 2017 of a network of 50 cities who are going to celebrate the existence of the “17 October Stones”.

In 2017, we will mark the 30th anniversary of the unveiling of the “mother” Stone on the Human Rights Plaza in Paris

I can assure you that the city of Dublin will look at this request with a special attention and that we will be happy to prepare the 2017 anniversary with the Irish 17 October Committee and with all citizens in Dublin for whom the Stone which is just before me is so important!

A great deal of our time and energy is taken up with the importance of economic growth and activity. While economic growth is essential it should only be a tool that serves the needs of people; that supports viable and vibrant local communities ; and that ensures the we protect and sustain the fragile and delicate environmental eco system of our world. Simply put we need to have happy and engaged people, who lead healthy and fulfilling lives, who have meaningful and rewarding work, and who enjoy and protect the landscape and environment in which they live.

This is not just about poverty but about inequality. Improving incomes means nothing without access to public services and social security net. This issue is just magnified and multiplied in developing countries. 

- Poverty is not a phenomenon, its man-made and systematic.

- The West has deep inequality and plays a fundamental part in the underdevelopment of the South.

There is loads to say on 2030 SDGs but I think others will speak on that. I think the main part is that it doesn't mean we wait till then but action is urgently needed now on eradicating poverty, in Dublin as much as any other city.

Ní neart go chur le cheile

Councillor Críona Ní Dhálaigh - Lady Mayoress of Dublin
United States

17 October 2015 - ATD Fourth World Member's Statement - New York


In the Fourth World Movement in New York, we’ve been preparing the following statement for a few months. We come from all walks of life: some of us are experiencing hardship, some of us aren’t but have chosen to commit themselves alongside those who are. To work on this

message, we’ve read some statements made by members of our Movement in Ireland, the Republic of Mauritius, and the Philippines. We also watched some videos from Brazil, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras. All of them were related to the theme of this year’s October 17: “Building a sustainable future: Coming together to end poverty and discrimination.” Through this process, we’ve discovered together how what we learned about poverty abroad resonates with our own lives and the struggles we face here.

1/ To build a sustainable future, our struggle must be recognized.

In a video from Latin America, a man explains: “We are making a better planet because we take tons of rubbish out of the dump. For most people, those things are worthless. But for us, as well as an income, we are doing something for our families and children, for those coming after us. We’re leaving a better planet.”

For us in New York City, we realized that people living in poverty are cleaning up the planet for us in a lot of places, but they are not only building their future — they are building OUR future.

An Irish mother, Noleen, says: “Persistent poverty is the world we were born into. It’s a hard feeling not to be able to climb up the ladder little by little. It’s hard to feel trapped and dependent.”

For us, “everybody who wakes up in the morning has to hustle for a dollar. We just have to hustle more. We are the last ones to get our hand-outs. We got to fight for every dime.” When you are poor, your life, your kids’ life, your family life is not your choice.

2/ To build a sustainable future, our experience and knowledge must be taken into


People in Mauritius Island report: “There is this non-profit that decided to offer us training. It is a good idea but the point is ‘Is this training a priority for us just now?’ They would not be able to answer this question because before they wrote the project and raised funds to see it through, they did not come to consult us about it. This project was a good project to start with — it was meant to help us overcome our difficulties — but it became a project that divides our community and pushes us to do something that we cannot do at the present time; above all, it has belittled our dignity.”

In this situation, the non-profit staff didn’t talk to the community; they tried to make their own decision without involving the people there. If they had talked to a community board first, the community would have known that its members have a say in what happens, that they had been part of the decision-making process.

Also, we want to say that we are not poor, we are rich every day even if we are poor every minute, because our mind is thinking, “How am I going to feed my family today?’’ But when we can go home, we feel good. As the Pope’s message at the Post-2015 Summit reminded us:

“Absolute minimum has three names: lodging, labor, and land”. To have a key to a house in our hand means we can start again. There’s sustainability because there is a sense of ownership.

3/ To build a sustainable future, our rights must be recognized.

In a video from Latin America, a woman says: “I have my dignity. I don’t wait for other people’s crumbs, when as a human being, I can provide for myself, for my home, for my family.” During the Interactive Dialogue: Ending Poverty and Hunger at the United Nations Sustainable Development Summit 2015, the Head of State of Mali said, "When people give you their crumbs, they don't acknowledge your dignity."

It seems as though the crumbs are not really to insult you, but to subliminally put you in your place. This is what you’re worth. It holds you down. People struggling to feed their families don’t wait around to be given what they are entitled to.

But if they are cleaning junk, they are identified with junk – even if they are doing what they can to make a better living. None of us lets poverty eat at us. We are all trying to make our way out of it. “Forget those crumbs; we’re going to get cake or cornbread.”

One of us said: “I will not settle for less because I am not less. I will work hard for what I want and I will not take what is decided for me. I will earn what I deserve.” We don’t accept pity because we are bigger and better than that. We don’t wait for charity.

Still in Latin America, a woman said: “If the Government really wanted, we could accept a piece of land from them which has basic services, that is affordable and pay instalments on it according to what we can afford”.

That’s like the American Dream. You want to own a home but it is not affordable, especially for poor people – even if we work hard all our life. Cookies can break into crumbs, but crumbs don’t turn into cookies.

We’ve heard so many things, but people have to keep their promises. Most of the time, it’s like telling someone who’s homeless, “I’ll go get you food,” and then you leave and you don’t come back. So we rely on each other to build things up from the ground with sweat equity.

4/ What does a sustainable future means for us?

A woman from Guatemala said, "We have to demand that our poverty is not used to manipulate us. We are not only people to give charity to, but people whose opinion has to be sought."

Nobody ever wants to feel like they’re being used, and you never want someone to think that you’re using them. A sustainable future, it’s a give and take. A sustainable life is us, giving and receiving.

It’s also a big thing when people think that poor people are using the system. But people really need help. What we all need for a sustainable environment is not to feel guilty when we need help and always for there to be someone who is willing to help us, whether it is in the

community or the government or your best friend. We’re asking because we need it, not because we want to take it from you.

We also believe that if you are on your own, you don’t really have that many chances. The first thing that hurts us is being divided. Everybody is separating, but everybody has to play a part to come together. Police in some neighborhoods have forbidden people to stay on the stoop.

The fact that people were on the stoop was a big part of the community. They were looking out for one another’s children, and they were helping to prevent crime, because that way everybody knew what was happening on the block. When the police prevent people from staying on the stoop, it does a lot of damage to the sense of community.

If we respect one another, if we can see that we’re all human beings, that we’re the same species, that black and white is not a different set of species — that’s why it’s called the human race. We’re all one. If we respect one another, we could come to terms with all of our problems and fix them. But there’s always this separation: “I’m better than you," or "I make more money than you.”

A sustainable future is all about breaking barriers.

One of our young people said: “My school is literally garbage. People ask me: 'Why do you stay there?' Because that’s my school. I love and respect my teachers. It’s another issue when your teachers barely make any money. They've got their own families that they barely see, and they’re spending their paycheck to teach me something. I feel offended by this. How are they

going to take care of themselves? It doesn’t make any sense.”

For us, a sustainable future is for people to be able to live as they want, with access to resources.

Resources like a job, but also water, which is all we have in the planet that we cannot live without. Also, for us a sustainable future is to educate the children with respect to what they need to know, with their own culture and their own being. You make a sustainable future if

you respect your roots and bring up your children in this way. A sustainable future is a world where we have concern for others. One parent says, “I want my children to take care of other people,” but sometimes, we have to fight like hell to keep our children with us.

Another parent said, “To fulfill my goals as a mother, I watched my kids grow up and did the best I could for them. When it comes to education, I stand behind them.” Sometimes we succeed in changing things, sometimes we don’t. It’s a part of life but we still have to fight.

Noleen, from Ireland told us: “What keeps me going day after day? I suppose it’s what is inside, really: it’s self-pride, it’s inner strength, it’s knowing that one day our voice will have to be heard.”

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 2015
Fourth World Movement Members's statement - New York