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 by Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO

“Building a sustainable future: let us unite to end poverty and discrimination”

This year, International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is especially relevant, at a time when the United Nations is adopting the new global agenda to achieve sustainable development by 2030. The target, set in 2000, of halving extreme poverty in the world by 2015 has been reached. Our mission now is to achieve the total eradication of poverty in all its forms throughout the world.

Poverty is a complex reality, but it is not inevitable. It is universal, impacting countries in the South and the North alike – but on every continent, it is women and girls who suffer the most. While further weakening those who are already affected, climate change, economic and financial crises and conflicts create new poor people in every society.

For UNESCO, the eradication of poverty is a cornerstone in the fight for human rights and human dignity. Fighting poverty in a sustainable manner requires providing everyone with the means to be autonomous and assert themselves as active agents throughout their own lives – harnessing the potential of education, science, culture and information. Quality education for all, the real possibility for everyone to participate in social transformations and cultural and scientific life – these are powerful levers for self-esteem and practical ways of creating jobs and revenue-generating activities from local expertise. By sharing the benefits of scientific research, we can improve crops and food security and ensure access to water as a global public good. Through freedom of expression, public debate and information sharing, we can enhance the social awareness and political commitment necessary to overcome this violence.

This is the thrust of UNESCO’s action. Human intelligence, creativity and talent are renewable resources par excellence, and we can invest more in them to define economic, social and cultural policies that allow us to eradicate poverty and ensure that everyone can exercise their full rights, with dignity and social justice.


Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO

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

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

International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

As we mark UN Day for the Eradication of Poverty this October 17th, we recognise the special significance of 2015 in what must be our collective effort to eradicate global poverty. This year marks a decisive moment in history, with the agreement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals “Agenda 2030” in New York in recent weeks, and what will hopefully be a successful outcome at the COP21 Climate Change Summit in Paris at the end of the year.

Delivering on the promises to end inequality contained in Agenda 2030 will require concerted political commitment and it is essential that the central role of the State as the guarantor of the human rights of citizens is retained. It is also essential that economic forces are harnessed to serve the requirements of social justice and human rights, rather than the interests of justice being seen as residual to the demands of the market.

At the individual level, we must recognise that sustainability and equality will require changes in lifestyle, patterns of consumption and attitudes. “Leave no-one behind” is a central principle of the Agenda 2030 Goals and we are, above all else, called upon to re-forge a commitment to the inherent and universal dignity of every member of the human family. As we gather on this day, the world is turning its efforts and its capacities more fully than ever before to eradicate poverty – let us all play our part in turning that dream into a reality.

Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland

Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland