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.

 

Testimonies
International

All Together in Dignity

                                       World Day for Overcoming Extreme Poverty

                                    17 October 2013: All Together in Dignity

Dear friends,

Just days ago, hundreds of men, women and children trying to immigrate to Europe drowned off the coast of Italy's Lampedusa Island. They were trying to escape hunger, a way of life with no way to earn a living, schools where their children could not learn. Starting with nothing but hope, they were searching for decent lives.

Divers, sailors and island residents who tried to save people were surprised by a simple detail. Many of the children who drowned were wearing new shoes. A purchase that symbolized their parents’ longing for a future of opportunity: our children will be clothed with dignity. We shall be welcomed in this new land with our heads held high.

Yesterday, near Paris, a group of families from Eastern Europe were evicted from their makeshift homes. They too tried to escape poverty in a new land. Now they are driven to wander, once again. Just a few miles away, there are French families who must leave their run-down homes that are slated for demolition. Are they undesirable tenants because they are poor? For whatever reason, the city is sending them “somewhere” else. But where is “somewhere”? How many millions of people like these—struggling to live decently, raise their children, and help out their neighbors—are continually ill treated, sent away, displaced, unwanted by anyone?

The heart-wrenching tragedy of poverty should call out to us with renewed urgency. More and more people are realizing that we need to work toward a world of justice and respect for every single person. But who exactly gets to have a say in shaping that future?

Will parents in forgotten neighborhoods have a say? Doña Maria, who lives in a neglected Latin American neighborhood, says: “I've always done everything I could to keep my children from going hungry, but it wasn't enough. No matter how hard we try, it is never enough when we're alone.” Her tears are anguished because her 16-year-old daughter just left home without a word. Doña Maria and similar parents constantly lose sleep in anxiety about their children.

How about young people living in poverty — will they have a say about the future? So many of them see their world as utterly confining, with no possibility for escape. They suffer because they have no way to share their dreams, talents and new ideas. In many parts of the world, even where life is torn apart by armed conflict and chronic shortages, we see young people trying to break through the walls that box them in, volunteering to read books with smaller children, sharing the best of themselves.

Will people lacking decent work have a say? Most economies condemn people at the bottom to long- term unemployment, dangerous and humiliating working conditions, and insecure jobs. These working conditions day after day grind down people as they struggle to support their families and cope with threatening environmental challenges.

On this October 17th, World Day for Overcoming Poverty, we must remember how important it is to move forward with the adults, young people and children who resist the violence of extreme poverty every day.

Only with them will it be possible for humanity to achieve its deepest aspiration: to live in peace, recognizing the dignity of every last person.

We will unite our efforts to reach out, as we have always done, to those whose contribution the world is missing, so that their courage, hopes and intelligence can help us all find ways to come together as part of one human community.

We will unite our efforts to continue sharing knowledge among all people, leaving no one out, and to work toward schools that will soar to be worthy of all children's minds and capacity for friendship.

We will unite our efforts to shape a people-centered and earth-friendly economic vision.  We seek an economy that values each and every person's mind and skills in decent jobs with living wages, and also protects our planet's biodiversity and natural resources. We dream of an economy built on sharing, solidarity and fairness.

We will unite our efforts to develop opportunities for people to meet and understand one another, and to use communication tools accessible to everyone, in ways that help sustain the growing solidarity of individuals and movements that are already moving the world forward.

These are our Common Ambitions for the years 2013-2017. They are detailed in the attached document. They have been chosen — with enthusiasm and confidence —by all of ATD Fourth World's members. These Common Ambitions are more than a strategic plan or vision statement. They are the dreams that inspire all of us — a hope that each of our members sustains that the world must and will become better than it is. Having found strength and hope amongst ourselves, we share these ambitions with you this Oct 17th. We offer them to people everywhere who dare — not only to dream but to act — to make today a better future.

With all our friendship,

Isabelle Pypaert Perrin

Director General

International Movement ATD Fourth World

16/10/2013
Isabelle Perrin
International

Message from the International Committee for October 17

                        Message for the World Day for Overcoming Extreme Poverty                      United Nations International Day for the Eradication of Poverty                                                            17th October 2013

The theme for the Commemoration this year – “Working together towards a world without discrimination: Building on the experience and knowledge of people in extreme poverty” – invites us to come together to put an end to the continuing divisions within our societies that are created and perpetuated by discrimination, especially that against people living in poverty.

It raises awareness of the active and passive discrimination that people face on a daily basis because of poverty, their marginalization in the political, economic, social and cultural spheres of their societies, and their lack of voice and representation in the conceptualisation, implementation and evaluation of policies and programmes that affect them directly and indirectly.

Discrimination against people living in poverty exacerbates the intensity of poverty. When such discrimination is systemic and pervasive, it stigmatizes, oppresses and socially excludes poor people who become the unseen, the unheard, and the disenfranchised.

All too often, people living in poverty are described as being irresponsible, uneducated, lazy, undeserving or a threat to public order or public security. Such characterization is not only factually wrong but it is stigmatizing and encourages discriminatory behaviour. It deepens the social divide and creates fear and distrust between poor people and the rest of society.

For people living in poverty, their human rights, dignity, participation, personal security, respect and due recognition of their efforts and contribution to society are just as important as their basic human needs such as health, water and sanitation, housing, education and training. As Father Joseph Wresinski wisely observed: "Every man carries within him the chance of Humanity".

It is arrogant and wrong to assume that people who lack material wealth, social status and political power also lack any knowledge or understanding of issues that could be useful to other people or to society.

Indeed, our current efforts to eradicate poverty have often overlooked or ignored their valuable knowledge based on the experience that people living in the worst conditions have accumulated, in some cases, over several generations. Therefore, it is important that we listen to the views and experiences of everyone, especially those living in extreme poverty, so that policies and programmes meant to eradicate poverty do not end up ill-adapted to the real needs, realities and expectations of the people they are supposed to be helping.

As the United Nations prepares its global development agenda for the post-2015 period, it is critical that people living in extreme poverty should be provided sufficient space and attention within the process so that they can elaborate on and add to existing knowledge about poverty, discrimination and human rights violations.

This means more than just allowing them to express their own experiences. It requires the creation of conditions that enable and encourage people living in poverty to contribute their individual and collective thoughts and analysis through full and active participation in the whole process of shaping the policies and programmes to eradicate poverty.

We must break the silence of extreme poverty. Let us build our post-2015 efforts to eradicate poverty with the contribution of the poorest so that together we can achieve a sustainable world where everyone lives with dignity and in peace with others.

Donald Lee

President, International Committee for October 17

16/10/2013
Donald Lee
International

Lasting peace and sustainable development are impossible while these levels of inequality persist.

Message from Ms Irina Bokova, Director-General of UNESCO, on the occasion of International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, 17 October 2013

The eradication of poverty must be the absolute priority of any development policy. Extreme poverty is an impediment to the full exercise of human rights, an obstacle to development and a threat to peace.

Millions of people are still victims of famine – 842 million people continued to suffer from chronic hunger between 2011 and 2013. How can we imagine that lasting peace and sustainable development may be built in these conditions? This is an insult to society and the notion of human dignity and it requires our full attention.

A leap forward is possible, solutions do exist – starting with education, which opens the door to social inclusion, skills and employment. Education is the most important foundation to build equal societies, especially for women. Education empowers and it improves crop yields, health and children’s lives.

Beyond economic indicators, material resources and “dollars per day” thresholds, poverty is a question of social inclusion and the ability of individuals to control and give meaning to their lives. Achieving progress in eliminating poverty will depend on finding innovative solutions to tackle its economic, social and ethical aspects. In recent years, the role played by culture and cultural activities has attracted the attention of those engaged in these efforts. The results of the Culture and Development projects led by UNESCO demonstrate the potential of the creative industries as well as the craft and cultural sectors to create jobs and facilitate social dialogue, inclusion and self-esteem. Cultural heritage and creativity belong to the peoples of the world and can be used to build balanced development. Full recognition must be given to the potential of culture in the post-2015 development agenda.

The goal is not to reduce but to eradicate poverty – to get to zero. This is within our reach. Poverty is declining at an unprecedented rate. In 1990, 43% of the world’s population lived in extreme poverty on less than $1.25 a day. Today, this applies to only 21% – still far too high a figure. Humanity cannot look to the future when millions of people are chained to the task of day-to-day survival. Lasting peace and sustainable development are impossible while these levels of inequality persist. We can achieve success if we act urgently and with conviction – in this spirit. I call upon governments, civil society along with the private and public sector today to create more wealth and to share better available wealth, for the greater good of humanity.

UNESCO 7, Place de Fontenoy 75007 Paris France

Website:

www.unesco.org/new/en/ unesco/about-us/who-we-are/director-general/

14/10/2013
Irina Bokova
International

A world free from poverty: how long are we prepared to wait?

As the world marks the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, two questions arise: how long are we willing to go on tolerating the violence and injustice of extreme poverty? And what can be done to bring about this elusive goal more swiftly?

Global pledges to eradicate poverty go back decades. In 1948, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights proclaimed the advent of a world in which all human beings would enjoy 'freedom from want'. Since then, numerous world conferences on human rights and development have set and re-set aspirational goals for the achievement of this vision. The Millennium Development Goals adopted at the turn of the century represent the most recent and arguably the most serious statement of commitment by the international community. The MDGs aim to halve the number of those living in extreme poverty by 2015, and set targets for combatting other poverty-related deprivations such as maternal mortality and child malnutrition.

Even if, as is likely, the poverty target is technically met, there is little grounds for complacency. More than a billion people will still be living on less than $1.25 a day, the vast majority in Sub-Saharan Africa and Southern Asia. Much of the progress over the last 25 years is due to patterns of economic growth in two countries, China and India, that predate the MDG commitments. The global food, fuel and financial crises have fuelled poverty over the last decade, laying bare the structural inequities underlying our global economic system. Social and income inequalities, both within and between countries, have in many cases widened. A day of action to eradicate poverty is a meager response to the enormity of the challenge. On current rates of progress, even the 800 days between now and 2015 will not suffice to meet the eight less-than-ambitious Millennium Goals.

CESR, like many others engaged in the process to develop a successor framework to the MDGs beyond 2015, is pushing for a paradigm shift by the time this deadline is reached. Poverty must be understood as a deprivation of human rights, power and voice. Its eradication, as a matter of obligation falling on all states - whether developing, industrialized or emerging - and powerful actors beyond and below the state. The new framework must enable those living in poverty to hold decision-makers accountable to their obligations, including the duty to realize economic and social rights as swiftly as possible using the maximum resources that are available.  

The recently adopted Guiding Principles on Extreme Poverty and Human Rights, are a timely boost to these frame-shifting efforts. Adopted last month by the UN Human Rights Council, they provide detailed guidance on how to apply human rights standards in efforts to combat poverty. If revitalized in light of these principles, the Millennium vision of a world without poverty may stand a chance of being fulfilled within our lifetime. Wouldn’t this be something to celebrate at the UDHR’s 100th anniversary in 2048?

12/11/2012
Ignacio Saiz - Executive Director - Center for Economic and Social Rights (CESR)
Mauritius

Politics, Economics and Poverty

Article in " Le Mauricien"

The 17th October - (World Poverty Day) is once more here. In French, we describe this day as “la Journée du Refus de la Misère' but as we look around us, we find multifaceted forms of poverty and greater inequality. Our politicians do not stop telling us how much effort they are making to create a better life for us, and this despite the multiple crises that the world is confronted with. We are constantly reminded of the tough conditions prevailing in Spain, Portugal and Greece almost suggesting that we should keep quiet and be content with what is offered to us. They are clever enough to sometimes give us a pat on our back and recognise our hard work, perhaps a strategy for us not to question the very long 'vacances parlementaires' that they are 'entitled' to ?  Often declarations are made about the amount of resources allocated to tackling poverty, but the very policies being formulated and implemented frequently produce more poverty and deepen inequalities, kill opportunities - particularly jobs. It is true that growth is needed but when growth is of a jobless type and continues to benefit those at the top of the pyramid rather than trickle down, the distress and hurt of the people can manifest themselves in myriad forms. The latter may be difficult to quell and can constitute major threats to social cohesion and peace...

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17 octobre 2012 Ile Maurice
23/10/2012
Sheila Bunwaree