Accueil 9 deepen 9 30 years of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

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In December 1992, 30 years ago, the United Nations General Assembly recognized the date of October 17 as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

What have we gained from this Day, and what achievements are we particularly proud of?

1 – Enhance pride, dignity and credibility

On October 17, people all over the world discover that they are not alone, that their struggle is universal. They activate and launch the society with them.

“The day of October 17 gave me the opportunity to meet local authorities and members of parliament. I spoke out and was heard by personalities I’d never imagined meeting. I’m proud of all the times we came together to imagine a fairer, more egalitarian world.” Emile C., (Familles solidaires, ATD RDC)

“This day has made it possible to give great legitimacy to the words spoken 03 by people living in poverty and who are the most impacted. It is a day for people living in poverty all over the world, a day of hope, a day of sharing of experience and showing that living with dignity is possible.” (Collectif France Refuser la Misère)

“We are proud of all the celebrations, because they have given place and a voice to society’s most forgotten. They spoke before international bodies. It is a victory for every year.” Christian R., (Congolese University in India)

“In Guatemala, people from families living in extreme poverty have access the Government’s National Palace thanks to the ‘Cambio de la Rosa’ event, so that through their daily struggle, in precarious conditions, they can be seen as peacemakers”. Max A. (International Committee for October 17, Guatemala)

2 – The “refus de la misère” movement grows and mobilizes

The network of people fighting against poverty is growing and growing. This day makes known the poverty and, especially, the actors who fight to eradicate it. On the day of October 17, local people are mobilizing with various associations. It gives hope, because overcoming poverty is possible.

“Year on year, the message of the unheard is reaching more and more people. As we’ve been celebrating this day in Bangladesh for the past few years, we’ve also found that young people are becoming more active in this regard by knowing about and celebrating this day.” MATI Bangladesh.

“With the celebration of October 17, FERAPAD, our association, is proud to have mobilized communities to set up a chicken coop. From this action, two extensions were born, not without difficulties. We are proud to have taken advantage of October 17 to provide women in the rural communities of Fizi with a local mechanism for financial empowerment”. Stanislas W. K., ( Bujumbura, Burundi)

“We have progressed our teamwork and we have paid attention to the thinking of everyone and in building a common dynamic. We also popularized the day in our country and better structured the issue of poverty.” Blaise N., (Yaoundé, Cameroon)

“I think there is a growing awareness that poverty is a burden shared by all of society. This is partly due to the October 17 mobilization – which, every year, helps to raise awareness of what poverty is.” Gideon A., (Nigeria)

“What is named, exists. So, little by little, poverty is seen, named, and exists in society. The more we name it, the more responsibility we have to help eradicate poverty. This changes the social approach and when the poor move from the fringe to the centre of the society, it begins to change the correlation of forces between the relationships that have historically been established between the different social sectors. When people in poverty begin to feel a sense of belonging, a sense of expression, it changes societies from generation to generation.” Carolina E., (International Committee October 17, Guatemala)

3 – Influencing decision-makers

October 17 is a great opportunity to make the voices of those in poverty heard by decision makers and the institutions that should act against extreme poverty.

“When Joseph Wresinski introduced the idea of the relationship between Human Rights and misery, it was a crucial change in the way we thought about the approach to poverty. It was so visionary… nobody had made this link between poverty and human rights. This approach has influenced thinking within the United Nations, and we can see that it’s gaining momentum… the participation of people experiencing poverty has increased over time.” (Donald Lee, President of the International Movement ATD Fourth World)

Through this day, we succeeded in mobilizing decision-makers to include the issue of poor people’s access to drinking water and sanitation in their agendas. ” (Hassimi S., Seepat, Burkina Faso)

“In France, this day was an opportunity to: – Contribute to the voting of laws for those in poverty (RMI, CMU, etc.) – Create a collective of associations, together to speak out for those who have little or no voice (e.g. collective ALERTE, PPV, Collectif du 17 Octobre) – Raising awareness of the issues of extreme poverty and changing the way we look at it – Working together, increasing visibility, raising consciousness and creating ways for people to be active.“ (Collectif France « Refuser la misère »)

4 Challenges

However the fight against poverty remains a major challenge. Indeed, there are still many places in the world where people live in poverty and where their dignity is not respected or assured. We must unite ourselves and our strengths, we must help each other and learn from each other in order to succeed.

“If it is true that there is progress, we need to move much faster. It is not possible that rich countries have access to vaccinations while there are not enough vaccines in poorer countries. It is not possible for some millionaires to get on a rocket to go sightseeing while people die from lack of oxygen.” (Sylvie D., Mano a Mano, Peru)

“Targeted efforts towards inclusion and leaving no one behind, […] the dignity and inclusion of all in poverty eradication efforts has become a priority goal that we strive to achieve.” (Jyoti T., NEPAL)

“When we wonder what we have gained, I remember Pérez de Cuellar saying, “You are our eyes and ears”. But what about these ears and eyes? We can do seminars and reports, but how can we force nations to apply what they hear from the poorest? With October 17, awareness and knowledge of what extreme poverty is has expanded, but what do we do with it? There is no link between people in poverty and the world’s greatest concerns.” (Bernard M. and Jean T., Comité international 17 octobre)

It’s a question I’ve been asking myself a lot lately: is the way we’re celebrating October 17 today the way we originally imagined it?” (Nicolas D., Belgium)

The phrase inscribed on the memorial slab in honour of the victims of extreme poverty remains an urgent, topical appeal!

“Wherever men and women are condemned to live in extreme poverty,
human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights be respected is our solemn duty.”

Father Joseph Wresinski’s appeal,