Accueil 9 deepen 9 I want to play a role in this Fourth World

My name is Susanne Privitera. I live in Switzerland, and I am a member of the Forum on Overcoming Extreme Poverty. I’m part of this network because of an “instinctive” feeling within me since I was a child. In Switzerland, we face long-term social injustice. For example, since the 1960s, unfair work regulations related to migration have deprived “seasonal workers” of the right to a permanent residence permit and, therefore, the right to live together with their families in Switzerland. The famous Swiss writer Max Frisch said in 1967: “We sent out a call for a workforce, and human beings came”.

It is estimated that more than twenty thousand people have no legal status in our country-“undocumented” migrants with their children are forced to live hidden from the authorities-a flagrant violation of Human Rights.

One day I discovered the term “Fourth World” (coined by Joseph Wresinski, founder of ATD Fourth World), and it resonated with me. This concept breaks the vicious circle used by the Europeans from the colonial era onwards – northern countries as colonisers and southern countries as colonised; a world that I do not accept.

This new world, the “Fourth World”, brings together all people living in extreme poverty from all countries and backgrounds and those who support them. I want to play an active role in this “Fourth World”.

In this global movement, we refuse to accept extreme poverty. This rejection is a necessary form of political courage and wisdom that will enable us to overcome all prejudices. With acceptance of and respect for this “Fourth World” a dignified life is possible for each human being. Nothing is more important than human dignity; when it is suppressed, existence no longer makes sense.

I translate the Letter to Friends Around the World from French to German. My priority is the use of non-discriminatory language. This is imperative because the complexity of a language is connected to each expression. Furthermore, an accurate translation must consider the reality of people’s lives and portray them with equity. The research on The Hidden Dimensions of Poverty (a participatory research project led by ATD Fourth World and Oxford University designed to improve global understanding of multidimensional poverty) is, in that sense, of fundamental importance because the people concerned speak for themselves in their own words. All that remains for us to do is to listen and give them our full attention.

Susanne Privitera


1 “Man hat Arbeitskräfte gerufen, und es kamen Menschen.”