Special 17 October 2022

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the recognition of October 17 as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty by the United Nations in 1992. This recognition began on the first October 17 event in 1987, when thousands gathered on the Square of Freedom and Human Rights at the Trocadero in Paris. They paid homage to victims of hunger, ignorance and violence. Alongside Joseph Wresinski, they proclaimed their refusal to allow people to die as a result of poverty. They, and Joseph Wresinski, proclaimed:

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.”

Dignity in practice will also be our theme for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty in 2023. Thus we will have the opportunity to focus on different aspects of October 17 in 2022 and 2023. This allows us to put in practice ideas about October 17 throughout the year.

Recognition of the dignity inherent to all members of the human race and of their legal rights constitutes the foundations of freedom, justice and peace in the world, as stated in Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” Comment by Manal from Algeria reminding us of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Today we must take into account anything that can contribute to social, economic and environmental justice, but also we see that poverty is a form of violence. A solution to the violence of poverty is respecting the equal dignity of every person through our work for justice, peace and planet.

Having herself experienced poverty, Mrs Fournier, a campaigner against poverty in Canada, says “When we get the people at the bottom of the ladder to climb another step up, the whole of society benefits. I truly believe that.”

It is possible to keep the promise of human rights and dignity for all if we keep these ideas keep in mind every day. Just as Bertine from Burkina Faso reminds us, « “We must fight for dignity together because my dignity means nothing ifthe dignity of the person standing next to me isn’t recognised

“Recognising the dignity of those around us is something that we can all imagine and achieve to the best of our ability.” The Netherlands

“Dignity is not just a concept, it is a way of living and getting in touch with others.” Guatemala

“We need to encourage any initiative that will help to protect the environment. This plays a part in building human dignity.” Lebanon

“Gaining the respect of dignity for all people poses a challenge for individual, collective and institutional commitment to promote, protect and guarantee a dignified life for all, regardless of their sex, age, country, or religious or political convictions. (…) Because we are all guardians of nature, and guaranteeing a decent life for everyone affects us all.” Cameroon

“Covid-19 is not the only tragedy that humanity faces. Climatic, social and economic problems will continue to cause disasters that will all have different names and impacts.” Colombia

“Even if you have a house to sleep in, it’s like sleeping outdoors when all night you think about tomorrow and look for solutions to your problems. Our dignity is compassion. The compassion we have for one another will be an example for our children that will inspire them to appreciate and protect the environment. Fighting for dignity means being able to live in a clean place.” Burkina Faso

“People’s dignity is not something that they earn based on their social class, colour or other advantages they might have. Dignity is something that every human being is born with. Everyone has the right to respect, simply because they are human.” Bangladesh

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