The 17th October marks an important day on the calendar, not just this year but every year.
Known as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, the day aims to both raise awareness and to boost action in this ongoing global fight. Joseph Wresinski was one of the first persons to highlight the link between human rights and extreme poverty:
“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.”
To put things into context, those living in poverty are likely to experience: dangerous work conditions, unsafe housing, lack of nutritious food, lack of justice and political power as well as limited access to healthcare. Many have previously questioned whether the possibility of eradicating poverty completely is possible, but the United Nations have announced that not only will it happen, but it must, setting themselves the goal of achieving this by 2030.
The 2020 theme: ‘Acting together to achieve social and environmental justice for all’ feels apt in a year that forced collaborative action for our own global safety. The pandemic gave many the time and focus to appreciate the small things and have greater empathy and understanding for others’ situations and challenges. It highlighted that our behaviours can have consequences both positive and negative and we relied on each other to abide by the rules, to take precautions and responsibility for our actions in order to keep each other safe. Suddenly, we were all vulnerable and no amount of money, social status or position of power made you exempt to the risks of the virus. Although the importance of having a safe place to call home was emphasised, when outside the confines of our personal space, we were all as dependant on strangers as we were our friends and family.
The theme of the day also highlights the importance of valuing those experiencing extreme poverty, their knowledge and the experience that they have gained and that this should be respected and reflected in the efforts made to combat poverty. Our partner Habitat’s strap line is ‘it’s a hand up, not a hand-out’ for this very reason, that individuals and families are looking for opportunities to change their own lives and are more than capable of doing so given suitable conditions.
As the streets and skies cleared of traffic the reduction of literal and hypothetical noise made room for new information, new vision and new perspective. The #EndPoverty campaign promotes the call to action, to connect people around the world who have joined the fight to overcome poverty – let’s talk about it.
“If it’s true that a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, isn’t it also true a society is only as healthy as its sickest citizen and only as wealthy as its most deprived.” - Maya Angelou