International Day for the Eradication of Poverty

By: Amanda Oliveira,
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This blog post was written by Amanda OliveiraIntern at the Raoul Wallenberg Institute’s HQ.


Thirty-five years have passed since 100,000 human rights defenders from different countries gathered at the Plaza of Liberties and Human Rights in Paris, France, to honor victims of extreme poverty and give voice to their testimonies (1). After that day, 17 October of 1987, the General Assembly declared the date as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (2). However, the eradication of the mass impoverishment process of humankind is still a far-reach achievement.

The Poverty and Inequality Platform shows that, in 2019, 494 million people survived with less than US$1,90 per day. Note that this number is only related to those who are in extreme poverty. Over than 3 billion people – almost half of the world’s population – live on less than US$6.85 each day. Also, according to World Bank statistics, there has been a continuous decrease in the global poverty rate since the monitoring started in 1990. However, this reduction has been occurring at a slower pace in recent years, especially after the pandemic and the war in Ukraine (3).

While global data works with currency to measure wealth, poverty roots are not exclusively related to a lack of financial resources. The multidimensional approach reveals that poverty constitutes the antonym for a quality of life in numerous ways. Alternatively put, poverty goes beyond low incomes to include vulnerability to violence, forced displacement, discrimination, and other sorts of struggle or deprivation. Impoverished families can neither access education, health care, culture, justice systems, nor exercise a wide range of civil rights, such as the right to vote. Thus, an intersectional analysis of other forms of oppression superimposed on poverty increases the obstacle to the full enjoyment of human rights, perpetuating the vicious cycle of human misery.

It is for no other reason that the 2022-2023 theme for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is dignity for all in practice. The United Nations (UN) accurately defined this theme as an “umbrella” term since the principle of dignity represents the ground for all other human rights. Dignity for all in practice resonates with the argument made above: poverty needs to be understood broadly as an outrage and a disregard for fundamental human rights.

Recognizing the intersectionality is fundamental to state that poverty is not an inevitable reality. In fact, impoverishment is the conscious result of a system that acts or fails to ‘disempower the poorest and marginalized in our societies’ (4). Moreover, seeing this dynamic is crucial to think efforts and public policies toward poverty eradication. For instance, addressing racism and gender discrimination in the labor market directly influences the fight against poverty. Hence, an attentive look at the UN Sustainable Development Goals allows us to conclude that each objective is strongly related to the number one UN agenda purpose, which is ‘no poverty (5).

The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is a day that urgently seeks its own end. Ensuring the end of indignity for humanity is a cornerstone of the declaration of human rights, as it was engraved in the monument lifted at the Plaza of Liberties and Human Rights in 1987: “Wherever men and women are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure these rights be respected is our solemn duty”.


(1) https://www.un.org/development/desa/socialperspectiveondevelopment/international-day-for-the-eradication-of-poverty-homepage.html

(2) A/RES/47/196 adopted on 22 December 1992. <http://www.un-documents.net/a47r196.htm>

(3) https://openknowledge.worldbank.org/bitstream/handle/10986/37739/9781464818936.pdf

(4) https://www.un.org/en/observances/day-for-eradicating-poverty

(5) https://www.un.org/sustainabledevelopment/development-agenda/

 

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