The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 2021 is 17th October. The theme for this year is: “Building Forward Together: Ending Persistent Poverty, Respecting all People and our Planet”.
International days and dates have a purpose, in that they can focus our attention and determination to inform ourselves of the reality for our ‘brothers and sisters’ across the globe and enable us to act individually and together advocating for the changes necessary at societal and governmental level to address and eradicate the core drivers of persistent suffering.
The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs writing on poverty today says:
“The COVID-19 pandemic that gripped the world during the past year has resulted in reversing decades of progress in the fight against poverty and extreme poverty.
According to the World Bank, between 88 and 115 million people are being pushed into poverty as a result of the crisis, with the majority of the new extreme poor being found in South Asian and Sub-Saharan countries where poverty rates are already high”.
In 2021, the number of people living in poverty is expected to have risen to between 143 and 163 million. These ‘new poor’ will join the ranks of the 1.3 billion people already living in multidimensional and persistent poverty who saw their pre-existing deprivations aggravated during the global pandemic.
Indeed, the measures imposed to limit the spread of the pandemic often further pushed them into poverty – the informal economy which enables many people in poverty to survive was virtually shut down in many countries.
The message is clear from the people living in extreme poverty that they do not want a return to the past nor to build back to what it was before. They do not want a return to the endemic structural disadvantages and inequalities. Instead, people living in poverty propose to build forward.
Building forward means:
- transforming our relationship with nature
- dismantling structures of discrimination that disadvantage people in poverty
- building on the moral and legal framework of human rights that places human dignity at the heart of policy and action.
- that no one is left behind, but that people living in poverty are actively encouraged and supported to be in the front, engaging in informed and meaningful participation in decision-making processes that directly affect their lives.
- we need to let ourselves be enriched by the wisdom, energy & resourcefulness that people living in poverty can contribute to our communities, societies & ultimately to our planet.
Historically, pandemics have served as catalysts for political, economic and social change, and that still holds true today.
The year 2021 will be decisive as to whether or not the world can make the transformations needed to deliver on the promise to achieve the SDGs by 2030 – with implications for us all.
“The Sustainable Development Goals are more important now than ever. Now is the time to secure the well-being of people, economies, societies and our planet.“ (António Guterres, Secretary-General, United Nations) See — SDG Indicators (un.org)
Living in poverty
In a world characterized by an unprecedented level of economic development, technological means and financial resources, that millions of persons are living in extreme poverty is a moral outrage. Poverty is not solely an economic issue, but rather a multidimensional phenomenon that encompasses a lack of both income and the basic capabilities to live in dignity.
Persons living in poverty experience many interrelated and mutually reinforcing deprivations that prevent them from realizing their rights and perpetuate their poverty, including:
dangerous work conditions
- unsafe housing
- lack of nutritious food
- unequal access to justice
- lack of political power
- limited access to health care
“ End poverty in all its forms everywhere” is the overarching goal of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. However, in order to achieve it, it is necessary to consider other dimensions, beyond monetary ones, when thinking about poverty.
The international participatory research “The Hidden Dimensions of Poverty” has been released by ATD Fourth World and the University of Oxford, in six countries. For three months, hundreds of people living in poverty, professionals and academics have worked together to identify nine key common dimensions of poverty in northern and southern countries. In addition to the dimensions, they identified “modifying factors” that can intensify or alleviate poverty. See Report detail The hidden dimensions of poverty: the ATD Fourth World report (edc-online.org)
Alongside the three more familiar dimensions, which are a lack of decent work, insufficient income, and material and social deprivation, six were previously hidden or rarely considered:
– Three relational dimensions which raise awareness about the way in which those who are not confronted with poverty affect the lives of those who are: social maltreatment, institutional maltreatment, and unrecognised contributions.
– Three dimensions which clearly reveal aspects that are too often ignored regarding the experience of poverty. These are: Suffering “in body, mind and heart”, struggle and resistance, and disempowerment.
Poverty is rooted in everyday relations between people, social groups and all the different kinds of institutions that shape it. People who are blamed, whom we make feel ashamed because of their poverty suffer social abuse. Those whom institutions treat as numbers are victims of institutional abuse. ( See The Hidden Dimensions of Poverty | Overcoming Extreme Poverty (overcomingpoverty.org)