Eradication of Poverty Day

“Living in poverty means experiencing intense physical, mental and emotional suffering accompanied by a sense of powerlessness to do anything about it.”

Resolution 47/196 voted on December 22, 1992, the General Assembly declared 17 October as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty.

This Day gives an opportunity for those living poverty to make their concerns heard, and a moment to recognize that people living in poverty are the first ones to fight against poverty.

Ms. Magdalena Sepulveda, Executive Director, Global Initiative for Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Ms. Quane Hargrove, educator and ATD Fourth World activist narrated the day.

The prospects for fully eradicating extreme poverty by 2030 appear highly unlikely, even under the most optimistic scenarios, according to a new policy brief issued by the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.  The long-term impact of the COVID-19 crisis on poverty has accelerated reductions in inequality.   Ending extreme poverty has become increasingly elusive, even under the most upbeat assumptions. 

The stagnation in economic growth and a rise in inequality may easily push countries with persistent poverty, such as the least developed countries, (LDC) even further behind.

“It is no longer unimaginable that the global number of people living in extreme poverty will continue to go up in the coming years,” the report concluded, “pulling hundreds of millions of people into extreme vulnerability, if the horrendous consequences of the pandemic for developing countries are not effectively managed.”  

This year, as COVID-19 has exacerbated social inequalities and economic hardships, the International Day focused on the theme of “Acting Together to Achieve Social and Environmental Justice for All”.

The 2030 Agenda recognizes that eradicating poverty in all its forms and dimensions, including extreme poverty, is the greatest global challenge and an indispensable requirement for the achievement of inclusive and peaceful societies.

People living in poverty are disproportionately affected by the adverse impacts of climate change and environmental degradation.  

The International Day brought attention to people living in extreme poverty,  plummeting economic growth is increasing poverty and exacerbating existing inequalities.

  • Factories are shuttered
  • Domestic demand is curtailed
  • Investments are postponed
  • Global trade has fallen sharply

At the household level:

  • Unemployment
  • Loss of income
  • High healthcare expenditures

The ILO estimated that relative poverty among informal workers increased in the first month of the crisis by 56% in lower-middle- and low-income countries, and by over 62 per cent in Africa. Nearly all sectors have been hard hit, but especially tourism and manufacturing.

Children in poor households also suffer disproportionally from the closure of schools, as they miss out on essential school meals and may find it harder to access digital learning in oftentimes overcrowded and poorly connected environments.

Girls may be required to take care of their younger siblings thereby missing school. The World Bank estimates that the current school closures will cause over 7 million primary and secondary to be left behind. Some 24 million additional children and youth may drop out or not have access to school next year due to the pandemic’s economic impact alone. Youth are also more likely to be in informal employment and in unemployment than adults.

Living in poverty usually implies a greater exposure to COVID-19 and its economic impact, as well as a vicious cycle between growing poverty and inequality. Indeed, the most vulnerable have been hit the hardest by both lockdowns.

For a flavor of the Day please view this Facebook video.  It’s really informative and gives picture of those trying to overcome poverty.  It is 47 (forty-seven) minutes long. Let’s continue our efforts wherever we are to eradicate poverty by 2030.