Eradicating Poverty Day – Creating Peaceful & Inclusive Societies

The realisation of life different to ours may be apparent when listening to the radio on the way to work or casually skimming past a charity ad whilst trying to find your favourite TV show. This short acknowledgement of the plight of others soon diminishes as our iPhone rings or as it is time to fill up our tank of petrol again. The concept of absolute poverty may ponder in our thoughts periodically, but life here in the UK consumes us, rendering absolute poverty a distant problem.

This distance we experience disconnects us to the majority of the world, somewhat alienating us from the struggle that engulfs the most vulnerable and inequitable societies. For the majority of us, our understanding of poverty remains piecemeal.

Today marks the International day for the Eradication of Poverty, a UN initiative that intends on highlighting the urgency fuelling the global attempts at ending extreme poverty. Poverty eradication is Goal 1 in the UN’s ‘Sustainable Development Goals’, which aims to eradicate extreme poverty everywhere by 2030. 

Within today’s context then, we cannot continue our daily routines without the acknowledgement of all those fighting their everyday struggle to put food on the table, to provide shelter, to ensure their children the right to education and to resist disease and illness. This year, the urgency takes new form as a report last month found that global hunger levels have increased for the first time in over a decade; some 815 million people suffered hunger in 2016, a 38 million increase to the figures found in 2015.

Today, not only do we remember the 1+ billion people living in conditions of extreme poverty, but we celebrate the notions of dignity, solidarity and give voice to the principles that underscore the October 17 Call to Action to end poverty on a global scale.

The October 17 ‘Call to Action’ initiated the global call to end extreme poverty 30 years ago today, recorded in text at Paris’ Trocadero Human Rights Plaza. The commemorative stone states:

On the 17th of October 1987, defenders of human and civil rights from every continent gathered on this plaza. They paid homage to the victims of hunger, ignorance and violence. They affirmed their conviction that human misery is not inevitable. They pledged their solidarity with all people who, throughout the world, strive to eradicate 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.” Father Joseph Wresinski

This year the focus on an inclusive society that promotes dignity is one that deserves real attention. Inclusivity is essentially the cornerstone to social and economic elevation. Through accounting for the voices of the most vulnerable, often marginalised and ostracised members of society, we can actively tackle not simply the symptoms of poverty, but the causes of such inequality.

Inclusivity requires empathy rather than sympathy, it values every human life, it necessitates representation in agency and the celebration and understanding of diversity. To be truly inclusive is to hear the diverse voices of humanity; to provide a platform for all to speak, to listen and to act accordingly in attempts to eradicate extreme poverty.

In order to eradicate poverty and the growing wealth/income gap, the principle of dignity must be adhered to. When conceptualising dignity, we pool concepts of respect, of honour and of morale. All too often, however, we provide just lip service to such preeminent notions.

Let us go further than simply speaking of dignity, let us exercise these humane values and advocate for a dignified life for those who suffer the most inhumane existences; those who are denied access to the basic necessities of life.

Regardless of creed, colour, religion, belief or way of life, we must extend our humanity to those who have suffered both direct and indirect exploitation and those who struggle for an equal existence. Their voices must be given a microphone and their struggle a pedestal, for the eradication of poverty will only be met through understanding their plight and catering to their needs.  

To eradicate poverty is to truly uphold meritocracy. To include all is to ostracise none. To value all is to see us as one. To live dignified is to promote humanity. Let us promote inclusion, voice and dignity in our global fight against poverty.

By Munibah Qureshi
Policy & Social Impact Editor

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