The observance of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty can be traced back to 17 October 1987. On that day, over a hundred thousand people gathered at the Trocadéro in Paris, where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948, to honor the victims of extreme poverty, violence and hunger. They proclaimed that poverty is a violation of human rights and affirmed the need to come together to ensure that these rights are respected. These convictions are inscribed in a commemorative stone unveiled on this day. Since then, people of all backgrounds, beliefs and social origins have gathered every year on October 17th to renew their commitment and show their solidarity with the poor. Replicas of the commemorative stone have been unveiled around the world and serve as a gathering place to celebrate the Day. One such replica is located in the garden of United Nations Headquarters and is the site of the annual commemoration organized by the United Nations Secretariat in New York.
Through resolution 47/196 adopted on 22 December 1992, the General Assembly declared 17 October as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty and invited all States to devote the Day to presenting and promoting, as appropriate in the national context, concrete activities with regard to the eradication of poverty and destitution. The resolution further invites intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations to assist States, at their request, in organizing national activities for the observance of the Day, and requests the Secretary-General to take, within existing resources, the measures necessary to ensure the success of the Day’s observance by the United Nations.
17 October presents an opportunity to acknowledge the effort and struggle of people living in poverty, a chance for them to make their concerns heard, and a moment to recognize that poor people are the first ones to fight against poverty. Participation of the poor themselves has been at the center of the Day’s celebration since its very beginning. The commemoration of October 17th also reflects the willingness of people living in poverty to use their expertise to contribute to the eradication of poverty.
Facts and Figures
- More than 700 million people, or 10% of the world population, still live in extreme poverty. Surviving on less than US$1.90 a day.
- Having a job does not guarantee a decent living. In fact, 8 per cent of employed workers and their families worldwide lived in extreme poverty in 2018.
- Globally, there are 122 women aged 25 to 34 living in extreme poverty for every 100 men of the same age group.
- The majority of people living on less than $1.90 a day live in sub-Saharan Africa.
- High poverty rates are often found in small, fragile and conflict-affected countries.
- Poverty affects children disproportionately. One out of five children live in extreme poverty.
- As of 2018, 55% of the world’s population have no access to social protection.
- In 2018, only 41% of women giving birth received maternity cash benefits.
The theme of International for the Eradication of Poverty 2019 is “Acting together to empower children, their families and communities to end poverty”.
Ending extreme poverty is at the heart of the world’s efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals and build a sustainable future for all. But success in leaving no one behind will remain elusive if we do not target the people who are farthest behind first.
This year’s observance focuses on “acting together to empower children, their families and communities to end poverty”, as we mark the 30th anniversary of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
Children are more than twice as likely to live in extreme poverty than adults. Poverty condemns many children to lifelong disadvantage and perpetuates an intergenerational transfer of deprivation. Today’s children will also live with the devastating consequences of climate change if we fail to raise ambition now.
From conflict zones to cyberspace, from forced
labour to sexual exploitation, girls are at particular risk, but they are also
a force for change. For every additional year a girl remains in school, her
average income over a lifetime increases, her chances of being married early
decrease, and there are clear health and education benefits for her children,
making it a key factor in breaking the cycle of poverty.
One of the keys to ending child poverty is addressing poverty in the household, from which it often stems. Access to quality social services must be a priority, yet today, almost two-thirds of children lack social protection coverage. Family-oriented policies are also indispensable, including flexible working arrangements, parental leave and childcare support.
On this International Day, let us recommit to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 1 and a fair globalization that works for all children, their families and communities.