On October 17, 1987, more than 100,000 people assembled at the Trocadéro in Paris, France. The group wanted to draw attention to the number of fellow humans suffering because of poverty, violence, and hunger. The gathering became an annual tradition, with the goal of raising awareness and motivating people to join the mission of ending poverty. During its December 1992 meeting, the United Nations General Assembly declared October 17 the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Observing the day is particularly important this year, because of the impact that COVID-19 has had and will continue to have on global poverty rates.
More Than Money
The first step to ending poverty is understanding more about how, when, where, and why it occurs. According to the United Nations website, higher poverty rates tend to be found in “small, fragile, and conflict-affected countries.” Poverty is not restricted to these countries, though. There are people living in poverty in wealthier, more stable countries, as well.
Ending poverty is a complex topic, in part because poverty itself is multidimensional and involves far more than a lack of money. Impoverished individuals are often disproportionately affected by environmental issues, including natural disasters. Poverty is the main cause of food insecurity. It can also lead to limited access to water and sanitation. Those experiencing poverty are more likely to be living and working in dangerous environments. Poverty makes it difficult to access education, community resources, and, in some countries, even healthcare. It brings with it social discrimination, isolation, and exclusion. These factors make it challenging to find stable housing and employment opportunities, which in turn makes it harder to gain independence and escape poverty.
The theme for this year’s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is “acting together to achieve social and environmental justice for all.” This theme takes into account the multidimensionality of poverty. We need to acknowledge poverty’s complexities and embrace a more comprehensive, holistic approach to ending it. Another key part of this year’s theme is the need to make sure that we listen to those who are living in poverty. Their voices need to be heard, and their contributions need to be better appreciated.
The United Nations is encouraging people to spread the word about the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty by posting on social media using the hashtag #EndPoverty. They are hosting a free, online event commemorating the day on October 17. The global event will be available in English and French on Facebook Live at 11 AM EDT, followed by a Spanish subtitled version at 1 PM Zona Centro/ 8 PM Madrid Time (CET). The event will be uploaded to YouTube later on, so that everyone can enjoy it when they have the time to do so.
Are you ready to take action to end poverty? We have compiled a list that you can use to get started.
- Take the time to educate yourself about poverty, both worldwide and in your community. Here are a few resources to boost
- Spread awareness and educate others, using the United Nations’ recommended #EndPoverty hashtag.
- Attend the virtual International Day for the Eradication of Poverty event, or watch the video afterward.
- Research organizations that help those living in poverty in your community. Show your support by spreading awareness about their work. If you are able, consider donating your time, resources, and/or money.
- Practice kindness toward those living in poverty. Some ideas include connecting with and sponsoring a family in need, donating to a food bank, creating and safely distributing care kits, or helping people access community resources.