A day to reflect
The annual TUC Poverty Conference is being held on Monday 18 October. In the past it has looked at the issues of reform of the welfare state and the negative attitudes towards those in poverty, and this year will be focusing on the cuts and their effects.
The conference aims to “challenge poverty in changing times”; an aim that highlights the words that underpin the United Nations-recognised International Day for the Eradication of Poverty held on 17 October every year:
“Wherever men and women are condemned to live in extreme poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure these rights be respected is our solemn duty.”
The day was first marked in 1987, when more than one hundred thousand people gathered at the Trocadéro in Paris to honour the victims of extreme poverty, violence and hunger.
More than twenty years on, people of all backgrounds, beliefs and social origins continue to mark the day by renewing their commitment to fight poverty and showing their solidarity with those in poverty. They do so at different events held to commemorate the day across the world, from the United Nations in New York and the European Parliament in Brussels to Dar es Salaam, Ougadougou, Manila and Bangkok.
From the outset, the day has represented an opportunity to recognise the efforts and struggles of those living in poverty, and also been a chance for them to make their experiences and their concerns heard.
The only way to guarantee this has been to place genuine participation at the heart of the day’s celebration. In the words of one father who has been an active member of ATD Fourth World for more than twenty years, 17 October:
“… is a day to reflect on one’s own life and that of the many families we know who are experiencing poverty and facing hardships to pay the bills and the rent arrears. Today, we remember others who live in poverty and campaign for poverty to be eradicated. Poverty takes away your dignity; fighting for an end to poverty gives you your dignity back.”