On October 17th, activists, organizations, and 150 children joined to commemorate the 27th International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (IDEP) at the United Nations in New York. This day centers on the need to uphold the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and to affirm that poverty is a violation of human rights that must be addressed to uphold our commitment to enabling all to reach their full potential and become prominent agents of personal fulfillment and social change. Since its first year, the IDEP has served not only to acknowledge the struggles of those in poverty, but also to focus on engaging the voices, opinions, and actions of those with experience of poverty. Their inclusion is crucial to ensuring that policies and strategies truly serve their needs. Participatory approaches are meaningful because they allow people with a lived experience of poverty to share their knowledge and contribute to solving a problem that they deeply understand.
The event, “Acting Together to Empower Children, their Families, and Communities to End Poverty”, was organized by our partners and friends ATD Fourth World. This theme strikes at the heart of aims that Equity for Children holds dear because it emphasizes the importance of child participation in shaping the discourse around poverty and captures the subjective dimension of poverty. Children have the power to give meaningful evidence towards shaping future policy decisions and ensuring that resources are put to their best use to make concrete improvements in their lives and future prospects while ending the intergenerational transmission of poverty.
This year’s theme also engaged a celebration of the 30 year anniversary of the Convention of the Rights of the Child, signed in November of 1989 to declare that those in power are legally bound to protect and fulfill the human rights denied to children in poverty, whose lifelong health and income are diminished by the obstacles poverty poses to their mental, physical, educational, and social development.
Even amid the celebration of landmark progress, we must not lose sight of the monumental work that lies ahead. Even today, 385 million children globally live in extreme poverty, with 663 million children living in multidimensionally poor households. The establishment of effective and child-sensitive social programs, responsive to accurate data gathered with multidimensional poverty measurement tools, is essential to ensuring that all children receive the necessary investment in nutrition, health, and education to live well and help to build prosperous societies. Out of 46 countries participating in Voluntary National Reviews of their progress towards the
2030 Agenda, only 17 reported on child poverty this year. This dearth of data representative of child poverty shows that this key group in the fight to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 1 is not receiving its due attention, and actors worldwide must raise their voices and push countries to turn the promises made in the 2030 Agenda into concrete action. Equity for Children is committed to delivering the means for governments to fulfill their promise by providing statistical tools that enable the capture of data surrounding multidimensional child poverty. Such data collection must be prioritized by countries seeking to target their policies and investments towards the fulfillment of Sustainable Development Goal 1.
Equity for Children’s staff visited the UN headquarters in New York to commemorate this date. Youth engagement could be seen from the first arrival in a corner-wrapping line to enter the building, which was flooded with visiting youth taking learning outside of the classroom while contributing child visibility and participation to the day. Speaker Aissata Camara, Deputy Commissioner for Operations and Strategic Partnerships at New York City’s Mayor’s Office for International Affairs, spoke to the importance of enabling children to engage with the UN, stating that “children must be given a seat at the table”. This was brought to life when youth advocates from a fifth grade class at the Gregory Jackson School in Brooklyn took the stage in the event, speaking out on the importance of granting children’s voices a legitimate forum to be taken seriously while also bringing awareness to the challenges they face in the context of today’s dire environmental issues and rising threats posed by cyberspace on expanding the impacts of bullying.
French UN Representative Anne Gueguen stated that we are “in a race against poverty and a race against time” in fulfilling the promises of the 2030 Agenda, which must represent the child’s perspective and address child poverty if it is to enable sustainable development for all. The child focus in this issue is critical; as David Steward, UNICEF’s Social Policy Chief, highlighted, “children are twice as likely as adults to live in poverty.” Despite being a vulnerable population in the face of rights violations, children are nevertheless mobilizing to stand up for their rights and hold those in power accountable. We must offer them support and lend our support and attention to the strength which children exhibit every day as engaged and capable social actors for change. The ATD 4th World event provided a meaningful forum to raise awareness around the urgency of addressing child poverty through actions by countries to incorporate and prioritize it immediately within policy and legal frameworks.
#EndChildPoverty #ForEveryChild #IDEP