Letter to Friends Around the World – October 17,2023

Decent work and social protection

This year’s theme for October 17, World Day for Overcoming Extreme Poverty  is “Decent work and social protection: putting dignity in practice for all.”

On October 17, 1987, thousands gathered on the Plaza of Human Rights and Liberties in Paris to honour the victims of hunger, violence and ignorance. This started the World Day for Overcoming Extreme Poverty, recognised by the UN, since 1992, as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. Every October 17, we unite to give a voice to those marginalised from society because of extreme poverty. We come together globally because we believe in a future without poverty, and we want to build a world that leaves no one behind. It provides an opportunity to respond to Joseph Wresinski’s appeal on October 17,1987:

“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.”

Our common theme for 2022 and 2023 is dignity in practice. This year, the International Committee for October 17 is emphasising decent work and access to social protection, both mainstays for the common good that enable everyone to live in dignity, download and read the concept note. On October 17, this will unite us and define how, together with people experiencing poverty, we can put “dignity in practice”. Through a participatory consultation process where the public gives comments and feedback, we continue to invite people who live in poverty and those who join forces with them to explore these topics.

Decent work for all and universal social protection

“A job is what unlocks everything: money, housing, it gives life meaning.”

Laura, a young activist in France

Work that respects dignity gives those with a lived experience of poverty the confidence and the power to improve their lives and their communities. It enables them to build a future for their children and provides a way of combating exclusion and building social cohesion.

“In today’s world, many people lack access to decent work and are thus exposed to social insecurity.”

Joseph, activist from the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Everyone has the right to have a place in society. And the purpose of social protection is to provide the most vulnerable people with the means to cope with this “social insecurity”.

Dignity as a compass

We can make fundamental human rights a reality and ensure that social justice is at the heart of decision-making at all levels if those living in extreme poverty become partners in shaping public policy.

“The best way to achieve access to the rights of all is to include individuals directly impacted by poverty in the project design of public policies and to listen to their concerns.”

Members of Mati in Bangladesh

This will help build a global economy prioritising harmony between humans and the planet rather than a race for profits.

The following statements illustrate our mutual commitment to putting dignity in practice through decent work and access to social protection:

  • “Current conditions of decent work and social protection are absent in the informal economy that millions of people are dependent on and contributes to the decline of the formal sector.” Sandra, Columbia/France
  • “In the last few weeks, I was shocked by the death of a 20-year-old girl who was turned down by several hospitals because her father could not pay the hospital fees in cash before her treatment. What is the life of these people worth? The only recognised medical protection is money.” Thérèse, Lebanon
  • “Without dignified work and social protection, not only do individuals and families suffer, but all of society loses out, as community ties erode and knowledge is ignored.” Diana, United Kingdom
  • “I want everyone living in poverty to have a job that enables their children to get out of poverty.” Hyacinthe, Democratic Republic of the Congo
  • “Dignified work allows you to live and provide food and a home to one’s family, without fear of tomorrow, without fear of reprisals.” Anne-Sylvie, France

Tell us about your projects!

Please share with us your activities for 17 October.
All the best in your preparations!

Download the Letter to Friends Around the World – Special October 17,2023

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