Dignity for All in Practice
Above: Poster for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 2022
“We have to fight for dignity together because my dignity means nothing if my neighbor has none.”
Bertine, ATD activist in Burkina Faso
Looking ahead to October 17, 2022
October 17, 2022 marks the 30th anniversary of the UN’s recognition of International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. This recognition followed the first World Day for Overcoming Poverty, organized by ATD Fourth World in 1987 in Paris. There, 100,000 people gathered on the Plaza of Human Rights to honor victims of hunger, ignorance, and violence.
In his speech to the crowd, ATD founder Joseph Wresinski insisted that poverty is not inevitable:
“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.”
October 17, 2022 concept note excerpts
”Dignity for All in Practice: The commitments we make together for social justice, peace, and the planet”
Dignity for all in practice is the umbrella theme of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty 2022-2023. The dignity of the human being is not only a fundamental right in itself but constitutes the basis of all other fundamental rights. The 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights enshrined human dignity in its preamble:
“Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,…”
Not an abstract concept
“Dignity” is not an abstract concept: it belongs to all persons. Many people today in persistent poverty experience disrespect and denial of their dignity. The treatment of those in poverty is a measure of the respect in which human dignity is held by societies. Personal agency helps define a life in dignity where individuals have the freedom to make informed choices and to participate meaningfully in decision making processes that affects their lives.
With the commitment to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure all people everywhere enjoy peace and prosperity, the 2030 Agenda is working towards the promises established under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Yet, in a world where we produce enough to feed everyone, 811 million people do not have enough food and 44 million are at risk of sliding into famine (source: WFP). Two billion people still live without safe drinking water and 3.6 billion without safely managed sanitation (source: WHO and UNICEF). And 1.3 billion people still live in multidimensional poverty (source: UNDP) with almost half of them children and young people.
Inequality of opportunities, including access to key services and gender inequality, persists while income inequality is rising sharply. And each year the gap between the rich and those in poverty gets even wider. In the past year, millions struggled to survive during an erosion of workers’ rights and job quality. At the same time, corporate power and the wealth of the billionaire class recorded an unprecedented rise.
The promise of human rights and dignity for all in practice is possible and must be achieved.