On 17 October 1987 over a hundred thousand people gathered in Paris to commemorate those living in poverty and violence. A memorial stone was unveiled stating:
“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.”
The day was officially recognised by the UN General Assembly five years later, and has encouraged people from around the world to unite in solidarity, ever since.
How does Poverty affect us?
Poverty is a complex issue, which has a domino effect on job opportunity, access to education, malnutrition and social inclusion. Each of these factors keep many locked in a cycle of poverty, or pull those who have escaped back in.
According to the UN, there are currently 836 million living in poverty globally. In Australia, latest figures show that poverty is increasing, with 730,000 children living below the poverty line.
As overwhelming as these figures seem, there has been some progress, with global extreme poverty rates being cut by more than 50% since 1990. Poverty is not inevitable and with the Sustainable Development Goals aiming to eradicate extreme poverty by 2030, there is work to be done.
What can I do?
It’s a big word and a big complex problem – but there are ways you can contribute to make a change on what seems like such an overwhelming challenge.
Make a donation, advocate for change, or volunteer with a charity that supports those in hardship.
International charities like ActionAid have been fighting poverty for 30 years and work in over 45 countries.
Others, like Empower Projects, focus on enabling communities to contribute towards their own vision for change.
Charities closer to home include the deceptively named 300 Blankets, who have provided over 5000 blankets to people experiencing homelessness throughout Victoria.
If you are a young person, The Oaktree Foundation is Australia’s largest youth run organisation who aim to end extreme poverty within a generation.