This year´s International Day for the Eradication of Poverty was celebrated on October 17th with a big event at the UN Conference Building in New York. Under the theme “Acting together to empower children, their families and communities to end poverty” along the celebration of the 30th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Truly, the event was a celebration of listening to voices that are often overheard. The program consisted of short remarks by the Permanent Missions of France and Burkina Faso to the United Nations as well as by the UN Secretary General delivered by the Director of UN DESA. However, the core part and majority of the program was contributed by children as well as community activists that shared their experience.
Alongside of two songs delivered by local high school members, one of the messages given was by 5th grade students from Gregory “Jocko” Jackson School, Brooklyn who expressed their desire to live in a sustainable world where they can pursue their dreams not restricted to systemic structures that increase inequalities but enable every child to live up to its potential. Their message was followed by Elizabeth Madden, an activist from Cork, Ireland. Her speech was moving since she had experienced hardship as well as homelessness when she was a young adult while she was pregnant. Ms. Madden shared her love and passion for her child to grow up in different environment that is not determined by poverty or other systemic failures allowed by this world´s governments. She began to stand up and use her voice as an activist of Cork Anti-Poverty Resource Network to help others to bring about lasting change. Ms. Madden realized that her voice is important to not only help herself but all the children and families that are affected by poverty and its consequences.
Furthermore, the messages given by two community leaders from the Wadah Foundation from Jakarta, Indonesia – Mr. Hasan Azhary and Mr. Ricardo Hutahaean – exemplified the need for cooperation around the globe. Poverty is not some abstract issue but affecting children day by day. The lack of quality education and living removed from schools are daily challenges and a reality for children around the globe that ought to be mastered in order to give them the opportunity to live up to their fullest potential. The two community leaders from Jakarta shared their experience of working and trying to change that reality for children in their local sphere. They passionately described and encouraged listeners to stand up for the right thing to do.
Another moving speech was given by three girls – Paula, Alma and
Raquel – from Madrid, Spain who are part of the Tapori Children´s Group there. They described their life heavily influenced by poverty. Due to their young age, it seemed that they had everybody´s attention when they illustrated what the issue of poverty means practically for their life. They concluded their message by not only mentioning their mum´s who work hard every day to change their current living situation. However, the three girls knew and acknowledged it proudly that the work of their mum´s is not only for the present but for a lasting and great impact in the future for their girls!
On this note, it was remarkable to notice that almost half of the attending people where young people that were still enrolled in school. This seemed to be a key aspect of the event that not only Civil Society attended but that the people it represents on a daily basis could come, share and experience itself that people from all around the world are trying to end child poverty together, to empower children and their families to live a better life. Therefore, it was moving to hear three of the voices of children where their mums are trying hard every day to give them the chance to have a better future without poverty.
Indeed, poverty didn´t end because of the event for the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. However, this limited time at the UN Conference Building in New York allowed listeners not only to be encouraged, but to aspire more in their work and daily lives. Poverty is not insoluble and even if some of us might not see it every day, there are millions of voices working every day to bring about change, even if it is just in little steps in the local communities. This event gave children and local activists the opportunity to feel and see that they are heard on a bigger scale than they could imagine. However, the fight continues and all stakeholders including Civil Society are encouraged and compelled to end poverty for the people, for the children and families that they are representing and partially saw at this event through their advocacy work.