UN chief urges support for people affected by poverty

posted in: Africa

Photo: UN


New York, US – UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, on Thursday called for greater support for people struggling to escape poverty and build better lives.

He also called on the world to “listen to the voices that often go unheard”.

The PANA Correspondent in New York, reported that Ban made the call in a message to mark the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, which has been observed at the UN headquarters since 1993 and around the world since 1987.

The theme for 2013 is: “Working together towards a world without discrimination: Building on the experience and knowledge of people in extreme poverty”.

This year’s commemoration also recognized people living in poverty as critical partners for tackling the world’s development challenges.

In the message, the UN chief stated: “If we are to realize the future we want for all, we must hear and heed the calls of the marginalized.”

He noted that the Day came as the international community was pursuing twin objectives: intensifying efforts to reach the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), and formulating the next set of goals to guide our efforts after the MDG 2015 deadline.

According to him: “This post-2015 agenda must have poverty eradication as its highest priority and sustainable development at its core.”

“After all, the only way to make poverty eradication irreversible is by putting the world on a sustainable development path,” he said.

In that regard, Ban stressed that the international community had much work to do, indicating that while poverty levels have declined significantly, progress has been uneven.

“Our impressive achievement in cutting poverty by half should not blind us to the fact that more than 1.2 billion people still live in extreme poverty worldwide,” the secretary-general said.

He also stressed that too many people, especially women and girls, continue to be denied access to adequate health care and sanitation, quality education and decent housing.

“Further, too many young people lack jobs and the skills that respond to market demands. Rising inequality in many countries, both rich and poor, is fuelling exclusion from economic, social and political spheres.

“The impacts of climate change and loss of biodiversity hit the poorest the hardest. All of this underpins the need for strong and responsive institutions,” he stated.

Ban said: “We need to do more to listen and act for those whose voices often go unheard – people living in poverty, and in particular among them indigenous people, the older persons and those living with disabilities, the unemployed, migrants and minorities”.

He also added: “We need to support them in their struggle to escape poverty and build better lives for themselves and their families.”

On her part, the UN Special Rapporteur on extreme poverty, Ms. Magdalena Sepulveda, called on States to tackle the deep-rooted causes of gender inequality and women’s greater vulnerability to poverty.

She urged governments to recognize and value unpaid care work, and ensure it was better supported and more equitably shared between women and men.

She also warned in her message, that the unequal distribution of unpaid care work, fuelled by damaging gender stereotypes, was a major human rights issue.

“It is unacceptable that, in the 21st century, unpaid care work such as cooking, childcare, looking after frail older relatives and fetching water and fuel, which heavily contributes to economic growth and social development, is not better valued, supported or shared,” Ms. Sepulveda noted.

She stressed that State policies must place care as a social and collective responsibility and ensure that the necessary public services and infrastructure, including childcare, healthcare, water and energy provision are in place, especially in disadvantaged areas.

“Poverty cannot be eradicated without concerted action on the specific obstacles women face,” the UN rapporteur said.

She also stressed that the fact that most countries around the world do not recognize and guarantee the rights of care-givers or distribute the costs of care more evenly across society was a major barrier to women’s ability to lift themselves out of poverty.

She also noted that in both developed and developing countries, women work longer hours than men when unpaid work is taken into account, but receive lower earnings and less recognition for their contribution.

“When women undertake a disproportional amount of unpaid care, they ended having very little time to enjoyment of their rights to education, decent work on an equal basis with men. This entrenches women’s poverty and social exclusion,” Ms. Sepulveda said.

“To commemorate the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, I wish to remind States and others that efforts to end poverty must include valuing, supporting and redistributing unpaid care as an essential part of the strategy,” she concluded.