Poverty Day to address human rights and dignity

Monday, October 20, 2008

“Change cannot be realised if people cannot be given time to express themselves and talk of the problems they are facing”
                              Michael Nyangi, Kibera, Nairobi

This year's International Day for the Eradication of Poverty is a call to everyone, from policy makers to the public, to recognise the rights and dignity of people living in poverty.

Amnesty International, other NGOs, civil society organizations, people living in poverty and supporters around the world will mobilize to raise their voices and demand action from governments.

Poverty Day is held on 17 October every year. Its aim is to promote awareness of the need to eradicate poverty in all countries and the importance of the right to participation.

People living in poverty are far too frequently excluded from decisions about how to improve their lives. Amnesty International said that the vicious cycle of poverty and human rights abuse could only be broken if people living in poverty were able to speak out and be heard. The organization is calling on all states to recognise the right to participation.

Widney Brown, Amnesty International's Director of International Law and Policy, said: "A key focus of this year's International Day is ensuring that people living in poverty are no longer denied the power to control their lives.

"All too often, living in poverty excludes people from making decisions about the things that affect them. Other people decide on their behalf, ignoring their needs, beliefs and opinions.

"Not only does this result in ill-informed decisions, but it also robs people of their right to participate, and to learn from the process, in order to be change makers and retain control over their own lives” she said.

Events planned for the day include street exhibitions, film premieres, public testimonies and concerts.

At the United Nations Head Quarters in New York, Widney Brown will take part in a major discussion on poverty, which is set to be webcast on www.un.org.

The event brings together representatives of the UN, World Bank and leading NGOs working on poverty and human rights. A number of local activists from grassroots civil society organisations will also be attending, including Michael Nyangi.

Michael lives in Kibera, one of the biggest slum areas, which is home to 1.5 million people and runs the Lomoro Microfinance organization. A qualified accountant, he created Lomoro five years ago when he was 23. It now has 150 members and helps people to start small, income-generating projects.

Michael is attending the event with the intention of sharing the perspective and thoughts of Kibera’s residents.

Other Amnesty International supporters will also take part in the Stand Up Against Poverty gatherings organized by the Global Call to Action Against Poverty.

The Stand Up event encourages millions of people to simultaneously stand up at the same time in protest against poverty and inequality. This year, over one per cent of the population is expected to take part.

Amnesty International