“One of the keys to ending child poverty is addressing poverty in the household, from which it often stems. Access to quality social services must be a priority.”— UN Secretary-General António Guterres
In a world characterized by an unprecedented level of economic development, technological means and financial resources, that millions of persons are living in extreme poverty is a moral outrage. Poverty is not solely an economic issue, but rather a multidimensional phenomenon that encompasses a lack of both income and the basic capabilities to live in dignity.
Persons living in poverty experience many interrelated and mutually reinforcing deprivations that prevent them from realizing their rights and perpetuate their poverty, including: dangerous work conditions, unsafe housing, lack of nutritious food, unequal access to justice, lack of political power and limited access to health care.
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the adoption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) on 20 November 1989. This landmark human rights treaty sets out the civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights of every child, regardless of their race, religion or abilities.
In particular, the Convention recognizes the right of every child to a standard of living adequate for the child’s physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development. Poverty hurts children’s development and, in turn, leads to lower income and health in adulthood. When child poverty is recognized as a denial of children’s human rights then people in positions of responsibility and power are legally bound to promote, protect and fulfil children’s rights. Above all, it is imperative to recognize and address the specific discriminations experienced by the girl child.
It is crucial that children’s participation be recognized as a process and not a one-off event. Too often consultation is mistaken for participation. Whereas the process of consultation gathers children’s views on a particular issue or question, participation means that children actually join in decision- making.
The commemoration of October 17 each year demonstrates how we can achieve greater participation by enabling people from all walks of life to come together to respect the human rights and dignity of people living in poverty. The participation of children and young people has always been encouraged and supported as an integral part of October 17 observances at the United Nations and around the world. This recognizes the important roles children can play by sharing and applying the valuable knowledge they have acquired from their personal daily struggle to overcome poverty.
There is no denying that poverty is a social struggle and affects communities far and wide with impacts on single people and whole cities. With rising awareness in recent decades there are now more steps than ever being taken towards the eradication of poverty and the assistance and inclusion of those struggling with poverty towards being a part of the solution. The complexity of poverty is now better understood due to increased cultural awareness and sympathy with true connection and motion towards a solution.
We, at the World Assembly of Youth understand the importance of public awareness, voice and the active participation of people living in extreme poverty, concerns and priorities of millions of people, especially those living in extreme poverty. We believe that young people should be engaged to be the agent of change representing the voice of the people who are in need.
As the world commemorates the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, we call on youth and stakeholders from all countries to actively work to support the world most vulnerable.