Urging greater support for people struggling to escape poverty and build better lives, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and the United Nations marked the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty by calling on the world to "listen to the voices that often go unheard."

"If we are to realize the future we want for all, we must hear and heed the calls of the marginalized," Mr. Ban said in his <" http://www.un.org/en/events/povertyday/2013/sgmessage2013.shtml">message for the International Day, which has been observed at UN Headquarters since 1993 and around the world since 1987. This year’s commemoration recognizes people living in poverty as critical partners for tackling the world’s development challenges.

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

Mr. Ban notes that the Day comes as the international community is 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.

"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, the UN chief stressed that the international community had much work to do: 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," he said, stressing that too many, 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, and 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," Mr. 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 said, adding: "We need to support them in their struggle to escape poverty and build better lives for themselves and their families."

Over the past year, the UN has been spearheading an unprecedented global conversation on the world people want. "That dialogue must continue — and lead to the active and meaningful inclusion of people living in poverty — as we chart a course to ending poverty everywhere," said Mr. Ban.

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

Urging Governments to recognize and value unpaid care work, and ensure it is better supported and more equitably shared between women and men, she warned in her message for the Day that the unequal distribution of unpaid care work, fuelled by damaging gender stereotypes, is 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," said Ms. Sepúlveda.

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," Ms. Sepúlveda said, stressing 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 is 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," the independent expert 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 said.

Oct 17 2013 10:00AM
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