International Day for the Eradication of Poverty-October 17
What is it?
The observance of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty can be traced back to 17 October 1987. On that day, over a hundred thousand people gathered at Trocadéro in Paris, where the Universal Declaration of Human Rights was signed in 1948, to honour the victims of extreme poverty, violence and hunger. They proclaimed that poverty is a violation of human rights and affirmed the need to come together to ensure that these rights are respected. Since then, people of all backgrounds, beliefs and social origins have gathered every year on October 17th to renew their commitment and show their solidarity with those living in poverty.
Through resolution adopted on 22 December 1992, the United Nations General Assembly declared 17 October as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty and invited all States to devote the Day to presenting and promoting, as appropriate in the national context, concrete activities with regard to the eradication of poverty and destitution.
At the Millennium Summit in September 2000 the largest gathering of world leaders in history there was an adoption of the UN Millennium Declaration. World leaders committed their nations to a new global partnership called “The Millennium Development Goals.” (MDGs) are the world's time-bound and quantified targets for addressing extreme poverty in its many dimensions-income poverty, hunger, disease, lack of adequate shelter, and exclusion-while promoting gender equality, education, and environmental sustainability. They are also basic human rights-the rights of each person on the planet to health, education, shelter, and security. At the Millennium Summit 189 world leaders committed to ending poverty by the year 2015.
In December of 2008, the Ontario government announced a Poverty Reduction Strategy for the province and in May 2009, passed the Poverty Reduction Act, which compels the provincial government to work to reduce poverty, in particular for groups disproportionately affected: “groups such as immigrants, women, single mothers, people with disabilities, aboriginal peoples and racialized groups”. In 2010/2011, the province has also promised to review and improve the social assistance system in Ontario.
This is a good time to take action to ensure changes and action on poverty reduction in Ontario make a difference in the lives of women who experience violence and the impossible choice between violence and poverty that so many women face.
- Unattached (single, divorced, widowed) women over 65 have the highest rate of poverty of any family type in Canada at 45.6%.
- Quality regulated child-care spaces support women to work. But in 2009 in Ontario, there were regulated spaces for only 13% of children under 12 who needed them.
- Poverty is not equally shared by women in Canada. In 2000, 36% of all Aboriginal women lived in households with low incomes, compared to 17% for non-Aboriginal females and 32% for Aboriginal males. Almost twice as many women considered “visible minorities” by Statistics Canada have low incomes compared to women in the general population. In 2000, 26% of women over 15 with a disability lived below the poverty line, compared to 20% of men with disabilities and 16% of women without a disability.
- It has been over 20 years since the passage of the Pay Equity Act in Ontario, yet women in the province still earn an average of 29% less than men.
- Single mothers and their children experience the worst levels of poverty. 81% of single mothers with children under the age of 7 live in poverty. Canada is one of the richest countries in the world. However, about 1,400,000 of its children live in poverty (almost one and a half million). Children of single parents and those of Aboriginal descent have suffered the most.
- When children grow up in poverty, they pay a heavy price. Research shows that they have more illnesses, perform poorly in school, have more health problems, and earn less when they are adults.
What can I do?
- Acknowledge the effort and struggle of people living in poverty, and provide a forum for them to have their concerns heard and addressed.
- Organize activities and public awareness events for the observance of the day.
- Challenge the decision to eliminate 'special diet' provisions in Ontario Works and the Ontario Disability Support Plan. Support a raise to social assistance rates to reflect true costs of living, an increase in the Ontario minimum wage and other recommendations of anti-poverty and women’s anti-violence advocates. (See our Action pages for more ideas and information.)
- Support pay and employment equity in Ontario and the campaign by the Equal Pay Coalition to have Ontario actively ensure implementation of Pay Equity Act rights.
- Support migrant workers and newcomers to Canada in their struggle against workplace exploitation and “sweatshop” pay.
- Action Now!
- What We Think!
- Action Tools
- Equity Calendar
- International Women's Day
- International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
- Mother's Day
- Pride Week
- National Aboriginal Solidarity Day
- Labour Day
- National Day of Vigils to Remember Murdered and Missing
- International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
- 16 Days of Activism
- International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women
- World AIDS Day
- International Day of Persons with Disabilities
- National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women
- Human Rights Day
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