Message from Ms. Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on the Occasion of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
17 October 2018
“Poverty does not belong in civilized human society. Its proper place is in a museum” according to Muhammad Yunus of Bangladesh, one of the inventors of micro-credit and winner of the 2006 Nobel Peace Prize for his commitment to the most disadvantaged populations.
Since the 1990s, considerable progress has been made globally to curb poverty and destitution and, as a result, more than one billion people have been lifted out of extreme poverty. These spectacular results are a source of satisfaction and hope but should not obscure the remaining challenges. Today, an estimated 635 million people still live in extreme poverty, which is more than 8% of the world’s population. The vast majority live in South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.
Poverty is a problem related not only to financial resources but also to lack of opportunity. Poverty eradication is the first Sustainable Development Goal of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. It is, however, closely linked to other goals such as ensuring good health and hygiene conditions, access to quality education for all, opportunities for decent employment, gender equality and preservation of the environment.
Economic growth must be more inclusive and help to foster sustainable employment. It is essential that each country provide social protection for its citizens to protect them from the many socioeconomic uncertainties in a changing world. Education is a powerful tool for development: it is crucial that every child – boy or girl – receive 12 years of basic education.
Education should address issues related to health, sexuality, gender equality and sustainable development in order to break the vicious circle of social customs and collective perceptions that perpetuate inequality. UNESCO, the lead United Nations agency for education, particularly focuses its efforts on girls’ education as a driving force for peace and development.
On this International Day and in this seventieth anniversary year of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, let us rally together to ensure that each and every person in the world may enjoy decent living conditions.