Message from Ms. Audrey Azoulay, Director-General of UNESCO, on the Occasion of the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty
17 October 2020
“Poverty is more than deprivation, it is servitude”, wrote the Swiss philosopher HenriFrédéric Amiel.
This reminds us that, fundamentally, poverty is an attack on human dignity and our humanist values. It leads to suffering and deprivation and impedes the effective enjoyment of fundamental rights and freedoms; it hits the most vulnerable even harder, especially women and children.
While the rate of extreme poverty declined between 1990 and 2015 as a result of considerable global efforts, we must now mobilize to continue this trend, because the economic and social consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to the reversal of this momentum.
To do so, it is essential to take a multi-pronged approach that addresses not only poverty, but also its causes and consequences, in all its complexity, for poverty is not only a lack of financial resources, it also signals a lack of opportunities.
These opportunities can only be opened up through access to quality education for all, especially for girls. With this in mind, UNESCO has made girls’ and women’s education one of the main priorities of its mandate to combat poverty at its roots.
The great Persian poet Saadi Shirazi said that the greatest of burdens to have to bear is the burden of poverty. Thus, on this International Day, UNESCO would like to invite the entire international community – States, as well as civil society and private enterprises – to redouble their efforts to end this burden.