October 17th is marked as by the United Nations as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. At Grassroots International, we have been working with our partners for over 25 years towards achieving that goal. Clearly, a lot needs to be done to get us there. My colleague Maria Aguiar, is currently in Mexico at a gathering of organizations and individuals working on these issues, where she is talking about the approach we and our partners use, to advocate for resource rights — the rights to land, water, food among others — more particularly, and economic and social rights in general, as the best way to ensure the eradication of poverty. Guaranteeing these rights is an approach that doesn’t foster dependence through charity but enables empowerment through change. Maria will be focusing on concrete alternatives for sustainable livelihoods — sustainable not only on an economic level but also, as we confront the serious challenges of global warming and climate change, in terms of ecology. These are alternatives that are grounded in the concepts of food sovereignty that our partner the Via Campesina has been propagating globally, and that Grassroots has been supporting and working to educate Americans on.
This October 17th, another powerful voice launched a call for human rights as the frame through which to view the problem of poverty and and work towards eradicating it. Irene Zubeida Khan, the Secretary General of Amnesty International released her book, The Unheard Truth: Poverty and Human Rights. Below is a blurb on the book:
Ending poverty has become the rallying cry of international organizations, political and business leaders, philanthropists and rock stars. But it is almost certainly doomed to fail if it is driven solely by the imperative of boosting economic growth through investment, trade, new technology or foreign aid, claims Irene Khan in the Unheard Truth.
Khan argues with passion, backed up by analysis, that fighting poverty is about fighting deprivation, exclusion, insecurity and powerlessness. People living in poverty lack material resources but that more than that, they lack control over their own lives. To tackle global poverty, we need to focus on the human rights abuses that drive poverty and keep people poor. Giving people a say in their own future, and demanding that they be treated with dignity and respect for their rights is the way to make progress.