“Building a sustainable future: Coming together to end poverty and discrimination”Extreme poverty remains a blight on the lives of hundreds of millions of families and communities around the world. The ILO estimates that 780 million working women and men are not able to earn enough to lift themselves and their families above the $2 a day poverty line. This is around one third of total employment in developing countries.
A further quarter of the developing world’s workers are living on between $2 and $4 a day. This group of near poor are constantly at risk of slipping back into poverty should they be unable to work, for example as a result of ill health.
Between 2015 and 2030, 570 million young women and men will join the world’s workforce mainly in Africa and South Asia.
Decent jobs are key to ending poverty in its most extreme forms and transforming the lives of millions. Creating enough decent work opportunities to meet this goal is an enormous challenge. Moreover, many living in poverty suffer additional forms of discrimination whether based on gender, ethnicity or other grounds. The persistence of such discrimination will block efforts to eradicate extreme poverty.
The theme of this year’s World Poverty Day, “Building a sustainable future: Coming together to end poverty and discrimination” echoes the vision of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development adopted by world leaders in September at the UN World Summit who stated:
“We resolve, between now and 2030, to end poverty and hunger everywhere; to combat inequalities within and among countries; to build peaceful, just and inclusive societies; to protect human rights and promote gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls; and to ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources. We resolve also to create conditions for sustainable, inclusive and sustained economic growth, shared prosperity and decent work for all, taking into account different levels of national development and capacities.” (Paragraph 3)
These pledges to eradicate extreme poverty demand determined action by countries and the international community.
Ending discrimination in all its forms in the workplace and beyond must be a part and parcel of strategies for building inclusive societies on terms that meet the criteria of social justice. Discrimination prevents millions from establishing a foothold in secure and adequately rewarded jobs. Not only is this unjust and a violation of human rights, it is a waste of much needed human talent and endeavour. Respecting human rights, including fundamental principles and rights at work, is an essential foundation for poverty-eradicating sustainable development.
Therefore, the 2030 Agenda commitments made to protect human rights and promote gender equality will need to be pursued with unrelenting vigour.
The ILO is ready to take up its responsibilities with the UN family to “promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all” as called for in Goal 8 of the 2030 Agenda. We bring our Decent Work approach to the challenges of this and other Sustainable Development Goals. Along with jobs and rights, the Decent Work approach also embraces social protection, providing a buffer when people are unable to work and earn sufficient income to stay out of poverty, as well as a floor that prevents the resurgence of poverty.
The ILO has made the End to Poverty one of our seven Centenary Initiatives to mark our 100th Anniversary in 2019. Our work through this initiative will shape our Organization’s efforts to support implementation of the 2030 Agenda.
As we look ahead let us keep in mind that together we can end extreme poverty by 2030, but not through business as usual. Yes, the current trend of decelerating growth must be quickly reversed. But the evidence shows that growth alone is not enough. Living up to the commitments means giving equal value to policies and action that also tackle the challenges of unemployment, underemployment and acute vulnerability, and the denial of voice and rights.