The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, IDEP, 17th October 2020 provides opportunity for concerted efforts by and for people living in poverty, to act on ways to overcome it. It is a day dedicated for individual and collective action, by all communities.
This year, IDEP carries the theme, “Acting Together To Achieve Social And Environmental Justice For All”.
The IDEP 2020 comes at time when then global landscape is experiencing massive disruptions that are further exacerbating child poverty, at an accelerated rate. These include widespread economic recession, prolonged conflicts, the adverse effects of climate change, and natural disasters such as floods, draught and famine.
The global COVID-19 pandemic has further created an unprecedented strain on social protection systems, including health care and poverty reduction mechanisms, in addition to the lives lost. It is estimated that over 170 million more children will be thrust into poverty due to the impacts of COVID-19 on health, livelihoods, and other socio-economic structures. These structural and systemic fissures are eroding gains made in addressing child poverty.
“The COVID-19 pandemic presents governments in the Global South with an opportunity to address the underlying causes of child poverty and policies that have contributed towards family poverty and widened inequalities in their economies.”
Fred Nyabera, Director, End Child Poverty (Source: ECP Blog, “COVID-19 in the Global South: Urgent Need for Safety Nets for Low Income Families to Stem an Increase in Child Poverty”, 5th May 2020).
Other social malaise – such as, violence against children, corruption, racism, discrimination, xenophobia, gender-based violence, organised crime, gang violence and violent extremism – continue to act as hard drivers of child poverty. Children, everywhere, overwhelmingly bear the brunt of these social and environmental injustices.
With this in view, it is tempting to surmise that child poverty is an insurmountable challenge that demands more resources, more courage, and more solutions than we have at hand. However, also within the same year we have seen significant efforts aimed at addressing poverty at all levels of society, from the grassroots, to the global domain.
The recently concluded High Level Political Forum on the Sustainable Development Goals (HLPF 2020), challenged governments and other stakeholder alike, to build responsive systems that are better resistant and resilient to such shocks. The HLPF 2020 was convened under the theme, “Accelerated Action and Transformative Pathways: Realizing The Decade Of Action And Delivery For Sustainable Development “, from 7 – 16 July 2020, in New York, and virtually. It drew broad-based commitments towards social and economic schemes that promote and protect of the rights of the child. Through the HPLF 2020 duty-bearers and rights-holders alike, further committed to invest more in human capital, aimed at empowering children and youth as critical agents of change and, supporting their meaningful participation in realising the vision of the 2030 Agenda.
Likewise, Arigatou International initiated the “Faith in Action for Children” global campaign, calling on religious leaders and religious communities to increase their actions in response to the impact of COVID-19 pandemic on children. The campaign builds on the important role that faith plays in emergency situations to strengthen resilience, and the crucial contributions of religious leaders to positively influence millions of followers.
In addition, communities represented by the Global Network of Religions for Children (GNRC) and other grassroots partners of Arigatou International—End Child Poverty, have been carrying out work to address child poverty. These have ranged from initiatives to increase children’s access to online education in Moldova, to the children’s use expressive arts to cope with the impacts of COVID-19 in Peru and Malaysia. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, Kenya, Somalia, Tanzania and Uganda, we have witnessed youth taking action to educate their communities on COVID-19 risk-awareness and prevention practices; as well as to mobilise and provide humanitarian relief resources to mitigate the immediate impacts on child poverty.
The End Child Poverty Knowledge Centre is also leading efforts to respond to COVID-19 in Sri Lanka and in the region, in partnership with the Sarvodaya Shramadana Movement. The upcoming September webinar on “The Importance of Scaling Up Social Protection for Economic Recovery Post COVID-19” will discuss social protection in the context of alleviating child poverty, and serves as a prime example of such work.
Collectively, these and many other initiatives by faith communities, governments and civil society, show that we can indeed take action towards overcoming child poverty. Our call to action, Together We Can End Child Poverty Worldwide, is built on the premise that every person can, and in fact should, take action to build a better world for all children. Each contribution to combat child poverty, whether big or small, makes a difference to children in their present moment and their future. We invite all people, from all backgrounds and walks of life, to join us securing positive outcomes for children with respect to their rights, dignity and wellbeing.
Ending child poverty is a long-term and progressive task. It cannot happen in an instant or in even in a day. But one instant or one day is what it takes to initiate this good and necessary work, as well as to strengthen on going progress. This coming International Day for the Eradication of Poverty, IDEP, 17th October 2020, join us, and many others, in taking action to push social and environmental justice for all children, one step forward. Together, we can.