25 years ago, the United Nations’ General Assembly passed a resolution which established October 17th as the International Day for the Eradication of Poverty. This year, the theme is: “A Path towards peaceful and inclusive societies.” This theme provides us all with an opportunity to reflect on the ways in which we can demonstrate solidarity, inclusiveness and ensure that everyone’s basic right to live fulfilling lives in dignity is respected. The eradication of poverty also echoes the first of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals to reduce the proportion of men, women and children of all ages living in poverty by at least half. This goal is bold and ambitious yet, it is necessary.
In our city, October is End Poverty Month. It is estimated that 1 in 10 Calgarians live in poverty and many more struggle daily with having enough money for housing or food. At the Women’s Centre, over 50% of our community members declared last year they had experienced or are still experiencing poverty. Beyond the numbers, what does it mean to us?
- Poverty is not just an individual issue and the eradication of poverty is about strengthening communities for a more sustainable and vibrant future.
- Poverty, which fundamentally is the lack of money, impacts us all and can show up in different ways from poor mental and physical health outcomes to social isolation.
- At the Centre, our work revolves around what poverty looks like for women. For example, women are still disproportionality responsible for the care of children; 77% of all lone-parent families in Alberta are headed by women and 1 in 3 live in poverty.
- We acknowledge that although poverty reduction or eradication is a complex issue, it is also always about money.
- There is great value to not only reframing how we view poverty, from an individual to a collective issue, but also our reframing of the fight to end poverty to make sustainable and long-term changes!
We applaud targeted efforts around transit or minimum wages, they are essential and needed. However, now is the time to consider more structural measures and comprehensive changes to policy. What about better access to affordable accessible and quality childcare? What about gendered income inequality, when Alberta still has the largest gender income gap in the country? What about a principle-based basic income, which would allow more dignity and choice away from having to constantly prove and justify that you are poor?
The eradication of poverty is a long and tedious fight. On October 17th, let us all unite our efforts, expand on existing strategies while welcoming new and bold ones, and above all, believe it can be done!
This post was written by Carole, a staff member at the Women’s Centre.