On the 17th of October each year, we come together to demonstrate the strong bonds of solidarity between people living in poverty and people from all walks of life, and our commitment to work together to overcome extreme poverty and abuse of human rights through our individual and shared commitments and action. The International Day for the Eradication of Poverty intends to promote dialogue and understanding between people living in poverty and their communities, and society at large. All around the world, people from different backgrounds come together to participate in the movement towards ending poverty, the first goal of the UN Global Goals. The United Nations in New York has announced the theme of this year’s 17th October End Poverty Day Commemoration to be ‘Putting Dignity in Practice for All – Decent Work and Social Protection’.
Following consultations with people in poverty and those who support them, the Irish 17 October Committee has adapted this theme in the context of Ireland to be;
‘Let Dignity Be Our Compass: Working Together Towards Change’.
This theme was inspired by the international theme and in particular the end of the international concept note which says we should use dignity as the compass to ensure human rights and social justice are at the heart of national and global decision making. We are using dignity as a guide point to achieving these four markers of equality set out on the next page. We adapted the idea of ‘work’ to mean ‘working together for change’. The idea of work can mean different things to different people, and we must ensure the inclusion of everyone when creating change. This moral compass, with its four axes, highlights four relevant and inter-connected issues identified by people with direct experience of poverty as being of critical importance for Irish society in order to achieve the full realisation of human rights,equality and social justice envisaged by the founders of our State.
~ Dignified Work and Opportunities to Participate:
Everyone should have the opportunity to participate in dignified work in which people are respected, their rights are legally protected, and are paid a fair living wage. We should also give greater official recognition and value to the many ways in which people work to contribute to their families, their local communities and to wider society outside of paid employment. All of us can contribute to working for positive change.
~ A Minimum Standard of Income:
To ensure that everyone, whether in employment or not, has a reasonable level of income to meet their basic needs, particularly in this current cost-of-living crisis and rising inflation, it is essential that Government move urgently to benchmark income to the Minimum Essential Standard of Living (MESL). This includes the critical importance of maintaining and, where needed, improving our existing social protection systems which ensure that vulnerable individuals and groups living in precarious life and work situations can survive the worst effects of the challenges posed by our cost-of-living and housing crises.
~ Affordable Accommodation:
Far too many people in our country, including so many of our younger generation, are excluded from access to affordable housing due to spiralling purchase & rental costs and to the lack of housing supply. As we know, the market alone cannot solve this national crisis;there is a critical need, therefore, for increased and more-speedy Government investment in public and social housing which is affordable and accessible, and for enhanced legal protections for people in the rental housing sector. Greater diversity in housing types also needs to be taken into account for individuals and families with particular housing needs, such as those with physical disabilities, mental health issues, or from the Traveller Community
~ Zero Discrimination:
People need to be protected from discrimination in all its forms and in all areas of life. Our current suite of anti-discrimination legislation in Ireland lacks specific protections for people who are discriminated against on the grounds of their socioeconomic background, including such factors as their residential address, their social class, their accent, and the clothes they wear. The #Addthe10thCampaign, which is supported by so many individuals and groups present here today, calls on Government to honour its promised commitment to include socio-economic status as a status ground in Irish equality legislation.