UN International Day for Overcoming Poverty – 17th October
This commemorative stone in George Square, Glasgow, honours the courage and dignity of people in poverty. It was inaugurated on 17 October 2019, the UN International Day for Overcoming Poverty.
Memory has always played a part in the progress of humanity. By
commemorating the lives of those who have suffered, we remind
ourselves and our children of the horrors and terrible injustices of war, genocide, and slavery. But what about those who have suffered the injustices of hunger, poverty, and the denial of human dignity? Where are the public monuments to remind us of the humiliation and discrimination that they have faced? The very poorest people leave no trace on the earth. They are buried in unknown graves. Their slums are erased from our maps. They have no-one to record the stories of their lives.
On 17th October 1987, a monument was unveiled in Paris to fill that void and to commemorate the lives of the very poorest human beings. It was intended to serve as a sign that people living in poverty are important to our communities and our nations. In the years that followed, people from around the world gathered at that monument on 17th October to demand an end to the shame of poverty and to affirm that the lives of the most vulnerable people are a part of our common history. So it was that October 17th became known as the UN International Day for Overcoming Poverty.
The words engraved on the commemorative stone in Paris and on many replicas (in Glasgow, at the United Nations, and elsewhere) say: ‘Wherever men and women are condemned to live in poverty, human rights are violated. To come together to ensure that these rights be respected is our solemn duty’.
In 1992 the World Day for Overcoming Poverty was officially recognised by the United Nations, and is now marked on every continent. People meet to bear witness to the suffering, the courage, and the efforts of people living in poverty. On this day, people everywhere draw inspiration from one another and renew their personal and collective commitment to put an end to poverty.