“In this crucial year for global development, as Member States work to craft a post-2015 agenda and a new set of sustainable development goals, let us do our utmost to eradicate all forms of human exploitation. Let us strive to build a world of social justice, where all people can live and work in freedom, dignity and equality.”
– UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon
Since 2007, when the United Nations proclaimed February 20 as World Day of Social Justice, it has encouraged Member States to participate in the ongoing, daunting challenge of eradicating poverty. The UN sees poverty as the most critical justice issue, being a cause of many other justice concerns, from war to drug proliferation. Schools and colleges often plan activities for the day or a week around a theme related to poverty, social and economic exclusion or unemployment. Countries around the world, including Russia, with the Russian General Confederation of Trade Unions creating the slogan, “Social Justice and a Decent Life for All.”
Prior to the 2007 United Nation’s declaration, the World Summit for Social Development, held in Denmark in 1995, called for a Program of Action. In response, more than 100 political leaders pledged to make the elimination of poverty the overriding goal.
For the first time, the world poverty rate fell below 10% in 2015. Still, 702 million people in the world are living in poverty, that is, living on $1.90 a day. Reasons for improved numbers are clear – investments in education, health and social safety nets have helped to keep people from falling back into poverty. Organizations such as Catholic Relief Services, the Campaign for Human Development and the United Nations have made a tremendous difference in the lives of millions around the world. The recent vote by Congress in 2015 to keep the Earned Income Tax Credit at the same level will help millions of low income families in the United States to move out of poverty. They have replaced slogans with actions.
These actions, along with the assistance of billionaires, such as Bill Gates, addressing world poverty, are making a difference. Now, in the midst of much political rhetoric, the voices of millions of Americans need to be the loud speakers for the poor who do not have a lobby. We can be part of the solution.